It is possible to complete the MA program in one year (September to August), but many students find it more feasible to take two years to do so. Funding is available on a competitive basis for either one or two years, as required.
Depending on their undergraduate preparation, and on consultation with the department, students may choose any one of three different patterns leading to an MA:
Satisfactory completion of four term-length courses followed by the completion and defence of a thesis of approximately 100 double-spaced pages. This pattern would typically be chosen by candidates with a particularly good undergraduate preparation in the literature of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries.
After satisfactory completion of six term-length courses, the MA candidate will have to write an MA project of approximately 50 double-spaced pages. Once the project has been passed by the supervisor and one additional departmental reader, the candidate will defend his/her project in a 50-minute discussion including other department members.
After satisfactory completion of eight term-length courses, the MA candidate will have to pass a 50-minute oral examination on aspects of literature and culture. Typically, the student will prepare 5 primary texts of substantial length and, if applicable, a limited number of secondary texts.
The doctoral program consists of satisfactory completion of a doctoral thesis and six term-length courses beyond the master's level. Students must also demonstrate a reading knowledge of at least one language in addition to English. The third-language requirement (translation of 250-300 words in an hour and a half with the aid of an appropriate dictionary) is normally expected to be satisfied by no later than the beginning of the fourth year.
Candidates are encouraged to complete their six term-length courses in no more than a year and a half (two fall terms and one winter term); to prepare and complete three comprehensive examinations by the end of their second year; and to research and write their doctoral thesis during their third and fourth years. This scheduling, though not obligatory, is highly advisable, since only four years of financial support can be guaranteed during the doctoral program. Only in special circumstances can considerably reduced financial assistance in the form of a teaching assistantship or tutorial be found for a fifth year.
Candidates in both the MA and PhD programs are expected to maintain a minimum of 80% standing to receive continuing financial support.