Admission Guidelines

All applications to the graduate program should be submitted online. Supplemental materials should be sent directly to the English Department.

MA and PhD applicants should consult the department before submitting an application and paying application fees.

The application includes:

  1. Application form (completed online)

  2. Application fee (can be paid online or by cheque; must be paid to complete application)

  3. Official transcript(s) (ELECTRONIC ONLY - all transcripts MUST be emailed directly to English Department for Fall 2024 admission consideration) 

    When a student is admitted into the program, official transcripts are required within a set time limit.

  4. Two letters of recommendation with confidential reference form attached.

    When you apply online, you have the option of having references submitted electronically using the references section of the application form (sometimes called "e-ref"). Academic referees should use this system, rather than emailing us directly. Signed hard copy reference letters can also be mailed directly to the Department by the referee.

    Note that the e-ref system is "semi"-automatic, meaning that referees will receive emails only after the admissions office's review. This happens during regular office hours only.

    Non-academic referees can email letters directly to the English Department at for Fall 2024 consideration.

  5. Prospective MA students: A 500-word Statement of Intent describing specific interests in the program to be pursued (mail or e-mail directly to the Department

    Prospective PhD students:
      A 500-word Statement of Intent describing the proposed area of thesis work (mail or e-mail directly to the Department

The Harmonized Scholarship Process allows for a current/prospective student to be considered for several FGS-managed scholarships using a single application, including the Nova Scotia Graduate ScholarshipKillam Predoctoral Scholarships, James Robinson Johnston Graduate Entrance Scholarship for African CanadiansAfrican Nova Scotian Graduate ScholarshipIndigenous Graduate Scholarship, and the Abdul Majid Bader Graduate Scholarship.


MA English Applicants

  • SSHRC CGS - M Online Application
    • Deadline is November 30 (9PM AST) (OPTIONAL BUT HIGHLY RECOMMENDED)
    • this is the SSHRC application on the SSHRC website
  • Harmonized Scholarship Process (OPTIONAL BUT HIGHLY ENCOURAGED)
  • SSHRC Applicants - Opt in - applicants can choose to use their CGS-M application in the Harmonized Scholarship Process by opting in through our FGS Scholarship Management Platform
  • Intended for newly-entering masters students who wish to be considered for other entrance-level awards

PhD English Applicants

  • SSHRC CGS - D Online Application
    • Deadline is October 2 (9PM AST) (OPTIONAL BUT HIGHLY ENCOURAGED)
    • this is the SSHRC application on the SSHRC website
  • Complete a smaller SSHRC CGS-D application on the FGS Scholarship Management Platform by OCTOBER 2. (For those of you who have applied to the HSP before, it is the exact same 'system', but now the CGS-D application is just a quick application form that will be used to link your tri-agency application to DAL FGS to be reviewed internally.)
  • And:

We also encourage you to apply to the Harmonized Scholarship Process (HSP), for which the deadline is  January 16th, 2024 at 4:00 p.m. AST.

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Writing Samples 

Please note that a formal writing sample (as distinct from the 500-word Statement of Intent) is NOT required of applicants to our MA or PhD programs. However, we reserve the right to ask for a sample of scholarly writing (normally a recent essay) when we receive an application from someone whose first language is not English, or who comes from a university whose grading system is unfamiliar to us.

Note: We often receive applications from people who mistake our program for a linguistics or a languages-teaching program. The English program at Dalhousie University is a literature program, not a languages program. We study the full breadth of literatures in English, helping students to develop critical thinking abilities through textual, historical, and theoretical analysis. It is our hope that the study of literature will broaden your mind, kindle your interest in the world, and connect you to a wealth of diverse literature, both past and present. We do not study pedagogy or foundational elements of linguistics, except peripherally. For more on English Language studies at Dalhousie, please refer to the ELS department page. For examples of the type of courses that our department teaches, please refer to Dalhousie's most recent academic calendar. (Click the entry for “English” in the table of contents to go directly to our department’s details and course list.) 

Application Deadline

Application files should be completed by January 15 to be considered for Fall admission.

Admission Requirements


For entry into a Master’s program with a thesis requirement, candidates must hold a four-year Bachelor’s degree with an honours, or the equivalent of honours standing, in the area in which graduate work is to be done or an area that is relevant to the graduate work. A four-year Bachelor’s degree may be considered equivalent to honours, if there is evidence of independent research capacity (such as a research project as part of a course) or if the degree is officially approved as an honours equivalent. Exceptional students who did not major in English may still be considered, but may have to do extra work beyond the BA, to ensure they are prepared for the discipline-specific rigours of English. Fourth-year seminar classes in English are good preparation for English graduate courses.

In reviewing applications, the Graduate Committee looks for a strong undergraduate record with an average of A- (3.7 GPA on the 4.3 scale) or higher in courses of the last two years, for a strong statement of scholarly interests and aims (the 500-word Statement of Intent), and for detailed letters from two academic referees who know the applicant’s work well.

To be eligible for admission to graduate work at Dalhousie, applicants who have English as a second language must show proof of proficiency as per the Faculty of Graduate Studies admission requirements. To make a successful application to the MA in English, fluency is required, and scores on English language proficiency tests should reflect this. Applicants from abroad whose first degrees are from a non-English-language university will need a first MA to apply to our MA program. These applicants may apply to our MA rather than our PhD program. Applicants whose first language is not English should submit a writing sample in addition to the usual supporting documents. See the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) website for details.

The SSHRC CGS M deadline is NOVEMBER 30 each year for funding for the following year. Please note that all SSHRC appliants MUST also apply using the online scholarship platform by November 30, 2023.


Applicants must have an MA in English. Given that we admit a small number of PhD students each year, competition is stiff, and excellent candidates may not be admitted, particularly those for whom we cannot offer appropriate supervision. Applicants for the PhD program are thus advised to be especially careful to describe their areas of planned research.

Applicants for the MA and PhD are urged to apply for a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) fellowship (Canadian Graduate Scholarships for the MA, SSHRC Doctoral Awards for the PhD) during the fall preceding admission and must do so to be considered for other external awards.

The SSHRC CGS D deadline is October 1st each year for funding for the following year. Please note that all SSHRC appliants MUST also apply using the online scholarship platform by October 2, 2023.

See the SSHRC website for details.

Note: All deadline dates on this page are updated in August each year.