Applying to Graduate School

Applying for graduate study is often a two-stage process: you must apply to graduate programs, but if you qualify you should also apply for funding. Since the main funding deadline comes first, students interested in graduate study should start the process of applying for grants as early in the year as possible. Early in the Fall Term, the English Department holds information sessions on choosing graduate programs and applying for grants. The time-frame thereafter is short, so the following information is intended to help you prepare beforehand. In particular, students should being working well before this on their plans of study and on securing letters of reference. Students are encouraged to consult the Department’s advice on how to request letters of reference.

Ask the professors who know you and your work best for letters of reference, and feel free to consult them for advice on writing statements of interest and plans of study.

How, Why, and Where to Apply

The Queen's Graduate English web pages explain in detail the process for applying to Queen's, and also provide links to information on applying to programs in the US and the UK.

General Advice: The following resources are strongly recommended to all students considering graduate study in English. They will be of particular interest to students pursuing graduate study in the US, but much of what they say is universally valid.

Graduate Record Examinations (GRE): The GRE must be written by all applicants to American graduate programs.

Funding: OGS & CGS

The Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada’s (SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS) are two merit-based sources of funding for academic study to which you can apply. You are strongly encouraged to apply to both.

For the OGS, applicants entering graduate studies must have an overall average of at least A- on the last 20 one-term/semester courses, or the equivalent, completed at the time of application. In practice, successful applicants often have averages higher than this.

For the Masters-level SSHRCC CGS, applicants must have achieved a first-class average (an average of A- at Queen's), in each of the last two completed years of study.

You can still apply to some graduate programs in English if your average is below 80 or A-, and some programs offer internal funding to successful applicants, but you will not be eligible for either of these two external awards. For details, check the websites of the relevant programs.

How to apply for OGS and SSHRC CGS

OGS: Apply through the university or universities at which you intend to apply for graduate study. If you are applying to Queen's, there is an online form. For those students seeking entrance to the MA at Queen's, your two letters of reference for your application to the program at Queen's will also serve as your letters of reference for the OGS; there is no need to request further letters.

OGS deadline: For the Queen's English Department, the deadline is usually 15 January; consult the graduate pages. Note that other universities will have different deadlines.

SSHRC: Undergraduate students will need to apply, not through the regular SSHRC site, but through the Tri-Council Research Portal, where instructions for the application can be found. You may designate up to 5 graduate programs to which you intend to apply. Please note: “Applicants are not eligible to receive CGS M offers from universities where they are not enrolled or have not applied for admission to an eligible program of study.”

SSHRC deadline: 1 December before 8:00 pm

There are two different deadlines; however, it makes sense to order transcripts and request letters of reference for both awards at the same time. In any case, it is important to leave your referees enough time to do their job. See our suggestions on How to Request a Letter of Reference.

Before contacting possible referees, be sure to print out, fill out, and sign the Reference Letter Request Form (PDF), so you can present copies to your possible referees with other relevant materials. Professors writing letters are required to have this signed form, and they have the right to refuse to complete a letter of reference without it. It is your responsibility, not theirs, to make sure that this form is completed and signed.

Try to finish your Program of Study (for the CGS) or Statement of Interest (for the OGS) well ahead of the submissions deadline so that you have time to run it by an advisor (one or more of the contacts listed above) and to revise it if need be.

Finally, print off and bring copies of your award applications to Lovorka Fabek-Fischer, in the English Department office on the fourth floor of Watson Hall, before these deadlines.

Suggested Schedule

WhenWhat
ASAP Send for transcripts; contact potential referees to ask if they are willing to write a strong letter of support (do not forget to fill out the Reference Letter Request Form (PDF). Ask potential referees if they will be willing to read a draft of your Plan of Study or Statement of Interest. Draft these.
September or October Attend workshop on applying for grad schools.
Early October Let your referees know what your area of interest is and send a draft of your plan/statement, along with a copy of your current curriculum vitae or résumé. Reference letters from professors who have read your program of study tend to be stronger and more persuasive than from those who have not. It is essential, therefore, to aim to have your plan of study written as early as possible so that your referees can make use of it in their letters.
Mid-October Have at least one of your referees or the grad chair read through a fully developed draft before settling on the final version. The final draft of the program of study should be completed by this date at the latest (send it to your referees as an email attachment, again giving them as much time as possible to write their letters).
Late October Prepare your application forms and check them for accuracy.

Note: Please have your letters of reference and transcripts (one copy per application for each university you have attended) sent directly to Lovorka Fabek-Fischer, Department of English, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6. Please feel free to check with her concerning the status of your application—i.e., whether all your transcripts and references have arrived.