More About the MA Program

Application Deadline

The deadline for applications to be received in the Faculty of Graduate Studies, complete with all supporting documentation, is:

  • January 5th for Canadian applicants
  • November 1st for international applicants.

Late applications will not be considered.

Application Procedures

Students are required to submit the following materials in support of their online application for graduate studies at the University of Manitoba:

  • A complete Application For Admission Form and Application Fee ($100);
  • All official transcripts;
  • Copy of birth certificate or passport;
  • Notarized copy of marriage certificate or of other official evidence indicating name change (if applicable);
  • Two confidential letters of recommendation, preferably from professors under whom the student has previously worked (to be submitted directly to Faculty of Graduate Studies by the letter writer);
  • A sample of the student's scholarly/critical writing or for the creative thesis option, a portfolio of creative work

Program Requirements

Students may elect one of three MA options:

  • MA thesis (critical)
  • MA thesis (creative)
  • MA (course work)

The option must be declared at the point of registration. However, upon consultation with the Grad Chair, the option may be changed.

1) CRITICAL THESIS (Students will register for the thesis route): Students who choose to write a critical thesis must first complete 18 credit hours of course work. Twelve of these hours must be graduate seminars in the department of English, Theatre, Film & Media at the 7000 level. The remaining 6 credit hours may be taken as ancillary course work at the 3000, 4000 or 7000 level in any department if appropriate to the student’s research program. All courses are subject to the approval of the Graduate Chair.

2) CREATIVE THESIS (Students will register for the thesis route): The creative thesis option requires the student to write original fiction, poetry, or drama in place of a critical thesis. In all other respects, the requirements are the same as in the critical thesis route. Students choosing this option should prepare a portfolio of work to submit to potential advisors and take an advanced creative writing course as part of their program (assuming the course is available), or have a strong background in creative writing.

3) COURSE WORK M.A.   24 credit hours of coursework are required.  Normally, all 24 credit hours will be completed at the 7000 level or above. All courses are subject to the approval of the Graduate Chair.

Language Requirements

Graduate students are required to have some knowledge of a language other than English. For an MA degree, a grade of C+ or better in 6 credit hours of introductory-level language course(s) satisfies the requirement. Such courses may be taken at the University of Manitoba or at other universities. Students who have a reading knowledge of a second language but who have not taken a university-level course in it may satisfy the requirement by demonstrating competence in that language, which, in most cases, will be done by taking a reading test. These tests are administered and marked by the members of the department in which that language is taught. While some programs of research may require reading knowledge of a particular language, in most cases students may choose, subject to the approval of their advisors, the language best suited to their interests. Students who enter the program with English as a second language will have their language requirement waived unless they are carrying out research that requires reading knowledge of a third language. If there is any question about which language would be appropriate in a given program of study or about the level of competence demanded, students must discuss the matter with their advisor, who will advise them in consultation with the Graduate Chair (on the advice of the Graduate Committee) and, when necessary, the Head of the appropriate language department. All language courses/reading tests will be classified as X (Auxiliary) and the grade will not be included in the student's G.P.A.

Course Approval and Registration

The program of courses of each MA candidate will be determined by the Chair of Graduate English Studies in consultation with the student. Approval is established by signature on the Graduate Student Registration Approval Form, a copy of which becomes part of the student's permanent file in the Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media. Any unusual variations from the normal program will be noted in the file by the Graduate Chair. A student will normally register full-time in the MA program, and should take no longer than 2 calendar years to complete the degree.

Students who wish to register for part-time study may do so, in consultation with the Graduate Chair, but should be advised that part-time registration will make them ineligible for most graduate fellowships and awards.

Any courses added/dropped/changed must be at all times approved by the Graduate Chair or designate.

M.A. Thesis (Critical/Creative)

Within two months of the successful completion of coursework, the student, in consulation with the Graduate Chair, will name a thesis advisor who will supervise the student’s development of a proposal for submission to the Graduate Chair as soon as possible thereafter.

The thesis proposal for the Critical Thesis MA will be 500-700 words in length and should contain clear information on key research questions, primary texts, secondary texts of importance to the project, and a statement about the anticipated contribution to scholarship. A bibliography is required.

The proposal for the Creative Thesis MA will be 500-700 words in length and should contain clear information on the parameters of the creative project and the creative problem to be explored. It should demonstrate knowledge of relevant works, both primary and secondary sources. A bibliography is required.

For both the critical and creative streams, once the proposal is approved by the Advisor, it is submitted to the Graduate Assistant, who will circulate it to all faculty members. Faculty members are invited to comment on the proposal in terms of quality of argument and research, in feedback addressed to the Graduate Chair. The Graduate Chair will then convey any feedback to the Advisor. Faculty members do not accept or reject the proposal, but offer constructive criticism to help the student complete the thesis or project successfully.

In the case of the critical thesis, the general standards for the MA thesis, as outlined by the University of Manitoba Faculty of Graduate Studies, must be met. The Graduate Studies Committee of the Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media expects any thesis submitted to be a mature, well-written and thoroughly reasoned discussion of a serious literary question or topic, based upon a carefully researched investigation of the subject, a logically structured presentation of it, and a conclusive analysis that derives from the evidence.

Although the length of the thesis cannot be arbitrarily fixed, the student should aim for between 20,000 and 25,000 words. Notice of the defense must be published, and it is open to any member of the academic community.

The Graduate Chair, in consultation with the advisor, will appoint the other members of the Examining Committee, one of whom shall be from the Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media and one from an ancillary department. When in the judgement of the advisor the thesis is complete and ready for defense, the student shall submit three papers copies and one electronic copy to the Graduate Office. The thesis will be distributed by the Graduate Assistant to the members of the Examining Committee who shall be given a reasonable time to read it (approximately 3 weeks). Members shall indicate to the Graduate Chair in writing whether the thesis is in their view ready for defense. If two or more examiners agree that the thesis is ready for defense, the Graduate Assistant will schedule the oral examination, provided that all language and course requirements have been met. The Graduate Chair will then convene the Examining Committee for a formal examination of the student's work.

The oral examination, which is open to all members of the academic community, is normally a defense of the thesis, but may be extended to test the student's general competence in literary studies.

The oral examination begins with an opening statement from the candidate of approximately ten minutes outlining the main argument of the thesis and addressing any issues s/he feels may be necessary. There follows two rounds of questioning: the first round is ten minutes per member of the Examination Committee. There is a second round of questioning of five minutes per member. The Chair will be responsible for monitoring the time and informing the members of the Examination Committee when their time has elapsed. The exam is normally one hour and should not exceed two hours in duration.

In the case of an unsuccessful defense of an MA thesis the Graduate Chair will write a detailed report outlining problems with the thesis or major project and recommending a timeline for a second attempt at defense. Normally the second attempt should occur within three months of the first defense.

Students working on a critical or creative thesis will work in consultation with their chosen Advisor until such time as the Advisor strikes an Examining Committee for the thesis. An Advisory Committee is not normally required, and the Examining Committee need not be struck until the thesis or major project is ready for defense.

Deadline dates for thesis submission are published in the current University of Manitoba Graduate Calendar and on the Faculty of Graduate Studies website.

Each student must consult with his/her advisor to determine the date of oral defense and ensure adequate time for the readers. The Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media Graduate Program Assistant should be advised as soon as possible of possible defense dates.

In addition to the digital submission of an MA thesis on MSpace, the candidate must submit two bound copies to the Department of English, Theatre, Film & Media (instructions on binding format to be obtained from the department Graduate Office).  Students convocating in October do not need to re-register; all others must register in GRAD 7000 Master's Thesis in September for any later convocation after the first year of registration.

The maximum time allowed for the completion of the MA requirements is four years.

More information regarding Graduate Studies at the University of Manitoba can be found at the Faculty of Graduate Studies web site.

E-mail inquiries regarding graduate studies in English may be directed to

 Detailed program requirements and regulations may be found in the Supplemental Regulations on the FGS website here.