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


The English Department has offered graduate instruction at the Master’s level since 1960 and at the doctoral level since 2006. Our PhD program is unique in Canada for its innovative conjoining of book history with theoretical questions about the sociology of literary production, circulation, and consumption. At the graduate level we remain committed to balancing what is best in the traditional range of historical periods and national literatures with newly emerging areas of academic research and scholarship.

Carleton’s PhD program in English studies the production, circulation, and reception of texts through analyzing their institutional, technological, and discursive contexts. It is unique in Canada in its commitment to fusing empirical inquiry into book history with theoretical questions about subjectivity, gender, race, and class. It assumes that “literature” is not a given, stable term, but a relational field, which produces culture in terms of identity formation and ideology and is produced by culture in terms of material conditions.

Our PhD 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.

Graduate students in the English doctoral program have the opportunity to work with faculty members who conduct award-winning research on topics related to diverse aspects of the production of literature. For more details, you can explore the Faculty Bookshelf, Faculty Research Profiles, and Department Research.

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

Relevant forms:
ENGL 6101: Directed Reading Approval Form

PhD Admission Requirements

A master’s degree in English, or equivalent, with at least an A- average. Depending on their background, applicants may be asked to complete coursework in addition to the PhD program requirements.

Applicants will normally hold a master’s degree in English (or the equivalent) with at least an A- average (10 GPA). 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. Successful applicants judged to be deficient in preparation may be asked to complete course work over and above the regular PhD program requirements.

Each application package consists of not only the application form but also four sets of documents: transcripts (unofficial copies may be submitted at the time of applying), 3 letters of reference, a statement of interest, and an academic writing sample. If an application package received by the department is missing any one of these documents, the Graduate Committee will not consider the applicant for admission. The statement of interest and the academic writing sample must observe the following criteria.

Statement of Interest
The 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 doctoral research. 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
The Academic Writing Sample: please upload a pdf a graded writing sample from one of your graduate courses; the sample must have an instructor’s comments on it along with the title of the course in which the essay was written. 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 2500 to 5000 words (10-20 pages) in length.

For Calendar requirements and regulations please click here.

Applying to the PhD Program

Fall Application Deadline: February 1, to be eligible for funding.

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: