Master of Arts in Humanities

Individually-designed, interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary studies


The Limited-Residency Master of Arts Humanities Program provides opportunities for students to develop individually-designed, interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary studies in three major academic areas:

  • Traditional Humanities (Arts and Letters)
  • Cultural Studies
  • Social Sciences

Humanities students are encouraged to develop individualized study areas that incorporate cultural, historical, philosophical, political and social aspects of their disciplines and work.

Numerous options are possible within the large framework of philosophy, mythology, and spirituality, including religious studies, ecofeminism, cosmology, dialogical ecology, spiritual studies, comparative religions and theology. It is also possible within Humanities to focus a degree on some nonclinical areas in psychology such as wellness, gerontology, ecopsychology, depth psychology, forensic psychology, spiritual psychology or psychology of women.

Traditional Humanities (Arts and Letters)

A Creative Writing Concentration might emphasize fiction writing, poetry, creative nonfiction, journalism, technical writing or environmental writing. Literature students might choose to study an era or genre of literature or a critical focus such as ecoliteracy or postcolonial literature and criticism. In the Visual Arts, students can concentrate in art education or art theory; any of these areas might include a studio focus such as photography, sculpture or painting. In addition, students pursue programs in other Arts and Letters disciplines, including photojournalism, theater, media studies, video or film theory or production, and dance.

Cultural Studies

A Cultural Studies focus can include such specific areas as geography, language or literature or social relationships. Cultural studies often concentrate on a specific people, place, or time, such as popular culture, African-American studies, Diné (Navajo) culture, language preservation, history of the Southwest, Spanish, international studies, sociology, historic preservation and so on.

Many disciplines in cultural studies focus on a particular aspect of human identity such as class studies or working-class studies; gender, queer, gay-lesbian-bisexual- transgender or sexuality studies; or women’s or men’s studies.

It is common for students to focus on one of the disciplines within Cultural Studies that are based on social and ecological responsibility, such as political science, international development, sustainable community development, globalism and economics, social sustainability solidarity studies, conflict resolution, social ecology, dialogical ecology, justice and activism studies, or peace studies. Other students with an interest in the social sciences concentrate their studies in the fields of anthropology and archaeology.

Concentration in Justice, Activism and Solidarity 

Prescott College requires its graduate students to develop social and ecological literacies, which results in students considering how their particular discipline specifically and responsibly engenders social justice, solidarity or environmental justice. Students pursuing a Concentration in Social Justice, Activism and Solidarity often focus their work on some aspect of human social and cultural life, such as the sociopolitical dimensions and dynamics of culture and power, or the social constructs of race, gender and class. Other students explore the realm of environmental justice as it relates to the intersections of the natural and nonhuman environment with human and social environments.

Concentration in Social Ecology

Students pursuing degrees in Limited-Residency Master of Arts Environmental Studies and Humanities degrees have the opportunity to work with faculty members from the Institute for Social Ecology (ISE) and participate in the Institute's activities as a part of their program. Students attend the Colloquia along with their ISE Advisors and also have the opportunity to participate in colloquia, conferences, and courses offered by ISE, incorporating these activities into their studies.

Study plans can incorporate key words in the philosophy, science, politics, and praxis of social ecology, which have been central to ISE's own curricula over the past three decades.

Historically, social ecology has pioneered explorations of ecological approaches to food production, alternative technologies, and urban design, and articulated an ecologically-grounded political and philosophical outlook. The Institute has played an essential, catalytic role in movements challenging global injustices and a variety of unsustainable technologies, offering participatory, community-based alternatives. The Institute strives to be an agent of social transformation, demonstrating the skills, ideas and relationships that can nurture vibrant, self-governed, healthy communities.

Concentration in Visual Arts

At the heart of this concentration is the expectation that students commit to bringing depth to their work through advanced study and application of art criticism, art theory and art history, delving deeply into the actual content of their work and integrating concepts as visual statements in a chosen art form or medium.

Students integrate historical, theoretical and critical concepts with dedicated studio work as they develop personal vision, creativity and expression. Visual Arts students also give attention to the development and verbal and visual articulation of content inspired by social, cultural or environmental concerns.

The Limited-Residency Master of Arts Program Visual Arts Concentration differs from a master of fine arts degree in that it is not a studio-based degree, but rather a theoretical degree with a studio emphasis. Students wishing to pursue this concentration must have access to a studio where they can create art and practice all techniques or media studied. Students are encouraged to participate in art institutes, residencies and apprenticeships.

Concentration in Creative or Expressive Arts

The concepts and practices of expression and creativity extend far beyond the study of art history and theory, or the practice of various art techniques and media, to a realm where art and aesthetics are explored as integral and integrative components of life and community.

The study of expression, creativity and art encompasses traditional visual and literary arts; dance, music and performance; and aesthetic considerations including architecture, landscape, and community development and planning.

The expressive arts are used both therapeutically and in nontherapeutic applications that are beneficial to the wellness and sustainability of individuals, businesses and community. Development and expression of art and creativity benefit the mind, body and spirit, and enhance human experiences, both personally and professionally.

A Concentration in Creative Arts or Expressive Arts can prepare one for a job facilitating or teaching creativity and the arts through expressive arts consulting, community art centers, wellness centers and more. This concentration can be designed to correspond with the developing requirements for the Registered Expressive Arts Consultant/Educator through the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association.

Concentration in History

History includes more than collective memory. Students concentrating in History seek to understand a complex interpretation of the past that accounts for multiple perspectives.

For instance, students in Environmental History might study the changes and continuities over time in the metaphors that various peoples have used to describe their relationships with their surroundings. A student of the History of the American West might consider how particular patterns of gender communication in a given community affected the social and economic structures of that community. A student of Native American History might try to explain both enduring traditions and changing circumstances by drawing on a broad range of oral and written sources, music and dance performances, and artifacts.

One goal of this concentration is innovation – to look to the past for diverse alternatives to the present, to collect testimony from other times and to recompose this testimony into narrative.

Concentration in Nature, Gender and Spirituality

This concentration enables students to pursue studies related to ecology, feminism and religion. These three interpretive lenses provide an interdisciplinary prism for asking critical questions about a wide range of topics, from ecofeminism to sacred geography, and from nature mysticism to the green future of religions.

Possible questions include

  • How do gendered power relations interact with environmental policies?
  • How might practices of contemplation and conservation inform one another?
  • How are philosophies of the cosmos gendered?
  • What can feminism bring to environmental ethics?

This concentration brings these three topics into conversation in order to gain tools for living sustainably, while practicing social justice and engaged spirituality.

Concentration in Spirituality

Master’s students may focus their work on customary academic disciplines relating to spirituality, such as comparative religions or theology, or other interdisciplinary and distinctive aspects of spirituality. Students with a Concentration in Spirituality have focused their work on the intersections of spirituality and sociology, by examining issues of social justice or spiritual direction in conjunction with a combination of global theologies.

Some students complete holistic programs that examine the intersections of the spiritual, physical, emotional and mental through scholarship relating to forms of self-development; for example, a comparative study of yoga or tai chi, various forms of meditation and transpersonal psychology.Emphases may include a study and practice of the world’s sacred texts and traditions, women’s spiritual traditions, spiritual psychology, interfaith studies, contemplative spirituality, cosmology or liberation theology.

In addition, students may be able to combine their Master of Arts program studies with a residential program such as an interfaith or nondenominational seminary. 

Concentration in Border Studies

Border regions offer cutting-edge learning environments for students interested in understanding connections between local cultures, economies, environments and processes of globalization. The US-Mexico border, a dynamic region experiencing the direct impacts of global change, presents rich opportunities for study. The Prescott College Concentration in Border Studies offers access to networks of scholars as well as hands-on experience working with community, social justice, environmental, and cultural organizations in the US–Mexico border region.

With bioregional centers in Tucson, Ariz., and Kino Bay, Sonora, Mexico, and a program for Indigenous educators, Prescott College’s Border Studies Concentration supports applied scholarship and community-based action research that offers students opportunities to learn directly from and work with the experts: the communities most affected by globalization and leading movements for social, environmental and economic justice in the region. In addition to a Humanities or Cultural Studies approach to Border Studies, this Concentration may also be carried out in Education or Environmental Studies.

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