Canadian studies refers to academic research of Canadian culture, society, and history. There are a small number of master's degree programs in this field, found primarily at Canadian universities or at American colleges located near the border. In this article, we will cover some of the common subjects for graduate-level work and conclude with typical admissions requirements.
General Canadian Studies Master's Degree Program Information
Canadian studies is interdisciplinary, and you can expect to encounter subjects from a variety of academic fields. Master's degree programs often span from one to two years, depending on various options. Some of the broad categories of coursework are outlined below.
In these courses, you will learn about Canada's indigenous peoples, sometimes called First Nations. You may learn about specific tribes or cultures, or these classes may take a broader, macro-level survey of indigenous Canadian peoples as a whole. These courses may also address Canadian social policy towards indigenous peoples and their interactions with Canadian society.
These courses will expose you to the culture and creative output of Canada. They often address the question of what makes Canadian culture unique and distinct, and how Canadians identify and view themselves. You may analyze specific subcultures or ethnic enclaves within Canada, or learn about Canadian literature, film, and art.
Women's studies is an interdisciplinary field devoted to the history and experiences of women, feminism, and gender identity. Within the greater context of a Canadian studies program, most of the courses will cover the roles of Canadian and indigenous women in particular. In these classes you may be exposed to a variety of topics, including feminism, gender theory, and the evolution of women's movements within Canada.
Given Canada's enormous wilderness and resource-rich landscape, courses examining its environment and human interaction with it are very common in Canadian studies programs. These courses are usually based in the humanities and won't have any scientific prerequisites. You may analyze Canada's unique ecology and natural resources, government policies related to the environment, and how people in Canada have historically interacted with the environment.
These courses, grounded in political science, cover the contemporary and historic politics and political thought in Canada. Coursework may involve the analysis and discussion of current Canadian political and social policy. You may also learn about important historical periods, events, or movements that were influential in the evolution of Canadian politics.
Program Admission Requirements
Canadian studies master's degree programs will require applicants to have completed an undergraduate degree in good academic standing (some programs may have specific GPA or honors requirements). You will need to provide transcripts of all prior coursework. Some programs will ask applicants to write a brief research statement or personal statement, describing their academic goals and plan of study. You may also need to submit a recent writing sample to demonstrate your ability to write academically. Finally, most programs will ask for letters of recommendation (2-3 is standard), written by professors or supervisors who know you well and can attest to your academic potential. If you are an American applying to a Canadian university, you will need to make sure you have a passport and the proper visa to study in a different country.
Canadian studies is a unique and fascinating field of academic inquiry. There are a small number of programs at the master's degree level. The different focuses of these programs may vary somewhat, but the basic topics covered in coursework are largely consistent.