PhD Literary Studies/Theatre Studies (LSTS) Program | College of Arts

PhD Literary Studies/Theatre Studies (LSTS) Program

The PhD program in Literary Studies/Theatre Studies provides an opportunity for doctoral study that is unique in Canada and builds on the expertise of nearly thirty faculty members, who provide graduate students with an impressive range of scholarship, approaches, and research achievements.

The program aims to give intellectual and practical academic training to a small number of students who demonstrate exceptional scholarly potential and who show keen interest in one or more of the PhD program's fields of specialization:

  • Studies in Canadian Literatures
  • Colonial, Postcolonial and Diasporic Studies
  • Early Modern Studies
  • Studies in the History and Politices of Performance and Theatre
  • Sexuality and Gender Studies
  • Transnational Nineteenth-Century Studies

Although students might choose to focus on either literary studies or theatre studies, the special opportunity provided by the PhD program is its contribution to the evolution of interdisciplinary work in the humanities. The collaboration allows for opportunities not available in more traditional doctoral programs, especially in inter-discursive and theoretical work across the boundaries of literary and theatre studies. The program aims to foster in students a flexibility and creativity in defining their areas and methods of research that will serve them well in an academic job market that now seldom looks for narrow specialization or coverage of a single field.

For graduate inquiries, please contact our Graduate Program Coodinator for English and Theatre Studies: Dr. Paul Barrett.

Program Requirements

Graduate Course Work (2.5 credits)

Students are required to take 5 graduate courses in the initial phase of their degree. The standard practice is to take two courses in the Fall semester of Year 1, two courses in the Winter semester of Year 1, and one course in the Fall semester of Year 2. This arrangement of courses is recommended, but remains flexible: any combination of 5 courses over these semesters is acceptable. 

Competency Requirement

Students in the PhD program are required to demonstrate competency in 1 major and 2 minor areas. The list of areas and ways in which a student can demonstrate competency in an area are outlined in the SETS Graduate Handbook.

Qualifying Examination

Students must pass an Oral Qualifying Examination (OQE) by the end of their fifth semester in the program. The basis for the OQE is a 3,000-5,000 word thesis proposal.

PhD Dissertation

Following successful completion of the Oral Qualifying exam, the student must complete an original research project on an advanced topic. Submission and defence of an acceptable thesis on an approved topic completes the requirements of the PhD. More details are available at

The advisory committee for the dissertation will consist of three members of the graduate faculty, one of whom assumes the primary advisory role. Ideally, the dissertation supervisor has worked with the student, in an advisory capacity, from their first semester in the program.

The dissertation should normally be between 50,000 and 75,000 words in length. The regulations for submission, examination and publication are outlined in Chapter IV PhD Degree Regulations.

The normal requirement for admission to the PhD program is an MA degree in English or Drama/Theatre Studies from a recognized post-secondary institution, with at least a high second-class standing (78%) in the work of the last four semesters or the last two undergraduate years. Students with degrees in other disciplines may also be considered. In very exceptional circumstances, an applicant may lack the required honours BA degree, but may be assessed as qualified to undertake graduate studies on the basis of other experience and practice and may apply for admission under alternate admissions criteria.

Application Deadline: January 15

The deadline for the receipt of your complete application package for admission in the Fall semester is January 15th. There is only one entry point for thePhD Program (September). Consideration of your application cannot begin until all of the supporting documentation has been submitted, and applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and to make certain that the entire application package (with all supporting materials) is uploaded prior to the due date. At its discretion, the School may consider applications received after the due date, but there is no guarantee that space or financial assistance will be available. Decisions on admissions are normally finalized within 6-8 weeks of the January 15th deadline.

Link to the U of G online application for graduate studies

Step 1:

You must apply online using the Ontario Universities' Application Centre. After you have submitted your OUAC application, you will receive an email within 3-5 business days to submit your application documents online using WebAdvisor. A link and more information will be provided with this email.

Step 2:

Upload the following components to the WebAdvisor portal:

  • Official transcripts from all previous secondary and post-secondary institutions. Unofficanl transcipts can be uploaded to WebAdvisor for your application, but all official transcripts must be sent to Official transcripts in languages other than English or French must be accompanied by a certified literal translation. Please visit How to Submit Transcripts and Required Documents for more information,
  • Three (3) letters of reference (you will be prompted to enter your referees' contact information and a secure link will be sent to them directly). Please let your referees know that they are encouraged to send an email to if they are experiencing difficulty or have issues with this new process.
  • A 400-600-word research statement about your research interests, your reasons for wishing to pursue graduate studies at Guelph, and, if possible, a statement about specific fields of study you are interested in exploring
  • One (1) essay (complete with grades and instructors’ comments, if possible) that can serve as samples of your scholarly performance;
  • A certification of English language proficiency (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS, MELAB test scores) for applicants whose first language is not English. Note: The University is no longer accepting Duolingo Test Resuts.

For clarification on the application process, please visit Applying to Guelph.

International Applicants:

International applicants should be realistic in their estimation of the cost of studying and living in Canada, which is currently between $18,000 and $25,000 CAD per year. Financial assistance is normally guaranteed for all entering students, but at best, such funding would only cover a portion of the total cost of a year’s study. International applicants are strongly encouraged to consult the University’s Centre for International Programs for additional information and also International Graduate Student Funding Guidelines

Applications from international students are warmly encouraged, though the application procedures are somewhat more complex. If the applicant’s first degree was completed in a country where English is not the first language, certification of English-language proficiency must be documented at the time of application. Examples of acceptable assessment of proficiency include official scores or results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of the Educational Testing Service, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB), and the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) assessment. The minimum acceptable score is 550 for the paper-based TOEFL, an overall score of 89 with no individual component below 21 for the Internet Based TOEFL, 6.5 for IELTS, 85 for MELAB, and 60 for CAEL. However, the Admissions Committee will also assess the essays submitted as part of the application to determine whether the applicant is likely to be able to work adequately at the graduate level. Graduate courses at the University of Guelph are completed in approximately 12 weeks, and students must therefore be proficient in the use of English, both written and oral, when they begin their studies at Guelph. There is no provision for upgrading English language skills during the course of the PhD Program. Note: The University is no longer accepting Duolingo Test Resuts.


For clarification regarding the University of Guelph's admissions process, please visit Applying to Guelph.

Frequently Asked Questions

For graduate inquiries, please contact our interim Graduate Program Coodinator for English and Theatre Studies: Dr. Paul Barratt.

For admission support and technical questions, please contact

Please let your referees know that they are encouraged to send an email to if they are experiencing difficulty or have issues with this new process.

Fees, Tuition and Cost of Living

Cost of living in Guelph and tuition information can be found here:

Scholarship and Funding Opportunities

There are numerous opportunities to apply for scholarships and various awards.   Make sure you take the time to review your possibilities. Please visit the University of Guelph Scholarships and Awards for more information.