After a B.A. Degree: What about Graduate Studies?

Frequently Asked Questions:

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1. Should I pursue an MA or PhD after my BA, or would it be better to find a job for a year or two beforehand?

The decision to pursue an MA or a PhD degree is a significant one; it should be made only after considerable investigation of graduate programs available, and analysis of your long-term goals and interests. If you are seriously interested in a particular field of study, if a professor has encouraged you to pursue a graduate degree, if you love research and scholarship for its own sake, then a graduate degree may be for you.

You shouldn’t apply to graduate school simply because you don’t know what career to pursue or what jobs are available with your BA. Having a graduate degree does not necessarily make you more employable than someone with an undergraduate degree. If you are uncertain about your future goals, you might find it useful to take a year off to work or study in a new environment, either at home or abroad, which can help you to decide on a new direction. If you do decide to apply to graduate school later on, selection committees may look favourably upon your application, especially if there is some link between the activities during your time away and your potential studies. If you take off more than a year, you should maintain some connection with the professors who will be writing a letter of recommendation for you.

The career advisors at the McGill Career Planning Service can help you look at your options with regards to potential possibilities. As well, they have information on their website which describes some of the career possibilities with your BA. See CaPS.     

2. What are the main differences between an MA and a PhD?

The doctoral degree generally takes between four to seven years to complete. PhD programs are designed to prepare students for university teaching, research, or advanced positions in certain professional fields. Funding is often available through grants, fellowships, or teaching or research assistantships.

In some cases, you can apply directly to the PhD from an undergraduate degree if you meet the appropriate criteria for acceptance, depending on the graduate program. In these programs, the MA degree is often earned along the way, and will generally focus on the research techniques or the fields of study in which you will be involved at the PhD level. A combined MA/PhD program can take less time to completion than a terminal MA followed by a transfer to a PhD program. Going directly into a PhD program from a BA is particularly useful if you are completely dedicated to your area of study, and you plan to teach or research at the university level, or study in a research-intensive field.

The time to completion for a master’s degree is generally not as long as a PhD, taking between one and three years typically for full-time students. MA programs generally focus more on gaining knowledge of the field, and in more professionally-oriented programs, gaining knowledge in practical application of research and skills. Some MA programs require students to write a thesis, and others do not; some provide students with the option. Some MA programs offer graduate funding; others do not. It is important to check with the graduate programs you are interested in to see whether and how they fund MA students.

A terminal MA program (that is, an MA that doesn't lead directly into, or is not integrated into, a PhD program) can still be a useful preparation for those seeking to continue their graduate education. In some cases, a terminal MA may not fully prepare you for a PhD program; further coursework may be required before you can transfer into the PhD after completing an MA program.

Some MA programs are professionally oriented and offer direct career preparation or advancement outside of higher education. If your goal is to become a social worker or a high school teacher, or college teacher at a Quebec CEGEP, for example, a master’s degree may be appropriate for you.

3. How does a graduate program differ from an undergraduate program?

Graduate school is quite different from undergraduate studies. It requires more focused and sustained work; it is a research degree program and as such involves more intensive, one-on-one relationships with faculty and interaction with other students. Most graduate coursework usually consists of a substantial amount of structured reading in a particular field in the early years, and, depending on the school, graduate program, and country in which it is being offered, typically requires less coursework than at the undergraduate level. Courses for the most part also tend to be of the seminar type.

A key part of the graduate school experience is having the opportunity to work with a community of scholars in your own research area; in many programs, it is expected that you will begin to present your research at scholarly conferences and begin to build a publication record. Along with becoming a competent researcher, graduate school prepares you to acquire a professional identity.

4. When should I start planning for graduate studies?

The sooner you start to prepare for graduate studies, the better. Advanced planning and preparation will greatly improve your chances of meeting the criteria required for acceptance to a school and program of your choice.

Get involved in undergraduate research, firstly to find out if this is what you would like to do as a career. Some graduate programs require applicants to demonstrate their research ability, either through undergraduate theses or other undergraudate research opportunities. All Arts undergraduate departments offer honours and joint honours programs, which have a research component such as an essay or project. Normally students are admitted to an honours program after one year of studies in the major program. Students must have a CGPA of 3.00 at the very least to be admitted to an honours program; in some cases, the department may require a much higher CGPA as the number of students they admit into the honours program is very limited. So if you are interested in an honours program, work on getting good grades right from your first year of studies.

If you decide not to pursue an honours program, you may still be able to get involved in research with one of your professors during the term or over the summer months. Start by speaking to a professor whose course you took and liked and did well in, and ask them if they could help you get involved in a research project in their area. They may be able to help you or refer you to someone else. You may also be able to register for independent study courses that provide one-on-one or small group training around a current research project in the department.

An internship outside of McGill may lead to your involvement with an off-campus project of some sort that you can integrate with a university research project. The Faculty of Arts offers an impressive internship program for Arts undergraduates; for more details, please consult the Arts Internships website.

The Arts advising staff give degree planning workshops every winter term to undergraduate Arts students. At this workshop, the advisors go into detail about the types of program combinations that are available within the B.A. degree, and the type of preparation needed for graduate studies. For more information about our degree planning workshops, please consult the following Arts OASIS.

5. How do I go about searching for a good program that also suits my needs?

Your education has to fit with your abilities, interests, and goals. Your choice of program should be based on specific criteria such as the kind of research and scholarship you want to be further trained in, the type of courses and research areas covered by the faculty in the programs you are interested in, the chance to study with leading figures and active researchers in your field. Other considerations might include the availability of fellowships and graduate assistantships to assist with your funding needs.

Figure out the research areas that you are interested in, and begin to research programs that can offer you training in those areas. To do this, follow up on citations in the scholarly literature to find out more about the authors, what kind of research they do, and the universities and graduate programs in which they teach. Finding faculty who can train you to do the kind of research you want to do is essential. In light of your own interests, consider the strengths of the different programs and graduate courses they offer, and what their faculty publish and teach.

McGill professors can also be an excellent source of information about the different graduate programs available in your field. Please refer to the section, “Where can I find more specific information about graduate studies in my field of study?” for more detailed information and contact names.

Guidebooks can also provide comprehensive information about faculty reputation, student placement, teaching and research opportunities, financial aid, and so on. However, make sure that the information pertains to your desired specialization within the discipline; a school with a top ranking in labour economics for example, may not be ranked so highly in applied economics.

Make an effort to visit the schools you may be interested in to find out more about the campus, the department, and the facilities. Attend recruiting events for prospective graduate students if they are available; if not, find out whether you can arrange a visit on your own. You may find it useful to meet professors in the department, or to sit in on a seminar session, if that is permissible. Learn about the faculty: their publications and research. When you write your statement of purpose, commenting on particular faculty members’ research and publications tells the admissions committee that you have done your homework in researching their program.

The supervisor you do your research with may be just as important as your research interests. You should think about the kind of person you will need to help you succeed in graduate school. Take the time to read the books and journals that are relevant to your field. Look up those professors’ home pages, which should provide you with information about their research and publications. Find out as much as you can about their work, their graduate students, their contributions. You may at some point wish to contact this person. Send them a short email outlining your interests and plans; this is also a good way of finding out whether the professor is interested and has resources to accept a new student.

6. How do I find out about the qualifications required for acceptance to graduate schools?

Once you have narrowed down your specialization within a particular field or discipline, and found a number of universities that offer interesting programs in that field, it is time to start the application process. Read all the information about the criteria for admission as early as you can in your undergraduate career: CGPA requirements, undergraduate research, the minimum number of credits required at the undergraduate level in that discipline, the recommended type of undergraduate program, particular course requirements, graduate entrance exams (GREs), related work experience if specified, challenging courses of study. Some criteria will require more than one or two years of undergraduate preparation to fulfill.

While grades are very important, it is wrong to assume that grades are enough. There are lots of students out there with good grades who are interested in graduate study. You will need other qualifications to distinguish yourself. Besides requiring undergraduate research, many graduate admission committees will be reviewing your record to determine how challenging your undergraduate program and course selection has been. Upper 500 level courses are considered to be an excellent preparation for graduate school. Many admissions committees pay particular attention to your letters of recommendation. Writing a strong statement of purpose and choosing the right programs to apply to for the work you want to do are other very important elements of your application.

Graduate schools generally expect you to have completed all prerequisites by the application deadline. If you are unable to do so, then it is best to postpone your application. Graduate schools don’t generally frown upon students who have been out of school for a year or so; some in fact prefer it, especially in fields where practical experience is one of the factors that the admissions committee is considering.

7. Where can I find information about funding?

Check out eligibility for funding, internal or external. External funding refers to monetary awards given by federal agencies or privately run foundations, which may be used for study at any accredited graduate school. External funding agencies will have their own application procedures and deadlines, separate from the schools you are applying to.

Internal aid comes directly from the graduate schools you enroll in. They may be need-based or merit-based. Applications are normally included with the graduate school application. This type of aid comes in the form of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, fellowships or grants based on merit, or need-based financial aid. If the information is not readily available on the graduate department’s website, call and find out what is available. Financial aid could include tuition waivers, room and board, and even a living stipend, so it is best to apply for as much financial aid as possible, in whatever form you can, and by the appropriate deadlines.

8. What is involved in the application process?

Applications are normally submitted during the last year of undergraduate studies. Try to compile all of the documents and submit the completed application package in a timely manner: application form, funding applications, GRE results, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, academic transcripts, a resume, or a CV. Some schools will not review applications until the package is complete, so if yours is incomplete, other completed applications will have priority over yours.

You should expect to apply to several graduate schools, depending on the level of competition in your area. Applications are generally due during the fall term, so you should start the application process in the term prior to your last year of studies.

9. Are entrance exams required?

Some graduate schools require the GRE, Graduate Record Exams. These scores are generally interpreted as a measure of intellectual ability and likelihood of success at graduate school, so it is best to obtain the highest scores you can. Several books are available to help students prepare for such tests; it is also possible in some areas to register for courses that help you to prepare for the exams. You can write the GREs more than once, so if you have done poorly in the first round, you can take them again and have the results available with your fall application.

Other exams that may be required, depending on your application, are LSATs or MCATs.

You can find the books to help you prepare for entrance exams in the CaPS Career Resource Centre in the Brown Building, as well as the application forms and information booklets. See also the CaPS on-line guides about entrance exams.

10. Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation? What is the process involved?

Ask professors (normally, you will need at least three letters of recommendation) who know your interests and abilities well. In general, it is best to request letters from faculty who are tenured or are teaching in the tenure stream. You may need to ‘cultivate’ several professors, if you will, by taking several of their courses spaced over a period of two or more years, making solid contributions in their courses, and getting involved in some way in their research, working with them on research projects or in research labs. Make sure that they will be willing to write a strong supporting letter. Provide them with information about each of the graduate programs you are applying to and suggest academic and personal strengths that you are asking them to highlight. Give them a draft of your Statement of Purpose, as well as a copy of your curriculum vitae and advising transcript for reference.

Provide your referees with the full name, title, and complete mailing address of the person to whom a letter should be written. You may also provide your referees with pre-stamped and addressed envelopes, if they prefer.

Give your referees ample time to write letters, at least one month before deadlines. Follow up with them to ensure that the letters have been completed on time. Don't forget to thank them for their efforts on your behalf.

Additional information can be found at the CaPS on-line references website.

11. How do I write a statement of purpose? What should I include?

The statement of purpose is an important part of your application, and may in fact be the determining factor in acceptance or rejection. It should provide the reader with a sense of your potential as a student and as a professional. It should describe your intellectual interest and academic preparation in the field, why you are interested in this particular graduate program, and how it can help you achieve your goals.

You should suggest possible areas for research that would fit in with the work already being accomplished in the unit you are applying to. You might propose specific questions that intrigue you, and indicate how you might approach them, and why this line of inquiry would contribute new knowledge in the field. In this mini-proposal, which may very well change once you actually start your graduate degree, your point is to illustrate your ability to think independently and creatively, and to demonstrate how your research interests fit with the department.

If you have already done some research in the area, it might be useful to attach the research paper with your application. You should explain the connection between the papers and the research you would like to be involved in.

If your CGPA is not particularly high because of problems in your first year or in courses outside of your discipline, you might find it helpful to point out that your upper level TGPAs are significantly higher.

Your essay should demonstrate excellent writing skills; make sure that it is well constructed, with no grammar, spelling or punctuation errors. It shouldn’t be too long – typed, single spaced, about two pages in length. Have friends, professors, or mentors read over your statement to critique it. Is it interesting? Have you provided a compelling argument to the committee? Have you overstated or understated your qualifications? Have you explained any deficiencies in your background? Is it grammatically correct and well constructed?

Before submitting your statement of purpose along with your applications, you can have it reviewed by a Career Advisor at CaPS. Make an appointment by phone (514-398-3304) or drop by CaPS in the Brown Building. You can also review the CaPS on-line guide for writing statements.

12. Can you recommend a timeline for planning for graduate studies?

First year

  • Attend degree planning workshops. Learn about degree program requirements; investigate the requirements needed to get into an honours program.
  • Take a variety of courses from different departments to learn more about your interests and abilities, and the universities’ offerings.
  • Balance your studies with interesting and fulfilling extra-curricular activities.
  • Look into the possibility of doing internships, exchanges, field study courses, study abroad.
  • Work on achieving good grades.

Second Year

  • Attend Faculty degree planning workshops. Learn about degree program requirements; investigate the requirements to get into an honours program.
  • Select the departmental programs of your choice.
  • Select your complementary and elective courses carefully with a mind to narrowing down your area of interest, and getting to know a few professors well
  • Look into the possibility of doing internship programs, field study courses, exchanges, and study abroad.
  • Meet with an appropriate departmental professor for additional information and advice.
  • Work on improving your grades.

Third Year

  • Attend Faculty and departmental degree planning workshops.
  • Select an honours program, if possible or appropriate.
  • Choose your complementary and elective courses carefully, keeping in mind your long term goals.
  • Register for internships, field study courses, independent study courses, summer research programs, exchanges, study abroad.
  • Write articles for undergraduate publications.
  • Narrow down a selection of graduate programs and universities that interest you; spend time in the library and surfing the web; visit schools if possible; contact the graduate departments in those schools for further information.
  • Ensure that you meet their criteria for acceptance to graduate programs that interest you by taking appropriate courses (for example, statistics) and so forth.
  • Meet with an appropriate departmental professor for additional information and advice.
  • Ask appropriate professors for letters of recommendation.
  • Prepare your letter of intent/profile letter/statement of purpose.
  • Start the application process.
  • Apply for fellowships and grants along with your application for admission.
  • Prepare to take the GRE exams over the summer; register for a course that prepares you for the GRE exams.
  • Investigate other options besides Graduate studies in case your application is not accepted.
  • Work on improving your grades.

Fourth Year

  • Attend Faculty and departmental degree planning workshops.
  • Choose your complementary and elective courses carefully, with a view toyour long-term goals.
  • Register for some courses at the 500 level or higher. Consult the appropriate department. Note that Faculty and departmental permission is required to take 600 level courses.
  • Submit your applications for admission and for funding by the fall deadlines.
  • Retake your GRE exams if your summer results were not strong.
  • Evaluate any offers from Graduate schools carefully; if you’ve been accepted to more than one institution, you may have to do some further investigating to finalize your choice.
  • Work on improving your grades.

13. Where can I find more specific information about graduate studies in my field of study?

McGill’s professors are expert in their fields and are willing and able to assist you. Click on one of the links below for more information about graduate schools in that particular field, and for departmental contact information:


Please see the department for more information.

Art History

Graduate programmes in Art History take many forms, and have varying entrance requirements, according to emphasis. For instance, graduate programmes in Conservation will generally require more scientific background than academic Art History programmes, which themselves vary hugely, in terms of methodological approach and periods covered, from institution to institution.

Often, your choice of graduate programme will be dictated by the research interests of individual faculty members. Ask yourself who the most important voices seem to be in your field of interest. Who have you been reading in your classes? Whose work interests you most? It is very important that prior to applying to graduate school you have a good sense of what area you plan to work on, and you should think hard about what it is you hope to achieve as a consequence of graduate study (for instance, are you planning to apply for a PhD after an MA?) Consequently, it is essential that you apply to departments that have faculty working in your area of interest, whose methodological approach and area of study chime with your own.

Departmental websites usually have some information on the kind of work that individual faculty members are doing, and often list recent dissertations supervised in each field. It is worth making contact with the faculty member(s) you plan to work with prior to your application, so that you can make sure you are a good ‘fit’, from their perspective and your own.

There is no single place to research graduate studies in Art History, although for North American graduate programmes in particular, the annual publication Graduate Programs in Art History:

The CAA Directory, issued by the College Art Association (CAA), is a very useful guide. Although the emphasis is on the United States and Canada, the directory includes over 260 schools and English-language academic programs in worldwide, and includes programmes in History of Art and Architecture, Visual Studies, Museum Studies, Curatorial Studies, Arts Administration and Library Science (there is a separate directory for graduate programmes in the Visual Arts). The directory is available from most university libraries, or you can order a copy here.

It is worth keeping an eye on the website of the CAA, as well as those of other major professional organizations, such as the Universities Art Association of Canada or the Association of Art Historians (UK), as funding information, jobs and new programmes are frequently posted there. The AAH also publishes a booklet, Careers in Art History, although the focus is European.

In addition, it might also be useful to keep up-to-date with Art History listserves, such as the Germany-based H-ArtHist, where new graduate programmes are frequently advertised, plus the mainstream media also often have guides to graduate study (The Guardian, for instance, offer a comprehensive listing of graduate programmes in the UK, although Art History and History are grouped together, so the results are somewhat confusing).

The Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill offers both an MA and PhD programme in Art History. Please click on the links below for more information:
graduate programmes
MA programme
PhD programme

Departmental contacts:
Cecily Hilsdale, Undergraduate Programme Director (as of June 2010) (cecily.hilsdale [at]
Angela Vanhaelen, Graduate Programme Director (angela.vanhaelen [at]
Maureen Coote, Graduate Administrative Coordinator (maureen.coote [at]

The above advice was prepared by Professor Richard Taws, McGill's Undergraduate Program Director for Art History (until May 2010).

Canadian Studies

McGill University offers an undergraduate program in Canadian Studies; it does not offer a graduate program in Canadian Studies. McGill is not unusual in this respect: there are dozens of undergraduate programs in Canadian Studies in Canada but only a few graduate programs. Students who have completed honours degrees in Canadian Studies will have a solid foundation for admission to graduate school but they should consider carefully whether they wish to pursue that graduate work in Canadian Studies or in one of its partner disciplines, such as History, Political Science, Sociology, Anthropology, Economics, Literature, or North American Studies. This decision should be made with advice from an academic advisor or program director or from professors who know your work (most professors have sat on graduate admissions committees and they know what sort of criteria are usually required). Don’t hesitate to talk to the Canadian Studies program director, Elsbeth Heaman, about your plans for the future and we ensure that your program serves those ambitions.

The best graduate programs in Canadian Studies have a depth of faculty support--Canadianists--and most of them are, therefore, in Canada. Here are some of the leading programs in Canada.

CARLETON UNIVERSITY (OTTAWA): Carleton University's School of Canadian Studies offers a program of study and research tailored toward Canadian Culture and Cultural Policy, Canadian Women's Studies, Aboriginal Studies and the North, Heritage Conservation, Collective Identities, and Economic Policy. Carleton’s strong focus on public policy issues suits its location in the capital of Canada, which puts students in close proximity to federal ministries and agencies. For more information, please consult the Canadian Studies website.

TRENT UNIVERSITY (PETERBOROUGH): Established in 1986, Trent University’s Frost Centre for Canadian Studies & Indigenous Studies in Peterborough, Ontario, offers an M.A. Program in Canadian Studies that allows students to pursue a wide range of cultural, social, and political issues. However, the Trent program “is unique in allowing students to specialize in both Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies. Integrating perspectives from Indigenous thought and Canadian Studies is an essential component of our M.A. program.” Please consult the Frost Centre and Canadian and Indigenous Studies MA websites for more information.

UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE (ALBERTA): The M.A. Canadian Studies at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta, is a comparatively new program and is largely self-directed. The degree “is offered through the Economics Department, the English Department, the History Department, the Department of Modern Languages, the Native American Studies Department, and the Department of Political Science.” Please consult their Master's of Arts website for more information.

THE UNIVERSITY OF REGINA: The Canadian Plains Research Centre at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, offers a unique M.A. Canadian Plains Studies: “The Canadian Plains Studies Program is a graduate student program facilitating transdisciplinary studies of M.A. students on topics relevant to the Canadian Plains. The CPS program has two major requirements of students in terms of the thesis: (1) that a student's thesis research be explicitly interdisciplinary; and (2) that it be related to issues of interest relative to the Canadian Plains.” For more information, please consult their website.

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA (EDMONTON): This innovative program complements interdisciplinary research on Canada with special emphasis “on Francophonies. It examines culture and institutions as they relate to socio-political conflicts as well as historical and social contexts. The program’s orientations include the study of the relationships between identity/difference, sex/gender, race, language and class, nationalism, regionalisms and globalization, as well as the relationship between the economy, society and the State.” Please note that this program has a very specific language requirement for entrance: “possession of an undergraduate degree or its academic equivalent from an academic institution recognized by the University of Alberta in which the language of instruction is French, or equivalent training.” For more information, please consult the University of Alberta website.

CARLETON UNIVERSITY AND TRENT UNIVERSITY: Since 2001, the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University and the Frost Centre for Canadian Studies & Indigenous Studies at Trent University have offered a joint Ph.D. degree. This degree program “builds on the combined strengths of the existing M.A. programs at the two universities […]. It has further enriched the graduate offerings by introducing five fields of study: Culture, Literature and the Arts; Environment and Heritage; Policy, Economy and Society, Identities; and Women's Studies.” For more information, please consult the Carleton and the Trent websites.

THE UNIVERSITY OF REGINA: “The Canadian Plains Studies Program is a graduate student program facilitating transdisciplinary studies of doctoral students on topics relevant to the Canadian Plains. The CPS program has two major requirements of students in terms of the thesis: (1) that a student's thesis research be explicitly interdisciplinary; and (2) that it be related to issues of interest relative to the Canadian Plains.” For more information, please consult the website of the Canadian Plains Research Centre.

UNIVERSITY OF OTTAWA: Collaborative PhD in Canadian Studies. Because of its strength in relevant areas, its bilingual character and its location in the national capital, the University of Ottawa is uniquely positioned to offer a collaborative program leading to a specialization in Canadian Studies at the doctoral level. The program is especially designed for doctoral students in selected programs in the humanities and the social sciences who wish to enrich their training in a particular discipline by including an interdisciplinary component. Fifteen academic units collaborate in this program: Economics, Education, English, Geography, History, Human Kinetics, Lettres françaises, Linguistics, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Religious Studies, Sociology, Spanish and Translation and Interpretation. For more information consult the University of Ottawa Institute of Canadian Studies
The above advice is based on information provided by Ian Rae and Elsbeth Heaman.


Thinking about pursuing graduate work in Communication Studies or a related field?

Graduate programs in the fields of Communication Studies and Media Studies span humanistic and social scientific approaches to the study of communication, media and technology; they also span academic and more professionally oriented programs. Academic programs in the field also spread the gamut in terms of methodological approaches and theoretical traditions. In fact, there are almost as many kinds of Communication Studies graduate programs as there are graduate programs in the field. The nomenclature used to identify the field is almost as varied: Communication Studies graduate work can be found in Film schools, Cultural Studies programs, Media Studies programs, Communications Research programs, departments of Speech Communication, colleges of Communications, programs in Communication and Culture, departments of Radio/Television/Film, schools of Journalism, and programs in Communication Arts, among others. While the name of a program can tell you a little bit about what is being offered there, names mean different things in different graduate programs. It is important to look past the name and investigate what kind of graduate curricula and research they support, and the faculty who are on staff to deliver it.

Within academic-only programs, a great variety of research orientations, traditions, and objects of study represent Communication Studies. As someone who is interested in possibly pursuing graduate work in Communication and/or Media Studies, it is important that you figure out precisely what kind of Communication Studies you want to pursue. Some Communication Studies programs are humanistic in approach, where faculty and students conduct primarily interpretive forms of investigation, for instance, in media history, postcolonial studies, feminist media studies and film studies, among other areas. Many programs blend humanistic and social scientific orientations around research in new media studies, telecommunications and broadcasting policy, science and technology studies, political economies of communication, ethnographies of media producers and audiences, and social movements and media, among other areas of inquiry. Other programs have particularly strong social scientific traditions where faculty and students study political communication, issues of media influence and effects-based research, organizational communication, and interpersonal and familial communication. Researchers in these areas often have backgrounds in Sociology and/or Political Science. Other programs in Speech Communication tend to include the study of oratory, public forms of communication and rhetoric.

On the more professional or practitioner-oriented side of the field, Communication Studies students do graduate-level work in journalism, advertising, PR, and broadcasting. Some of these programs can be found in dedicated Colleges of Communication or Journalism Schools at certain universities; others are found in university business schools.

Because the field of Communication Studies varies so greatly across universities and their graduate programs, it is essential that you figure out what part of the field you want to study within and what your goals are for pursuing a masters and/or Ph.D. After you have figured this out, it is time to locate graduate programs that are particularly strong in that area – both in terms of their faculty representation, and support for graduate students researching in the area. You should avoid applying to (and/or accepting admission to) a program that does not offer the kind of training you want to receive. If you want to get a Ph.D. in order to do qualitative film analysis within Communication Studies, for instance, you should not apply to a Journalism School, or a Communication Studies graduate program that only or primarily supports social scientific research methods. Fit is essential; adequate faculty support is essential.

The websites of graduate programs in the field will very clearly tell you the kinds of training they offer prospective graduate students. Review the websites of Departments and/Programs of Communication Studies, Media Studies, Communication and Culture, Speech Communication and different professional schools to find out more information about their program strengths, their requirements, their courses, and the kind of graduates they produce. Make your decision on which schools to apply to after careful consideration of why you are seeking a graduate degree in the particular area you have chosen, and what you want to do with the degree when you are finished.

For further information, check out the following professional academic organizations to learn more about the field, the kinds of research-based conferences they hold in which faculty and graduate students participate. Many also include information and links on graduate programs in the field.

The above advice was prepared by Professor Carrie Rentschler, McGill's undergraduate academic advisor for Communication Studies.


Computer Science

Major areas in Computer Science:

Artificial Intelligence
Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
Compilers and Concurrency (Sable)
Computation and Logic
Computational Complexity
Computational Geometry
Computer Games
Computer Graphics
Computer Vision
Discrete Mathematics
Internet Technologies
Machine Learning
Medical Image Analysis
Modelling and Simulation
Parallel and Distributed Systems
Pattern Recognition
Probabilistic Analysis of Algorithms
Programming Languages
Quantum Computing
Scientific Computing
Software Engineering
For a description of each area see our website

Types of careers based on BA, MA, PhD in the discipline:

In the last three years, our graduating students have ended up:

  • in the MSc and PhD programs at Univ. of California-Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon University, MIT, Univ. of Toronto, Univ. of Alberta, etc;
  • working for large software companies like Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, etc.;
  • working for companies developing cutting-edge applications like Google, Ubisoft, Electronic Arts and GameLoft;
  • working for banks and financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, Capital One, Barclays Associates and many others;
  • and even starting up companies of their own!

General funding information

Departmental contacts:
Graduate Program Coordinator: Diti Anastasopoulos
Office: McConnell 330
Phone: 398-7071, ext. 00074
Email: graduate.secretary [at]

Individual professors available by appointment
Research labs
Graduate Studies website

Departmental workshops/seminars:
An informal workshop on applying for graduate school and graduate funding is held every fall (usually in late September). Contact the graduate secretary (contact info above) for the time/place.

The School of Computer Science's weekly symposium is open to all. For more information, please see the department's announcements.

On-line directories:
"The Computing Research Association (CRA) is an association of more than 200 North American academic departments of computer science, computer engineering, and related fields; laboratories and centers in industry, government, and academia engaging in basic computing research; and affiliated professional societies."

See the CRA website for more information.
The above advice was prepared by Professor Joelle Pineau, undergraduate academic advisor, Computer Science.

East Asian Studies

Please see the department for more information.


Please see the department for more information.


McGill undergraduates interested in learning more about how to prepare for graduate studies in the fields of English Literature, Cultural Studies, Cinema Studies, and Drama & Theatre are encouraged to contact Professor Trevor Ponech, Director of Undergraduate Studies, in McGill's English Department. You can reach him by trevor.ponech [at] (email) at trevor.ponech [at]

Anyone seeking information about applying to the graduate program of McGill's English Department can contact Professor allan.hepburn [at] (Allan Hepburn), Director of Graduate Studies.         

French language and literature

Le B.A en études françaises, spécialisation ( Honours ), ou double-spécialisation, option Études et pratiques littéraires donne accès aux programmes de M.A. en Études françaises, ou Littérature française des universités québécoises, canadiennes et étrangères. Les B.A. en études françaises, spécialisation ( Honours), ou double-spécialisation, option Traduction, donne accès aux programmes de M.A. en Traduction des universités québécoises, canadiennes et étrangères. Ces programmes peuvent aussi mener à des études supérieures en interprétariat ou en terminologie.

Les différents programmes de B.A. en Études françaises, concentration majeure ( Major), options Études littéraires, Pratiques littéraires et Traduction, peuvent également déboucher sur des études supérieures, moyennant certains ajustements, tels que des cours supplémentaires ou une propédeutique, suivant les exigences des institutions concernées.

Les étudiants qui souhaitent connaître les différents programmes et les sources de financement pour les études supérieures sont invités à entrer en contact avec le directeur des études de 2e et 3e cycles (grad.littfran [at]


Major areas in Geography:

At the undergraduate level:
Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science in Geography;
Bachelor of Arts in Urban Systems;
Minor in Geographic Information Systems.

At the Graduate level:
Earth System Science;
Land Surface Process Studies;
Environment and Human Development;
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing;
Environmental Management;
Political, Urban, Economic, and Health Geography.

Careers in Geography:

As both a social and physical science, Geography enables graduates with Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees to work in a wide variety of fields in both the public and private sector. Those with doctorates work primarily in higher education and government service. For more details, see our website.

McGill Graduate Studies program:

Earth System Science;
Land Surface Process Studies;
Environment and Human Development;
Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing; Environmental Management;
Political, Urban, Economic, and Health Geography.

For more information, please see the graduate section of our website.


Our Canadian or otherwise eligible graduate students often receive funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Eligible graduate students can also apply to various Quebec agencies in the natural and social sciences, and in health policy. Graduate supervisors provide significant funding for all students regardless of citizenship or residence.

Departmental contacts:

Undergraduate Advisor: Geraldine Akman
at advisor.geog [at]

Graduate Advisor: Michel Lapointe
at lapointe [at]

Students interested in graduate study in a particular area should discuss it with a faculty member with expertise in that area.


The department periodically offers informational meetings on applying to graduate school.

On-line directories
Association of American Geographers
Canadian Association of Geographers / Association canadienne des géographes

Profiles of some former students who have completed graduate studies:

The above advice was prepared by Professor Benjamin Forest, department of Geography.

German Studies

Major area concentrations within German Studies include language, literature, philosophy, critical theory, film, media, music, visual arts, cultural studies, body and performance, gender, history of science and technology, European studies.

Possible career areas include translation, journalism, teaching, university research, international business, as well as various careers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the E.U.

Particular research strengths within our graduate program include literature and philology, philosophy and critical theory, historical media studies, film and moving images, cultural studies, the history of science, medicine and the body. More information about the graduate programs in German Studies is available at our website.

Standard research grants include SSHRC, DAAD, Arts Research Travel Awards, as well as other international scholarships.

Contact names: For all questions regarding the language program, students should contact Dr. Sylvia Rieger (sylvia.rieger [at] For questions regarding undergraduate majors and minors (except the Contemporary Studies major), students should contact Professor Paul Peters (paul.peters [at] For all other questions regarding undergraduate studies, students should contact Professor Michael Cowan (michael.cowan [at] For all questions regarding graduate studies, students should contact Professor Andrew Piper (andrew.piper [at]

Students with questions about specific courses or research possibilities within the graduate program should feel free to contact any faculty member in German Studies. Information about our teaching and research interests and our areas of expertise can be found on the faculty section of our departmental homepage.

Graduates from our department work in several research institutions across Canada and abroad.

The above advice was prepared by Professor Michael Cowan, undergraduate academic advisor, German Studies.

Hispanic Studies

Major areas in the discipline:

The programs of the Department of Hispanic Studies at McGill University focus on the study of the culture and literature of Spain and Latin America. They follow a structure that is similar to other programs in Canada and the United States. At the undergraduate level, language proficiency is considered a fundamental part of students’ education and a pre-requisite for more advanced courses in the discipline. These courses are in turn organized at both the undergraduate and graduate level according to literary and chronological criteria. Spanish literature courses are divided into medieval literature, Golden Age, Enlightenment, Romanticism, Realism, Generation of 1898, Generation of 1927, Literature under Franco, and Contemporary literature. Latin American literature courses are divided into Colonial literature, Romanticism, Modernism, avant-garde literature, 20th century poetry, the novel of the Boom, and Post-boom literature. These areas are studied from different theoretical and critical perspectives: literary history, colonial and postcolonial studies, subaltern studies, deconstructionism, and psychoanalysis, among others.


Students who complete a B.A. in Hispanic Studies (Major/Honours) usually follow career paths in which language proficiency is considered an asset such as tourism, international organizations, NGOs, publishing houses, magazines and newspapers. The Department encourages students in the Major option to combine their Major in Hispanic Studies with a Major in other discipline (such as International Development Studies, Sociology, Political Science, or German/Russian/Italian Studies) as a way to increase the students’ chances to find a work that fit their interests after they graduate. Honours students are also strongly encouraged to continue into the M.A./Ph.D. option in Hispanic Studies since the Department of Hispanic Studies’ Honours program is a extremely competitive one and their chances to obtain financial support from Spanish and Portuguese departments in top ranked universities to continue their graduate education are high.

The M.A. program in Hispanic Studies at McGill University allow students to follow the career paths already present at the undergraduate level plus teach Spanish in Quebec at the CEGEP level. Students with an M.A. can also teach Spanish in other provinces of Canada and in the United States, but since administrative and educational policy change from one province/state to another, they are strongly encouraged to take into account the specifics of each region before pursuing the M.A. An M.A. in Hispanic Studies from McGill University is also very competitive when it comes to apply to Ph.D. programs in top ranked universities and obtain financial help in the form of fellowships and teaching/research assistantships.

A Ph.D. degree in Hispanic Studies allow students to follow career paths similar to those already detailed for B.A. and M.A. students plues it offers students the opportunity to teach language and literature at the university level. Ph.D. students in Hispanic Studies have found work in universities and colleges such as Concordia University, University of British Columbia, University of Western Ontario, and others.

Strengths of our own Graduate Studies Program:

We are without a doubt one of the strongest Departments in North America with a focus in two different fields: 1) a variety of cultural Baroque and Enlightened productions at both sides of the Atlantic, and 2) gender, urban and cultural studies. Both fields are approached with cutting-edge tools theoretical, sociological, historical or philosophical. Since we are a small Graduate Program, we can monitor very closely our students’ progress in the program.

Some of our Graduates include the following:

Dr Carole Lauzière (1996), who teaches currently at the Universidad Alfonso X el Sabio (Madrid, Spain).
Dr Norman Cheadle (1996), who holds a tenured-position at the Laurentian University.
Dr Dorothy Odartey-Wellington (1997), tenured at the University of Guelph.
Dr Juan Luis Suárez (2000), Professor at the University of Western Ontario.
Dr Rafael Montano (2001), tenured Associate Professor at the University of Western Ontario.
Dr Ana-Lucia Vieira (2002), who is currently appointed at the Universidade Federal do Estado de Rio de Janeiro.
Dr Javier Vargas Luna (2002), who is tenured Associate Professor at the Université Laval. Dr Victoria Wolff (2008), appointed at the University of Western Ontario.

Departmental contact names:

Prof. Amanda Holmes, Chair (amanda.holmes [at]
Prof. José R. Jouve-Martín, Director of Undergraduate Studies (jose.jouve-martin [at]
Prof. Jesús Pérez-Magallón, Director of Graduate Studies (jesus.perez-magallon [at]

Hispanic Studies students are strongly encouraged to contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies (Prof. José R. Jouve-Martín) or the Director of Graduate Studies (Prof. Jesús Pérez-Magallón) to discuss all issues related to their professional development.

The above advice was prepared by Professor José R. Jouve-Martin, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Hispanic Studies.


History has been a central to McGill’s Arts programme since 1855.

McGill’s graduate programmes attract excellent students from across Canada and abroad [as well as an increasing number of post-doctoral scholars] who have an enviable record in securing competitive provincial, federal, international and institutional funding. Graduate students at McGill enjoy a very active intellectual life centred at Thomson House, including the department’s ‘Beer and Brains’ seminar and its annual McGill-Queen’s Graduate symposium.

Graduates from its M.A. and Ph.D. programmes find rewarding careers in university and college teaching, the public service, cultural institutions, the professions and business.

Graduate students are supervised by a faculty composed of thirty-nine professors, committed to teaching excellence and innovative research who offer M.A and Ph.D. programmes in a wide range of geographic, chronological, transnational and thematic areas such as Canada/Quebec, the Atlantic World, Empire and Colonization, Ancient Mediterranean World, Gender and Sexualities, Historiography and Historical Theory, History of Medicine, Intellectual History and Politics.

For more information about preparing for graduate studies, please contact the History Student Affairs Advisor, Sylvia Crawford (sylvia.markhauser [at]

The above advice was prepared by Professor Carman Miller, department of History.

Interdisciplinary Studies

Development Studies Option (DSO), MA

The first students to be admitted to the DSO began their studies in September 2008. To be considered for the DSO, prospective students must first be admitted into the regular MA program in one of the six participating departments: Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, Political Science or Sociology.

The DSO is a cross-disciplinary MA program that is unique in Canada, if not the world, because it is designed to provide students with a strong practical and theoretical foundation for engaging in genuinely cross-disciplinary research. Graduates will develop a unique set of tools which will allow them to be more effective in whatever endeavor they choose to pursue upon graduation, whether it is working with development organizations or government agencies, or pursuing either a disciplinary-based or multi-disciplinary doctoral degree. This is because they will be experts within their respective fields who have successfully incorporated research from other fields into their coursework and research.

Canadian citizens and permanent residences are eligible for MA scholarships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Students admitted into the DSO are automatically considered for a limited number of $2000 scholarships funded by the Dean of Arts Development Fund. DSO students are also eligible for any funding opportunities available through their disciplinary program. For further information, see this website or contact the Director of the Institute for the Study of International Development.
The above advice was prepared by Professor Philip Oxhorn, the Director of the Institute for the Study of International Development.

Italian Studies

Undertaking Graduate Studies in Italian Literature and Culture

The decision to undertake graduate studies in any discipline should be made after careful consideration since it involves a substantial investment of time, effort and financial resources. A graduate degree in Italian Studies opens up a wide range of rich and stimulating fields of enquiry in a literature and culture which have played a key role in the shaping of the Western tradition. Typically, such a course of study leads to a career in language teaching which, at the university level, is combined with teaching and research in Italian literature and culture.


The first issue that must be confronted when entertaining the possibility of pursuing graduate studies in Italian literature and culture is that of language. It is not necessary to enter a graduate program with a native or near-native competence in the Italian language, but this is certainly one of the crucial objectives to be achieved by graduation.

While the challenge for non-native speakers is to acquire a fluency comparable to that of the native speakers with whom they will compete in the marketplace, native speakers face a different but no less demanding challenge. To function optimally and compete successfully in the English-speaking countries and institutions, native speakers of Italian must acquire competence in English, since they will be required to teach, deliver conference papers, and publish in that language as well as in Italian.

Finally, most Italian Studies departments in North America require students to acquire a working knowledge of a third language related to the student’s field of specialization. Other Western European languages such as French, German and Spanish are the most typical choices.

In sum, a student entering a graduate program in Italian Studies must possess a talent for and be committed to the study of languages.

Research project

Graduate studies are, by definition, research oriented. In principle, a Master’s degree in Italian Studies will provide the student with a solid foundation in the national cultural tradition and with an opportunity to begin defining a field of special interest which may later be pursued at the doctoral level. At McGill, a Master’s thesis is not expected to present original research but rather to demonstrate a solid command of the existing scholarship on the chosen topic. A PhD dissertation, on the other hand, must be a work of original research which engages with and builds on the existing scholarship. Though the objectives and scope of each degree differ, a graduate student at either level should have in mind an area of particular interest which can become the focus of his or her research project. Clearly, this is especially important at the PhD level, and indeed our department requires all PhD applicants to submit a research proposal. It should be pointed out that the research project is examined not so much for its specific content, which is likely to evolve substantially over the course of the degree, but rather for the student’s ability to focus on a specific set of issues and articulate clearly a few key ideas -- these being the skills which are essential to the successful completion of a graduate degree.

In recent years, the specific role of the MA degree has been increasingly questioned in North America, since it prolongs the process of obtaining a PhD. As a result, many departments have virtually eliminated their MA programs or substantially reduced their importance (e.g., it is now possible to obtain a Master’s degree without a thesis). However, an M.A. can, in some cases, be a useful bridge to the next step, helping a student decide whether or not he/she is ready to commit to a PhD and, ultimately, to an academic career. Often, students are accepted into an MA program and then “fast-tracked” into a PhD after one year. Others are admittedly directly into a PhD program even though they have not obtained an MA. Students should decide which degree to apply to in consultation with the Department, which will help them evaluate whether they have the necessary background and are ready to undertake the PhD program or would be better served by the MA.


The average length of a Master’s degree (with Thesis) in Italian Studies is between two and three years, while the average length of a PhD degree is five to six years. In either case, the time commitment is substantial and requires as a corollary a substantial financial effort, especially considering that the effort required to succeed in graduate school is incompatible with the holding of a full time job.

The main expenses for graduate students are: tuition fees, living expenses, and books. It should be noted that the first two items on this list are significantly lower at McGill and in Montreal than elsewhere in Canada and the US. This is due to a Québec government policy to keep tuition fees low and to the fact that Montreal has not experienced over the last decades the kind of real estate and economic expansion seen in cities like Toronto and Vancouver. To cover these expenses, students can look to two basic sources:

  • the host university: in North America the vast majority of graduate students will receive some form of support from the department that admitted them. However, levels of funding vary significantly from institution to institution. It is important that applicants make their financial needs known to the Department which will then do its utmost to ensure funding. Also, McGill now covers differential fees for foreign doctoral students, thus substantially lightening the burden at that level;
  • granting agencies: in Quebec, graduate students in Italian Studies can apply for MA and PhD fellowships from two main organizations, SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada) and FQRSC (Fonds québécois de recherche sur la société et la culture). Unfortunately, these two sources of funding are only available to Canadian and Québec students. International students cannot apply for funding from these agencies unless they obtain landed immigrant status in Québec.

Choice of institution

Undertaking graduate studies, especially at the PhD level, involve settling in a place for a period of up to six years, and sometimes more. Therefore, one of the most important questions students must ask themselves when applying to a given university is: do I want to live in this place for this length of time? Answering this question entails weighing a complex range of factors which include, without being limited to, the following:

  • the reputation of the university: McGill is fortunate to belong to a select group of world-class universities which have a wide, international reputation. While in many North American universities, the Italian Studies program is part of a modern languages or Romance languages department, at McGill, Italian Studies is an autonomous department which offers a full undergraduate and graduate program in Italian literature and culture. Our Department plays an active role in intellectual life on campus by organizing events, such as the Italian Studies Speakers’ Series, and participating in joint initiatives, such as the Project on European Cinemas, which contribute to the circulation and development of ideas across disciplines;
  • the strengths of the department: With a very few exceptions, Italian Studies programs are small and therefore cannot cover the full range of Italian literary and cultural production. Each department, therefore, has a specific profile which depends on the research interests of its members. Students should research these interests and ensure that there is a match between the department’s areas of strength and their own research interests. We encourage applicants to visit our Department’s web site where the areas of specialization of the faculty are set out in some detail. Our professors will be happy to respond to any enquiry addressed to them directly by e-mail;
  • the urban milieu: The location of universities in North America varies greatly. The main McGill campus is located right in Montreal’s downtown. A bilingual city, and home to numerous ethnic communities, Montreal is known for its lively cultural scene. A strong presence of Italian culture in the city is assured by Italian government agencies, namely the Italian Consulate and the Italian Cultural Institute, whose activities have intensified over the last few years, as well as by community organizations such as the Centro Leonardo Da Vinci located in the city neighbourhood with the highest concentration of Italian-Canadians.

In conclusion, applying for admission to a graduate program is an important decision. The success of the application depends not only on the student’s academic record but also on the student’s ability to communicate her or his enthusiasm for and commitment to the proposed course of studies. The care with which an application is prepared reflects the seriousness and determination of the applicant. Prospective applicants can contact members of the faculty and staff directly to enquire about our Department, thus beginning to establish a personal relationship with the people who will play a key role in their graduate education. We try to know the students we admit into our graduate studies program and are always delighted to have the opportunity to speak to them in person so that we can explore together their interests and aspirations. We believe that clearly defined shared objectives are the best way to achieve our common and overarching goal: the succeful integration of our students into the program and, ultimately, into the profession.

The above advice was prepared by Professor Eugenio Bolongaro, undergraduate academic advisor, Italian Studies.

Jewish Studies

Jewish Studies is not a unified field but a conglomeration of sub-specialties including Bible, rabbinics, philosophy, history, Hebrew/Yiddish/Ladino, sociology, literature and music. Most programs cover no more than three of these areas. Think of the Jewish Studies articles and books that you have most enjoyed. Where do the authors of these pieces teach? This is a good first step to finding a program that focuses on your research interests.

Graduate programs in Jewish studies are available at universities, rabbinical seminaries, and Jewish colleges. Some universities have separate departments of Jewish studies; others offer programs built around the work of multiple departments. Choose the educational framework that is most likely to support the type of research that you want to do. For example, if you wish to study medieval Jewish philosophy—an area that is deeply influenced by Greek and Islamic philosophy—applying to a program that promises access to specialists in those disciplines is essential. A full listing of all institutions offering MA and PhD programs in Jewish studies is available at the website of the Association for Jewish Studies (

Some people who pursue advanced Jewish study do so with the ultimate goal of becoming Jewish educators or Jewish communal professionals. A full directory of institutions offering training in these areas can be found on the website of JESNA ( There are a number of national foundations (FEREP, Wexner) and local initiatives that support the training of future rabbis, Jewish educators, and Federation leaders. It is worth investigating what is available in your district.

One cannot succeed in a graduate program unless there is commitment between the student and the professor. You should try to identify your advisor during the application process and you should be convinced that individual shares an interest in you and your program. While some schools prefer to postpone such conversations until after you have begun your studies, without a committed advisor there is no program, and you should consider enrolling elsewhere.

The faculty of the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill is available to help you find the program that best meets your research interests and career goals. To set up an advising appointment email the department chair, Prof. Eric Caplan (eric.caplan [at]

The above advice was prepared by Professor Eric Caplan, Chair of Jewish Studies.


Students who pursue a program in Linguistics (Minor, Major or Honours) as part of their undergraduate degree can choose from several potential career paths after graduation. The preferred career path will largely determine the recommended type of graduate education, so the comments below are divided by vocational area. They first examine applied areas, then academic linguistics.

For more general advice on choosing a vocational area, you might consult one of the following resources:
a) the undergraduate advisor for Linguistics, Prof. Charles Boberg (charles.boberg [at];
b) a Linguistics faculty member in your area of interest;
c) a professional or association in the vocational area you are considering (see below for links); or
d) McGill's Career Planning Service, CaPS

It may also be helpful to examine the main Internet listing of jobs for linguists, which includes jobs in a wide range of areas, both academic and applied, requiring various levels of education. Called the Linguist List, this site will give you a better sense of existing professional opportunities: Linguist List 

1. Applied Areas

a) Speech-Language Pathology

There are many practical applications of linguistic knowledge. Perhaps the most common application for McGill's undergraduate Linguistics students is the field of Speech-Language Pathology. SLPs are highly-trained clinicians who help people overcome communication disorders. These may stem from congenital or developmental problems, like articulation problems, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, deafness, mental retardation, stuttering and other conditions. Other disorders are the result of diseases or accidents that affect the language functions of the brain or the speech organs in previously healthy people, such as strokes or head injuries. An associated specialization is Audiology, the science of hearing, which studies and treats hearing problems. Because oral communication is so fundamental to social interaction, to many forms of employment and to general participation in society, people with moderate-to-severe communication disorders often suffer significant disadvantages, ranging from isolation and emotional distress to economic hardship. By helping them overcome, diminish or adapt to these disorders, you can have a crucial positive effect on the quality of life of hundreds of people. Most SLPs work for hospitals, school boards, or public or private clinics. Some work on non-pathological problems, such as accent modification for people who wish to get rid of foreign or non-standard accents for social or vocational purposes.

The standard preparation for working as an SLP is a two-year Master's degree. While admissions requirements vary by program, most programs require at least some undergraduate preparation in Linguistics. Individual programs should be consulted for more detailed information. There are nine SLP programs in Canada, of which six offer education in English, and many more in the United States. The nine Canadian programs are the following:

University of British Columbia
University of Alberta
University of Western Ontario
University of Toronto
McGill University
Dalhousie University

University of Ottawa
Université de Montréal
Université Laval

For more general information, you can also consult the professional SLP associations in Canada and theUnited States

b) Language Teaching

The term "Applied Linguistics" most often refers to the application of linguistic knowledge to the teaching and learning of either first or second languages. This is also referred to as Educational Linguistics. By far the largest vocational area in this domain is teaching English as a second language, or ESL (also known at TESOL, or TEFL): many programs in Applied Linguistics are concerned largely with this subject. The ever-growing importance of English as a global language and the largescale immigration of non-English-speaking people to English-speaking countries have greatly increased the demand for ESL teachers and for people to train ESL teachers, administer ESL programs, and develop better techniques and strategies for teaching English. Of course, while English is the most popular second language to learn, many people also learn other languages. Training in teaching other languages can be obtained either from Applied Linguistics programs or from language departments. In some areas, such as developing nations, applied linguists work on literacy programs for first-language learners. In developed countries, they may generate materials and strategies for approaching particular populations in classrooms, like special-needs students or members of ethnic or cultural minority groups. Other applied linguists develop better educational materials in subjects other than language, including testing materials. For instance, the Educational Testing Service hires linguists to make sure its standardized tests are maximally clear and culturally sensitive.

Though many ESL teachers and administrators have a background primarily in Education, the opportunities for application of linguistic knowledge in this field are obvious. While ESL teachers themselves sometimes have only a Bachelor's degree or less, many higher-level positions in the ESL field -- such as those in program administration or materials development -- require a Master's degree. A few people even go on to do a Ph.D. in this field, in order to conduct research on language teaching and to train teachers. For more information on this area, search the web for programs in Applied Linguistics, or contact one of the many Applied Linguistics associations:

American Association for Applied Linguistics
British Association for Applied Linguistics
Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics
Center for Applied Linguistics
International Association of Applied Linguistics
Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL)

Click here for a list of ESL teaching jobs

c) Speech Technology

Perhaps the fastest-growing applied field for linguists is now the speech-technology industry: companies and research institutes that develop language- or speech-related computer software and, in some cases, associate hardware. Examples of these applications are: Internet search engines; on-line dictionaries; speech recognition (computers "understanding" human speech, as in voice-command systems); speech synthesis (computers producing human-like speech, as in user-feedback systems); speech-to-text or text-to-speech applications (e.g., for dictation or for the blind); and voice identification (e.g., for security purposes or for criminal investigation).

While "speech tech" is a highly technical field, involving working with computers and with computer engineers, it also requires a great deal of linguistic knowledge. Companies in this field regularly hire people with a background in Linguistics to work with their engineering staff on software development. Some familiarity with computer programming is helpful, but many companies are more interested in your linguistic qualifications and are willing to train you to do the necessary computer work. Entry-level jobs can often be obtained with a Bachelor's degree, but a Master's degree will open the door to higher-level jobs, particularly if it includes some training in Computational Linguistics or Instrumental Phonetics. For more information, search the web for programs in Computational Linguistics, consult CAPS (URL above) or examine the jobs listings on Linguist List (URL above).

d) Other Applied Areas

Finally, there are several other applied areas that may require some preparation in Linguistics, or for which a background in Linguistics might be beneficial. Some of these require education in other areas as well, especially in order to secure a full-time position. Forensic Linguistics is the application of linguistic knowledge to criminal investigation, using methods such as voice identification, accent analysis, text or discourse analysis, and so on. Forensic linguists may work occasionally as consultants to lawyers or in a full-time position in a crime lab, and may sometimes be asked to appear in court to give expert testimony. There are a few training programs that specialize in this area. For more information, consult the International Association of Forensic Linguists (IAFL)

Another potential opportunity for linguists in the interface between Linguistics and the Law is in advising lawyers and lawmakers on how to simplify or clarify legal language, or on language-related issues arising from trademark law.

Also related to law is the field of language planning: when governments or other institutions create and enforce policy designed either to influence the relative status of languages in society (e.g., designating an official language or mandating the use of a language in certain contexts), or to improve the resources of a language that is required to fulfill certain functions (e.g., developing a technical vocabulary to replace loanwords from another language). Wherever governments are engaged in this kind of work, there may be opportunities for linguists as consultants or as full-time civil servants.

Linguists are sometimes also consulted by advertising companies on how to communicate most effectively with particular groups of people: some large ad firms may have full-time positions for people with a Linguistics background.

A more purely linguistic area is lexicography: the writing of dictionaries. The production of a dictionary requires a large staff of people, some of whom require training in various aspects of linguistics, such as Semantics, Phonetics, Historical Linguistics and Dialectology.

Yet another area of applied Linguistics is accent/dialect coaching in theater and film: training actors to imitate a range of foreign or regional accents and dialects, or perhaps to pronounce foreign languages, either as a general skill or in preparation for a specific role. Some dialect coaches are self-employed, while others work for theater schools or film studios.

2. Academic Linguistics


If you wish to dedicate yourself to academic research and teaching in Linguistics, you will need to apply to doctoral programs in the field. Because a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) is now required for almost all full-time academic positions at major North American universities, many graduate programs in Linguistics no longer offer a Master's degree, or offer it only as an "exit" degree for doctoral students who leave the program before completing it. Many graduate programs in Linguistics therefore accept students directly from undergraduate programs into the doctoral program. Some students, however, continue to do an M.A. first, then apply for a Ph.D. later if they want to go further, perhaps at a different program.

Choosing a graduate program in Linguistics will depend to a great extent on what you want to study. Relatively few (if any) programs are strong in every subfield of Linguistics, though some of the larger ones can at least offer courses in most areas. Depending on your interests, some programs may have little to offer, despite having a good general reputation. The best guide to choosing a program will be consulting the instructor(s) of the course(s) in your area(s) of interest. They will have the most current and detailed information on the best programs and teachers in their area(s). This is important because the status and quality of a program can change from year to year, as a result of the departure or arrival of faculty members. You may also wish to consult journals in your area of interest to see who is publishing work on subjects you find particularly interesting, or examine the on-line programs for conferences in your subfield to see what the hot topics are, who is working on them, and where those people are located.

For more information on Linguistics and its various subfields and links to Linguistics programs, you can consult the websites of professional associations:
Canadian Linguistic Association (CLA)
Linguistic Society of America (LSA)
Linguistics Association of Great Britain (LAGB)

Detailed information on individual programs is also available on the Internet, from departmental websites. In addition to describing the strengths of each department and listing the programs and courses it offers, these usually give contact information for individual faculty members, whom you can consult about their area of research, or for graduate program or admissions directors, who can answer questions about applying. While your instructor(s) at McGill can probably suggest departments you should focus on, the following is a list of well-recognized North American linguistics programs you may wish to explore if you have not yet focused on a particular area, or if you are simply curious about the wider range of opportunities available to you. The list is in alphabetical order, is not exhaustive and is not intended as an endorsement or evaluation of the departments it contains; many of these programs are strong in one or two areas but not in others. Again, you should consult with your instructors at McGill, or with other linguists you know, to develop a better sense of what each department has to offer.

Boston University
Brown University (Providence, RI)
Carnegie Mellon University (Cleveland, OH)
Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
Georgetown University (Washington, DC)
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA)
Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology ("MIT"; Cambridge, MA)
McGill University (Montreal, QC)
New York University (New York City, NY)
Ohio State University (Columbus, OH)
Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ)
Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA)
State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo
State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook
University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB)
University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC)
University of California at Berkeley
University of California at Los Angeles ("UCLA")
University of California at San Diego
University of California at Santa Barbara
University of California at Santa Cruz
University of Chicago
University of Colorado at Boulder
University of Delaware (Newark, DE)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)
University of Maryland at College Park
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor, MI)
University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)
University of Pittsburgh
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
University of Texas at Austin
University of Toronto
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
University of Wisconsin at Madison
Yale University (New Haven, CT)

Depending on your interests, it should be kept in mind that it is also possible to pursue advanced study in academic Linguistics in other departments. While most people who want to study theoretical phonology, syntax or semantics will find their interests addressed most closely by Linguistics departments, some students in applied or experimental areas of Linguistics may find more to attract them in an allied field. For example, those interested in the linguistics of a particular language may apply to the graduate program in a language department; those interested in certain aspects of sociolinguistics may apply to an anthropology, area studies or communications program; those interested in language acquisition may apply to graduate programs in education or psychology; and those interested in psycholinguistics or neurolinguistics may apply to psychology or cognitive science programs. Each of these types of program has individual requirements, which should be looked into early enough to allow you to take the relevant courses during your undergraduate degree. Experimental fields like psychology and neuroscience, for instance, will likely require some undergraduate background in statistics as well as, perhaps, research design and experimental methods. Some programs may also require some background in neurobiology or other aspects of cognitive science. There is no space in this document to treat these allied fields in any detail. If you think you are interested in one of them, you should consult the instructor(s) in that area for information on requirements and programs.

The above advice was prepared by Professor Charles Boberg, McGill's undergraduate academic advisor for Linguistics.


The Department of Mathematics and Statistics welcomes applications for Graduate studies in Applied Mathematics, Pure Mathematics and Statistics. The usual background for graduate study is one of our honours or joint honours program or the equivalent from another university. For further details see our graduate studies website.

McGill School of Environment

Major areas in the discipline:

Graduate level:
• Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (Bioresource Engineering, Entomology, Microbiology, Plant Science, Parasitology, Renewable Resources),
• Arts (Anthropology, Geography, Philosophy, Sociology),
• Law
• Medicine (Experimental Medicine),
• Science (Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Biology, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Geography)

We don’t have an advisor for the Graduate program. Students work closely with their supervisor. Our program currently exists as a “Graduate Option”. A Masters and Ph.D. proposal is in the works. For more information about graduate programs in Environmental Studies, please see the MSE Graduate Studies website.

Careers in the discipline:

Please see the MSE career links website.

McGill Graduate Studies

For information about interdisciplinary and collaborative programs at the graduate level, please see theGPS website.


Please see the Graduate Studies website for information about funding.

Profiles of some former students who have completed graduate studies:

Two past MSE grads discuss their planning process, graduate studies, and field work after their MSE undergraduate work.

Joel Thibert: After completing his BA at the MSE in 2004, Joel Thibert taught environmental science in Colombia for a year, and then came back to McGill to pursue a Master of Urban Planning. He now works for a small non-profit project management firm specialized in urban revitalization projects, the Quartier international de Montréal, and advises them on issues related to urban planning and sustainable development. He is also currently completing a graduate diploma in Environmental Education at UQAM and working on an ecological summer camp project with MSE graduate, Alanah Heffez.

Annelise Godber: Annelise is currently in her first year of law school at McGill. She plans to work in environmental and Aboriginal law in Quebec after she passes the bar. Annelise graduated from the MSE in 2008. She presently works part-time for Mr. Franklin S. Gertler of Franklin Gertler Étude Légale/Law Office. He specializes in her field of interest, environmental and Aboriginal law. For the past two years, she has worked for the Québec-Labrador Foundation, an environmental not-for-profit organization with programs in New England, eastern Quebec and Labrador.

The above advice was prepared by Ms. Kathryn Roulet, McGill's undergraduate academic advisor for MSE.

Middle East Studies

Students in the Middle East Studies Program who are considering going to graduate school should make an appointment with Laila Parsons, the MES advisor, for an advising session. The earlier you can do this the better because decisions you are making now about how to tailor your undergraduate program could affect your choice of where to apply to graduate school. Professor Parsons can help you with these decisions. She can also guide you through the complexities of applying to graduate programs and refer you to other faculty in the Middle East Studies Program who have expertise in particular types of programs. Most faculty members sit on graduate admissions committees. They know what makes a good application and they can give you tips on how to increase your chances of being admitted. A half-hour advising session with a faculty member can be worth as much as hours of trawling the web and reading the official blurbs that the various graduate programs produce (although this research is important too!). So make good use of advising and be in touch to set up an appointment as soon as you start thinking about graduate school.

The above advice was prepared by Professor Laila Parsons, Associate Professor (History/Islamic Studies) and Chair of the Middle East Studies Program Committee.(laila.parsons [at]


Graduate study in philosophy.

Employment prospects: The main thing a Ph.D. in philosophy is good for is to get an academic job. These include positions at research universities, liberal arts colleges or universities that do not have graduate programmes, and community colleges or CEGEPs. You should be aware going in that there are far more Ph.D.s than there are jobs. Entry into the profession often begins with part-time or sessional teaching work.

What to expect: Doing a Ph.D. in philosophy generally begins with two years of coursework to satisfy distribution requirements in a variety of areas of philosophy, and in some cases, satisfying a second-language requirement (e.g., German, French, Latin). After the coursework, many departments hold comprehensive exams in a range of subfields of philosophy. Here at McGill, we require a candidacy paper. After that, you move to the dissertation stage, which begins with the submission of a dissertation proposal, typically followed by an oral exam to show that you are prepared to carry out the proposed project. The dissertation can be up to 100,000 words, and will be evaluated by a committee of internal and (usually) external examiners. Most graduate students fund their studies through a combination of fellowship and teaching assistant work. You should probably not go to graduate school without some kind of financial aid package.

Where to apply: You will have to do considerable research to decide where to apply. You should look at department websites to determine which areas they have particular strengths in, and you should talk to your professors here at McGill. The Philosophy Department website lists faculty members together with their areas of specialization. If you have a good idea of which areas of philosophy interest you, you should consult these two resources to find which departments would be best for your interests. There are websites available which actually evaluate departments. While you should take them with a large grain of salt, they can be useful sources of information about departmental focus. You should apply strategically: apply to your top choices, but be sure also to have backup plans by applying to departments where you have a realistic chance of being admitted. McGill’s philosophy undergraduates have been successful in getting in to very good graduate programmes: for example, in the last few years, students have been admitted to Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, Princeton, Harvard, Chicago, Oxford, UBC, and Western, among others. Recent McGill philosophy undergraduates who have completed Ph.D.s elsewhere are now teaching at, e.g., Columbia, Wellesley, University of Manchester, and Syracuse.

Questions: There are a number of important questions you might want to ask about departments you are considering. What are their completion rates? (Somewhere between 25 and 50% of those who enter Ph.D. programmes do not complete their degree.) What are the average completion times for the degree? (You can expect between 5 and 8 years.) What is the placement record of the department? Do their graduates get good jobs? What kind of funding is offered? Is it primarily through fellowships or TAships? How many years of funding are guaranteed?

Other sources of funding: Canadian citizens may apply for Commonwealth Scholarships to study in other Commonwealth countries (which of course includes the UK). Quebec residents may apply for FQRSC funding, and Canadian citizens may apply for SSHRC scholarships.

Further information: There are a number of websites, some of which were consulted for this site, with useful information about graduate school in philosophy. You can start your research here:

The above advice was prepared by Professor Emily Carson, undergraduate academic advisor, department of Philosophy.

Political Science

The major fields of Political Science are Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. These apply at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In Canadian universities Canadian Politics is a separate field. In American universities American Politics is separate. Some universities also offer fields such as Political Economy, Public Administration, Policy Studies and Analysis, Political Philosophy, and Political Ideology.

Possible careers, based on highest degree obtained:
B.A. – journalism, government, private sector, foreign service, law, business, international organizations, non-profit sector.
M.A. – journalism, government, research, think tanks, teaching at a CEGEP or junior college, private sector, interest groups, political parties, political consulting, foreign service, international organizations, NGO’s.
Ph.D. – teaching and research at a university, think tanks, risk assessment, political consulting, private sector, government, political parties, interest groups, foreign service, international organizations, NGO’s.

Our department has significant strength in Canadian Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. We also have expertise in most regions of the developed and developing worlds.

Scholarships/Fellowships: SSHRC, National Science Foundation, McGill Fellowships, FQRSC (Quebec government fellowships).

All faculty members in the Department are available to advise students about graduate studies in Political Science. The advising schedule is on the departmental website

The Department regularly offers workshops for senior undergraduates on possibilities for graduate studies in Political Science or in professional schools that focus on international affairs, public policy, or public affairs. It is better to consult one of our professors for substantive information about graduate studies at various universities. Directories only give very basic information.

Examples of the career paths of some of our undergraduate students who went on to graduate studies and professional careers include:
i. Canadian foreign service officer and Ambassador to China
ii. Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister, Ambassador to Israel, and journalist
iii. Pulitzer Prize winning political commentator in Washington
iv. Several university professors of political science
v. Business school professor and venture capitalist
vi. Law school professor, MP, and Minister of Justice
vii. Lawyers in private practice and public service

The above advice was prepared by Professor Harold Waller, undergraduate academic advisor, department of Political Science.


Areas of Specialization in Psychology
It is truly during graduate education that students become increasingly proficient and knowledgeable in an area of psychological specialization. Some specialty areas in psychology that require a graduate education are Clinical Psychology, Experimental Psychology, Counselling Psychology, School Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Health Psychology, Physiological Psychology, and Human Factors Psychology. For descriptions of different areas of specialization in psychology, please consult the American Psychological Association’s Careers in Psychology website and M. A. Lloyd’s Master's- and Doctoral-Level Careers in Psychology and Related Areas website. 

Types of Careers in Psychology
Typically, individuals who choose to seek employment at the end of their undergraduate degree in psychology either find work in helping professions or in fields outside of psychology. Possible job titles in helping professions include Group Home Worker, Educator/Shadow, and Community Relations Officer. Others have gone on to work in such fields as business (i.e., Management Consultants and Recruiters), education (i.e. Recreation Directors and International Student Advisors), or communications (i.e., Writers and Reporters). Students who complete a Master’s degree in a subfield of psychology can go on to obtain such job titles as Rehabilitation Counsellor, College Professor and Psychometrist. Possible job titles for graduates with a PhD degree in a subfield of psychology include Psychologist, Researcher, and University Professor. For additional examples, please see the CaPS [.pdf] website for job titles that are associated with a BA/BSc, MA, and PhD degree. A BA/BSc in Psychology can also serve as a stepping stone for further education in such fields as Medicine, Law, Education, and Business Administration. 

Graduate Programs in Psychology Offered at McGill
The Psychology Department offers students two graduate program tracks that ultimately lead to a PhD degree: Clinical Psychology and Experimental Psychology. The Department of Educational and Counselling Psychology offers students various graduate program options. Specifically,

  • The Counselling Psychology program offers students three degree options, including a M.A. (Non-Thesis), M.A. (Thesis), and Ph.D. Counselling Psychology degree.
  • The Health Profession Education program offers an M.A. in Educational Psychology (Health Professions Stream) degree.
  • The Human Development program offers an integrated M.A. and Ph.D. degree in Human Development.
  • The Learning Sciences program offers three degree options, which include a M.Ed., M.A., and Ph.D. Educational Psychology (Learning Sciences Stream) degree.
  • The M.Ed. program in Educational Psychology offers a M.Ed. in Educational Psychology degree.
  • The School/Applied Child Psychology program offers four degree options, which include a M.A. (thesis) and M.A. (non-thesis) in Educational Psychology Specialization in School/Applied Child Psychology, as well as a Ph.D. and Post-Graduate Diploma in School/Applied Child Psychology.

Potential Sources of Funding for Graduate Students in the Psychology Department
The Psychology Department encourages students who are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in psychology to seek external sources of financial support (i.e. fellowships). For details regarding funding opportunities for graduate studies in psychology, please see the Graduate Studies website. 

Workshops & Seminars for Students Interested in Graduate School in Psychology
Usually a three part seminar is offered during the Fall semester to psychology undergraduate students who are considering graduate school in psychology or a related field. In addition, a workshop titled “What Can I do with My Psych Degree?” is offered to psychology majors during the Winter semester. 

Contact Information for Students Interested in Graduate Studies in Psychology

  • Paola Carvajal, Chief Undergraduate Advisor in Psychology, paola.carvajal [at]
  • Giovanna LoCascio, Graduate Program Coordinator for Experimental and Clinical Psychology, gradsec [at]
  • Diane Bernier, Graduate Program Coordinator for Counselling and School/Applied Child Psychology, diane.bernier [at]
  • Geri Norton, Graduate Program Coordinator for Human Development and Educational Psychology (excluding School/Applied Child Psychology), [at]
  • Cindy Mancuso, Career Advisor at CaPS, cindy.mancuso [at]

The above advice was prepared by Ms. Paola Carvajal, Chief Undergraduate Academic Advisor for Psychology.

Religious Studies

It is often believed that the academic study of religion is a pathway to being a “religious professional” such as a minster or other religious leader. Religious Studies as an academic discipline is, for the most part, not geared toward this work. The academic study of religion has a distinctive multidisciplinary character, drawing upon resources and approaches from various fields in the Humanities and Social Sciences, including archaeology, art, anthropology, history, literature, philosophy, psychology, and sociology. It fosters broad-based cultural, historical, and creative analyses that sharpen research, abstract reasoning and direct observation skills. It also offers broad access to many career options. Indeed, the study of religion has an international dimension and speaks to contemporary issues. These qualities make it very meaningful as preparation for a variety of professional opportunities.

A Religious Studies major at the undergraduate level is thus valuable in its own right but can also function as excellent preparation for a variety of occupations. Undergraduates qualify for further study in graduate school and have an edge in certain areas of the job market. Religious Studies offers basic training that is central to many professional fields, and students often go on to study law, business, education, and medicine in graduate school. Many students, however, choose an academic career as a research specialist or university professor in Religious Studies. Some of the graduate programs at McGill’s Faculty of Religious Studies are specifically designed with academic careers in mind.

The Faculty of Religious Studies offers programs leading to the degrees of Master of Arts (MA, with and without thesis), Master of Sacred Theology (STM), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Specialization is offered in the following disciplines: Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies/Early Judaism, New Testament Studies/Early Christianity, Church History, Christian Theology, Philosophy of Religion, Religious Ethics, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

Master of Arts (MA, thesis): The purpose of the MA (thesis) degree is to encourage advanced study and research in one of the disciplines of religious studies for those who wish to become scholars or teachers, or will be engaged in some field of religious or public service. An option in the MA (thesis) programs is the MA in Religious Studies with specialization in Bioethics offered in collaboration with the Biomedical Ethics Unit.

Master of Arts (MA, non-thesis): The MA without thesis is intended to ensure a student’s well rounded exposure to several religions and to several of the disciplinary approaches currently used in their academic study.

Master of Sacred Theology (STM): The STM is meant for those who intend to enter the ministry of the Christian Church or another religious institution, or proceed to a teaching career or to some form of social work. The STM program is fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools in the U.S. and Canada.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD): The purpose of the PhD program is to engage students in advanced academic studies, normally in preparation for an academic career.

Strengths of our own Graduate Program

The Faculty of Religious Studies (FRS) supports one of the largest graduate programs in Religious Studies in North America. In all four areas of specialization – Asian Religions, Biblical Studies, Christina Thought and History, and Religion and Culture – FRS is among the most innovative and visible centres for graduate research on religion. The graduate teaching and learning environment at FRS encourages strong working relationships between faculty and students and a mentorship program that extends to both research and teaching. Nearly all of FRS’ recent doctoral graduates have been placed in tenure-track academic positions at prominent North American colleges and universities.

Profiles of Some Former Graduate Students:

Prof. Upinder Singh (PhD 1991), Professor, Delhi University, India
Prof. Dietmar Neufeld (PhD 1991), Professor, University of British Columbia
Prof. Tazim Kassam (PhD 1992), Professor, Syracuse University
Prof. Mathieu Boisvert (PhD 1992), Professeur, Université de Québec à Montréal
Prof. Leslie Orr (PhD, 1993), Professor, Concordia University
Prof. Zain Kassam-Hann (PhD 1994), Professor, Pomona College
Prof. Francis Brassard (PhD 1996), Professor, Miyazaki International College, Japan
Prof. Noel Salmond (PhD 1999), Professor, Carleton University
Prof. Heidi Epstein (PhD 2000), Assistant Professor, University of Saskatchewan
Prof. Scott Kline (PhD 2001), Professor, University of Waterloo
Prof. Barbara Clayton (PhD 2002), Professor, Mount Allison University
Prof. Martin Adam (PhD 2003), Professor, University of Victoria
Prof. Richard Walker (PhD 2007), Assistant Professor, Wilfred Laurier University

Departmental Contacts:

Prof. Ellen B. Aitken, Dean (ellen.aitken [at]
Prof. Davesh Soneji, BA Program Chair (davesh.soneji [at]
Prof. Victor Hori, Graduate Program Director (victor.hori [at]
Prof. Lara Braitstein, Graduate Admissions Director (lara.braitstein [at]

Area Websites:

Graduate programs at FRS
Asian Religions area
Biblical Studies area
Christian Thought and History Area
Religion and Culture area

The above advice was prepared by Professor Davesh Soneji, McGill's undergraduate academic advisor for Religious Studies.

Russian Studies

As part of a B.A. degree, a Major in Russian offers students an opportunity not only to learn Russian so that they can read the great classics and today’s press, but it also opens a door into a world at once familiar and unfamiliar. Choosing a Major in Russian sends a clear message to prospective employers that students are prepared to follow a road less taken.

The summer credit courses in Russian language at St. Petersburg State University allow students not only to improve their command of spoken Russian, but also to experience firsthand the city’s rich cultural life as well as the many facets of today’s Russia. A judicious selection of elective courses in the areas of Soviet/Russian and Central European studies in the Departments of History, Economics, Political Science and Jewish Studies can enhance a Russian Major. With many colleges and universities now offering interdisciplinary programmes such as Culture Studies, the Film, and Women Studies, McGill students may find it useful to take courses in these areas preparatory to graduate studies.

With a full programme in Russian from the B.A. to the Ph.D., McGill ranks among the leading Canadian and American universities with as many, if not more, graduates each year with a Majors in Russian as Harvard, Columbia and other major universities. The McGill Major in Russian is an excellent preparation for the Master of Arts programmes at the University of Toronto and Carleton University in European, Russian and Eurasian Studies which are designed to provide a well-rounded education in European, Russian and Eurasian affairs for students who wish to pursue professional, non-academic careers in areas such as government and diplomacy, journalism, business, international law, NGOs, and teaching. Besides McGill, the Universities of Manitoba, Toronto, Waterloo, and Alberta presently offer the Masters degree in Russian.

While a number of leading institutions have Russian at the B.A. level, only a handful offer the Ph.D. McGill, Toronto and Alberta are the only ones in Canada. In addition to several Ivy League universities, about a dozen other American universities offer the Ph.D. Graduation figures for 2008 indicate three for Harvard and Berkeley and one for leading institutions such as Michigan, Texas or Indiana. Some programmes require additional courses or specialization in a second Slavic language or linguistics. Fluency in Russian is now obligatory for any university appointment. In addition to teaching language at all levels, junior faculty may be expected to teach courses in Soviet/Russian culture, literature in translation, the Film, or post-Soviet culture.

It goes without saying that students contemplating an academic career must be committed to original research and publication in peer-reviewed journals and monographs. On-line university sites can be most informative about programmes, entrance requirements, and funding. Members of the Department are more than ready to discuss graduate studies or career options with students.

The above advice was prepared by Professor Paul Murray Austin, undergraduate academic advisor, Russian Studies.


Major areas in the discipline: There are numerous sub-disciplines within sociology. Some of these are: Social Stratification, Sociology of Religion, Sociology of the Environment, Sociology of Law, Crime/Deviance/Punishment, Race and Ethnicity, Gender and Society, Political Sociology, Comparative and Historical Sociology, Globalization/Development, Medical Sociology, Sociology of the Family and Demography.

Types of careers: Career opportunities with a degree in sociology are as vast as the field itself. Students with a BA in Sociology have gone on to be Social Policy researchers, Public Relations Officers, Probation Officers, Law Enforcement Officers, Community Relations Specialists, Urban Planners, Social Workers, Journalists, Special Events Planners, Retail Sales Managers, Policy Analysts, Project Coordinators, School Teachers, Market Research Analysts, Mediators, Labor Relations Specialists and Writers. Others have used their background in sociology as a background before pursuing advanced degrees in law, medicine or business administration.

Students with a MA or PhD have gone on to positions as Professors at Universities and Colleges, Government Officials, Social Policy Researchers, Demographers, Statisticians, Consultants and Directors of NGOs. For additional careers see the web page of the American Sociological Association.

Strength of our graduate program: The Department of Sociology at McGill is strong in a number of the sub-disciplines within sociology. These areas include: Social Statistics, Demography, Crime and Deviance, Punishment, Sociology of Medicine and Mental Health, Gender and Society, Development, Social Movements, Race and Ethnicity, Political Sociology, Family, Stratification, Industrial Sociology, Work and Labor, Immigration, and Political Sociology. See our departmental web page for specific information about the research being conducted by sociology professors.

Standard grants in Sociology: We encourage students interested in pursuing an MA or PhD in Sociology to apply for fellowships for graduate studies from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). See our departmental web page for additional funding opportunities.

Graduate schools in sociology: A directory of universities offering graduate degrees in sociology is located in the department of sociology main office.

For profiles of our alumni, please see our departmental web page.

The above advice was prepared by Professor Jason Carmichael, undergraduate academic advisor, department of Sociology.

Social Work 

The Master of Social Work Degree (MSW): The School of Social Work at McGill University offers an MSW program that exposes students to a broad range of theories, practice approaches, and research methods with particular attention to key areas of practice related to “Children and Families”, “Social Care and Health”, and “Community and International Development”. The MSW can be pursued as a non-thesis, thesis, or joint MSW/BCL/LLB program. Students in the non-thesis option complete coursework, an independent study project, and a field placement, all of which prepare them for advanced professional social work practice. The thesis option is designed for students who want to develop a specialized set of research skills. The joint social work and law degree, a non-thesis option, prepares students to integrate knowledge and practice skills from both disciplines.

Admissions Requirements: Candidates making an application to the MSW program are required to have successfully completed either (i) a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) degree or (ii) the first 30 credits of the 2 year/60 credits BSW program offered in the School of Social Work at McGill University prior to commencing the MSW program. For clarification, those candidates who hold undergraduate degrees in social work related disciplines are not eligible for direct admission into the MSW program. However, such candidates are encouraged to apply to our 2 year/60 credit program. Following the successful completion of the first 30 credits/1st year of this 60 credit BSW program, students are eligible to apply directly to the MSW program offered by the School of Social Work at McGill University. By following this route, the MSW program can be completed within 2 calendar years. All applicants to the MSW program must have (i) a minimum overall B average (GPA 3.0/4.0), (ii) professional experience in social service work or related experience subsequent to obtaining the BSW or prior to entering the 2 year BSW program, (iii) completed course work in statistics at the undergraduate or CEGEP level and (iv), completed course work in research methods at the undergraduate level.

All international applicants, except applicants from the USA, are required to submit documented proof of competency in English: the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a minimum score of 577 on the paper-based test or 233 on the computer-based test or 90* on the internet based test (* each individual component of reading, writing, listening, and speaking must have a minimum score of 21) or an equivalent test.

Types of careers: The career opportunities available to MSW graduates are vast. Professional social workers address issues related to aging, alcohol and substance abuse, maltreatment of children and youth, parenting, family relationships, domestic violence, disabilities, poverty, mental health and illness, and homelessness, to highlight but a few fields of practice. On the front lines of clinical practice and policy analysis, and in management positions, MSW graduates can be found in settings such as child welfare agencies, community and neighbourhood services, schools, hospitals, correctional facilities, rehabilitation centres, family services, and government and non-government organizations. Social workers are playing an increasing role at the international level with careers in international and community development, practice work with immigrant, refugees and war-affected populations, and advocacy work on global policy issues. An international and community development focus is also relevant for those aiming to broaden their domestic practice competence through understanding the international dimensions of community and social issues. Graduates of our MSW program will be well equipped to take on careers as researchers and government employees working for agencies such as the Canadian International Development Agency, International Development Research Centre, Department of Foreign Affairs, or in the non-profit sector as advocates or researchers in the realms of international and community development.

Students who further pursue a PhD have gone on to positions as professors at universities and colleges, researchers in federal and provincial government, and in research institutes, consultants and directors of NGOs. For additional information on careers in social work see ‘What Is Social Work’ at the following website: Canadian Association of Social Workers.

Strength of our graduate program: The graduate programs at the School of Social Work are designed for professionals who wish to advance their knowledge, research capacity and clinical expertise in a range of social work specializations. McGill School of Social Work has a long tradition of teaching in the areas of clinical and community practice with faculty expertise in child welfare, disabilities, long term care, aging, First Peoples, and practice with marginalized groups (e.g., immigrants and refugees, GLBT), loss and bereavement, domestic violence, advocacy, policy, international social work, and approaches to practice that span the individuals, families, groups and communities spectrum. Over the years, noted faculty have served as role models for a generation of social work practitioners, clinical researchers and policy analysts. See our departmental website for specific information about the teaching and researcher interests of social work faculty. The School of Social Work has been on the forefront of developing innovative programs for diverse family forms and socially disadvantaged community groups with a commitment to helping those individuals marginalized within family, community and social structures. The School of Social Work is accredited by the Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CSWE),and holds membership in the International Association of Schools of Social Work (IASSW), and the Regroupement des unités de formation universitaire en travail social du Québec (RUFUTS). Students graduating from our program are eligible to obtain their permit as a “professional social worker, P.S.W. ” through the Ordre professionnel des travailleurs sociaux du Québec (OPTSQ) and can practice in any province or state in the US, following the successful completion of regulatory requirements governing the profession of social work within the given region.

Standard grants in Social Work: We encourage students interested in pursuing an MSW or PhD in Social Work to apply for fellowships for graduate studies from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Fonds de Récherche sur la société et la culture en Québec (FQRSC). Please refer to the McGill School of Social Work website for additional internal funding opportunities.

The above advice was prepared by Dr. Julia Krane, Graduate Program Director for the School of Social Work.

14. What other resources are available on campus and elsewhere?


The above information was largely obtained from the following College internet sources: CalTech, UCLA, CUNY, Hanover, Harvard, and Michigan. Many thanks to the authors for creating and sharing these websites.

Special thanks go to Gregg Blatchford, Director CaPS, and Professor Carrie Rentschler, from the department of Art History and Communications, for their contributions to the website, as well as to each one of the Arts academic advisors who contributed specific information about their area of expertise.

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