Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) English


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Thesis-based program

Program overview

Build on your intellectual curiosity and foundational understanding of English Literature to become an expert in your field. Develop an original and focused area of research and proceed to the dissertation to develop original creative or critical work (or a hybrid of both). The University of Calgary's graduate program in English boasts the longest-running program in Canada with a creative PhD thesis option, attracting national and international acclaim. All students pursuing an English doctoral degree will learn from highly accomplished faculty in several traditional and emerging fields. Our creative writing faculty members include a Canada Research Chair in Creative Writing. The program is ideal for students seeking academic careers and advanced training in research, writing and pedagogy. It provides a foundation for a range of careers requiring articulate, thoughtful, creative and innovative thinkers with strong research and communication skills. The creative stream and critical dissertation stream are equally rigorous; all students undertake a range of courses and field of study exams, and defend their thesis work orally.

Prospective students are encouraged to inquire with the department about their minimum funding policy.

Completing this program

  • Core course: Graduate Pro-seminar on critical skills and professional issues in graduate-level literary study.
  • Thesis: Students will be required to submit and defend an original dissertation.
  • Language requirement: Demonstrated proficiency in a language other than English.
  • Examinations: Students will complete oral and written field of study examinations, and a thesis proposal.


  • Literature in English (a Creative Writing option is available within this specialization)


Academic or post-secondary teaching, research, editing, publishing, archival work, educational software and technology, college, university and government administration and policy; communications, technical and creative writing; digital and online publishing, non-profits and NGOs, freelance writing.

A PhD in English is usually considered a final degree.

Thesis-based program

Students are required to prepare a thesis and successfully defend in an open oral defense.


Six courses and a Graduate Pro-Seminar course

Learn more about program requirements in the Academic Calendar

Classroom delivery

Time commitment

Four years full-time; six years maximum


A supervisor is required, but is not required prior to the start of the program

Fees and funding

See the Graduate Calendar for information on fees and fee regulations, and for information on awards and financial assistance.

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Learn about faculty available to supervise this degree.
Please note: additional supervisors may be available. Contact the program for more information.

  1. white woman with brown hair and teal cardigan

    Karen Bourrier

    Accepting Inquiries
    Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture, Digital Humanities, Disability Studies
  2. Dr. Clarke on a Mountaintop

    Michael Clarke

    Seeking Students
    U.S. Literature, Cultural Studies, Theories of Size and Scale, Theories of the Body, Gender Studies, Democracy Theory, Post-Marxist theory, Postcolonial Theory
  3. A picture of Kit Dobson

    Kit Dobson

    Accepting Inquiries
    Literatures in Canada
  4. Placeholder Profile Image

    Jim Ellis

    Accepting Inquiries
    Renaissance literature
  5. Faye Halpern

    Faye Halpern

    Accepting Inquiries
    Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Narrative Theory, Pedagogy, History of the Discipline
  6. Placeholder Profile Image

    Clara A.B. Joseph

    Accepting Inquiries
    Creative Writing (Poetry, Non-Fiction Prose, Fiction); the Global Early Modern Period, Postcolonial Studies; South Asian Studies; Literary and Cultural Theory; Church History; Christianity
  7. Derritt Mason

    Derritt Mason

    Accepting Inquiries
  8. Suzette Mayr

    Suzette Mayr

  9. Murray McGillivray

    Murray McGillivray

    Accepting Inquiries
    Medieval literature, Digital humanities
  10. Rain Prud'homme-Cranford

    Rain Prud'homme-Cranford

    Afro-Indigenous Studies, Indigenous Studies, BIPOC Literatures, Rhetorics, & Cultures, Critical Mixed Race Studies, Environmental Humanities & Ecocriticism , Two-Spirit, Queer, Gender, and Sexuality, Fatness, disAbility, & Wellness Studies, TEK & STEAM & Literary Theory

Admission requirements


A minimum grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale at the graduate level.

Minimum education

A completed four-year undergraduate program (or equivalent), and a completed Master’s degree. At least one of the degrees must be in English Literature. In exceptional circumstances, degrees in a closely related discipline may meet admission requirements.

Work samples

A 5-10 page sample of critical writing; for creative writing applicants, an additional 10-page sample of creative writing.


  • A statement of intent
  • A C.V.

Reference letters


Test scores


English language proficiency

An applicant whose primary language is not English may fulfill the English language proficiency requirement in one of the following ways:


For admission on September 1:

Canadians and permanent residents - apply by Dec. 15 | submit all supporting documents by Jan. 10

International students - apply by Dec. 15 | submit all supporting documents by Jan. 10

If you're not a Canadian or permanent resident, or if you have international credentials, make sure to learn about international requirements

Learn more about this program

Department of English

Social Sciences Building Room 1148

2500 University Drive NW

Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4

Contact the Graduate Program Administrator

Visit the departmental website

Faculty of Arts

University of Calgary
2500 University Drive NW
Calgary, AB, T2N 1N4

Visit the Faculty of Arts website