MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing

The Department of English at the University of Toronto launched the MA Program in English in the Field of Creative Writing (MA CRW) in 2004-05. The program draws both on the expertise of faculty at the University of Toronto and on the extraordinary vitality of Toronto’s writing community. Internationally acclaimed writers, a multiplicity of cultural traditions, and an energetic publishing industry provide the environment for nurturing new talent. Students have at their disposal the academic and creative resources of the English Department, including its strengths in historical research and traditional scholarship, numerous interdisciplinary collaborations, its acknowledged expertise in world literature, and a faculty engaged in new theoretical studies in culture, race, and gender. Students also have access to one of the world’s great library systems, including the manuscript collections at the Fisher Rare Book library. While the program is designed to prepare participants for careers as professional writers, it will also qualify those wishing to pursue further graduate studies.

An image showing a variety of book covers.
A Selection of faculty works can be seen at the MA CRW Alumni Bookshelf

Admission Requirements

The MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing requires students to attend graduate-level English courses. The degree can lead to a PhD in English. Therefore, students must have at least seven full-year undergraduate courses in English or the equivalent in half-year courses (i.e., fourteen), or any combination of full- and half-year courses that add up to the equivalent of seven full-year courses.  It is not necessary to have an English major, as long as you have the seven undergraduate English courses. Students who do not meet this requirement cannot be admitted into the program.

A B+ average (GPA of 3.3) is the minimum requirement for entry into the program. Once this is met, the primary basis for the selection of candidates is the quality of the portfolio submission. It is not expected that students will have publication credits. Applicants do not need to provide GRE results.

Applications must be submitted online and are considered complete only when the following documentation has been received by the Department of English:

  • Two academic letters of reference submitted online by referees, 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, or fellow writers as referees.
  • A statement of purpose, submitted electronically
  • Official transcripts from each post-seconday institution attended, submitted electronically and sent by mail to the department
  • A portfolio (to be uploaded to the SGS online application, or if the portfolio is 1 megabyte or larger, it can be mailed to the department), consisting of:
    • Maximum 25 pages of drama, fiction, or creative non-fiction (Double-spaced, 12-point font)
    • OR maximum 25 pages of poetry
    • OR a combination of the above (maximum 25 pages; all prose must be double-spaced and 12-point font)
    • Portfolio pages exceeding this length will not be read
    • Do not submit academic essays
  • View the SGS Admissions Guide 2021-2022
  • Download the PDF iconMACRW_Handbook_2021-22 pdf 1.28 MB (Updated June 2021)

Program Requirements

The MA program in English in the Field of Creative Writing usually requires 18-24 months to complete. Applicants must have an overall average of B+ or better and evidence of first-class work in English for admission to the program. The program requires the completion of two FCE’s (full course equivalents) in English; ENG6950Y Writing Workshop; and a supervised Writing Project (the equivalent of a thesis) completed under the direction of a mentor.

All candidates must complete the Writing Workshop in the first year of their program. Some sessions may feature on-campus visits from editors, publishers, professional archivists, researchers, and agents so that students can learn the pragmatics of the publishing industry. In their second year, students undertake a book-length Writing Project in a genre of choice – poetry, drama, fiction, or creative non-fiction. Each student is assigned a faculty member or adjunct faculty member with whom to consult on a regular basis about the Project. All advisors are published writers.

Writing Workshop

English 6950Y: All candidates for the MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing must complete this workshop in the first year of their program. Students will also submit creative work in order to receive feedback from the instructor and fellow students, and this will allow them to develop their portfolios.

Writing Project

In the second year of the program, students will undertake a book-length Writing Project in a genre of choice (poetry, drama, fiction, or creative non-fiction). Each student will be assigned a faculty member or adjunct faculty member with whom to consult on a regular basis about the Project. All mentors will be published writers. The completed Project should normally be submitted before the beginning of April of the second year. The Department will then arrange an oral defense, to be chaired by the Director of the MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing. The Writing Project can be designated as Pass, Fail, or Distinction.

Student Funding

Students accepted into the MA Program in English in the Field of Creative Writing are eligible for teaching assistantships, including a number in Creative Writing courses. Each incoming domestic student also receives an Avie Bennett Emerging Writers Scholarship.

Students are strongly encouraged to apply for external funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship. For more information visit the Department of English Application Deadlines webpage.

FAQs

We admit seven students each year.

Because the program is an MA in English, students must have a strong background in English literature. Students who do not have sufficient undergraduate training may wish to take additional courses in English in order to qualify for admission.

The academic requirements for admission to the MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing are very strict. The B+ minimum must be met or a student’s portfolio will not be considered. Students who do not have an adequate GPA may wish to take additional courses in order to improve their academic standing and qualify for admission.

Unless the texts were studied in English translation, courses in literature in a language other than English do not qualify students for admission to the program.

Choose your best writing.

There is only one entry point for students in the MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing, which is September. Students may not begin the program in January.

Currently we are able to offer students in the Creative Writing program a TAship each year (number of hours TBA at the start of the program), to a maximum of two years. Successful applicants for the SSHRC CGS-M award can expect $17,500. OGS award holders can expect up to $15,000. Each student also receives an Avie Bennett Emerging Writers Scholarship in the first year.

Contact

For more information please contact us by e-mail, phone or by mail.

creative.writing@utoronto.ca 
Director, MA in English in the Field of Creative Writing
Department of English
170 St. George Street
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario
Canada M5R 2M8

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