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Graduate Studies

The graduate programs in English at McGill are among the finest in Canada. Students have the opportunity to become specialists in literature, cultural studies, or drama and theatre, and through course work and research these streams may be combined. Located in the McCall-MacBain Arts Building, the original structure of a college established by endowments from James McGill in 1821, the Department of English enjoys pride of place on the historic lower campus in the heart of downtown Montreal.  


The PhD program, designed to be completed in six years, begins with course work and culminates in a dissertation that makes an original contribution to scholarship. The MA program program is a two-year degree with two research options – a thesis or a shorter research paper. Both programs are pathways to the next level in academic careers in English. Graduates also go on to law, politics, education, writing and publishing, and a host of other fields. Each year there are approximately eighty graduate students in the department at various stages of their degrees.


PhD and MA students enroll in common graduate courses, which are small, discussion-based seminars. Courses range from the medieval to the contemporary period, and draw on critical theory and diverse methods in literary analysis, literary history, cultural studies, and theatre and performance studies. MA students take a core course in bibliography emphasizing the fundamentals of humanities research. Two professional seminars prepare PhD students for leading roles as teachers and researchers in English. 


Admission to the PhD comes with a guaranteed internal funding package including tuition. MA students have opportunities to work as research assistants through faculty members’ grants. Employment as a teaching assistant is a routine part of the PhD and sometimes a possibility in the MA. The department supports all graduate students in their applications for external awards, and many are successful in winning fellowships from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSRHC) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC). 

Handbook & Policies

Writing a research proposal, taking courses, fulfilling the language requirement – these and all other aspects of the PhD and MA programs are described in detail in the Graduate Handbook of the Department of English. The Handbook is the first place to look for answers to specific questions about completing your degree. 


Research Opportunities

We encourage our graduate students to pursue opportunities wherever their research leads them, in Canada or abroad. The Department of English offers funding for students undertaking archival research or presenting their work at a conference. 

English Graduate Student Association (EGSA)

The English Graduate Student Association (EGSA) represents PhD and MA students to the department, faculty, and university, while enriching the student experience through its own social and academic activities. From organizing professionalization events to hosting guest speakers, there are dozens of ways to get involved. 

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