Admission Policies | How to Apply | Language Requirement | Part-time Studies
Qualifying Period | Probationary Period | Leave-of-Absence

Admission Policies

MA Standards

Acceptance as an MA student in the School of Graduate Studies will be as either a regular graduate student or a qualifying student. A regular graduate student is one who has been accepted as a candidate for a higher degree or diploma. The normal minimum requirement of admission as a regular graduate student is an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree (or a similar program with intensive specialization) in English with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5. The same level of degree with at least a B average (North American System) or upper second class standing (British System) is normally required for graduates of other universities. Applicants holding a Bachelor of Arts degree in a discipline other than English will be considered in the light of their undergraduate course program and their achievements in that program.

PhD Standards

A GPA of at least 3.7 (A-) in an MA program in English is required for admission to the PhD program with an academic thesis. The same GPA (at least 3.7) in an MA in English or MFA program in Creative Writing is required for students seeking to undertake a creative writing thesis in the doctoral program.

Admission to the English Graduate Program is limited and very competitive. Because it is based on the human and physical resources available to deliver the program of study, admission to the MA or PhD is not guaranteed for those who meet the minimum academic requirements.


Applications are processed through the School of Graduate Studies. The decision regarding admission is made by the Dean or an Associate Dean of the Graduate School, based upon the recommendation submitted by the Department of English's Director of Graduate Studies in consultation with the Graduate Committee. This decision is final and cannot be appealed.

Applicants who wish to be considered for funding should apply by January 15. Late applications can be considered up to June 30th, but it may not be possible to include them in the Faculty of Arts funding competition through which funding decisions are made.

How to Apply

Application Check-List:

  1. Consult the Graduate Application Form Instructions, including the "Program Specific Documentation," posted on the School of Graduate Study’s Web pages.

    Please Note: Although the School of Graduate Studies instructs applicants to find a supervisor before applying, the English department does not require students to take this step, although they may if they wish. General information about potential supervisors for your project can be obtained from the Director of Graduate Studies.

  2. Complete the Application for Admission to the School of Graduate Studies form on the online application web page.
  3. There is an non-refundable application fee for all Graduate programs. For further information, check
  4. In addition to the application form, transcripts, letters of reference, and fee, all applicants should include as part of their on-line application:
    • a statement of interest, at least one page long, outlining their preferred area of study.
    • an academic writing sample.
      • For applicants to all MA programs, the writing sample is ideally a research essay (of at least 8 pages) from an upper-level undergraduate English literature course.
      • For applicants to the PhD program, a substantial research paper (10-20 pages) or chapter of an MA thesis is recommended. The writing sample should be a clean (unmarked) essay, involving literary analysis and research and, where applicable, in the area of proposed study.
    • applicants to creative writing programs must also include a recent and representative sample of their creative writing.
      • For applicants to the MA program, the creative writing portfolio should be at least 10 pages long.
      • For applicants to the PhD program, the creative writing portfolio should be at least 20 pages long. 
  5. Submit your completed application on-line to the School of Graduate Studies by 15 January for a September start; applications received after January 15th are welcome but may not be included in the internal funding competitions. Any supporting documents that cannot be submitted with your on-line application (such as official transcripts or language test scores) should be mailed directly to the School of Graduate Studies to meet the January 15 deadline.

Questions? Contact Ms. Theresa Keenan, Graduate Assistant (telephone 506-451-6809) or Professor Stephen Schryer, Director of Graduate Studies (telephone 506-458-7402).

Proficiency in the English Language

English is both the working language and the primary language of instruction and examination at the University of New Brunswick. It is essential that all students be able to communicate and understand the English Language, both orally and in written form. All international applicants to the School of Graduate Studies whose mother tongue is not English are required to demonstrate a competency in the English language that will enable them to participate fully in the academic life of the University; this includes international applicants who are Landed Immigrants or Residents in Canada.

Proficiency in English MUST be demonstrated by one of the following means; this requirement will NOT be waived:

  • The normal method for demonstrating English competence is through completion of the Test of English as a Foreign Language.
  • TOEFL (minimum score of 600), including the Test of Written English.
  • TWE (minimum score 4.0). Also, now available is a computer based TOEFL (minimum score 250 which equals the paper based score of 600) which also includes an essay structure writing component (minimum score of 4). Information concerning the TOEFL and TWE is available at United States embassies and consulates, offices of the US Information Service, or directly from: Test of Written English as a Foreign Language, Box 6151, Princeton NJ 08541-6151, USA, website.
  • Proficiency in English may also be demonstrated through completion of one of the following tests, and must include any written components of that test battery: the British Council English Language Test - ELTS (minimum score of band 7), the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery - MELAB (minimum score of 85), or the Canadian Test of English for Scholars and Trainees - CanTest (minimum score of band 4.5).
  • Proficiency in English may also be demonstrated through the completion of a minimum of two years of university-level education within the past five years, where the language of both instruction and examination was in English. Where this university is not in Canada, United States, Great Britain, Australia, or New Zealand, from which an official transcript is accepted as sufficient documentation, the required documentation to be submitted will be a copy of the official transcript plus a certified letter (ie. by Registrar or equivalent university official) indicating the specific courses from the transcript in which both the instruction and examination were in English.

NOTE: Applications will be regarded as incomplete unless the test scores are received by the School of Graduate Studies directly from the Testing Agency.

If the School of Graduate Studies determines prior to, or subsequent to, admission that an applicant’s proficiency in English is not adequate, the student may be required to enrol in and successfully complete one or more UNB English language course(s) (ENGL 5021-2 or equivalent) in order to maintain registration in the Graduate School. The School of Graduate Studies will not issue the final “Certificate of Acceptance”until the English proficiency requirement is met. Official certificates of acceptance are sent only by the School of Graduate Studies and are valid only for the date of commencement of studies indicated.

Part-time Studies

It is recognized that the work for the degree can, in certain circumstances, be completed effectively either partially or completely on a part-time basis. In such cases, the formal residency requirement may be satisfied by taking individual courses over a period of several years or by undertaking the research project off-campus but under the supervision of a faculty member. The research requirements of a PhD program normally require full-time attendance at the University. In exceptional circumstances, the PhD may be completed on a part-time basis. Such permission requires that a number of conditions be met. See the preceding section on the PhD program. Part-time students may not register for more than two courses per term.

Qualifying Period

An applicant may be admitted to a qualifying period when an assessment of the transcript indicates that his/her background preparation is inadequate for the proposed course of study, but where the standard of academic performance (and, where appropriate, achievement in creative writing) matches that required for admission to the School of Graduate Studies. A typical full-time qualifying program for the MA degree consists of two semesters of upper-level undergraduate courses, creative writing workshops, and/or honours seminars. Space in the qualifying program is limited to two students per year.

Probationary Period

A student may be admitted to a probationary period. If the academic program performance of the student at the end of any academic term during that period does not meet the normal academic standards required of a graduate student, enrollment in the graduate program will be terminated immediately. A student on a probationary period is considered to be a regular graduate student, and is eligible to receive financial support from the usual sources according to the appropriate guidelines and regulations.

Leave of Absence Policy

A leave of absence is a period of time during which a student is not required to register, no fees are assessed, and the time granted is not counted in the maximum time period permitted to the completion of a graduate degree. A student may normally apply for only one leave of absence during a degree program. A leave of absence will not normally exceed 12 months and will be granted only by the School of Graduate Studies, with the recommendation by the Director of Graduate Studies.