Programs of study

Undergraduate programs of study


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Our baccalaureate programs offer a historically grounded introduction to the Anglophone literatures of Canada, Britain, and the United States. In our introductory courses, students learn to situate literary texts within their historical and cultural contexts, and to practice the skills of close reading, critical analysis, and argumentative writing that are essential for success both in English classes and in many other fields. Upper-level courses and honours seminars provide opportunities to explore particular topics in greater depth, from medieval romance and early modern drama to First Nations writing, contemporary poetry, and critical theory. Students can also take courses in creative writing, and/or contribute to one of our student publications. Our department also has an active undergraduate students' association, which organizes a number of events and activities throughout the year, from a 48-hour novella-writing competition to informal get-togethers for students and faculty.

Both the major and the honours with specialization in English may be taken with a co-op education option. In this popular program, students complete four paid work terms in addition to their university courses, enabling them to explore different career options by putting their skills to work in a variety of professional settings.

Our faculty also contribute to interdisciplinary education by teaching courses cross-listed with Canadian and Aboriginal studiesMedieval and Renaissance studiesWomen's studies, and Environmental studies. We provide training in expository writing for students in all academic programs, and offer general interest courses in such areas as literature and film, children's literature, science fiction, and literature and the environment.

Creative writing

Our department offers a strong program in Canadian literature and is committed to fostering the creative community in Canadian letters. Nationally and internationally known Canadian writers teach creative writing courses in our department. We also support a lively informal community of writers and poets by sponsoring events such as poetry readings and literary magazines.

We do not offer a BFA or MFA degree in creative writing, but undergraduate students may specialize in creative writing by taking a series of creative writing courses. We offer a full-year, 6-credit introductory workshop in either fiction or poetry, followed by several 3-credit advanced workshops that emphasize the completion of publishable work and survey the possibilities for publication. Students can also meet and consult with well-known Canadian writers through ourwriter-in-residence program. And we support a lively community of writers and poets by sponsoring events and programs such as poetry readings and literary magazines.

Before registering in creative writing courses, applicants must submit writing samples in the genres specified by the instructor (see the descriptions for English 3264, 4397, 4398, or 4399 in our current undergraduate brochure). Early submission is encouraged to ensure timely acceptance.

For more information on our undergraduate programs, consult the English Dept Undergraduate Brochure or the programs of study page. You can also contact Geoff Rector, the Director of Undergraduate Studies, or Véronique Paquette, Academic Assistant (undergraduate studies).

Graduate programs of study

Our graduate programs equip students to pursue advanced studies in British, Canadian, or American literature informed by a broad knowledge of English literary history and by recent developments in literary criticism and cultural theory. The program includes workshops in professional skills such as research methods, grant applications, conference presentations, teaching, publishing, and the job search. In periodic reviews by the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies (OCGS), our graduate program is consistently awarded the highest possible ranking.

Graduate students in our department benefit from small classes, a collegial environment, and close mentoring relationships with our distinguished faculty. Our department is well-known for its annual Canadian Literature Symposium, which results in an important collection of essays each year. Faculty members regularly win prestigious SSHRC grants, publish important articles in peer-reviewed journals, and write books that make major contributions to their fields (for details, see our list of faculty publications and individual faculty profiles). Graduate students also benefit from the proximity of the National Library and Archives, which contains the largest collection of books and manuscripts in Canada, and the outstanding holdings in medieval studies at Saint Paul University.

Our students are successful in OGS and SSHRC competitions; in the year 2006-2007, for example, 32% of our graduate student body had external funding from OGS and SSHRC. Furthermore, all incoming full-time Canadian students or permanent residents with an A- average are guaranteed internal funding for the length of their program (1 or 2 years for the MA; 4 years for the PhD). Funding covers tuition fees (currently worth $5,490), a yearly stipend (amount varies depending on program), and a TAship worth approximately $9,000 per year. Click here for more information on funding.

Click on the links below for more information on the Graduate Program:

MA programs

The MA program helps students develop the critical and scholarly skills and the intellectual independence required for doctoral studies and for leadership roles in information technology, education, government, business, law, and many other fields. Most students choose a coursework-based MA consisting of eight half-year seminars, while some opt for a thesis-based MA consisting of four seminars and intensive research leading to an MA thesis. Both programs provide strong preparation for those planning to pursue a PhD after completing the MA.

To learn more about our Master’s program, feel free to contact the Director of Graduate Studies

Here you'll find admission requirements for the Master's degree in English (MA). Please note: graduate application packages (Canadian) should reach the Department by February 1st of each year.

We also offer two collaborative MA programs:

PhD programs

Our PhD program rigorously prepares first-rate graduates of MA programs for a professional career in university teaching and research. Graduates of our doctoral program will have acquired autonomy in conducting research, preparing scholarly publications and conference papers, and preparing grant applications. These general objectives are achieved through the completion of course work (six semester-long seminars), a language requirement, two comprehensive examinations, professional development workshops, a thesis proposal, and independent research resulting in an original contribution to knowledge – the thesis.

The Department of English at the University of Ottawa has grown in strength over the past two decades to become one of the best departments of English in Canada. Part of an historic institution, the oldest bilingual university in Canada, we are also a fresh and vibrant department at the forefront of English studies. Our faculty are internationally renowned, consistently producing leading research in their fields. What sets our doctoral program apart is its combination of top-notch academic training and unrivalled collegiality. The Department has a strong sense of community: faculty offices are all on the same floor of the Arts building, allowing students and faculty to meet regularly and easily. Our faculty are overwhelmingly committed to the graduate program and actively engaged with students. The graduate students themselves have a vibrant, supportive community, centred in the English Graduate Students’ Association which meets regularly and helps students stay engaged with the graduate program through the length of their degree.

We offer a competitive funding package for doctoral students: all incoming PhD students are guaranteed an admission scholarship that covers their tuition fees and internal funding for 4 years of their degree, provided they are Canadian citizens or permanent residents with an average of at least A- (8.0 on a scale of 10). Our students also have an excellent track record with OGS and SSHRC funding. The graduate program offers extensive training and support for external scholarship applications, including preparatory workshops on writing a successful plan of study and detailed feedback on students’ drafted research statements.

Feel free to contact the Director of Graduate Studies if you would like more information about the PhD program. 

We also offer a collaborative PhD in English and Canadian studies, in which students complete a bilingual interdisciplinary seminar in Canadian Studies as part of their doctoral course work.


Letter of recommendation for admission to graduate studies

Graduate packages (Canadian) should reach the Department by February 1st of each year.

Please note that all applications to the graduate program should include the following:

  • a completed online application form,
  • two confidential letters of recommendation (referees will be sent a recommendation form to submit by email)
  • all academic transcripts,
  • 500-word statement describing specific interests in the program to be pursued,
  • an academic C.V.,
  • a writing sample (not required for M.A. coursework option).

Graduate packages (International) should reach the Department by December 15th for admission in September of the following year.

Since admission to our MA program demands a broad knowledge of the history of English literature, students who have graduated from a university where English is a second language cannot normally be considered for admission to our MA program unless they have already attained from such a university an MA (first class) in English Literature with thesis or extensive research paper.

Application procedures and information for admission

For more information on our graduate programs, please contact Anne Raine, the Director of Graduate Studies, or Philippe Villeneuve, Academic Assistant (Graduate Studies).

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