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Develop the knowledge, skills, tools, and experience you need to make effective changes in education, work, social movements, science, or the arts.

Program Type


Semester Start

Fall, Spring

Study Options


Minimum Duration

2 Years

UMass Boston’s Critical and Creative Thinking MA was ranked as one of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News & World Report. This program focuses on learning and applying ideas and tools in critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective practice. It’s designed for students from a wide array of professions and endeavors looking for personal and professional development to develop clarity and confidence to become constructive, reflective agents of change in education, work, social movements and activism, science, and creative arts. You’ll experiment and take risks as you apply what you’re learning in the classroom to real-world situations, reflect on these outcomes and revise accordingly, and build a set of tools, practices, and perspectives that work in your specific professional and personal endeavors. Apply these skills to virtually any field — from education to policy making to the arts.

Earned badge for 2023 Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News & World Report

Ranked as one of the Best Online Graduate Education Programs by U.S. News & World Report.

Earned badge for 2023 Best Online Graduate Education Programs for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report

Ranked as one of the Best Graduate Education Schools for Veterans by U.S. News & World Report.

  • This program consists of eleven 3-credit courses, or 33 credits.
  • Online tuition is $575 per credit.
  • Total estimated cost to complete this program is $18,975.
  • Estimate is based on completing program by minimum duration. Other fees may apply. Request Info to connect with a program representative for further details.


  • Application deadlines are due July 1 for the fall and December 1 for the spring.

Application Checklist

  • Official transcripts of all previous undergrad and graduate work
  • Three letters of recommendation from former teachers familiar with your recent academic work, or from employers familiar with your professional ability
  • A statement of interests and intent: The Program’s admissions requirements call for an essay of at least 1200 words in which you explain your intellectual, artistic, professional or personal reasons for wanting to pursue a certificate in Critical and Creative Thinking.
    • Your essay should include specific accounts of your past work and current direction.
    • You should provide a detailed discussion of your specific interests and priorities as a student; the projects you have completed in the past; the problems and topics you want to focus on in future study; and how and why you believe the CCT program can help you accomplish your goals.
    • The CCT Admissions Committee will read your essay as a demonstration of how you write and how you think about issues, as well as determine if your interests and goals match those of the Program.
  • Test Scores: GRE scores are optional to apply for our program. International students should check with Graduate Admissions to inform you of your required tests.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): Required from students from countries where English is not the primary language
  • Declaration and Certification of Finances: Required from all International Students who take face-to-face courses before an I-20 is issued, with which the student applies for a student visa. For current financial support requirements and other information, visit the Graduate Admissions page for International students or call 617.287.6400.
  • Personal Disclosure Form

Required Courses:

  • Critical Thinking (CRCRTH601)
    Explore issues about the nature and techniques of critical thought, viewed as a way to establish a reliable basis for our claims, beliefs, and attitudes about the world. You’ll explore multiple perspectives, placing established facts, theories, and practices in tension with alternatives to see how things could be otherwise. Views about observation and interpretation, reasoning and inference, valuing and judging, and the production of knowledge in its social context are considered. Special attention is given to translating what is learned into strategies, materials, and interventions for use in your own educational and professional settings.
  • Creative Thinking (CRCRTH602)
    Increase your understanding of creativity to improve your creative problem-solving skills, and to enhance your ability to promote these skills in others in a variety of educational settings. You’ll participate in activities designed to help develop your own creativity and discuss the creative process from various theoretical perspectives. Readings focus on creative individuals, environments that tend to enhance creative functioning, and related educational issues. Discussions with artists, scientists, and others particularly involved in the creative process focus on their techniques and on ways in which creativity can be nurtured.
  • Processes of Research and Engagement (CRCRTH692)
    Identify issues in educational or other professional settings on which to focus your critical and creative thinking skills. You’ll work through the different stages of research and action — from defining a manageable project to communicating findings and plans for further work. The classes run as workshops, in which you are introduced to and then practice using tools for research, writing, communicating, and supporting the work of others.
  • Action Research for Educational, Professional & Personal Change (CRCRTH693)
    Explore techniques for critical thinking about the evaluation of changes in educational practices and policies in schools, organizations, and informal contexts. Study various topics, including quantitative and qualitative methods for design and analysis, participatory design of practices and policies in a framework of action research, institutional learning, the wider reception or discounting of evaluations, and selected case studies, including those arising from semester-long student projects.
  • Synthesis of Theory and Practice Seminar (CRCRTH694)
    Get an opportunity to review and reflect on your work in the program and its impact on your current and future professional and personal lives, through a final project that demonstrates knowledge and integration of critical and creative thinking skills, processes, and strategies. To facilitate the synthesis of ideas and the identification of a final project option, the seminar begins with group experiences. Students choosing the same final project option meet in small groups weekly to present their plans and progress notes for support and critique. A three-page final project description is presented early in the course, and all projects are presented during the last four weeks.


  • Foundations of Philosophical Thought (CRCRTH603L)
    By discussing four or five traditional substantive problems in philosophy — morality, the nature of knowledge, freedom of the will, the nature of mind, and social organization — we attempt to derive a common approach that philosophers bring to these problems when developing their own solutions or criticizing the solutions of other philosophers. You’ll also consider some of the ways that substantive issues and debates in philosophy relate to contemporary non-philosophical issues in our society and can be introduced into a broad range of educational environments outside standard philosophy courses.
  • Seminar in Critical Thinking (CRCRTH611)
    Research and discuss important issues of current concern about critical thinking. Issues include critical thinking, logic and knowledge, critical thinking about facts and about values, knowledge in its social context, teaching to be critical, and evaluating critical thinking skills. Throughout the course, you’ll address these issues through cases of topical interest. 
  • Seminar in Creativity (CRCRTH612)
    Delve deeply into the theory and practice of promoting creativity using a specific theme, such as invention and innovation, humor, realizing creative aspiration, building creative communities, as a focus for the readings, discussions, class activities, and semester-long projects. Course materials are drawn from a variety of sources to match the instructor's specialty, student interests, and evolving trends in the literature, including biographies, intellectual histories, psychological studies, educational research, the popular media, guest speakers, and outside mentors. Details for the specific semester are publicized in advance by the Program.
  • Holistic & Transformative Teaching (CRCRTH615) 
    Explore approaches to realize teachers' and fellow students' potential for learning, thinking, and creativity. The course’s primary focus is on holistic strategies to engage students in the creative arts and design. You’ll be actively involved in preparing practical applications and demonstrations of concepts emerging from the class.
  • Dialogue Processes (CRCRTH616)
    Genuine dialogue provides a creative space in which new ways of thinking, acting, and relating to others may emerge. At the heart of such dialogue is holding respect for oneself, for one another, and for a commonly created pool of meaning. You’ll learn and experience approaches to listening and dialogue derived from Buber, Bohm, Isaacs, Jackins, Weissglass, and others, that allow us to become more aware of the underlying beliefs, assumptions, and emotions that limit our thinking and our responses to the world. Discussions explore applications of dialogue processes in educational, organizational, social, and personal change.
  • Creative Thinking, Collaboration, and Organizational Change (CRCRTH618)
    Through interactive, experiential sessions, and structured assignments, you’ll learn critical and creative approaches to working in organizations. Skills addressed include communication and team building, facilitation of participation and collaboration in groups, promotion of learning from a diversity of perspectives, problem-finding and solving, and reflective practice. You’ll apply these skills to situations that arise in business, schools, social change groups, and other organizations with a view to taking initiative and generating constructive change.
  • Biomedical Ethics (CRCRTH619)
    Develop critical thinking about dilemmas in medicine and health care policy, such as those that arise around allocation of scarce resources, criteria for organ transplants, informed consent, experimentation on human subjects, AIDS research, embryo research, and selective termination of pregnancy, euthanasia, and physician-assisted suicide. Through such cases the course introduces you to methods in moral reasoning, rights-based reasoning, decision-making under uncertainty, and utilitarianism in classic and contemporary normative reasoning.
  • Issues and Controversies in Antiracist and Multicultural Education (CRCRTH627)
    Explore two related forms of education — antiracist education and multicultural education — approaching them as issues in moral and value education and exploring controversies in the theories and practices of antiracist and multicultural education. You’ll study both practical and theoretical issues but with more concentration on theory. You’ll cover various topics, including racism, race, and school achievement; ethnic identity and self-esteem; Afrocentrism; religious pluralism; and multiculturalism as a unifying or divisive force.
  • Criticism and Creativity in Literature and the Arts (CRCRTH630)
    Expression and evaluation, freedom and discipline, creative production and its critique -how do these dualities relate to visual and verbal imagination as they are demonstrated in literature and the arts? Specific strategies for eliciting imaginative work in these areas are demonstrated, as well as specific strategies for evaluating imaginative works. Finally, you’ll focus on ways of helping others, including children, develop these skills and utilize these strategies effectively.
  • Environment, Science, and Society: Critical Thinking (CRCRTH640)
    Through current and historical cases, you’ll explore the diverse influences that shape environmental science and politics and their pedagogical, professional, social, and moral implications for educators, environmental professionals, and concerned citizens.
  • Biology in Society: Critical Thinking (CRCRTH645L)
    Study current and historical cases to examine the political, ethical, and other social dimensions of the life sciences. Close examination of developments in the life sciences can lead to questions about the social influences shaping scientists' work or its application. This can lead to new questions and alternative approaches for educators, biologists, health professionals, and concerned citizens. The specific thematic emphasis each semester is publicized by the Program.
  • Scientific & Political Change (CRCRTH649L) 
    Prior to WWII, the US government played a relatively small role in the support of science, especially outside of its own institutions. That situation changed dramatically with that war and the ensuing Cold War. You’ll explore how these events transformed the role of science in United States life, vastly enhancing the prestige of scientists, and shaping the extent and the nature of federal involvement in science. These and later developments in the USA and internationally, including the proliferation of new forms of citizen participation and the commercialization of academic research, raise important questions about the appropriate role of science and scientists in shaping political change and the changing meanings of democratic control of science.
  • Mathematics Thinking Skills (CRCRTH650)
    Explore several types of mathematical thinking in the context of number theory, algebra, geometry, and introductory calculus, and relate them to critical and creative thinking skills. Developmental and experiential factors in learning and teaching mathematics are considered, as well as techniques for determining a learner's mathematical abilities and learning styles. Readings, discussion, research, and problem-solving are used to provide a historical context, and to suggest connections with other disciplines. Individual and small-group projects are adapted to student interests. No formal mathematical background beyond high school algebra and geometry is required.
  • Conceptual Change and Learning (formerly: Children and Science) (CRCRTH652)
    Explore the ways children think about their natural and social world and how this affects their learning of science. We will be particularly concerned with identifying and describing the organized conceptual frameworks children have prior to instruction (which typically are different from the scientists' conceptualizations) and with understanding the general processes by which conceptual frameworks can be changed. You’ll explore the important questions of in what ways children are fundamentally different learners and thinkers than adults and in what ways they are fundamentally similar.
  • Metacognition (CRCRTH655)
    Consider various aspects of metacognition and how they influence behavior in children and adults. You’ll cover various topics, including the individual's knowledge of his or her own cognition, self-awareness, the monitoring of conscious thought processes, inferences about unconscious thought processes, metacognition as a decision process, metacognitive strategies, the development of metacognition, and metacognition as a source of individual differences in children.
  • Advanced Cognitive Psychology (CRCRTH651L)
    Gain an understanding of the field of cognitive psychology from an information-processing viewpoint. You’ll consider how people encode, organize, transform, and output information with an emphasis on topics such as concept formation, problem-solving, and creative thinking.
  • Thinking, Learning, and Computers (CRCRTH670) 
    Explore the consequences of using computers to aid our thinking, learning, communication, and action in classrooms, organizations, and social interactions. Class activities acquaint you with specific computer-based tools, the ideas and research behind them, and themes for critical thinking about these ideas and tools.
  • Reflective Practice (CRCRTH688)
    Reflective practitioners in any profession pilot new practices, take stock of outcomes and reflect on possible directions, and make plans to revise their practice accordingly. They also make connections with colleagues who model new practices and support the experimenting and practice of others. In this course, you’ll gain experience and up-to-date tools for reflective practice through presentations, interactive and experiential sessions, and, optionally, supervised pilot activities in schools, workplaces, and communities.

At the end of this two-year program, you’ll be awarded a Master of Arts in Critical and Creative Thinking. The degree will demonstrate your expertise in the field on your résumé, as well as in interviews and workplace evaluations. 

Why UMass Boston Online?


Among the lowest online tuition rates of an accredited, public research university.


Study full-time to finish fast, or part-time to suit your schedule. Live sessions scheduled with the working professional in mind.


The same courses taught by the same academic departments as on campus. No third-party providers.

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Critical and Creative Thinking MA