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How to apply

Applications to the graduate program in English are accepted between 15 August and 15 January for entrance in the following fall term (September). It is not possible to begin graduate studies in English at McGill in the winter term (January).

Applications for admission to McGill graduate programs are now processed entirely through the online uApply system.  For detailed instructions on how to apply and how to upload required supporting documents, please see: www.mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/apply/prepare.

Important Introductory Notes:

  1. Contact for Questions: For any questions about the application process, please contact the English Graduate Coordinator, Maria Vasile, directly, at: maria [dot] vasile [at] mcgill [dot] caThe online uApply system offers a “Communication” tool embedded within the application program, but it is much more efficient if questions are sent to the department directly. 

  2. Language: English Department graduate programs do not focus on study of the English language, or of English as a second language, or on translation studies. In fact, fluency in both written and spoken English is a fundamental necessity for study in both our MA and PhD programs. 

  3. Contacting Potential Supervisors: Individual professors in the English Department do not participate in the admissions decisions that are made by the Graduate Administration Committee, and normally do not communicate with that admissions committee. So, contrary to the general instructions given by McGill’s Faculty of Graduate Studies, it is not necessary to contact the department or get the support of an individual faculty member as a potential supervisor before applying.

Application and Required Documents

All supplemental application materials and supporting documents must be uploaded directly to the McGill admissions processing system. See www.mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/apply/submitting-your-documents for information and instructions.

Please submit the following documentation by 15 January:

  1. Online Application for Admission form: www.mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/apply/ready. Please note that it is very important to complete the document in full for your application to be processed.

  2. Application Fee: A non-refundable application fee of approximately $100.00 (Canadian) is payable by credit card when you submit the form. Applications cannot be processed without this payment. Please Note: We do not accept cash or personal cheques.

  3. Transcripts: Copies of all college or university transcripts (undergraduate and graduate) are required—and must be uploaded to the uApply system. This includes transcripts for all post-secondary institutions listed on your “Education History.” Transcripts in languages other than English or French must be accompanied by an English or French translation provided by the institution issuing the transcript or by a certified translator. An explanation of the grading system used by the applicant's university is also helpful—and can be included at the end of the transcript. Transcripts can be sent before the application is completed in full. Transcripts submitted during the application process can be student copies of official transcripts, or “unofficial” copies downloaded from a self-serve university web system. Indeed all transcripts received via the uploading process are considered “unofficial.” At a later date, students who receive an offer of admission will be asked to submit official and complete versions of all transcript documents in hard copy, as a condition of admission.

  4. Letters of Recommendation: Two (2) confidential letters of recommendation are required for all applicants, from instructors familiar with the applicant's work. On the online application form you must provide the names and email addresses of at least two professors who are familiar with your academic work. The system will then contact these referees and invite them to upload references on your behalf. When providing contact information for their referees, applicants may list public domain addresses such as Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo Mail on the application form. But please note that the admissions system asks that all reference letters be uploaded from a valid institutional or professional e-mail address. (In rare cases where a certain referee does not have an institutional e-mail address, or a student’s previous school does not have official e-mail addresses, the applicant should contact the English Department.) Letters of recommendation can be uploaded before the application is completed in full. If an applicant has been out of school for a few years, one letter from an employer or a colleague can be sent, but academic references are generally more effective. 

  5. Personal Statement: Applicants should submit a detailed “statement of purpose” of 750-800 words describing the nature of the research to be pursued at McGill. Although it is given the title of “personal statement,” this statement should focus on the research program rather than personal biography. It might highlight the intended field of study, the media involved (literature, film, theatre), the relevant authors, the period, the approach, the research questions, past training or research projects in these areas, and/or the match with McGill resources in this field. The “Personal Statement” should also serve as an example of advanced ability in critical writing. The admissions committee places considerable emphasis on this statement.

  6. Writing Sample: All applicants must upload a writing sample that demonstrates the quality of the applicant's academic work. PhD applicants should upload a section of their MA thesis or MA research project, or a strong graduate seminar paper (with a length of from 15 to 25 pages, double-spaced). MA applicants should submit a successful, advanced undergraduate essay (with a length of from 10 to 20 pages, double-spaced).

 Documents 1-6 must be received in order for an application to be complete. Incomplete applications will not be processed until all of the above documentation has been received. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that all documents, including the letters of recommendation, are uploaded by the application deadline of January 15.

English Language Competence: Non-Canadian applicants whose mother tongue is not English, and who have not completed an undergraduate degree in an English-language department or school, will normally be required to submit documented proof of competency in English (e.g., minimum score of 575 on TOEFL [Test of English as a Foreign Language] or an equivalent test).

Additional Information:

The following should also be submitted, if available:

Tests Taken: Submit the results of any GRE, TOEFL or IELTS examinations that you have taken. Our department does not require GRE test results, but such results can be sent to supplement an application. 

Honours, Awards, Distinctions: Such a list is not required, but, if an applicant has received significant honours, awards, or scholarships in the past, these can be noted in a separate, clearly marked section (under the heading “Honours, Awards, Distinctions”)—just after the Personal Statement, as part of the same uploaded document. Provide a list, indicating whether the award is national, local or institutional, and the monetary value of any award, if applicable.

Publications and Academic Presentations: Again, such a listing is not required of all applicants, but if an applicant does have a significant record of publication, then this can also be noted in a separate, clearly marked section (under the heading “Publications and Presentations”)—just after the Personal Statement, as part of the same uploaded document. List separately any refereed or non-refereed publications, and any academic papers given. 

Selection of Thesis or Non-Thesis (Research Paper) Option for MA application: The decision to select the Thesis or Non-Thesis option has no bearing on admissions decisions, and is certainly not binding on any student who is admitted. Many of our MA students switch their selected option during their first term at McGill, after having consulted with advisors and potential supervisors. Neither option is considered to be more academically serious, more likely to lead to later acceptance in a doctoral or professional program, or more likely to lead to success in competitions for fellowship support (such as SSHRC grants). Both of McGill’s MA options involve substantial course work followed by the completion of an extended, independent research project. 

Notification of Decision by the Graduate Administration Committee: Notification letters will be sent simultaneously by the department’s graduate director and by the online admissions system. In some rare cases, decisions may be delayed pending final marks which are not available until April or May; if this is the case, a letter will be sent to you requesting that you submit your final marks as soon as possible. PhD applicants will be notified between early February and mid-March; MA applicants will be notified between the end of March and mid-April.

Qualifying Year Program: If an applicant has done superior undergraduate work in a related discipline but has not taken enough English courses to be admitted into directly into the MA program, he/she may be considered for a Qualifying Year.

Fellowships and Funding: All applicants are automatically considered for available fellowships and other funding, and will be notified of any funding offers at the same time that they are contacted with the admissions decision. 

If you have any further questions regarding your application, please contact the Graduate Coordinator directly by e-mail.