MA Program in English

Our MA degree is a one year program that emphasizes the close, critical study of literature and culture and the development of research, writing and analytical skills.

All MA candidates

  • select from among diverse graduate courses offered within and outside the department;
  • can expect close contact with their professors and fellow students;
  • have access to an excellent research library.

Domestic MA students have the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants or may be paired with faculty as research assistants.

Our graduates have gone on to further study in PhD programs at Western and beyond, to professional programs in law, education, and other specializations, and to careers in publishing, journalism, government, consulting, the arts, and more.


Admission Requirements

Applicants to the MA programs should hold a four-year BA in English or in English combined with another subject. They should have achieved at least an A minus average (80-84%) in the English courses of their BA program. To be considered for admission, an applicant should have achieved a substantial B average over all courses taken in the last two years. They should have a minimum of twenty full-year undergraduate courses or their equivalent in semester courses, including at least six full-year Honours-level English courses or their equivalent in semester courses (we consider Honours-level courses to be any courses beyond the first-year survey-level courses).

The applicant's six courses at the Honours level (any courses beyond first-year survey-level courses) must be distributed in such a way as to cover at least five of the following six areas of English Language or Literature:

  • Old English, Middle English, OR History of the Language
  • Renaissance dramatic OR Renaissance non-dramatic
  • 18th century OR 19th century
  • American OR Canadian
  • Twentieth-Century British OR Postcolonial
  • Theory (e.g., historical, contemporary, feminist, genre, etc.).

Application Deadline

Each year, the deadline for applications is January 15 for admission the following September. Applications will be considered from exceptional candidates after that date only if places are still open. Please carefully read through our website for details of our MA program.

Further information on our graduate programs may be obtained by contacting Ms Leanne Trask, Graduate Coordinator:

Apply Here

Prospective students are required to submit all application materials electronically via the online application system.

To begin your online application, read through the information on the School of Graduate Postdoctoral Studies website, and find the link to the online application there under #4. Apply:

Supporting Documents for an MA Applicant

*Western requires that applicants submit all supporting documentation in a digital format as attachments to the online application.

1. References
Two letters of reference from referees who are prepared to provide a report on your academic ability and qualifications. In the online application, you will supply contact information for your referees, and an invitation will be automatically emailed to them requesting them to upload their evaluation directly. You will not have access to their reference letters.

2. English Proficiency Test Score
An official English proficiency test score, if English is not your first language, taken within the past 2 years. Minimum test score requirements for the Department of English:
- TOEFL: 630 (paper), 267 (electronic) or 109 (internet) (Western's TOEFL ID is 0984)
- IELTS: 8.0
- MELAB: 91 overall, with a minimum of 85 on each of the 3 parts, plus the oral/speaking component

3. Transcripts
To support your application, you must upload one unofficial academic transcript from each postsecondary institution attended. If the transcript is not in English, a certified translation must also be included. (French transcripts from institutions within Canada do not require a translation.) If you are offered a spot in our program, you will be required to submit hard copy official transcripts to our School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies from each postsecondary institution attended.

4. A Statement of Interest:
A statement of academic interest (approximately 300-500 words in length) will be uploaded as part of the online application. Please be sure your first and last names are part of the file name and are included on the first page of the statement. This statement is not binding on your subsequent research.

5. Application fee of $150 (CDN) as of 1 May 2023 paid through the online application system.

Applications from Outside Canada

The Department of English and Writing Studies welcomes applications from excellent international candidates. In the recent past, we have had students from China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and we recognize that cultural diversity among students in the program enhances the possibilities of intellectual and cultural exchange. The fees for international students are offset by Western Graduate Research Scholarships administered by the University. Many external awards, such as Commonwealth Scholarships, may be held at Western.

MA Program Overview

Our MA program takes twelve months (three terms) to complete. Students in this program can select from among three options:

  • Course work: This involves the completion of 4.0 (four full-year or equivalent) courses.
  • Course work and Independent Research Project (IRP): This involves the completion of 3.0 (three full-year or equivalent) courses and the submission of a 50-page IRP, researched and developed in close consultation with a faculty supervisor.
  • Course work and Thesis: This involves the completion of 2.0 (two full-year or equivalent) courses and the submission and oral defence of a 100-page thesis, researched and developed in close consultation with a faculty supervisory committee (supervisor and second reader).

Please refer to our MA Regulations under Types of Programs (items 2 and 3) and Prospectuses for complete information on the Independent Research Project (IRP) and the MA thesis.

Financial Information

Graduate Funding Packages

The Department of English and Writing Studies offers a number of Teaching Assistantships (TAships,) which may involve leading tutorials and other related duties averaging ten hours per week. These may include assisting in the teaching of first-year undergraduate courses or in upper-year and honours-level undergraduate classes. Students repeatedly cite their experience as a Teaching Assistant as one of the most rewarding aspects of their graduate program.

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities offers financial assistance to qualified graduate students. International MA students in the Faculty of Arts & Humanities are eligible to hold a $3,000 Western Graduate Research Scholarship intended to help defray the cost of international tuition fees. Domestic Master's students are offered a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (in 2023-24 worth $13,750.46) and a Western Graduate Research Scholarship in the amount of $4,550.00.

Financial packages for winners of major external awards (Ontario Graduate Scholarships or SSHRC Fellowships) may be adjusted. Full-time MA students receive WGRS for the one year of the MA program.

Graduate students at Western have had outstanding success in winning SSHRC and OGS scholarships (see Every year the University and the Department offer grant-writing workshops and many opportunities for individual consultations to assist candidates in the preparation of their applications.

Fees are paid in three installments in the Fall, Winter, and Summer terms. For more information on fees, please see:

Graduate Student Travel/Research Funding

The Department of English and Writing Studies provides support to its graduate students each year to assist with expenses incurred on travel for certain academic purposes (as listed below). To be eligible for this funding, PhD students must normally be within the regularly fundable period (i.e., their first four years of the program). If, however, a PhD student did not make a claim on the travel fund during one or more of the four years of eligibility, he or she may make a claim in year 5, and similarly in year 6 or beyond.

No more than four claims may be made for the entire period of PhD study.

MA students are eligible to apply for funding only in the single funded year of the program.

Claims must be associated with travel undertaken for one or more of the following purposes:

  1. to present papers at conferences in academic fields relevant to the English graduate program,
  2. to make library or archival visits when this work is clearly integral to the student's thesis or project and the resources towards it are demonstrably not available at Western,
  3. to interview oral informants (e.g., authors) when this work is clearly integral to the student's thesis or project and when ethical clearance has been obtained.

 Before their proposed travel, students should submit a Graduate Student Request for Travel Expenses form in order to receive pre-approval for funding reimbursement. The form can be downloaded here: Travel Funding Request Form. PDF download (fillable PDF form)

Completed forms, with the necessary signatures (the applicant's, as well as his/her supervisor, if one has officially been named) and supporting documentation, should be submitted to the Leanne Trask, Graduate Coordinator (, for the approval of the Graduate Chair.

After the travel has been completed, students should complete an online travel expense report (Finance recommends within 60 days of the last day of travel). Instructions will be sent with the notice of approval of travel funding.

The amount of funding available to each student will be advised as close as possible to the beginning of the current fiscal year. For the 2023-24 fiscal year (1 May-30 April), the amount will be $800 per student. When submitting an expense claim students must include receipts to document this amount. Equally, they should retain in their possession any receipts that exceed this amount. Even though these excess receipts cannot be reimbursed at the time, they can be made the subject of a supplemental expense claim later if more funding becomes available. Reimbursement is based on the fiscal year, which runs 1 May-30 April each year. All claims and receipts for any given year must be submitted well before the 30 April end of year deadline.

Departmental Competitions

Sara Marie Jones Memorial Scholarship in English

This scholarship, valued at $500, was made possible by generous donations from the family and friends of Sara Marie Jones, who was a graduate student pursuing research in English at Western. Establishment of the scholarship occurred through the good offices of Foundation Western. The scholarship is awarded annually to a first year PhD student. To be eligible to compete, students must have attained a minimum academic average in their PhD course-work of 80%. Competitors must submit one essay, which may be new material or previously-written material for a course taken in the graduate program at Western. Essay should not exceed fifteen pages double-spaced, twelve-point font.

Deadline is early May (exact date TBA). A call for applications will go out in the Winter term.

The Carl F. and Margaret E. Klinck Prize

The Carl F. and Margaret E. Klinck Prize, worth $2,700, is awarded for outstanding work in a thesis in the field of Canadian Literature. The nominee must be in the fourth year of the PhD or beyond.

If you are currently supervising or have recently supervised a candidate who qualifies for the award, please submit a letter of nomination that details the reasons for the nomination (e.g., quality of writing, excellence of research, originality of argument). In addition to the letter of nomination, the thesis abstract and a short excerpt from the dissertation (20-25 pages) must be submitted. If the candidate has defended the thesis, the external examiner's report will also be part of the adjudication process. Please also include a note over the candidate's signature authorizing the submission of the above materials. The Committee on Graduate Studies will make a decision based on the materials submitted. Please note that the terms of the award stipulate that a candidate can only be nominated once.

The deadline for submission of letter of nomination, thesis abstract, thesis excerpt, and student authorization (along with the external examiner report, if applicable) is early April (exact date TBA).

The Dr. Betty Bandeen Graduate Award in English

Awarded in odd years to a full-time graduate student in a Masters or Doctoral program in English, based on financial need and academic performance (minimum 78% average). Applications may be obtained from the Graduate Studies Office, Department of English & Writing Studies, and must be submitted by October 31. A committee in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, with representation by a current member of the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, will select the recipient. $1,900 (odd years).

This competition will be held again in October 2023. A call for applications will go out early in the Fall.

The McIntosh Prize

The McIntosh Prize is an annual prize worth $900 awarded for the best public lecture given by a fourth-year PhD student on a topic growing out of his or her thesis.

The purposes of this event are as follows:

  1. To confer an academic distinction upon an outstanding participant.
  2. To provide stimulation for all participants as they progress toward completion of their thesis work.
  3. To give experience in the skill of communicating scholarly research to a general audience.
  4. To strengthen solidarity among PhD Year 4 students (along with graduate students more generally), at a time in their progression when it is possible to feel somewhat isolated.

You should therefore attend all lectures. Participation is mandatory for all fourth-year PhD students, as it satisfies the SGPS requirement for a public lecture before submitting the thesis. A call for participants and paper titles will go out in March/April (exact date TBA).

Scholarship Resources

Please see the following links for more information on Scholarships available for Graduate students in the Department of English and Writing Studies. For Departmental deadlines, please contact the Graduate Coordinator, Leanne Trask.

    1. SSHRC & OGS
      For more information on Social Science and Humanities Research Council Scholarships (SSHRC) and Ontario Graduate Scholarships, please see:
    2. Graduate English Society (GES) listing of Awards and Scholarships
    3. Funding Opportunities from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies
    4. Donor Funded Awards Search
      A comprehensive listing of all current donor funded awards available to graduate students at Western