Eligibility & Admissions

Admissions Requirements | Application Deadlines | Application Process | FAQ

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 fit between an applicant’s research interests and those of our faculty. Evidence of these qualities will be taken from an applicant’s academic transcripts, academic letters of reference, writing samples, research proposal (application statement), and C.V. 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.

Find out more about admissions information on credentials and grade equivalencies for International Students.

Art History: The Department requires a research proposal (application statement) of at least 500 words outlining the candidate's particular research interest in Art History, a C.V. as well as a sample of written work such as a seminar paper or, in the case of Ph.D. applicants, all or part of the MA paper or thesis.

Communication Studies: The Department requires a research proposal (application statement) of at least 500 words outlining the candidate’s particular research interest in Communication Studies, a C.V. as well as two samples of written work such as a seminar paper, or in the case of PhD applicants, all or part of the MA paper or thesis (when applying, please collate these two samples into a single PDF file).


MA Program

Art History: To apply to the MA program in Art History, 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: To apply to the MA program in Communication Studies, candidates are expected to have a BA degree with a minimum CGPA of 3.3. An undergraduate degree in Communication Studies is not required although demonstrated ability in a related area of study is an asset. Potential applicants are encouraged to consult the program description to determine whether their interests and qualifications align with those of the program, as this is an important factor in admissions.

Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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 committee, prior to application. However, applicants may wish to 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

Degree Deadline
MA January 15th for the following September admission
PhD January 15th for the following September admission

Please note that we do not have an admission cycle for Winter terms.

Application Process

Find detailed instructions on how to apply to graduate programs.

For questions about departmental processes or requirements:
AHCS Student Affairs Office
graduate.ahcs [at] mcgill.ca
514-398-4933 

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 your research proposal (application statement) 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 research proposal (application statement)? 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 research proposal (application statement) is very useful in helping us to decide whether an applicant will fit within our program. A good research proposal (application statement) 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. 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.

What about the two required reference letters?

Once you have entered in their contact information, referees will receive and email with instruction for how to upload recommendation letters to the uApply portal. They will receive a reminder every ten days or so. Referees should upload their recommendations letters by the January 15th admissions deadline.

Reference letters can be from an employer – although, at least one has to be from an academic source.

If the letter comes from a non-institutional email domain, it is imperative that the letter the referee uploads indicate their full name and title, name and full address of the institution.

And the writing samples?

Written samples are academic papers ideally drawn from previous undergraduate or graduate studies. However you may write a new piece for your application. These written samples should demonstrate your ability to produce high quality research in an academic setting.

The writing sample(s) can be between 5-40 pages in length. They may be written in French or in English.

For Communication Studies, please collate both written samples into a single PDF file.

Do I need to secure a supervisor prior to submitting an application?

Applicants are not required to secure a supervisor prior to submitting the application. A list of departmental faculty and their research areas is available at: https://www.mcgill.ca/ahcs/people-contacts/faculty. If you find someone whose research area is closely related to your research proposal you can contact the person directly to discuss your interest in the program, your research proposal and supervision. Applicants can also indicate a preferred supervisor when completing the application.

How can I find out about the expected tuition and fees for the graduate program I would like to apply to?

To calculate tuition and fees by semester and program, please use the following calculator: https://www.mcgill.ca/student-accounts/tuition-charges/fallwinter-term-t...

How much funding will I receive if admitted?

Please note that all applicants who are recommended for admission do receive a funding package that is determined at the time that the offer of admission is made. If a student is admitted to one of our programs there are opportunities within the department to either be a research assistant or a teaching assistant. Details are only available once the student is admitted to the program. Admitted students can also become part of the University work study program for employment outside of the department.

Does the university waive the application fee for students in financial need?

Unfortunately, the university does not provide application fee waivers.

How do I know if I have the necessary degree requirements as an International applicant?

For more information regarding international credentials and equivalencies, please consult the following web page: https://www.mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/international/equivalency

English is not my first language, do I have to submit proof of English proficiency?

All international applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency prior to admission. Detailed information is available at: https://mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/international/apply/proficiency

Is the GRE an admission requirement to any of the AHCS graduate programs?

No, the GRE is not an admission requirement for any of our departmental graduate programs.

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