Program Overview


Modern Languages and Cultural Studies offers MA and PhD degree programs in four major areas, or streams

Each stream is based around the model of the cohort, meaning students admitted together into a stream will proceed together through their coursework, portfolio modules, colloquia, workshops, and other required program elements. The cohort model offers peer-support and builds enduring collegial ties through the end of graduate study-and beyond. Each stream features dedicated core courses, broad faculty expertise, and electives specific or related to stream content and, when possible, to the linguistic, cultural, or thematic capacities and interests of the students in the cohort.

Faculty-member mentors work alongside students to support research interests that take into account diverse theoretical approaches-including gender and sexuality theory, visual cultural theory, urban studies, folklore, film theory, digital and internet studies, discourse analysis, second-language acquisition, and more-in time periods ranging from the premodern to the contemporary. The department supports research undertaken on a wide range of languages and cultural regions. In each of our graduate programs, we offer interdisciplinary, transcultural, and collaborative courses with a focus on professional development throughout.

Applied Linguistics: Employ techniques of linguistic analysis to examine languages in everyday contexts, such as the learning and teaching of second languages, the use of language by specific social groups, and the social and linguistic implications of being multilingual

Media and Cultural Studies: Engage in research of diverse media-including digital, print, fine arts, film-in a variety of cultural contexts and through critical lenses such as gender and sexuality, race, popular culture, folklore, digital, or design studies.

Translation Studies: Undertake research in cultural translation, history of translation, literary translation, multilingual translation, translation theory, and criticism with an understanding that a critically informed approach to translation must be informed by practice.

Transnational and Comparative Literatures: Study national and global literatures, criticism, theory, and their intersections with other disciplines such as visual, cultural, or media studies within a single language or across languages and with an eye toward the historical and contemporary importance of literature for nations, cultures or social movements.


Students wishing to pursue an MA in MLCS may choose from the following routes within each of the streams:

  1. Professional development (course based, 18 months)

    Students in this route complete 6 seminars in their first year of study and a final Portfolio made-up of 6 professional development modules.

  2. Research development (thesis based, 2 years)

    Students in this route complete 6 seminars in their first year of study and a final Portfolio made up of at least 3 professional development modules as well as a thesis (the guideline is approximately 50-70 pages). The thesis work is supported by an academic writing course taken in the third term of study (Fall).

Please note: MA thesis-based students who are interested in applying to bypass into our PhD program should speak with the Graduate Advisor early in the Fall term of Year 2 for more information on the application process. Bypass applications are due no later than January 15 of Year 2.


Students wishing to pursue a PhD in MLCS (4 years) in any of the streams complete 6 seminars in their first year of study, a final Portfolio made up of at least 3 professional development modules, and a dissertation. Further courses taken in the second year of study are designed to support students in their academic development, including an academic writing course to support article writing and two exam colloquia to support student success in comprehensive and candidacy exams.

Program Length


MA course-based MA thesis-based PhD
Program Length 1.5 years 2 years 4 (to 6) years
Core Courses 4 4 4
Elective Courses 2 2 2
Portfolio Units 6 3 3
Colloquia 0 1 3
Capstone Portfolio approx 50-70 page thesis Dissertation


Digital Humanities with a specialization in MLCS

Media and Technology Studies in the Faculty of Arts offers a two-year MA program in which you may choose a specialization in MLCS.

The Department of Modern Languages and Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta is committed to creating welcoming physical, material, and intellectual spaces by respecting and celebrating differences of gender identity and expression, race, sexual orientation, ability, class, ethnicity, nation, and religion. We honour our location in ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ (Amiskwacîwâskahikan) on Treaty 6 territory.