Quick Links

Graduate Handbook

Contact us:

Graduate Studies in English
McGill University
Arts Building, Room  270
853 Sherbrooke West
Montreal, QC H3A 0G5

Tel.: 514-398-6564 (?)
Fax: 514-398- 8557

The Department

The Department of English is made up of 35 full-time faculty, including noted scholars in all periods of English literature, as well as specialists in contemporary theories of literature, film, drama and theatre, and culture. Full-time faculty in the department are available as instructors and supervisors at both levels of graduate study: the MA and PhD. Their activity as researchers complements their commitment to the training of young scholars, not only by its immediate relevance to their teaching but by students' frequent involvement as research assistants in faculty projects.

The graduate students of the English Department maintain the English Graduate Students' Association (EGSA) as a forum for representation of their concerns to the department and as an information exchange and social network for students. EGSA representatives make their experience in the graduate program available to new students upon their arrival in Montreal.

The University

McGill University offers a wide range of scholarly materials and research facilities. Library collections are extensive. Moreover, Rare Books and Special Collections houses manuscripts, archives, documents and private papers from a variety of writers. Highlights of library holdings include the William Blake Collection, the Lande Canadiana Collection, and the Burney Project, internationally renowned for its editions of the letters of Fanny Burney. Canadian literature is especially prominent in the Rare Books collection - a reflection of McGill's role in the establishment of modern Canadian literature.

Each year the English Department hosts a Visiting Speakers series. The McGill Institute for the Study of Canada runs a similar series. Various student theatre groups perform regularly during the school year. The Drama and Theatre Program of the English Department mounts two major productions at Moyse Hall, the historic auditorium in the Arts Building.

These McGill resources are complemented by the library and special collections of l'Université de Montreal, l'Université du Québec a Montréal, and Concordia University, accessible to McGill students through a special library exchange. The Bibliothèque Nationale du Québec is situated not far from the McGill campus and houses extensive collections, including materials relevant to Quebec Studies. In addition, Montreal is the site of the National Theatre School, whose productions appear in the recently restored Monument National, and of the Cinemathèque Québecoise, whose screenings and archives are invaluable for scholars involved in film and cultural studies.

The Graduate Program

The Department of English offers graduate programs leading to the MA and PhD degrees. MA and PhD students enroll in common graduate courses.

The MA Program

The Department offers two programs leading towards the degree of Master of Arts, the Thesis program and the Non-thesis (Research Paper) program. Both programs are designed to be completed in four semesters of twelve credits each, though the Non-thesis option has sometimes allowed students to finish in three terms. Please note, however, that students who elect to complete in twelve months must register and pay fees for the summer term. The two programs are similar. In both programs an introductory Bibliography Seminar is compulsory in the first semester. This course in library research methods and current professional concerns, taught jointly by several members of the department, is also important in the creation of a community of Master's candidates.

In the Thesis program the student chooses five semester-long courses in consultation with the Director and Advisors of the program (see Course Offerings, below). Candidates are encouraged to select courses particularly relevant to their intended thesis research and to continue their exploration of the full range of periods and approaches in English literary study. Students should therefore enroll in courses that expand their coverage of the discipline. The Master's thesis is written during and after course completion in close consultation with the thesis supervisor. In the Non-thesis program the student chooses seven semester-long courses in consultation with the Director and Advisors in the program. The Research Paper is undertaken during the period of course work and completed shortly thereafter.

The PhD Program

The doctoral program in English combines course work with an emphasis on independent research prior to and during the dissertation. Major and minor areas of concentration are established through course choice and dissertation subject, and a requirement of reading competence in one foreign language pertinent to the research area rounds out the student's academic profile.

Outstanding students with the Master's degree in hand are accepted into PhD II. About six to eight doctoral students are accepted each year; admission to the program is therefore highly competitive. In PhD II students register for two doctoral Pro-Seminars, which amount to an intensive year-long study of current issues in literary theory combined with scrutiny of current professional practice. Students also complete four graduate courses, two in each semester.

In the first semester of PhD III all students undertake the Compulsory Research Project. This semester of intensive supervised study in the dissertation area, culminating in oral examination of a scholarly paper, is an important aspect of preparation for dissertation research. The Language Requirement must also be fulfilled by the end of the second semester of PhD III.

The first semester of PhD IV is intended for initial dissertation research and the submission of the Dissertation Proposal. PhD IV is designed for dissertation research, the candidate consults closely with a supervisor during the research and writing of the doctoral dissertation. Upon successful examination and oral defence of the dissertation, the candidate is awarded the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Departmental support for the candidate does not end with the award of the doctoral degree. The Graduate Placement Officer is a faculty member assigned specifically to assist recent graduates with professional placement. The GPO will comment on covering letters and resumes, oversee the preparation of the student dossier and the running of the departmental dossier service, attend major conferences when possible in the company of recent graduates and draw on all possible professional contacts in an effort to place McGill's graduates promptly and effectively in the academic profession. In the last few years, McGill has been quite successful in placing its students in well-known universities in Canada and the United States.

Course Offerings

Each year the Department of English offers approximately fifteen semester-long graduate courses covering a broad range of English literature, drama and theatre, and cultural studies. Courses vary from year to year. In addition, students in the MA program or in PhD I are permitted to register for up to two seminars at the 500-level. These seminars also cover a wide range of periods and approaches.


Applications to the Master's program are invited from students who have or will have completed a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honours in English (or equivalent), with a minimum CGPA of 3.5. Applications to the Doctoral program are invited from students who hold an MA. Students who have demonstrated excellence in a related discipline may apply to a Qualifying Year in order to complete their preparation for graduate study in English. Applications and all supporting documents are due in the office of the Graduate Coordinator of the Department of English by January 15th.