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Graduate application FAQs

Questions about applying to the English MA program? Read our FAQs or contact the Graduate Program Assistant. For general admissions guidelines, please consult the graduate admissions pages.

How to submit your portfolio

Upload a PDF version of your portfolio on or before the application deadline.

If you are experiencing issues with uploading your portfolio, please send it to the Graduate Program Assistant

The portfolio cover page  must be included with the portfolio, merged AS A SINGLE PDF. No portfolios in any other format will be accepted.

The subject line should read:   Last name, first name - graduate portfolio submission

About the portfolio

It is not necessary to submit all three genres; though you may wish to reflect your strengths in various genres, the focus should be on that in which you propose to complete your thesis. If you write prose, submit 35 to (a maximum of) 45 pages (double-spaced); if poetry, 20 to (a maximum of) 25 pages (single-spaced). If you are applying in drama, you must submit one complete play. In the case of a combined-genre portfolio, the total should not exceed 35 pages (unless drama is included).  Submit your strongest work that which you feel accurately represents your abilities and interests. Where possible, complete works are preferable to excerpts.

Students not accepted into the Creative Writing program may enter the Literature Option if they have met admission requirements and have indicated that they are interested in the other option on the Portfolio Cover Page form.

The statement of purpose should be two pages maximum. In your SOP, outline your academic background and, as specifically as possible, describe a program of research and/or creation (for creative writing applicants) you will pursue during the degree. Describe your future goals related to your proposed graduate work. The English Graduate Program Committee invites members of equity-seeking groups to identify themselves if they wish.

At least two (preferably three) of the references should be from faculty members who have taught you in upper level academic classes. The admissions committee is looking for confirmation that you will thrive in a graduate program, and the people best equipped to speak to your academic abilities are people who have taught you and understand the challenges you will face in graduate school. 



No, you only make one application to the program.  When you submit your portfolio you need to include a copy of the Portfolio Cover Page with each of the 2 copies.  This is where you will indicate whether or not you want to be considered for the literature option if your portfolio is not accepted. One application will do. Simply indicate you’d like to be considered for both options.

While at least a Major in English literature (or approximately 36-42 credits of literature with significant period coverage) is desirable, in exceptional cases students without an English Major may be considered if the applicant’s portfolio and experience as a writer are sufficiently strong. Creative writing courses are not taken into consideration when evaluating an applicant's readiness for academic courses at the MA level.

Your undergraduate record is very important, as are your letters of reference. We also pay close attention to your statement of purpose and your portfolio (for those interested in the Creative Writing option) and writing sample (for international students).

The School of Graduate Studies requires a GPA of B to be admissible to any graduate program.  Our Admissions Committee in the Department of English, however, will rarely consider students who do not have a minimum of a B+/A- average in their literature courses.  This is particularly important in the last two years of your undergraduate degree.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations state that in order to be admissible to a graduate program you must have completed an Honours undergraduate degree or equivalent. If the institution you attend offers an Honours BA, this is the route you should take in order to prepare yourself for graduate work. If your institution does not offer an Honours BA, you must complete a four-year undergraduate degree. Courses with a strong independent research emphasis are the bridge between undergraduate and graduate work, and success in these courses will show the admissions committee that you will thrive in the graduate school environment.

Applicants to the Creative Writing option are not required to have completed an Honours program. They do however need to have a Major in English Literature, the equivalent number of English Literature credits, or a very strong portfolio and significant experience as a writer.

It depends on how many upper level English Literature courses you completed. Remember, you are competing for a very few seats with students who have completed undergraduate degrees with an English Literature emphasis. The admissions committee will be looking at the number of English Literature courses you have completed, your academic performance in those classes, and your coverage of the various periods within the discipline. As well, they will want to see evidence of independent research ability in the field of English literature.

In general, you must have at least a Major in English literature or have taken approximately 36-42 credits of literature with enough period coverage. Creative writing courses are not taken into consideration when evaluating transcripts for admission to the program.

The degree must be an English Literature degree and equivalent to our Honours Degree.  English degrees that are comprised of mostly language courses are not appropriate for this program.

Unless the texts were studied in English translation, courses in literature in a language other than English do not qualify students for admission to the program.

We will consider applications from students who demonstrate high performance in literature courses even if their overall GPA is lower than 3.3.   Please note that the School of Graduate Studies does stipulate 3.0 as the minimum GPA required for admission to any to any graduate program.  Students who do not have an adequate GPA may wish to take additional courses in order to improve their academic standing and qualify for admission.

The admissions committee doesn’t consider when you completed your coursework; they are primarily looking at the grades you achieved, your period coverage, and evidence of independent research. The difficulty many students have when they decide to apply to a graduate program after having been out of school for a number of years is the lack of referee availability. The admissions committee will want to see at least two strong letters of academic reference from faculty who have taught you in the past. If you have not been taking classes for some years, it may be difficult to find faculty to write these references. If you find yourself in this situation you may want to consider taking an upper level undergraduate English Literature course or two, in order to brush up on your academic skills and showcase them to faculty who can write you fresh references.

Absolutely. If you completed an Honours or a Major degree in a discipline other than English Literature, if your GPA is less than 3.3, or if you completed your degree some years ago, you can take upper-level undergraduate courses to strengthen your application. We are happy to consider classes taken from other universities as well, but please remember that they should, ideally, be at the Honours level or have a strong independent research component. If in doubt, contact the Graduate Program Director before registering.

A qualifying program exists as a bridge to the Masters program.  It is rarely offered to anyone who has not taken any upper level English Literature courses.  A student could take several upper level English Literature courses on their own before applying to further their chances.  Please note that admission requirements must be met even for the qualifying program (Bachelor’s degree conferred, minimum GPA 3.3, etc.).  Completion of a qualifying program does not guarantee admission to the MA program.  Once a student has completed a qualifying program they must reapply to the MA program and are in competition with other applicants for admission to the program. 

Yes. We allow students to defer the entrance to the program one time only.

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