Included in Artsy’s list of The Top 15 Art Programs in the country, the Art and Social Practice MFA is a three-year flexible residency program combining individual practice, group work, community partnerships, and experiential learning with diverse faculty. The program’s blend of critical and professional practice, alternative pedagogy, collaborative social engagement, and transdisciplinary exploration produces an immersive educational environment. As an extension of the program’s unique approach, graduate students have the opportunity to collaborate directly in ongoing projects including:

King School Museum of Contemporary Art (KSMoCA)
KSMoCA is a contemporary art museum inside of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School (PreK-5th) in NE Portland, OR. KSMoCA’s programs are collaboratively developed with the school community, PSU students, and a team of artists. 

Columbia River Correctional Institution: Conceptual Art in Prison
An artist-led set of programs and classes held at the Columbia River Correctional Institution, a minimum-security prison in Portland. Currently, a weekly class on autobiography writing is offered. Students on the inside read autobiographies and write their own with Professor Harrell Fletcher in collaboration with MFA Program student Laura Glazer, artist Chris Johanson, and visiting authors and artists. When they finish writing, students have the option for their writing to be edited, illustrated, and published. Past programming includes an Artist Residency for incarcerated artists, a variety show produced inside the prison, and graduate student-initiated special projects.

The 90 credit, 3-year course encourages students to shape the direction of their own education and continually develop the program as a whole. Students connect their art practice to research in the field of Social Practice through electives and community partnerships, promoting cross-disciplinary engagement. To support writing and web-based projects that offer documentation, critique, commentary and context for a field that is active and expanding, the program produces Social Forms of Art, an online journal that centers interviews as artistic research. Graduating students are offered the opportunity to design and teach their own class; they also each produce a graduate project, a public artist lecture surveying their work in the program, and a graduate publication that adds to the unique breadth of publications on socially engaged art emerging from the program. Each Spring the program hosts Assembly, a co-authored social practice conference with workshops, lectures, and participatory projects. A Visiting Artist program creates exposure and sustained mentorship for students through the academic year. The Art & Social Practice Archive, an initiative housed in the PSU Library Special Collections, is the first public archive of ephemera related to art and social practice.

Apply here.

The program accepts five students annually. Interested persons are encouraged to make arrangements to visit the program.


Midori Yamanaka’s What’s Your Name? at Assembly 2023, King School Museum of Contemporary Art, Portland, OR.
Publication Book Fair at Assembly 2023, King School Museum of Contemporary Art, Portland, OR.
Kye Grant and Mo Geiger’s Safety Patrol Hi Visibility Crosswalk Spectacular at Assembly 2023, King School Museum of Contemporary Art, Portland, OR.

Videos about the program made by alumni

Video by Salty Xi Jie Ng, 2019.

Video by Roz Crews, 2019.