Application to the PhD Program

The Department of English and Writing Studies considers graduate applications in coordination with the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Please consult their Admission Requirements and guidelines for Applying to Western in addition to the information here.

Admission Requirements

An applicant for the PhD program must normally have taken courses at the Honors or MA level in at least five of the following six areas of English Language or Literature:

1.     Old English, Middle English, OR History of the Language
2.     Renaissance dramatic OR Renaissance non-dramatic
3.     18th century OR 19th century
4.     American OR Canadian
5.     Twentieth-Century British OR Postcolonial
6.     Theory (e.g., historical, contemporary, feminist, genre, etc.).

Admission is on a competitive basis. To be considered for admission, an applicant must have the MA degree (or its equivalent) with a grade average of A (80-84%) or higher. This is the minimum requirement and it does not guarantee admission. The minimum requirement for consideration is a grade average of 78% across all graduate courses taken at the MA level, where there are grades available. If no grades are available, the last 10 full or 20 half courses are counted in calculating the average. Attainment of this minimum requirement does not, in and of itself, constitute eligibility for admission.


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 and PhD program.

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

When emailing, please indicate if you are inquiring about our MA or our PhD program, and be sure to fill in the subject line on your email so that your message is not automatically deleted by our SPAM filters.

Online Application

Prospective students are required to submit all applications 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:

Supporting Documents for a PhD 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  submit their evaluation electronically.

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.

3. Transcripts:

To support your application, you must upload one unofficial academic transcript from each post-secondary institution attended. If the transcript is not in English, a certified translation must also be included. (Non-English 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 to our School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies hard copy official transcripts from each postsecondary institution attended.

4. A Statement of Academic Intent:

A statement of academic intent (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. The purpose of this statement is to demonstrate to the Admissions Committee the quality of your critical thinking, the scope of your research agenda, and the ability to state concisely the field of literary or cultural study you wish to pursue. This statement will also allow the Committee to determine that the program has the resources required to supervise you. The program recognizes that research agendas change over time, and so this statement is not binding on your subsequent research. Please refrain at this stage from providing biographical information; focus instead on the intellectual argument. If you have already secured the agreement of a faculty member to supervise your project (you needn't have done so, though), please indicate that in your statement.

5. Writing Sample:

A writing sample (e.g., a recent essay or thesis chapter, approx. 15-20 pages). An electronic copy of the writing sample will be uploaded through the online application. Please note that this writing sample may, but need not be, in the area of your proposed PhD research. Please be sure your first and last names are part of the file name and are included on the first page of the Writing Sample.

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

Applications from Outside Canada

The Department of English 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 substantial Western Graduate Research Scholarships administered by the University. Many external awards, such as Commonwealth Scholarships, may be held at Western in conjunction with a Teaching Assistantship.

Admission Decision

Applicants who have been offered admission to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies can accept or decline their offers of admissions online through the Western Student Center. Login into the Student Center with the information provided with your Western Personal Computer Account and locate the Admissions grid. Select "Accept or Decline." Applicants should also be sure to carefully read the Offer of Admission letter posted by SGPS to their Student Centre account as it may indicate conditions that must be satisfied before they are officially enrolled.


Students who have voluntarily withdrawn or who have been withdrawn and wish to return to complete their program must formally apply for re-admission via our application. Credit for previous work completed must be approved by the program and SGPS.