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M.A. Studies in English

A candidate for the MA in English has two program options: 1) coursework only, or 2) coursework and a thesis. Candidates choosing the first option will complete four full graduate courses or their equivalent, three full courses or their equivalent in the fall and winter terms and the equivalent of one full course in the summer term, with grades of at least B- in each. Candidates choosing the second option will take two full graduate courses or their equivalent over the fall and winter terms, with grades of at least B- in each, complete the Thesis Foundation requirements (by the end of the first week of December), and write a satisfactory thesis of 25,000 words (100 pages), and successfully defend the thesis in an oral examination, which will normally take place in August or early September. The MA degree normally requires one full year to complete.

Admission Requirements

The minimum admission requirement is a four-year undergraduate degree with a major concentration in English, Cultural Studies or a related discipline, and with an average of B+ in at least 6 full (or 12 half courses beyond the introductory level in English, Cultural Studies or the related discipline. In recent years, successful candidates have typically had averages in the A range in their upper-year English courses.

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 and Course Selection

During the summer months, students will receive a form asking them to choose a program option and pre-register in courses. Students must make a firm commitment to one of the two program options at this time and indicate their preferences for course selections for the year. Confirmation of course selection will be sent out in late summer. In most cases, students will be permitted to choose their courses freely from among those offered in any particular year. In making their choices, however, they are advised to balance their special interests with the desirability for breadth of coverage. A student choosing the thesis option may also benefit from selecting a course closely related to the contemplated MA thesis subject. Graduate courses must have a minimum enrolment of eight to run and are limited, in most cases, to a maximum of fourteen. Graduate courses meet once a week during the fall and winter terms, but during the compacted summer term they meet twice a week.

Language Requirement

The department no longer requires MA students to demonstrate an ability to read a language other than English. However, applicants should be aware that most PhD programs in English, including McMaster’s, do require this ability.

Program Option 1: Course Work Only

Candidates choosing Option 1 will complete four full graduate courses or their equivalent, the equivalent of three full courses in the fall and winter terms and of one full course in the summer term. Work for fall term courses must be completed before the holiday break in December. Work for winter term and fall/winter term courses must be completed by the end of April. Candidates must submit all summer coursework by early August so that final grades may be sent to the School of Graduate Studies and the candidate may graduate in the Fall Convocation.

Program Option 2: Course Work and Thesis

Candidates choosing Option 2 will complete two full graduate courses or their equivalent in the fall and winter terms, complete the Thesis Foundation requirements (by December 8), and submit a thesis on an approved subject and defend it in an oral examination. The normal length of a thesis will be 25,000 words (100 pages), not including the bibliography. All coursework must be completed by mid-April.

The THESIS element of Option 2 is divided into three parts:

  • Part 1: (Term 1): Thesis Foundation: Researching the Field and Writing the Proposal
  • Part 2: (Term 2 and Summer): Thesis Composition
  • Part 3: (Late August, early September): Oral Examination

Students must successfully pass Part 1 to take Part 2. Attendance at the thesis proposal seminary and workshop is mandatory. Students are reminded that the thesis work is equivalent to two graduate courses and begins, as with coursework, right away in September and is the object of sustained attention throughout the term. Adhering to the deadlines below is important, given the very tight schedule of the Thesis Foundation requirements. The length of the MA thesis proposal is 1000 words, plus the bibliography.

Applications

Applications for the MA in English 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.