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Critical Studies

Critical Studies provides context for the work you make. It is your bridge between the studio and the world, between the classroom and the community. This is where students of all disciplines share common ground.

Critical Studies connects us to the world around us, helping us to understand our community and, in turn, become an influential part of it. The program will help you transform into a lifelong learner, and further your ability to communicate. Your thoughts will mature and through dialogue and questions become the root of your creations. We’ll position you to ask the questions and seek the answers that matter to you.

Our Curriculum

Science, art history, writing and humanities teach us not only about the past but also about the future. Your future. In a creative world, your voice is important on so many levels — written, spoken and visual. 


Art History courses Humanities courses Science courses  Writing courses 
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Art History

Art History courses are woven through your education at MIAD. Studying the history of making offers you a context for your own pursuits. Art History at MIAD looks beyond the aesthetic and function of art and design to develop an understanding of the why behind the work. These discoveries are complemented by active learning and professional experiences such as field trips and internships. MIAD’s educational partnerships with the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago provide opportunities to access extensive, world-class collections of art and design in the Midwest.


As a creative professional, your influence on your community and culture can be transformative. Studying the Humanities at MIAD enriches your awareness of the world and diverse forms of human endeavor. Through philosophical, historical, literary, theological, psychological and sociological texts and contexts, human beings find meaning. You’ll follow the human impulse to discover connections, to assign meaning to human endeavors and to understand the world from the perspectives of others. Study of the Humanities is key to a dynamic creative practice, enabling engagement with your community. MIAD’s Humanities courses will help you hone your voice and challenge you to make a difference in the world.


Lakes, rivers, forests and prairies surround Milwaukee — they’ll be your playgrounds in the study of Natural Sciences. Here, you don’t just study, you do science: you touch, look and smell as you fully and deeply experience nature, whether that calls for drilling through the ice, wading in a river or figuring out what you see under a microscope. Natural Sciences will challenge you to go outside of your comfort zone, discover information, make sense of it, form your own thinking about it and share that information with your peers and community. The scientific method will provide a basis for your exploration and thinking in the natural sciences as you become a critical lifelong learner.


At MIAD, you will explore writing as a means for ideation, critical thinking, analysis, innovation, problem solving, reflection, expression and representation of the self. As you learn how to make meaningful decisions through language and form, you’ll experience writing as a rich mode of inquiry, enabling you to inventory what you know, develop ideas and use language in creative and critical ways. At the upper levels of study, the Writing curriculum is increasingly self-directed, inviting you to integrate writing in your professional and creative processes. Through composing personally meaningful work that speaks to an audience and connects to the public, you will discover the power of writing as making.