Academic MA Programs | Creative Writing MA Program | Progress | Thesis | Advanced Research Project

Academic MA Programs - General Information

Students interested in the academic MA can complete either a 12-month or a 20-month program.  The 20-month MA, which requires the completion of a thesis, may represent the best preparation for work at the doctoral level.

20-Month MA (Coursework and Thesis)

Students admitted to the 20-month program from 2014 will normally complete 15 credit hours (ch) of academic graduate courses, the 6 ch research methods course (Engl 6100), and a 90-100 page thesis. The courses will normally be completed during the first eight months of the degree, but students have the option of taking a course in the second year of the program. The thesis will be on a topic of the student's choosing in any field of English literature, completed under the guidance of a supervisor, and defended orally at the completion of the degree.  Students may request permission to substitute a creative writing workshop for one of the five regular courses. 

12-Month MA (Coursework and Advanced Research Project)

Students in the 12-month program will normally take 21 credit hours (ch) of academic graduate courses, the 6 ch research methods course (Engl 6100), and the Advanced Research Project (Engl 6994).  Students will take 3 academic courses during the Fall term, 3 courses during the Winter term, and 1 academic course in the Summer. English 6100 will be completed during the Fall and Winter terms, and the “Advanced Research Project” will be completed during the Summer session.

Creative Writing MA Program - General Information

Students in the creative writing stream will complete the 20-month MA in English, undertaking both coursework and the thesis. For Creative Writing students admitted from 2014, the 15 credit hours (ch) of graduate courses will include 2 creative writing workshops in different genres and 3 academic courses.  Students will also take the 6 ch research methods course (Engl 6100) and write a thesis in a genre of their choice with the guidance of a supervisor. The thesis will be defended orally at the completion of the degree.  Graduating students may earn admission to a doctoral program from either the academic or the creative writing stream.


Students in all graduate courses are expected to write original essays or creative works and to complete any other assignments. Any student who fails to complete all assignments will be denied credit for the course. Students are expected to attend and participate in all classes in a graduate course, except for medical or compassionate reasons. No student can pass any graduate ENGL course without attending at least 75% of the classes in that course.

MA students in the 20-month program must spend a minimum of two terms in residence (i.e., living in Fredericton or surroundings); MA students in the 12-month program will need to spend at least three terms in residence.  Students must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 to remain enrolled. Course choices must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

MA Thesis - Guidelines, Regulations and Procedures

Students in the 20-month program will write a thesis. The Director of Graduate Studies will act as each student’s advisor until he or she has chosen a supervisor from among the full-time faculty in Fredericton and Saint John. Retired professors and Honorary Research Associates may co-supervise a thesis with a full-time faculty member. Normally for the MA thesis, the supervisor will be a specialist in the relevant field or creative genre. Through graduate classes, including the methods course, students will have the opportunity to meet many faculty members and identify prospective supervisors.

Before beginning work on the thesis, the student should discuss the proposed creative or academic project with the supervisor and, with his or her guidance, submit a thesis proposal to the Director of Graduate Studies. The proposal is a course requirement of the research methods course and must be submitted by the end of the student’s second term. Guidelines for the preparation of academic and creative writing thesis proposals are available from the Graduate Assistant. The proposal and its accompanying bibliography must be approved by the Graduate Committee before thesis work is begun.

The usual length for an academic MA thesis is 90-100 pages. For a Creative Writing thesis, the length can vary considerably depending on the genre; a poetry collection may be 60-70 pages and a novel 200 pages or more. All creative theses must be accompanied by an analytical introduction (15-20 pages) written by the candidate and must include a bibliography of works read and studied in connection with the project.

Students are expected to consult regularly with their supervisors as they research and write the thesis. Once it is complete, the thesis supervisor and a departmental reader must approve the thesis on behalf of the Graduate Academic Unit (GAU) before it can proceed to the oral examination. Once it has been approved, the examining board will be set up by the Director of Graduate Studies. It will be composed of the thesis supervisor, the departmental reader, and an external examiner (from a UNB GAU other than English). Students are welcome to suggest potential readers and examiners, and are advised that all faculty readers and examiners must be given at least two weeks to read the thesis. A detailed time-line is available from the Graduate Assistant.

Once the Examining Committee has read the thesis, it determines whether the project meets the standards of good critical or imaginative writing. If it does, then the student has passed the written component of the project, and may proceed to the oral examination. If it doesn’t, the examiners may recommend (a) that the thesis be revised or rewritten in specific ways; or (b) that the thesis be failed. This means that the decision about the overall merit of the written thesis is rendered by the examiners, and communicated to the candidate, before the oral. Students are advised that all faculty readers and examiners must be given at least two weeks to read the thesis. Students hoping to defend in mid-April (the deadline for May graduation) should have a complete draft ready for the supervisor and reader by mid-February and, if approved, a final version to the examining committee by mid-March. After the examination, students should plan to spend a day or two on final corrections and photocopying before submitting the thesis and all relevant forms to the School of Graduate Studies.

At the oral examination, the student is assessed as to her/his ability to discuss academic and creative issues raised by the project, its literary context, and the texts in the bibliography. The question of the acceptability of the project itself, having been decided previously, is not reconsidered. The oral examination begins with a brief talk (20-30 minutes) about the project from the candidate, followed by questions from the examining board. Other graduate students and faculty members are encouraged to attend and ask questions after the examiners have concluded their examination of the candidate. At the close of the oral examination, the Examining Committee will discuss the candidate’s performance, gauging the adequacy of his/her responses and knowledge of the texts in the bibliography. If the Examining Committee decides that the candidate has not demonstrated adequate knowledge, it may recommend that s/he reconsider the entire project before another oral examination is scheduled. In any event, it is only the oral component of the examination which can be passed or failed at this stage.

The thesis must follow the guidelines for MA theses; these are available from the Graduate Assistant or on the UNB School of Graduate Studies website.

Advanced Research Project

Students in the 12-month program will complete an Advanced Research Project. The Advanced Research Project consists of a conference paper and an article.  These two pieces of work will be based on one essay undertaken during the previous 10 months of coursework.  The article should be 20-25 pages in length and should be striving to meet the standard of a scholarly article that could be published in a refereed journal.  It does not have to be submitted for publication.  The conference paper, based on the article, should be a good example of this oral form.  The paper does not have to be delivered at a conference, although students will have the opportunity to present their conference papers at an optional departmental symposium to be organized for late summer each year.

The paper, which has been revised to strive to meet the standard of a scholarly article, will be reviewed for credit by the departmental supervisor and a faculty member from another GAU. If the two reviewers do not agree in their assessment, the Director of Graduate Studies or a designated faculty member will break the tie. If two of the three reviewers determine the paper cannot pass, the student must revise and resubmit the paper for evaluation. Students should complete and submit the paper for evaluation by August 15.