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M.A. in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory

McMaster University has emerged in recent years as a national centre for the study of Cultural Studies and Critical Theory, with many faculty across a wide range of disciplines devoted to the critical analysis of contemporary culture. The Canadian Association of Cultural Studies was founded by faculty members at McMaster in 2002. The English Department offers a Combined Honours BA degree in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory with a set of courses that have been phased in since 1997, and two members of the Department, Susie O’Brien and Imre Szeman, wrote the first Canadian introductory textbook in Cultural Studies. And in 2004 the University appointed prominent cultural theorist Henry Giroux as the first Global Television Network Chair in Communication.

Building on these strengths, McMaster launched an MA in Cultural Studies and Critical Theory (CSCT) in September 2005. The objective of the program is to allow students to engage the heterogeneous body of theories and practices associated with cultural studies and critical theory in the critical investigation of culture. “Culture” here may be understood to comprise the objects, texts, practices, theories and concepts that have animated, shaped, and unsettled individual and social experience both past and present. The MA in CSCT will permit students to examine a wide range of cultural forms and expressions, from influential philosophical texts and avant-garde theoretical reflections, to materials and practices that have been typically overlooked in university study (e.g. television, cinema, cyberculture, and the practices of everyday life). The program allows students to engage in interdisciplinary research on topics such as gender, sexuality and the body; class, race and ethnicity; postcolonialism, diaspora, and globalization; identity, subjectivity, and representation; community and justice; ideology and power/knowledge; and technology and culture.

The MA serves as both a terminal degree that provides students with the critical skills in writing and argumentation that prepare them to work in a wide range of areas (education; social and cultural policy; arts programming; radio, television and film; journalism, publishing and editorial work; technical writing and new media design; public relations and corporate communications; etc.), and as preparation for further graduate work at the doctoral level. All full-time MA candidates are offered a teaching assistantship so that they can gain some of the training and experience necessary for jobs in teaching.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the program will be on a competitive basis and admission will be annually in September. The minimum requirement to be considered for admission is the completion of an Honours BA program (or equivalent) in a relevant discipline or disciplines with an overall average of B+ (usually A- or 80%) in at least 6 full courses or 12 half courses of the relevant discipline(s) beyond the first-year level. (Students with Hons. BSc and BFA degrees who have the necessary background in cultural studies and critical theory may also be considered.) In addition, applicants must provide a detailed statement of intent and two academic letters of reference.

Applicants whose native language is not English will be required to provide an official record of the Test of English as a Foreign Language.  A TOEFL score of 580 on the regular test and a score of 237 on the computerized test is required.  If you are submitting the IELTS test, as score of 7 is required.

Program Requirements

  • Core Courses: CSCT 732* and 733* (3 units each)
  • 4 elective courses (3 units each)
  • Major research project (40-50 pages)

Students will take one compulsory two half-year core courses: CSCT 732*: “Foundations in Cultural Studies & Critical Theory” and CSCT 733*:”Problems in Cultural Studies“. Students will be coming into the program from different disciplinary backgrounds and degrees of previous exposure to cultural studies and critical theory. The core course will give all students a common background in these fields and will also function as a central intellectual meeting-place for students, who will be encouraged throughout the program to create a community of ideas and discussion as well as to pursue their individual projects. In addition, they will be required to take four one-term elective courses (or the equivalent) from an approved list. They will also be required to complete a major research project (MRP) of 40-50 pages. They will develop the research project in the first two terms and will work on it in a concentrated fashion over the summer term. The MRP will be directed and evaluated by a supervisor assigned by the Graduate Studies Committee of the English Department in consultation with the instructors in the program. At the end of spring, in late May, all students present their research projects at a symposium and answer questions from other instructors and students in the program. Completion time for the course work and the research project will be 12 months of full-time study. Please consult the CSCT MA Handbook in printable pdf format.


Fall Winter Summer
Core Course Core Course Research Project
Elective 1 Elective 3 Research Project
Elective 2 Elective 4 Research Project


Applications for the MA in CSCT should reach the Department of English at McMaster no later than
JANUARY 15th. For more information please email us at englgrsc@mcmaster.ca
Please see the Application Instructions page for more information.