The Critical and Creative Thinking (CCT) program at the University of Massachusetts Boston provides its students with knowledge, tools, experience, and support so they can become constructive, reflective agents of change in education, work, social movements, science, and creative arts.

Master of Arts in Critical & Creative Thinking | 100% Online | UMass Boston

Critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective practice are valued, of course, in all fields. In critical thinking we seek to scrutinize the assumptions, reasoning, and evidence brought to bear on an issue—by others and by oneself; such scrutiny is enhanced by placing ideas and practices in tension with alternatives. Key functions of creative thinking include generating alternative ideas, practices, and solutions that are unique and effective, and exploring ways to confront complex, messy, ambiguous problems, make new connections, and see how things could be otherwise. In reflective practice we take risks and experiment in putting ideas into practice, then take stock of the outcomes and revise our approaches accordingly.

The rationale for a Master’s program of study in CCT is that an explicit and sustained focus on learning and applying ideas and tools in critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective practice allows students involved in a wide array of professions and endeavors to develop clarity and confidence to make deep changes in their learning, teaching, work, activism, research, and artistry. By the time CCT students finish their studies they are prepared to teach or guide others in ways that often depart markedly from their previous schooling and experience. In these processes of transformation and transfer, CCT students have to select and adapt the ideas and tools presented by faculty with diverse disciplinary and interdisciplinary concerns.  Although each CCT course is self-contained and is open to students from other graduate programs, students matriculated in the Program benefit from extended relationships with core CCT faculty and fellow students that support their processes of learning—experimenting and taking risks in applying what they are learning, reflecting on the outcomes and revising accordingly, and building up a set of tools, practices, and perspectives that work in their specific professional or personal endeavors.

Learn more about this program:
To receive more information and connect with the program manager, please click on inquire now .

Sample a Course

Visit the UMass Boston website to learn more about starting your online Master’s Degree in Critical & Creative Thinking.


Please see Fee Schedule below.

Type of Fee Amount
Fee per credit $575
Returned Check Fee per semester** $28
Total for course*** $1725 (575 x 3 credits = 1725)

Click here to browse our course listings.

*applicable when you register after deadline; non-refundable unless course has been cancelled

** applicable when checks returned unpaid

*** Courses can vary from one to six credits; this total represents a standard 3 credit course


The University of Massachusetts is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

Did you know?

University of Massachusetts has earned several awards for its distance learning programs, faculty and technology including:

  • University of Massachusetts Lowell's B.S. in Information Technology Ranked Among Top Affordable Online IT Degrees by Get Educated in 2011
  • UMass Ranked Among Top 10 Best Colleges in Online Education in Communication & Public Relations Degrees, 2011 by The Best Colleges
  • UMass ranks 19th highest-rated university in the world by the Times of London.
  • UMass ranked 56th in the Times of London's Top 200
  • UMassOnline, UMass Boston President's Special Achievement Award, Valerie C. Haven, Sloan-C 2010 Awards
  • University of Massachusetts Ranked Among Top 28 Best Value in Online Education for Human Services & Psychology Professionals, 2009 by Get Educated
  • Ranked Top 10 Online Degrees Colleges- September 2009 (Online Degree Reviews.com)
  • UMassOnline Awarded Public Sector of the Year by Mass Technology Leadership Council , 2008
  • Most Outstanding Online Teaching and Learning Program, UMass Lowell's Online Graduate Behavioral Intervention in Autism Program, Sloan Consortium Excellence Awards, 2008
  • 'Excellence in Online Teaching' Award, Dr. Jeannette E. Riley, Sloan Consortium Excellence Awards, 2008
  • 21st Century Best Practices Award, United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA)
  • Program of Excellence, University Continuing Education Association (UCEA)-Journalism Certificate
  • Excellence in Faculty Development, Sloan-C Excellence Awards
  • Excellence in Online Programming, Sloan-C Excellence Awards
  • Excellence in Online Teaching, Sloan-C Excellence Awards
  • UMass Amherst Isenberg MBA, Top 10 national rankings, #4 Best Professors (2005, 2006, 2007 Princeton Review: Best Business Schools rankings)
  • 4th in Primary Care Education, U.S. World Reports
  • Excellence in Distance Teaching Education

The following items must be submitted to apply to enter the Critical and Creative Thinking program as an M.A. or Graduate Certificate student.

1. Undergraduate Transcripts
The CCT Program looks for a generally distinguished undergraduate transcript with an average of at least 3.0 in advanced undergraduate work. For students with a strong record of accomplishment in other areas, the CCT Admissions committee will recommend provisional admission with the stipulation that the student completes two courses in the program with a course grade of B+ or better.

2. Letters of Recommendation
Three letters are required from people who have worked closely with you and who have direct knowledge of your abilities. The people you ask to recommend you should be able to comment in detail about your academic strengths, work experience, or life experience.

3. Statement of Interest and Intent
An essay of at least 1200 words is required in which you explain your intellectual, artistic, professional or personal reasons for wanting to pursue a degree in Critical and Creative Thinking. 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.

4. 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.

5. Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
Required from students from countries where English is not the primary language

6. Declaration and Certification of Finances
Required from all International Students taking 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.

7. Personal Disclosure Form

Transfer of Courses
With the approval of the Graduate Program Director, the University allows graduate students to transfer up to 6 credits of graduate work from outside UMB and up to 6 credits of UMB courses taken before matriculating into the Program. Grades must be a B or higher, and an official transcript is needed for courses taken outside UMB. Students starting their coursework in the summer do not matriculate until the fall but may submit a pre-matriculation waiver so that all credits taken in the summer count.

Course Waivers
If you bring an unusually strong background in a particular subject area and have written documentation to verify this, it may be appropriate to have a course waived and have another course substituted in its place in your program. If you wish to apply to have a course waived, write a clear letter of request to the Program Coordinator, attaching copies of the appropriate documentation and identifying the course you wish to substitute.

Non-Degree Students
Non-degree students who have an undergraduate degree may enroll in CCT courses on a space available basis. Non-degree students can enroll in courses during the registration period set aside by the University. If your experience as a non-degree student leads you to decide to apply to the Program, please do so before you take a third course because only 6 credits of UMB courses taken before matriculation can be counted toward your degree. Any exceptions to this policy must be addressed by submitting a Pre-Matriculation Waiver Form which must be approved.

Plan of Study: 

About the Courses
Students seeking a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree take 11 courses (33 credits). Most students undertake the regular track, which involves coursework that draws upon the faculty’s expertise in psychology, philosophy, education, science, and other fields. Alternatively, a Graduate Certificate in Critical and Creative Thinking is available to those who wish to complement a Master’s degree in another program or otherwise do not wish to pursue a full M.A. Students with particular interests in science may instead choose to pursue a related track called Science in a Changing World, which places an emphasis on applications of critical and creative thinking to science and social change and also leads to an M.A. degree or Graduate Certificate.

The M.A. in Critical and Creative Thinking can be earned completely through face-to-face sections, completely through online sections, or through a combination. CCT courses also allow students from other graduate programs to fulfill requirements or electives for courses in critical and creative thinking, curriculum development, research and writing for reflective practice, urban and social justice education, teaching in the different subject areas, and dialogue and collaboration in organizational change.

Non-degree students can also take CCT courses; this opportunity, together with workshops, summer institutes, monthly evening forums, and invitations to join online communities of practice further extend the range of educational experiences offered by the Program. To accommodate the schedules of teachers and other professionals, courses are offered after 4 pm, in intensive sessions during the summer, and online. While it is possible for a full-time student to complete the Master’s program in one calendar year, most students combine the program with their ongoing careers and therefore take at least two or three years.  M.A. students complete the four foundation courses, four electives, and three final required “research and engagement” courses including a capstone synthesis.

Foundation Courses:
CRCRTH 601 Critical Thinking
CRCRTH 602 Creative Thinking
CRCRTH 651 Advanced Cognitive Psychology
PHIL 501/CRCRTH 603 Foundations of Philosophical Thought

CRCRTH 611 Seminar in Critical Thinking (theme varies each offering)
CRCRTH 612 Seminar in Creativity (theme varies each offering)
CRCRTH 616 Dialogue Processes
CRCRTH 618 Creative Thinking, Collaboration and Organizational Change
CRCRTH 619 Biomedical Ethics
CRCRTH 627 Issues in Antiracist and Multicultural Education
CRCRTH 630 Creativity in the Literature and Arts
CRCRTH 640 Environment, Science and Society: Critical Thinking
CRCRTH 645 Biology in Society: Critical Thinking
CRCRTH 649 Scientific and Political Change
CRCRTH 650 Mathematical Thinking
CRCRTH 652 Children and Science
CRCRTH 653 Epidemiological Thinking and Population Health
CRCRTH 655 Metacognition
CRCRTH 670 Thinking, Learning, and Computers
CRCRTH 688 Reflective Practice
WOST 597 Gender, Race and the Complexities of Science and Technology

Research and Engagement:
CRCRTH 692 Processes of Research and Engagement
CRCRTH 693 Action Research for Educational, Professional & Personal Change
CRCRTH 694 Synthesis of Theory and Practice

Financial Aid: 

Availability of financial aid varies depending on matriculation and course status. Please check with your program manager or advisor to determine your eligibility. Generally, if you are matriculated in a degree program and are enrolled in a minimum of 6 credits each semester, you may qualify for financial aid. Please review our Financial Aid Checklist below.

  1. Fill out the FAFSA form at https://studentaid.gov. It is important to list the University of Massachusetts Boston school code number 002222.
  2. For more information or if you have further questions, please contact Financial Aid Services at 617.287.6300 or at finaid@umb.edu


For more information or if you have further questions, please contact Financial Aid Services at 617.287.6300 or at finaid@umb.edu.