1. Overview
  2. MA Admission Requirements
  3. Applying to the MA Program
  4. Awards and Funding
  5. International Students


The MA offers students the chance to experience the challenges and expectations of graduate school in a collegial and stimulating environment. The program also effectively prepares students for PhD programs in English literature and may serve as a conduit to our own PhD in English, which is unique in Canada for its commitment to fusing archival investigation in manuscript, print, and digital cultures with theoretical inquiry into literary and social production. For those who do not want to pursue a PhD, the MA degree gives a competitive edge in the job market, whether in business, the government, or non-profit sector––in areas as diverse as publishing, human resources, communications, public relations, and marketing. It also gives an academic advantage to students applying for further professional qualifications and training in teaching, journalism, law, and library science.

Our MA program addresses questions about:

  • What people understand by the idea of literature in different times and places and why it matters?
  • The power of literature to forge communities and become a force for change.
  • How these issues are influenced by broader legal, technological, political and social contexts.

Our MA program offers three streams: thesis, research essay, or coursework. The degree is typically completed through coursework within three consecutive terms over a period of twelve months.

Graduate students have the opportunity to work with faculty members who conduct award-winning research in diverse fields from the Medieval period to the present. For more details, you can explore the Faculty Bookshelf, the Faculty Research Profiles, and Department Research.

For a comprehensive overview of our MA program please consult the MA Program Guidebook.

MA Admission Requirements

A four-year Bachelor of Arts, or the equivalent, in English, with at least a B+ average.

The minimum admission requirement for the master’s program is a four-year Bachelor of Arts, or the equivalent, in English, with at least a B+ average. Possession of the minimum entrance standing is not in itself, however, an assurance of admission into the program. All applications will be considered carefully by the Graduate Committee. Each application package consists of not only the application form but also four sets of documents: original transcripts, 2 letters of reference, a statement of interest, and an academic writing sample. The Graduate Committee will only consider applications that are complete. The statement of interest and the academic writing sample must observe the following criteria:

Statement of Interest
This statement, modelled after the “Plan of Study” in the OGS application or the “Program of Study” in the SSHRC application, should articulate a proposed area of research, were the applicant to pursue an MA thesis. It should explain how the applicant will conduct an organized study of a defined scholarly topic within a primary field (a literary historical period or national tradition), while making a case for the significance and importance of generating knowledge about this topic. The applicant must state clearly the research program’s objectives and outcomes and demonstrate how these objectives and outcomes build upon his or her previous knowledge (coursework) and current scholarship in the field (secondary sources). The purpose of the statement of interest is not to hold the successful applicant to a particular research program but to enable the Graduate Committee to assess the applicant’s abilities to prepare, conceptualize, and organize a research agenda-abilities invaluable for graduate coursework, particularly essay writing. This statement should be 250 to 500 words (1-2 pages) in length.

Writing Sample
Please upload a pdf of a writing sample from one of your undergraduate courses; the sample must have an instructor’s name on it along with the title of the course in which the essay was written. The sample should be a clean, ungraded copy. It should ideally be your best example of writing and should provide evidence of your ability to argue persuasively and conduct research or theoretical inquiry into an English literary topic. You, no doubt, want to provide an essay that deals with your proposed primary field. The sample should be 1500 to 3000 words (6 to 12 pages) in length.

The Three Streams
For information on the three streams (Coursework, Research Essay, Thesis) please review the MA Program Guidebook.

For Calendar requirements and regulations please click here.

At the Master’s level we offer specializations in African Studies, Climate Change, and Digital Humanities

Applying to the MA Program

Fall Application Deadline: February 1, to be eligible for funding.
NOTE: Our MA is a 12-month program. We admit students only in the fall term.

Please apply online through the website of Carleton’s Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs (FGPA). For important information on the admission process, please the Graduate Admissions (FGPA) page.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Graduate Administrator.

Awards and Funding

There are a variety of internal and external funding opportunities for students in the MA and PhD programs. Applications for external awards must be made in the year prior to the year in which the award will be taken up.

Please visit the Awards and Funding page for more information. Students may also contact the graduate administrator, via email, with questions regarding funding.

International Students

Please contact englishgrad@carleton.ca with any questions about MA or the PhD Program and before submitting your application. The deadline to submit a complete application is February 1st.

Our graduate program is eager to consider international applications. We note, however, that international student fees can be quite prohibitive, while the funding we can access to support international students is limited. For important information regarding graduate admissions, please see below: