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Graduate Admissions

Admissions Requirements

Entrance into either the MA or PhD programs is limited to the best qualified applicants. A minimum CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) of 3.3 or the equivalent, i.e., 75%, is required, though successful applicants typically have CGPAs that exceed this minimum. The Department places a high priority on demonstrated scholarly ability, a track record of academic achievement, and fitness between an applicant’s research interests and those of our faculty. Evidence of these qualities will be taken from an applicant’s academic transcripts, curriculum vitae (scholarships and awards, publications and other contributions, relevant experience), academic letters of reference, writing samples, and statement of research interests. While all applicants are strongly encouraged to be in contact with prospective supervisors in advance of submitting the application, it is not strictly required; as well, it is important to note that final decisions regarding supervision are made only after the admissions committee has selected the successful applicants.

Art History: The Department requires a research statement of at least 250 words outlining the candidate's particular research interest in Art History as well as a sample of his/her written work such as a seminar paper or, in the case of PhD applicants, all or part of the MA paper or thesis.

MA Program

Art History: To apply to the MA program, candidates are normally expected to have a BA degree in art history or in another closely related field; candidates may come from other fields such as literary studies, comparative literature, ethnic studies, Canadian studies, architecture, urban planning, film studies, history, performance studies, or philosophy/aesthetics, but must have taken at least 10 courses relating to the history and theory of some aspect of the visual arts, preferably covering a wide range of historical time periods and geographical regions. In exceptional cases, applicants without a strong background in art history may be admitted but with additional requirements arranged in consultation with the Graduate Program Director to be completed before matriculation in the MA program. Candidates for the MA in Art History will benefit from establishing contact with a prospective supervisor or at least listing one or two potential supervisors on the application.

Communication Studies: An Honours Bachelor's degree or equivalent is required of applicants for the MA program, as noted, with a minimum CGPA of 3.3. An undergraduate degree in Communication Studies is not required for admission to the MA program though demonstrated ability in a related area of study is an asset.

PhD Programs

Generally an MA or an equivalent degree in a closely related field (Art History or Communication Studies), as well as evidence of talent and previous research in Art History or Communication Studies are required for admission to the PhD programs (for additional information on Art History requirements, see above under MA Program/Art History).

Candidates with an MA will be admitted into Phase II of the doctoral program, thereby gaining credit for one year of resident study.

Art History: All candidates for the PhD. program are strongly advised to contact a potential supervisor well in advance of submitting the application in order to establish a relationship. Applicants who have not vetted their research proposal (application statement) with a potential supervisor are unlikely to be admitted; however, a positive response from an individual faculty member regarding supervisory interest does not guarantee admission.

Communication Studies: Admission to the PhD program is conditional on a strong fit between a candidate’s research interests and those of our faculty. It is not required that applicants contact potential supervisors, or establish a supervisory commitment, prior to application. However, applicants may wish contact faculty members in order to gauge their interest and availability to supervise, as this can be a factor in admissions decisions. A positive response from an individual faculty member regarding supervisory interest does not guarantee admission.

Application Deadlines

MA: January 15 for following September admission.

PhD: January 15 for following September admission.

January admissions for the MA and PhD. Programs are extremely rare, but under exceptional circumstances (to be discussed with the Graduate Program Director) can be arranged.

Application Process

As of October 2012, McGill’s formerly paper-based graduate application process has been replaced with a more convenient electronic version. For detailed instructions on how to apply and how to upload required supporting documents in the new version, please see: http://www.mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/apply/prepare

For Questions about departmental processes or requirements:

Contact the Graduate Program Coordinator: Maureen Coote, maureen [dot] coote [at] mcgill [dot] ca; 514-398-4933

For Questions about university applications procedures, contact McGill Service Point: 514-398-7878; http://www.mcgill.ca/students/servicepoint

FAQ - Admissions Frequently Asked Questions

My interests cover both Communications and Art History. What is the exact relationship between the two disciplines within the Department? Can I do a joint degree in both programs?

The degree programs in Art History and Communications Studies offer separate graduate degrees within our Department. Nevertheless, many students in one discipline will take one or more courses in the other, or include a faculty member from the other discipline on their synthesis exam or thesis committees. While the disciplines are distinct, we are looking to develop areas of possible overlap, such as the study of new media arts or histories of representational technologies (for example, photography). As yet, we do not offer joint graduate degrees in Art History and Communications Studies, though we may develop such degrees in the future.


My undergraduate degree is in a field other than Communications / Art History, but I wish to apply for your MA. Do I need to do a BA in Communications / Art History first?

No. We accept students with a wide variety of backgrounds and previous degrees. We suggest, however, that you use our Statement of Interest to explain the link between your previous degree and your intended area of study. On the Art History side, see the MA section above for more information.


Do your graduate programs in Communication Studies offer practical or professional training in journalism (or public relations or media production or organizational communication)?

No. Our program is oriented towards scholarly study of the history and analysis of communication, media and culture. We do not offer professional training in journalism or media production.


I have extensive professional experience in a communications-related field. Does this experience count for admission?

Our programs are strictly scholarly and research based. For the purposes of admission, you need to demonstrate that you are capable of producing high quality research in an academic setting. Professional experience in the field can complement your application, but it does not substitute for evidence of scholarly ability.


I have an established creative practice and would like to do creative or media work as part of my degree requirement. Is that possible in your Art History/Communication Studies program?

No. Our programs are strictly scholarly and research based, and we do not accept creative or media work in fulfillment of program requirements. We accept many artists and media practitioners, but their work in the program takes the form of scholarly research, presentation, and writing.


What should I put in my Statement of Interest? Must I name a thesis or dissertation supervisor at the moment of applying? Must I have a thesis or dissertation topic already?

Because we receive applications from students with a variety of backgrounds, the Statement of Interest is very useful in helping us to decide whether an applicant will fit within our program. A good Statement of Interest will provide a succinct description of the applicant's interests and intended areas of study. It should not include vague platitudes about the importance of communications or visual arts in the world, or detailed reiteration of your curriculum vitae. While we do not expect you to have a final idea of your MA or PhD thesis topic at the time of applying, you should have some sense of the areas or questions that you wish to pursue.

It is helpful to us if, in your application, you can show how your intended area of study relates to the research or teaching areas of faculty within the Program. For the MA, this includes indicating one or more possible supervisors from among our full-time faculty whose scholarly work reflects your study interests. For the PhD, it is not strictly required that you secure an agreement from a potential supervisor in advance of your application; however, you are strongly advised to contact potential supervisors to determine their availability and interest in supervising your studies.