Department of English

University of Toronto

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions - Graduate Programs

If, after reading through the following questions, you have any additional queries, please email

Q: What time does the system close on the application deadline date?
A: A time of 12:01 AM EDT and 11:59 PM EST is assumed for opening and closing dates, respectively, but we recommend that applicants try to meet the deadline by 5:00 pm because staff are not available beyond this time.   

Q: Can you mail me an application form?
A: Applications can only be made on-line. In cases of extreme difficulty accessing the site, please e-mail us at

Q: Do I upload my supporting documents before I pay the application fee?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I make changes to my application before the deadline but after it has been submitted on-line? What should I do if I have made an error in a document that I have uploaded to my  application? What if I decide not to continue with my application?
A: Once the applicant submits the application, they will not be able to edit their application responses. They will be able to edit their referee information and send a reminder email to their referee.  If you decide not to continue with your application, please send a brief email to as it is very helpful to know if you have withdrawn your application.

Q: How can I be sure my application is complete?
A: You can view the status of your online application through your applicant status portal. We will not confirm receipt of documents by phone, email, or mail.

Q: Is the online system accessible or available over the winter break?
A: Yes. The University will be closed for the winter holidays from 5:00 pm December 22, 2022 to December 30, 2022 inclusive and will reopen at 8:45 am January 2, 2023. Online references and supporting documents for the MA and Phd Programs can be submitted during this time; however, technical assistance will be unavailable. The Department of English will begin to respond to inquiries that were submitted over the break from January 2, 2023.

Q: What are the entry requirements for the MA Program?

Q: Does the Department of English require GRE scores?
A: No, the Department of English does not require GRE scores to be submitted with your application for the PhD, PhD Direct Entry, MA, and the MA in the Field of Creative Writing programs. These results will not be considered with your Master's or Doctoral application.

Q: Does the Department of English require writing samples?
A: Yes, a writing sample is required for the PhD, PhD Direct Entry, MA, and the MA in the Field of Creative Writing programs. You can find more details on our Application Information page

Q: Is reading knowledge of French required for entry into your graduate programs?
A: No. Students in the PhD program will need to show proficiency in French by the 3rd year of their PhD, but it is not an entry requirement for either the MA or the PhD degree.

Q: Can I submit more than 2 reference letters?
A: No.

Q: When should I mail in my supporting materials (writing sample, transcripts etc)?
A: Writing samples for the PhD, PhD U, MA, and the MA in the Field of Creative Writing programs must be uploaded to the SGS on-line application (do not send paper copies to the Department). The only exception is if an MA in the Field of Creative Writing applicant's writing sample includes large photos/illustrations; in this case ONLY, the writing sample should be mailed to the Department of English, Graduate Admissions, by 6 January 2023. All official transcripts should be requested as soon as possible to ensure that they arrive no later than 6 January. Letters of reference cannot be mailed; instead they must be uploaded to the application by the referee, no later than 6 January.

Q: Do I require records from all of the post-secondary institutions attended?
A: Yes. Applicants must list all post-secondary institutions attended on their application. This includes BA, MA, PhD, certificate, non-degree, or special student studies. You must list all institutions attended, even if a degree was not granted. Transcripts must be complete and include legend/grade scale/guide.  Applicants who attended universities outside of Canada must provide notarized English translations to accompany all foreign documentation not written in English.
If academic records are interim, pending completion of studies in progress, official final academic records indicating that the degree has been conferred must be submitted to the graduate office as soon as possible and before admission can be finalized.

Q: Can I begin my program in January?
A: No. All programs commence in September.

Q: I have completed my degree at a university outside Canada. Coursework was conducted in English. Do I still need to take the TOEFL test?
A: No.  If your first language is not English but you have completed your admitting degree at a University where English is the primary language of instruction, you do not require testing of language proficiency. You may require an attestation letter from the university registrar; see the SGS webpage on English Language Proficiency for information about possible exemptions.  Otherwise TOEFL (or equivalent - see the School of Graduate Studies for more information about English Language Proficiency Testing and Requirements) scores must be supplied.  Overall TOEFL scores must be 100 or higher with minimum scores of 22 in both writing and speaking sections. Please see the SGS website for other accepted Language tests (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, COPE, CAEL, the Academic Preparation Course International ESL Program at the School of Continuing Studies, U of T).

Q: I have been out of an academic environment for many years and I’m not sure if faculty members will remember me. Should I send in non-academic letters of reference?
A: No. Letters of reference must be academic. Faculty usually keep records for a considerable time, so choose instructors that knew you best and contact them.

Q: If I am applying for the MA in English in the field of Creative Writing, will my application also be considered for the general MA degree?
A: No. If you wish to be considered for more than one program, you must complete an SGS on-line application for each program and submit the necessary supporting documents for each program.

Q: Is it possible to take an MA degree part-time?
A: Yes, but we have a very limited number of places for part-time MA students. Part-time students have 6 years to complete the degree and can take a maximum of 2.5 full courses per annum and a minimum of .5. The cost is the same as a full-time MA, but it is spread over 6 years. If you wish to apply for the part-time MA, you must indicate this on the application form.

Q: I am applying to your PhD program and am wondering if I should also apply for any external fellowship awards.
A: Canadian citizens and Permanent Residents should apply for the OGS (Ontario Graduate Scholarship) award and, if appropriate, the SSHRC fellowship: International students may only apply for the OGS award. If you are not successful with either of these awards, PhD candidates will receive a University of Toronto Fellowship upon registration in the program.

Q: I am wondering how to fund my MA program other than through OSAP. Are there any additional sources of funding?
 Unfortunately there are very few departmental admission scholarships for incoming MA’s. However Ontario Graduate Scholarships and SSHRC CGSM are available to MA students and should be applied for before applying to the program. Students will also be considered for internal awards. Financial information can be found at

Q: If my BA degree is from another discipline, can I still apply to the MA program in English? Should I take some extra courses in English?
A: You must have a minimum of 7 full (year long) courses in English for admission into the MA. However, it is possible to enrol in undergraduate courses as a Non-Degree or Special Student (scroll down to applying as a Non-Degree student: and these credits would be considered equivalent to your degree credits.

Q: My university will only send my transcripts directly to an institution. Will this be acceptable and how will I know when they (and referees’ appraisals) have been received?
A: You will be able to track receipt of documents through the online application. Transcripts may be mailed to us directly from the issuing institution, or you may mail them directly to the department.

Q: When can I expect to hear if my application has been successful?
A: We expect to notify PhD applicants about admission decisions in early March. We contact MA applicants at the end of March/early April.

Q: Do I need an MA in English literature in order to be eligible for admittance into the PhD program?
A: Normally, applicants need to have an MA in English from a recognized university with an average grade equivalent to at least a University of Toronto A- in the applicant's overall program. Occasionally, applicants with a BA in English and an MA in a closely related discipline (e.g. Comparative Literature, Literary Theory) may be considered. An MFA in Creative Writing is generally not considered to be an acceptable alternative. A very small number of students who have only completed a BA (and therefore do not have an MA) may be considered for the PhD U program.

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