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MA Program

Graduate Studies in English
Memorial University
The M.A.


Deadline for applications is January 15

Apply online


Application Details


Prerequisites for Admission

Admission to our MA program is limited and competitive.

We expect applicants will have completed a BA (Honours) in English (or the equivalent) by the proposed semester of initial registration in our M.A. program.

To be accepted into the MA program a student should have a minimum B+ average in English courses, though admission is competitive and depends to a large extent on the pool of candidates.

IMPORTANT NOTE: admission to the MA (creative writing thesis) is determined on the above prerequisites and an assessment of the creative writing sample submitted with applications. Fulfillment of the academic requirements does not automatically mean acceptance to do a creative writing thesis. 

At Memorial and at many other Canadian universities, the BA (Honours) is a four-year undergraduate degree that includes a substantial number of courses in English, covering a number of specific topics and periods. Memorial’s Honours program in English requires 20 semester-length courses in English and includes the following areas:

- Old English and / or Middle English
- Shakespeare
- Canadian literature
- American literature
- pre-nineteenth century literature
- nineteenth-century literature
- twentieth-century and contemporary literature
- literary theory
- bibliography and research methods
- an honours essay

Students who have attended a university that does not have an Honours program in English can qualify by completing an equivalent number and range of courses. Students who come very close to Honours equivalency may be admitted with the provision that they complete a small number of undergraduate courses concurrently with their graduate program.

Students who fall significantly short of Honours equivalency are encouraged not to apply until they have upgraded their qualifications. These students are invited to consult with the graduate coordinator of the department about ways in which this upgrading can be done.

All prospective applicants should consult with the graduate coordinator of the department before they apply, to ensure that they have the basic qualifications which will allow them to be considered in the annual competition for admission.

Application Procedures

To apply, students need to:

- complete the online application process
-arrange to have letters of reference from two referees sent directly to the School of Graduate Studies
-arrange to have official transcripts from their undergraduate and graduate programs sent directly to the School of Graduate Studies
-pay an application fee to the School of Graduate Studies.

Students must include a sample of their academic writing in their application package.

Students applying to do the MA with a creative thesis must include a sample of academic writing AND a sample of creative writing.

Creative writing samples should be at least 5-7 poems, or 2-3 short stories, or a chapter of a novel. Contact the Graduate Coordinator for more information.

To be considered for funding, students should submit a completed application by January 15. New students are normally admitted in September.

International Students

In addition to understanding the academic requirements of our program, foreign students should also know that the process of obtaining a student visa from the Canadian government requires proof of an ability to pay for the academic program and for the stay in Canada.

Helpful information for international students is available on the School of Graduate Studies website.


We offer fellowships and graduate assistantships to our MA students and the duration of support is normally one year. Thesis students will normally be offered fellowships for two years. 

Students enrolled in the thesis MA are strongly urged to apply for national (SSHRC) funding. These students should ask the graduate coordinator for details as soon as they arrive in September.


Once students register, their program registration is continued until they graduate or make a formal written request to the university to have their automatic registration discontinued. Students will be charged fees as long as their program registration continues.

In addition to the automatic registration in the program, the student must register (usually by the internet) for each course taken.

Paying Tuition

Graduate students who wish to have their tuition paid from their bi-weekly financial support can now request the service online through Memorial University Self-Service.

In such cases, your semester program and ancillary fees will be allocated over the number of pay periods available within a given semester and will be deducted from your bi-weekly support.

To sign up for payroll deductions through Self-Service, students may click on the “Employee Services” tab and then the “Graduate Student Payroll Deduction Request.”

Graduate students signing up for payroll deductions must do so every semester. Current students already on funding will be able to sign up for online payroll deductions 24 hours after they register. New students will be able to sign up for online payroll deductions on the first day of classes. All graduate students must complete their online submissions before the last day to register (two weeks after the start of classes). After the last day to register, you will not be able to sign up for payroll deductions until the following semester.

If eligible, opt out of health or dental insurance plans using opt-out forms available through the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) by the appropriate deadline (refer to the Graduate Students' Union website for more information). All registered international graduate students are automatically enrolled in an emergency health insurance plan. However, you may meet eligibility requirements to opt out of the mandatory plan. Please see the International Student Advising website for details.

MA by Course Work

In the M.A. by course work, students complete eight graduate courses.

All students take English 7003 (Trends in Contemporary Literary Theory), offered in the fall semester each year. English 7003 counts as one of the eight courses required for the non-thesis M.A.

Students in this program are usually assigned the head as their nominal supervisor.

The courses-only M.A. is usually completed in a single year (three consecutive semesters).

The official time limit for the M.A. is seven years, but the degree should be completed in a much shorter time.

English 6999 (Master’s Essay for Non-Thesis Students)

Students in the courses-only M.A. may elect to take English 6999 (Master’s Essay for Non-Thesis Students) as one of the courses required for their program. This course requires the student to complete, under the supervision of a faculty member, an independent research essay in the field. The essay should be of professional quality and should be approximately 30-35 pages in length.

Students normally register for this course in the second or third semesters of their programs.

The work required for this course should be equivalent to, but not greater than, that required in other graduate courses.

The student is aided in the preparation of the Master’s essay by a supervisor, chosen by the student and approved by the Head.

The essay is graded by the supervisor and by a second reader chosen by the Head. The student’s final grade for the course is the average of the supervisor’s grade and the second reader’s grade.

The student is required early in the semester of registration to submit a brief 1-2 page summary of the topic and its usefulness for approval by the supervisor and by the departmental Graduate Studies Committee. This proposal is far briefer and less detailed than the M.A. thesis proposal. It is the responsibility of the essay supervisor and the Graduate Studies Committee to ensure that the Master’s essay does not unreasonably duplicate work done by the student in other courses.

The M.A. by Thesis

For information on the creative thesis option, please contact the Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Danine Farquharson

In the M.A. by thesis, students complete five graduate courses and a thesis.

All students take English 7003 (Trends in Contemporary Literary Theory), offered in the fall semester each year. English 7003 counts as one of the five courses required for the thesis M.A.

The thesis M.A. is usually completed in two years or less.

The official time limit for the M.A. is seven years, but the degree should be completed in a much shorter time.

The M.A. Thesis

The M.A. thesis is an original piece of research with a recommended length of 70 to 100 pages.

A student proposing to write a thesis should speak with the graduate co-ordinator as soon as possible, no later than the second semester of the program.

All students upon entering the M.A. are assigned the head as nominal supervisor. As soon as an area for the thesis has been identified, the nominal supervisor is replaced by the thesis supervisor. The appointment of the supervisor is made by the head in consultation with the student, the supervisor, and the graduate coordinator. In appointing a supervisor, the head is likely to consider the student’s preference, the appropriateness of the supervisor for the proposed area of research, and the equitable distribution of supervisory duties among faculty members.

With the mutual agreement of the student and the department, joint supervision of the thesis by two faculty members is acceptable.

After a supervisor has been appointed, the student prepares the proposal in consultation with the supervisor. The format of the proposal and the process of submission are outlined below.

Before the student begins the thesis, the student and the supervisor should review the School of Graduate Studies Guidelines for Theses and Reports. These Guidelines should be followed at every stage of the preparation of the thesis. The thesis bibliography will normally follow the Modern Language Association format.

The thesis should be well underway by the start of the fourth semester (usually the fall of the second year). The thesis should not normally take more than two semesters to write.

When the project nears completion, the supervisor forwards names of potential examiners and an abstract of the thesis to the graduate coordinator and the head, who approach potential examiners. The examiners are approved by the School of Graduate Studies.

When the thesis is completed it is submitted in three copies with all the appropriate forms to the department. See the School of Graduate Studies Guidelines for details. The material is then forwarded by the department to the examiners.

The thesis goes to an external examiner and an internal examiner, who make reports. Usually the thesis is returned for corrections. Students should be available to make these corrections and to resubmit the thesis promptly. If students are not on campus, they should leave an electronic copy of the thesis with the supervisor, in case there are unexpected small problems or the work needs to be reprinted. Students will be charged fees until the final submission of the corrected thesis to the School of Graduate Studies.

The M.A. Thesis Proposal

All MA students writing a thesis must submit a proposal, normally at the beginning of their third semester.

The proposal must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator by the supervisor and must be accompanied by a statement from the supervisor that he/she is in full support of the project as described. The statement from the supervisor must include the following:

  1. The student's name.
  2. A working title.

The Graduate Coordinator ensures that the proposal conforms to these guidelines, and then forwards the proposal to the departmental Graduate Studies Committee for consideration.

The departmental Graduate Studies Committee is required to return the thesis proposal to the supervisor and the candidate no later than one month after receipt.

The departmental Graduate Studies Committee must respond to the proposal with either an approval or a request for revisions. Such a request must include specific reasons why the GSC is not willing to approve the proposal.

The thesis proposal should be minimum 3000 words in length, plus the bibliography (all double-spaced).

The bibliography must include all works mentioned in the proposal and other works that will be used in the thesis.

All citations and the bibliography must scrupulously conform to the most recent MLA guidelines.

The proposal must include these sections:

  1. Topic and Thesis – this section must provide an introduction to the topic, a justification of the choice of texts/authors, an explanation and contextualization of key terminology, and – most importantly – a clear thesis statement that outlines the argument.
  2. Theory/Methodology – this section indicates and justifies the theoretical and methodological frameworks that will be used in the dissertation.
  3. Scholarship review/Scholarly significance – this section must survey the existing scholarship on the dissertation topic and position the dissertation topic within that critical history. The section must also offer a clear indication of how the dissertation adds to that scholarship.
  4. Chapter outline – this section indicates a proposed breakdown of chapter content.
  5. Working bibliography – this section should be divided into primary and secondary texts and must meticulously conform to the most recent MLA guidelines.

Ethics Review

Any research which uses materials from living subjects (including interviews and questionnaires) must be given an ethics review. This review must be undertaken before the start of the research and before application for any relevant funding. Students should ask the departmental graduate coordinator for details.

Professional Preparation

The department encourages all graduate students to involve themselves in preparation for university teaching and other professional careers.

All students are encouraged to consider taking the Graduate Program in Teaching (offered through the School of Graduate Studies). Since space in that program is limited, interested students are urged to apply early.

Any student who plans to apply for teaching work in a university should prepare a teaching dossier. This record of teaching should include letters from faculty who have observed the classes, comments from teaching mentors, course outlines, samples of assignments, teaching evaluations, and a general statement on teaching. Further information is available from the graduate coordinator.

Students are also encouraged to present papers at conferences, either at Memorial or elsewhere. The School of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Students’ Union, the Faculty of Arts, and the Department of English offer limited support for conference travel. Many associations, including ACCUTE (the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English) and MLA (the Modern Language Association), offer financial assistance to student members.

The graduate coordinator, as well as the supervisor and other members of faculty, can help students nearing completion of the degree in preparing for the job search.

Conference Funding

Limited funding for conference travel is available to our graduate students. Students should use a “Graduate Student Request for Travel Assistance” form (which can be obtained at the English Department office) to request funding from the School of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Students’ Union, the Faculty of Arts, and the Department of English.

After their conference travel, students must submit their receipts for expenses incurred with a “Travel Claim A” form (which can be obtained at the English Department office).

Leaves of Absence and Program Extensions

University policies on leaves of absence and program extensions are outlined in the university calendar. Any students who are considering taking a leave of absence should consult the graduate coordinator or the head of department.