Application Information

Statement on Diversity

The Graduate Department of English believes that the diversification of ideas depends on the experiential and perspectival diversity of our intellectual community. While we continue to make every effort to diversify our outstanding faculty, we also welcome applications to our programs from traditionally under-represented groups, including persons of colour, Indigenous people of North America, members of the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities and others who may contribute to the further enrichment of the intellectual and cultural life of the Department of English.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about graduate applications 

Technical assistance with GradAPP (the SGS online application system): admissions.sgs@utoronto.ca or 416-978-6614 

General questions: deptofenglish.graduate@utoronto.ca

The Department of English accepts applications for September admission only. There is no January admission. 

Application cycle for September 2024 admission opens on 1 October 2023 (12:01 am Eastern Daylight Time) 

Application Deadline is 20 December 2023 (11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time) 

  • Applicants must have started their GradAPP and paid the non-refundable and non-transferable application fee. 
  • The Department of English and the School of Graduate Studies cannot waive the application fee.

Application Documents Deadline is 9 January 2024 (11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time) 

  • Applicants must have completed their GradAPP and uploaded all supporting documents: statement of purpose, writing sample or portfolio (MA CRW), English Language Proficiency Test scores (if applicable), letters of recommendation/reference, transcripts, and curriculum vitae (PhD and PhD U only). 
  • See the Checklist for a Complete GradAPP Package below. 

Late applications will not be accepted regardless of the reasons for their lateness, and incomplete applications will not be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.  

Admissions Decisions

  • We expect to notify PhD applicants about admission decisions in late February/early March. 
  • We expect to notify MA applicants in late March/early April. 
  • All final decisions will be communicated by May 31. 

After carefully reviewing this page, if you have any questions please contact the Graduate Assistant at deptofenglish.graduate@utoronto.ca.

Programs

Applicants to the Graduate Department of English may apply to the MA in English Program, the MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing Program, the PhD Program, or the PhD U Program. The Department of English also offers a Combined JD/MA Program along with a range of collaborative specializations.

Students who will have finished their BA and not yet enrolled in any MA program should, under normal circumstances, apply to the MA program. However, a limited number of BA students with exceptionally strong undergraduate records may be considered for the PhD U direct-entry program (see below). Students applying to the MA program who also wish to be considered for the PhD U program should so indicate in their statement of purpose and submit a separate GradAPP application to the PhD U program. (Students interested only in the PhD U and not the MA should apply to the PhD U program only.)

Minimum qualifications for entry into the MA program include:

  • A minimum of 7 full-year undergraduate courses in English or the equivalent in half-year courses (i.e., 14), or any combination of full-and half-year courses that add up to the equivalent of 7 full-year courses
  • An appropriate bachelor's degree (i.e., a four-year undergraduate degree), or its equivalent (preferably in English), with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of B+ and evidence of first-class work in English. The department favours a broad training in the major genres and all periods of English literary history
  • Recommendations from two academic referees/recommenders (see below for further information)
  • A statement of purpose (see below for further information)
  • A writing sample consisting of 12 to 15 pages (see below for further information)
  • A curriculum vitae (CV) (optional for MA and MA CRW applicants)

Admission to the MA program is based upon the applicant's undergraduate record, recommendations/references, writing sample, and statement.

Applicants to the MA in English who would also like to be considered for entry into the MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing must complete their GradAPP and submit the required supporting documentation for each program.

Applicants to the MA CRW program must meet the same minimum qualifications as applicants to the MA in English (see above); applicants to the MA CRW program submit a portfolio, not an academic essay, as their writing sample.

The portfolio should consist of 20 to 25 pages of prose (drama, fiction, or creative non-fiction) and/or poetry. Prose must be double-spaced, while poetry and drama may be single-spaced or double-spaced. Manuscripts cannot exceed the maximum of 25 pages.

It is not necessary to have completed an English major so long as the applicant has met the minimum requirements by taking seven full-year undergraduate English courses or the equivalent.

Admission to the MA CRW program is based upon the applicant's undergraduate record, recommendations/references, portfolio, and statement.

Applicants to the MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing who would also like to be considered for entry into the MA in English must complete separate GradAPP applications and submit the required supporting documentation for each program.

The Combined Juris Doctor/Master of Arts in Law and English program is designed for students interested in studying the intersections of law and literature. The combined program permits the completion of both degrees in three years rather than the four years it would take to acquire them independently.
Applicants must apply to each program separately; they should indicate on their applications that they wish to be considered for the Combined JD/MA program. Students are registered in the Faculty of Law for all three years of the program (full-time) and in the Department of English (full-time) as well for the last two years. The MA in English must be completed by course work, not by thesis.
 

Minimum qualifications for entry into the PhD program include:

  • 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
  • That applicants satisfy the department that they are capable of independent research in English at an advanced level
  • Recommendations from two academic referees/recommenders
  • A writing sample of not more than 5,000 words (approximately 15 to 20 pages)
  • A statement of purpose
  • A curriculum vitae (CV)

Admission to the PhD program is based upon the applicant's undergraduate and graduate records, recommendations/references, writing sample, and statement.

When applying, applicants will be asked to select one or more of the department's Research Areas.

Admission into the PhD U (direct-entry) program is granted only occasionally. PhD U admission will be considered in the case of applicants who either:

  1. have not completed an MA in English but have an exceptionally strong record of success in their BA degree from a recognized university that includes at least 8.0 full-course equivalents (FCEs) in English, with an average grade equivalent to at least a University of Toronto A– in the applicant's overall program, or
  2. have an MA degree related to but not in the field of English, such as Comparative Literature, Genre Studies, Cultural Studies, etc.

If you have any questions about your eligibility, please contact the Associate Director, PhD, before applying.

Minimum qualifications for entry into the PhD U program include:

  • An appropriate BA degree from a recognized university that includes at least 8 full-year undergraduate courses in English or the equivalent in half-year courses (i.e., 16), or any combination of full-and half-year courses that add up to the equivalent of 8 full-year courses, with an average grade equivalent to at least a University of Toronto A– in the applicant's overall program
  • That applicants satisfy the department that they are capable of independent research in English at an advanced level
  • Recommendations from two academic referees/recommenders
  • A writing sample of not more than 5,000 words (approximately 15 to 20 pages)
  • A statement of purpose
  • A curriculum vitae (CV)

Admission to the PhD U program is based upon the applicant's undergraduate record (and graduate record if applicable), recommendations/references, writing sample, and statement.

When applying, applicants will be asked to select one or more of the department's Research Areas.

Collaborative Specializations provide an additional multidisciplinary experience as students complete their English degree program. Such programs normally require students to:
  • complete a core academic activity (such as a core course)
  • participate in activities and seminars offered by the Collaborative Specialization
  • incorporate the disciplinary focus of the Collaborative Specialization into any final research requirements of the home degree programs.
Upon successful completion of all Collaborative Specialization requirements, students receive a certificate of completion and a notation on their transcripts.
Collaborative Specializations offered through the Department of English are:
  • Book History and Print Culture (MA and PhD)
  • Diaspora and Transnational Studies (MA and PhD)
  • Environmental Studies (MA and PhD)
  • Jewish Studies (MA and PhD)
  • Sexual Diversity Studies (MA and PhD)
  • South Asian Studies (MA and PhD)
  • Women and Gender Studies (MA and PhD)
  • Women's Health (MA and PhD) 

The Admissions Process

Admission to all graduate programs in English is based on the candidate's complete academic record (transcripts), two academic letters of recommendation/reference, a writing sample (an academic essay for the MA in English, PhD, and PhD U; a portfolio for the MA CRW), a CV (mandatory for the PhD and PhD U), and a statement of purpose.

Admission is competitive: the minimum qualifications do not ensure acceptance.

Please see above for the minimum qualifications required for entry into each of the department’s four graduate degree programs.

The Department of English does not require GRE scores.

The Department of English strongly recommends that applicants apply for all external funding for which they may be eligible. Please see below.

Do not submit any materials in addition to those listed below in the Checklist for a Complete Graduate Application Package.

GradAPP applications are considered complete and will be reviewed only after the non-refundable and non-transferable application fee has been paid and all documentation is received by the Department of English.

Helpful Links:

  • For specific and detailed requirements for Graduate English Programs, please review this page. For the SGS GradAPP details and minimum requirements for graduate studies at the University of Toronto, please visit the SGS website here SGS Admissions & SGS Application Requirements .
  • For specific instructions to our Graduate English Programs, please review this page. For SGS GradAPP general instructions review the SGS How to apply page. 
  • The School of Graduate Studies' publication for all applicants to graduate programs, CONNECT TO YOUR FUTURE: Graduate Student Viewbook 2023-24.  

The Department of English strongly recommends that all applicants apply for all external funding for which they may be eligible, typically as follows:

  • For applicants to the MA and MA CRW programs: SSHRC CGS M and OGS. The SSHRC CGS M has a December 1 deadline, and OGS has an early January deadline.
  • For applicants to the PhD and PhD U programs: Doctoral (CGS D) SSHRC and OGS. The Doctoral (CGS D) SSHRC application deadline is very early -- late September for "quota" students (who apply to SSHRC through us), mid-October for outside applicants submitting directly to SSHRC (if you are unsure which category you fall under, please contact marguerite.perry@utoronto.ca).

Canadian citizens, Protected Persons under subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada), and Permanent Residents should apply for the OGS award and, if appropriate, the SSHRC fellowship.

International students may only apply for the OGS award.

Domestic or international applicants who know in advance (by the end of August) that the Department of English at U of T is their first choice should consider applying for the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship.The Department of English internal deadline is September 1, 2023 (4:00 pm).

Please note that the deadlines for these external awards may be much earlier than the deadline for our application for admission.

  • Register/log in to the GradAPP. (NB: we cannot waive the application fee.)
  • If you are a first-time applicant, click the link to Create an Account to begin your GradAPP. You will receive a verification code via email as part of the account-creation process. After entering your verification code, you will create a password for your account.
  • You may save and return to the GradAPP at any point in the process.
  • You will be required to enter information for two academic referees/recommenders (Note: Only institutional email addresses are acceptable). Your referees/recommenders will automatically receive a notification email that they have been requested to complete a recommendation for your GradAPP application, along with instructions to submit their recommendation letter in your GradAPP. (Please advise your referees/recommenders to check their spam or junk folders for their notification emails as these are often redirected by most institutional email servers.) All recommendation/reference letters must be received by the application document deadline. If you need to change your referees or if you do not have institutional email addresses for one or both of your referees, please email deptofenglish.graduate@utoronto.ca
  • We do not accept letters of recommendation or transcripts through third-party dossier and folio services, such as "Interfolio"-type transcripts ordering services or "Clearing House"-type transcripts ordering services (e.g., National Clearing House). If you need to send a reminder email to your existing referees/recommenders, you can do so through your applicant portal after submitting your GradAPP. If you have any problems or questions about using clearing houses to order official transcripts , please contact deptofenglish.graduate@utoronto.ca.
  • Pay the non-refundable and non-transferable application fee of $125 CAD by the online application deadline.
  • To view the status of your application, including outstanding requirements, please log in to your account to view your applicant-status portal.
  • You can upload application materials, including unofficial transcripts, statements of intent, writing samples, and more, through your applicant-status portal after submitting your application and paying your application fee.
  • Arrange to submit official transcripts from each post-secondary institution that you have attended.
  • GradAPP applications must be submitted including all documents and recommendation letters by the application deadlines listed above. Applications that are unpaid and incomplete by the above deadlines will not be reviewed by the Admissions Committees. Please note: if you are applying for more than one program, you must submit a complete application to each program for which you would like to be considered for admission.  An application fee must be paid, documents and recommendations must be submitted for each program, to which you are applying or reapplying.  Documents will not be transferred from one application to another, from one year to another, or within the same application cycle. 

Checklist for a Complete GradAPP Package

You should submit a statement of purpose (maximum 500 words) outlining the particular strengths and interests you would bring to us.

Discuss the areas of literary history and the literary forms that your work has engaged and is likely to engage in future, as well as the theoretical approaches that inform that work. (If you are a PhD applicant you should, in addition, outline in detail the kind of dissertation you hope to write.)

You should also consult our website and mention faculty members whose work is particularly relevant to your proposed studies and research.

The statement should be limited to 500 words.

PhD and PhD U (direct-entry) applicants should upload a single writing sample (with their GradAPP) of not more than 5,000 words (15-20pp), inclusive of footnotes and endnotes. The bibliography is not part of the required word count.

MA in English applicants should upload a single writing sample (with their GradAPP) of a maximum of 12-15 double-spaced pages (inclusive of footnotes and bibliography). The writing sample should be an accomplished piece of the applicant’s own academic writing, such as an advanced undergraduate seminar paper. Preference is for essays focused on literary studies and criticism. Applicants from other academic backgrounds should submit a sample that demonstrates their skills in close reading and analysis.

MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing applicants do not submit an academic essay but should instead upload a single portfolio consisting of 20-25 pages of prose (drama, fiction, or creative non-fiction), and/or poetry. Manuscripts may not exceed the maximum of 25 double-spaced pages of prose or 25 pages of poetry (double-spacing not necessary), or a combination of prose (double-spaced) and poetry, not to exceed 25 pages.

Two academic letters of recommendation are required. In the system, please enter information for your TWO (and only two) academic referees/recommenders. These are academic referees/recommenders, who must attest to your research and academic abilities, and therefore acquaintances, community associates, employers, and non-academic referees/recommenders are not accepted. Your recommenders will automatically receive a notification email that they have been requested to complete a recommendation/reference for your GradAPP application, along with instructions to submit their recommendation letter in the GradAPP system.

Please advise your referees/recommenders to check their SPAM or JUNK folders for their notification emails as these are often redirected by institutional email servers.

All letters of recommendation must be received by the application document deadline.

Only institutional email addresses are acceptable for referees/recommenders.

If you need to change your referees/recommenders or if you do not have institutional email addresses for one or both of your referees/recommenders, please email deptofenglish.graduate@utoronto.ca.

Letters of recommendation must be submitted through GradAPP.

Hard copies of recommendations/references sent via email will not be accepted.

For MA CRW applicants: Two academic letters of recommendation submitted online by referees/recommenders, each addressing your performance in university English and/or Creative Writing coursework. At least one letter must discuss your performance in English coursework. Do not use editors, publishers, employers, or fellow writers as referees/recommenders.

The Department requires applicants to submit transcripts (including the legend on the reverse side and any notarized translations) from all post-secondary institutions attended even if no degree was granted (including BA, MA, PhD, certificate programs, transfer credits, non-degree or special student studies). A PDF copy of each transcript (both sides) must be scanned and uploaded to GradAPP.

Do not mail official transcripts unless they are requested by our Graduate Administrator. You will not be required to submit official paper copies of your transcripts until after the admissions committee makes its decision. If admitted, you will be required to submit an official transcript; verification of your paper transcript will be a condition that must be met prior to registration. Scanned transcripts will be verified against official copies, which are requested when an initial offer of admission is made. If discrepancies are found, offers will be withdrawn and future applications to the University refused. 

At the beginning of the GradAPP process, applicants upload a digital copy (PDF) of each transcript to their GradAPP. These copies can take one of three forms:

  • A scan of an official paper transcript (front and back)
  • A PDF transcript issued to the applicant by the institution
  • For transcripts from Canadian institutions only, a saved PDF of the student’s record from the institution’s student web service, combined with a downloaded pdf of the institution's grading scheme, transcript guide, or transcript legend

The application review process will begin based on this digital transcript. Please ensure that the file is complete and readable before submitting.

The following option applies to transcripts from Canadian universities only: In lieu of a scanned copy of a paper transcript, applicants may upload a PDF file of their academic history from their university’s student web service. This file must include a grading scheme, transcript guide, or transcript legend.

Printing to PDF directly from your web browser is ideal; if this is not possible, you may copy and paste the information into a word processing program and print to / save as PDF from there.

The file should include the university’s grading legend and your name. If your PDF transcript does not include a grading legend, you will need to download it and add it to the pdf file.

Technical Requirements for Scanning: Please scan your transcripts in grayscale (preferably) or low colour saturation, at the lowest dots per inch (dpi) setting that results in a legible document. We recommend 200–300 dpi whenever possible.

  • The file must be in PDF format. Image files, such as those in .jpg or .bmp formats, must be converted to PDF before uploading.
  • If your transcript is double-sided, please be sure to scan the front and back of each page.
  • The transcript legend/grade scale/guide (usually but not always printed on the back of a paper transcript) must appear at least once for every scanned transcript submitted.
  • Do not upload a document that is password-protected or that contains macros.
  • If in doubt about formatting, please contact deptofenglish.graduate@utoronto.ca for assistance before you upload to your GradAPP application.

Official Transcripts

Applicants that accept an admission offer will be required to provide official transcript(s). Official transcripts must be in hard-copy format, unless the issuing institution only provides official digital transcripts (in that case, please contact tanuja.persaud@utoronto.ca for further instructions.)

Please note: We do not transfer transcripts from one program to the next (ie MA to PhD). New transcripts must be submitted when applying for any program.  

Hard Copy (Paper) Transcripts

  1. Instruct each institution to mail an official transcript directly to Graduate Admissions, Department of English. Documents must be sealed in the original envelope from the issuing institution.
  2. Obtain an official, “issued to student” transcript from your institution and mail it yourself to Graduate Admissions, Department of English. Documents must be sealed in the original envelope from the issuing institution.

In either case, photocopies, faxes, or documents arriving in previously opened envelopes will not be considered official.

Electronic Transcripts

  1. If the issuing institution sends transcripts to an email address specified by the student, request that the transcript to be sent to tanuja.persaud@utoronto.ca.
  2. If the issuing institution uses a third-party transcript service (e.g. Parchment), make sure that their use of this service is confirmed on the institution’s website, and email the URL offering this confirmation to tanuja.persaud@utoronto.ca.
  3. If the issuing institution or their service provider (e.g. MyCreds) will issue only to a single recipient at the University of Toronto, confirm the contact details for that recipient and send those details to tanuja.persaud@utoronto.ca.

It is your responsibility to submit requests for transcripts far enough in advance so that all transcripts will be received prior to the deadline.

Please note that documents submitted in support of an application for admission (including official transcripts) are retained and will not be returned. These documents remain the property of the University of Toronto.  

PhD and PhD U applicants are required to upload a CV (of no more than 3 pages) with their GradAPP.

MA and MA CRW applicants may upload a CV (of no more than 3 pages) with their GradAPP, but a CV is not required.

MA and MA CRW applicants, please note: if you select the option to include a CV at the beginning of the application process, the optional CV will become mandatory for you. Only select the option for the CV if you intend to include a CV as part of your application.

Please do not send a hard copy of your CV to the Department of English.

Collaborative Specializations provide an additional multidisciplinary experience as students complete their English degree program. Such programs normally require students to:

  • complete a core academic activity (such as a core course)
  • participate in activities and seminars offered by the Collaborative Specialization
  • incorporate the disciplinary focus of the Collaborative Specialization into any final research requirements of the home degree programs.

Upon successful completion of all Collaborative Specialization requirements, students receive a certificate of completion and a notation on their transcripts.

If you wish to be considered for admission to a Collaborative Specialization program, please follow the instructions on the GradAPP.

Students applying for admission into a Collaborative Specialization program must apply to (and be accepted into) both the Department of English and the respective collaborative program.

Interested students should contact the specific Collaborative Specialization Program to determine the admissions deadlines and to see if they require any additional documentation.

In the GradAPP's Program Selection section, PhD and PhD U applicants must identify one or more of the department's Research Areas.

MA in English applicants may select one or more of the department's Research Areas, or they may leave this section blank.

Applicants to the MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing must select Creative Writing.

English Language Proficiency (ELP) is a requirement of the School of Graduate Studies. Please review the information posted on both our Graduate Application FAQ page and the English Language Proficiency Testing page on the SGS website. On the SGS webpage, please note the accepted ELP tests, the minimum requirements of each ELP test, how results are submitted to the University of Toronto, and the conditions that determine if an applicant may apply for an EXEMPTION from testing. Note that English Language Proficiency tests must have been taken within the last 24 months at the time of submission of their application.

Mailing Instructions

We recommend that you allow at least 15 days for mailing any supporting documents. Please send supporting materials (official transcripts/ELP attestation letters) and English-language test scores (unless specified only to be sent electronically) to:

Tanuja Persaud (tanuja.persaud@utoronto.ca)
Graduate Admissions
Department of English
Rm 605, 170 St. George Street
University of Toronto
Toronto, ON M5R 2M8