Application Tips

Remember that the application is due in the Department by January 7th.

Feel free to submit your application early: anytime after October 1st and before January 7th is acceptable.

GENERAL

  1. Check the FGSR website to see that you will have met the required minimum GPA; check our department website to see the standards for admission with regard to area coverage. Remember that we do admit students who do not have an Honors English degree to the MA, but comparing your course coverage to the Honours requirements will give you a sense of how you may stand, and what gaps you may have.
  2. Order transcripts early: although they won't reflect what you will have done by the time the application is due, they are a crucial part of the material the committee considers, and your overall GPA is an important factor. Don't be caught out waiting on your transcript when the application is due.
  3. Ask early for letters from referees: it's good to have letters from the people who will write the strongest recommendation for you, and who are situated in relation to the discipline.
  4. Provide your referees with any information that will help them write strong letters: bring them copies of essays, grades, transcripts, lists of awards, and your statement of program.
  5. Send friendly reminders to your referees before the January 7th deadline: it's often helpful for people who are writing many letters at that time of the year to get a reminder of particular deadlines.
  6. Make sure you note all the awards and prizes you have won in your undergraduate degree on your application.
  7. Double and triple-check your application for errors, things missing, etc. A big factor for the statement is simply how well written it is - make sure it makes sense but also make sure do not have grammatical errors, poor phrasing, typos.

STATEMENT OF PROGRAM

MA Programs
The Statement may describe your previous university studies in English and your research interests for this university, and may state what you hope to accomplish during the program, including a detailed description of the research you wish to undertake if applying to the thesis-based MA. The most effective Statements provide context for the work, and demonstrate a clear, focused approach. As with all writing, details are more engaging than abstract statements. All statements should be well written and demonstrate intellectual engagement. Declaring your love for English is not enough for a good Statement of Program: you have to indicate what you want to study and why you want to study at the University of Alberta specifically.

PhD Program
The Statement of Program is your chance to tell us about yourself and your work. The Statement allows us to assess your intellectual interests and your writing, and weighs as heavily in our assessment of your application as do your grades and your referees' comments. This statement should propose a specific dissertation research project (although students may change this project substantially during their program). Thus is should include objects of study, methods of study, and rationale for undertaking the research. The Statement may describe your previous university studies in English and your research interests for this university, and may state what you hope to accomplish during the program, including a detailed description of the research you wish to undertake. The most effective dissertation proposals provide context for the work, and demonstrate a clear, focused approach. As with all writing, details are more engaging than abstract statements. All statements should be well written and demonstrate intellectual engagement.

General Tips for the Statement of Program
No matter which program you choose, pay close attention to the Statement of Program. Although every element of the application is important, it is in this part that you really show yourself to the committee. Be sure to explain what you want to do (what you're interested in) and why (or how you got there); explain why this university is an appropriate place for you to undertake your studies (do some research related to faculty, departmental strengths, course offerings, cross- and inter-disciplinary factors, library holdings).

You do not need to secure a supervisor before you enter the Graduate program in English, but it is strongly suggested that you indicate who could supervise you. Contacting a prospective supervisor and discussing research interests (if they are very close to what you want to do) is recommended.

In your statement, you could spend a little time explaining anything anomalous in your application (a bad year, a lower grade, time off-you don't have to provide personal information, but you do want to indicate that there are reasons for things that might otherwise weaken the application).

Show what a great applicant you are. When you get to graduate school, you'll need to develop a rhetoric of modest self-aggrandizement in grant applications: work on it now for your application.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do I need to apply separately for funding when applying?
A: Students may consider applying for external funding (eg. SSHRC) but there is no separate application for U of A awards. You will be considered automatically for all forms of funding.

Q: What are my chances for admission?
A: Admission is highly competitive and we roughly admit 1/3 of applicants.

Q: Do I need to find a supervisor before I apply?
A: No, students typically find a supervisor in the first year of the program.

Q: When will I know the results of my application?
A: Graduate Committee endeavours to let students know the status of their application by the end of February.

Q: Can I do a part-time degree?
A: No for the PhD program and yes for the MA program.

Q: How long will it take to complete my program?
A: Course-based MA's are designed to be done in 12 months (average time to completion is 13 months); Thesis-based MA's are designed to be done in 2 years (average time to completion is 28 months); PhD's are designed to be done in 4 to 5 years (average time to completion is 5.3 years).

Q: Will I have office space in the department?
A: If you are teaching, you will have office space. Other office space may be allocated according to departmental procedures.

Q: I want to go to a conference. Is there financial support available?
A: Yes, see the [Funding] page.

Q: Does the department offer opportunities to present research in talks or colloquia?
A: The Graduate Students of English Collective (GSEC) offers opportunities for graduate students to present current research in an informal setting, the "Public Works" lecture series. This can be a place to "test-drive" a conference paper or to present your developing research on your thesis or dissertation.

Q: Does the department offer workshops on preparing job materials and offer mock interviews?
A: Yes, please consult with the Graduate Assistant Supervisor for the department.


Any questions you have about the application process or the program itself can be addressed to the English Graduate Program Administrator or to the Associate Chair Graduate Studies.

We look forward to receiving your application!