• Please note that the application period for Winter 2023 has closed
  • Fall 2023 application deadline for international students is January 15, 2023 (or earlier, if specified by the department below)
  • Fall 2023 application deadline for Canadian students varies by department (see below)



  • Department of English
  • Arts Building
  • 853 Sherbrooke Street West, Room 155
  • Montreal QC H3A 0G5
  • Canada
  • Telephone: 514-398-6564
  • Email: gradstudies.englishlit [at] mcgill.ca
  • Website: mcgill.ca/english

About English

The Department of English at McGill is unique, in that its program brings together three different but related areas of study: Literature; Drama and Theatre; and Cultural Studies. Graduate students, key participants in all areas of Department life, have the opportunity to explore aspects of Literature, Cultural Studies, Performance, and Theatre History in their seminar work and research. The Department is home to—or is a principal participant in—a number of major collaborative research projects, including the Burney Centre, the McGill Medievalists, the Bibliographic Society of Canada, and research teams on Shakespeare and Performance, Early Modern Conversions, Interacting with Print, Eating in Canada, and Novelists on the Novel. These research groups and projects are the most visible signs of cross-fertilization among the three areas of the Department's work, and of the Department's prominence in the development of interdisciplinary research and teaching at McGill and in the academy in general.

The English Department offers both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees. On average, there are 80 graduate students enrolled in the M.A. and Ph.D. programs each year.

The M.A. program admits 25 students each year from around the world. Unlike many other master's programs in English, the McGill M.A. culminates in a major piece of independent research, either a thesis or research paper, which is carried out under the supervision of a faculty member. Approximately half of McGill M.A. graduates go on to Ph.D. programs either at McGill or elsewhere. Other graduates have found employment with foundations, university development offices, publishing houses, consulting firms, and CEGEPs.

The Ph.D. program admits approximately five students each year from around the world. Doctoral students specialize in a broad range of fields within English studies.

All students who apply are considered for financial support, normally in the form of a scholarship that can be supplemented by Teaching or Research Assistantships.

The Department offers two options toward the M.A. degree; one thesis (45 credits), and the other non-thesis (48 credits). Both options are designed to be completed in four terms and both entail a substantial piece of independent research undertaken with the guidance of a supervisor. It is rare for any student pursuing the M.A. to complete the degree in less than two years, although in certain circumstances it is possible to do so in one year (Fall, Winter, and Summer terms) or in 16 months (Fall, Winter, Summer, and Fall terms). M.A. students must complete the program within three years.

Master of Arts (M.A.) English (Thesis) (45 credits)

In the thesis option, students must successfully complete Graduate Research Seminar (ENGL 694) and five seminars, and write a thesis of 80–100 pages that adheres to the guidelines set under the thesis regulations of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Students submit a proposal for the thesis to the Graduate Administration Committee in the Department; the proposal must be approved before students begin working on the thesis. When completed, the thesis is submitted to the Thesis Office and is reviewed by an External Examiner.

Master of Arts (M.A.) English (Non-Thesis) (48 credits)

In the non-thesis option, students must successfully complete Graduate Research Seminar (ENGL 694) and seven seminars, and write a research paper of 40 pages. Students submit a proposal for the research paper to the Graduate Administration Committee in the Department; the proposal must be approved before students begin to write the research paper. The finished paper is evaluated by the supervisor and a second member of the Department. Although the Non-Thesis (research paper) M.A. is designed to be completed in two years, some students complete the program in one year (Fall, Winter, and Summer terms) or in 16 months (Fall, Winter, Summer, and Fall terms).

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) English

Students with an M.A. in English or a closely related discipline may apply to the Ph.D. program. In their first year (Ph.D. 2), doctoral students are expected to complete the two halves of the compulsory proseminar: ENGL 787 (taken in the Fall term) and ENGL 788 (taken in the Winter term), along with four seminars. The proseminars expose students to current academic issues, theoretical propositions, and professional questions. Students may substitute for the two second-term seminars one extended supervised Optional Research Project. Courses must be chosen in order to make possible the identification of a major and a minor area of concentration.

In this department, the PhD comprehensive exam is covered by ENGL 797 (Compulsory Research Project), to be completed in Ph.D. 3.

Doctoral students must complete the Ph.D. program within six years. A candidate intending to submit the thesis to meet the deadline for Spring Convocation must give notice of this intention before January 1. A candidate intending to meet the deadline for Fall Convocation must give such notice before May 1. The majority of students who complete the Ph.D. proceed to postdoctoral fellowships and teaching positions, either at CEGEP (colleges) or at universities.

Taken from Programs, Courses and University Regulations 2022-2023 (last updated Feb. 7, 2022).

English Admission Requirements and Application Procedures

Admission Requirements

M.A. Degree

Admission to the M.A. program requires a B.A. degree in English (honours or major) or its equivalent, with a very strong record of academic success (especially in the final two years of the B.A.). Typically, applicants will have solid training and coverage within their chosen area of theatre, cultural studies, or literature. Outstanding applicants from related disciplines may be invited to take a Qualifying year.

Ph.D. Degree

Admission to the doctoral program is highly competitive. Generally, outstanding students with the M.A. degree in hand apply to the doctoral program and are accepted into Ph.D. 2. In very rare circumstances, outstanding graduates of B.A. programs will be considered for “fast-tracking” into the doctoral program, entering at Ph.D. 1. For their first year, students follow the M.A. program (Thesis option) and, if their work is given a strong evaluation at the end of the first year, they then go on to complete the remaining requirements of the Ph.D. program.

English Language Proficiency

For graduate applicants whose mother tongue is not English, and who have not completed an undergraduate or graduate degree from a recognized Canadian or American (English or French) institution or from a recognized foreign institution where English is the language of instruction, documented proof of English proficiency is required prior to admission. For a list of acceptable test scores and minimum requirements, visit mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/international/proficiency.

Application Procedures

McGill’s online application form for graduate program candidates is available at mcgill.ca/gradapplicants/apply.

See University Regulations & Resources > Graduate > Graduate Admissions and Application Procedures > Application Procedures for detailed application procedures.

Note: The English Department web page contains detailed instructions meant to help applicants complete the online application form in a way best suited to the Department's needs. See "How to Apply" at mcgill.ca/english/graduate/apply. Applicants are urged to read these departmental instructions closely and to keep them on hand as each section of the online application form is being completed and submitted.

Additional Requirements

The items and clarifications below are additional requirements set by this department:

  • Writing Sample
  • Research Statement (750–800 words)
  • List of Awards and Publications

Application Dates and Deadlines

Application opening dates are set by Enrolment Services in consultation with Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS), while application deadlines are set by the English Department and may be revised at any time. Applicants must verify all deadlines and documentation requirements well in advance on the appropriate McGill departmental website; please consult the list at mcgill.ca/gps/contact/graduate-program.

  Application Opening Dates Application Deadlines
  All Applicants Non-Canadian citizens (incl. Special, Visiting & Exchange) Canadian citizens/Perm. residents of Canada (incl. Special, Visiting & Exchange) Current McGill Students (any citizenship)
Fall Term: Sept. 15 Jan. 15 Jan. 15 Jan. 15
Winter Term: N/A N/A N/A N/A
Summer Term: N/A N/A N/A N/A

Admission to graduate studies is competitive; accordingly, late and/or incomplete applications are considered only as time and space permit.

Taken from Programs, Courses and University Regulations 2022-2023 (last updated Feb. 7, 2022).
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