Planning for an MA in Humanities

Thinking about taking your university experience to the next level? We’ve assembled this guide to help you get started on your grad school adventure in Humanities at Brock. Read on to learn more about the application process, fees and funding, awards and scholarships, and teaching and research opportunities.

Two students in Brock shirts work on museum exhibit

“The support from faculty has been one of the best parts of grad school. Various faculty members have been happy to talk through concerns with me, listen to my ideas, and give helpful advice for my future, all outside of the classroom.” Paige Groot, first year History MA student

Application Timeline

It’s never too early–or too late– to start thinking about grad school! We encourage students planning to go directly into grad school after their BA to start thinking about their options as early as their third year. It’s also not uncommon for students to take time off after their BA or to return to university for their MA mid-career. Whatever your situation, this timeline will help you plan your application.

A sample timeline for a third year student planning to start grad school immediately after their BA might look like this:

  • Spring and Summer of third year: Explore your options! Begin conversations with professors you might like to study with.  Begin thinking about what you want to research and why. Discuss your grad school plans with family.
  • September of fourth year: Begin applications for external scholarships OGS and SSHRC. Attend OGS/SSHRC info sessions and workshops offered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) and the Faculty of Humanities. Check application deadlines posted by Brock and plan time to organize references and write your application. If you are applying from outside Brock, you will need to check with your current undergraduate institution for OGS and SSHRC processes and deadlines.
  • Fall of fourth year: Review Brock’s application process and begin your online application in the Ontario University Application Centre (OUAC) system. Familiarize yourself with the application requirements for your program. Approach professors about references. Check if your academic transcripts will be submitted through OUAC of if you need to arrange them yourself.
  • December of fourth year: Arrange references for your grad application. Depending on your program, you will need 2-3 professors to act as reference. Your references may request to see a copy of your application and past grades.
  • January of fourth year: Make sure all your application materials are uploaded to OUAC and submit your application. Once you have submitted your application in the system and paid the relevant fees, your references will be automatically contacted to complete their portion. You may wish to follow up with your references to let them know to expect an email.
  • February 1 of fourth year: Completed applications are due.
  • March: You will receive your offer of acceptance. Be sure to accept it in your Brock portal.
  • August: Consult with your Graduate Program Director (GPD) of your program and register for your courses.
  • September: Begin your classes!

While grad applications are due February 1 each year, many of our Humanities programs will continue to accept students until they are full. If you are interested in grad school but have missed the application deadline, reach out to the Graduate Program Director (GPD) or the Faculty of Graduate Studies to see if your desired program is still accepting applications.

Fees & Funding

Did you know you get paid to be a grad student? As a graduate student, you will receive financial funding to cover your tuition and provide some ongoing income during your studies if you are in a full-time research-based program. This funding is provided through government bodies to support research activity in Canada. With various funding opportunities, grad school might not be as expensive as you think!

Graduate student funding can be complicated, so we have provided some general answers to common questions below. For specific advice and guidance on your own situation, speak to the Graduate Program Director (GPD) in your program of choice, or contact the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Here is a big picture view of what you can expect a full-time MA in Humanities to cost and what funding you can expect to receive.

Note: These figures are estimates based on the 2022-2023 fees and funding offered by the University and posted on the Student Accounts and Financial Aid website. Please contact the Faculty of Graduate Studies with questions about your specific situation.

Year 1 Fees

  • Domestic tuition
  • International tuition
  • Ancillary Fees

Year 1 Funding for Research-Based Programs

  • Domestic Graduate Fellowship (total per year)
  • International Graduate Fellowship (total per year)
  • Teaching Assistantship (120 hrs/term for Fall/Winter at $33.72, subject to payroll deductions) $8,093.32
  • Students may choose to apply for Spring/Summer TA positions, but these are not guaranteed.

Year 2 Fees (For Two-Year Programs)

  • Domestic tuition
  • International tuition
  • Ancillary Fees

Year 2 Funding for Research-Based Programs (For Two-Year Programs)

  • Domestic Graduate Fellowship (total per year)
  • International Graduate Fellowship (total per year)
  • Students are encouraged to apply for Fall/Winter TA positions, but these are not guaranteed.

Additional Funding Opportunities

Please see the sections below for details on these funding opportunities.

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)
  • Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS)
  • Internal Brock Scholarships and Awards
  • Dean of Graduate Studies Spring Research Fellowship
  • Research Assistantship
  • Teaching Assistantship for Spring/Summer (not guaranteed)
  • Humanities Research Institute

Tuition and Fees:

  • Tuition: You will be expected to register in courses and pay tuition for each term of your graduate program, including Spring/Summer. Tuition is assessed per term.
  • Ancillary Fees: These fees are based on how many credits or sessions you are registered in. They are administered by the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) for the benefit of graduate students. The GSA provides services and benefits to graduate students, including events, gym membership, ombudsperson services, health and dental plans, and bus pass. The GSA also advocates for the needs of graduate students. You can view a breakdown of these fees on the Graduate Tuition and Fees page.

Other considerations:

  • Travel for research and conferences: If your program offers opportunities for overseas travel and research, speak with your program’s Graduate Program Director (GPD) about costs and funding. Travel for academic conferences and research may be funded in part through the Graduate Students’ Association Conference Funding and Humanities Research Institute.
  • Textbooks: As with undergraduate studies, you may need to purchase some textbooks or online resources.
  • Parking: If you plan to commute to campus by car you will need to purchase a parking pass.
  • Living Expenses: As with your undergraduate experience, your grad school budget will need to consider living expenses, such as rent (if living off campus), groceries, internet, clothing, travel, hobbies, and entertainment. If you choose to live on campus, consult the Residence Services website for information about residence and meal plan fees and application process.

The funding to pay for your grad program can come from a variety of sources including government grants, awards and scholarships, and teaching and research work. Some funding is guaranteed as part of the offer you will receive when you are accepted into grad school, other funding sources require separate applications.

What funding is included in my offer?

Every accepted full-time graduate student is guaranteed funding from the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Amounts will vary depending on whether you are considered a domestic (Canadian) student or international student.

  • Graduate Fellowships: This money is directly paid into your Brock student account to pay for your tuition. Receipt of OGS and SSHRC awards will affect how much funding you receive from the Graduate Fellowship, since these awards offer substantially more funding than the Fellowship.
  • Teaching Assistantship (TA) or Graduate Assistantship: Most Humanities grad programs will offer you work as a TA for up to 120 hours/term during the Fall and Winter of your first year. This pay is averaged out to 10 hrs a week for 12 weeks per term and is deposited in your bank account every two weeks. Taxes and union fees are deducted by the University. TAs are members of CUPE 4207 (Unit 1) and as such, pay and working conditions are governed by a collective agreement between the union and the University. See the section on Teaching Assistantships for more information about TA work. Programs that do not offer TA opportunities may offer Research Assistantships for equivalent funding.

What additional funding opportunities are available?

Graduate students are encouraged to apply for other scholarships and bursaries. Application for awards and scholarships from Brock requires only ticking a box in the online application for your desired program. External awards will require more work but can be quite generous.

Please note that awards and scholarships on offer and their dollar amounts may vary each academic year.

  • External Scholarships and Awards: Graduate students in the Humanities may apply for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) and a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant from the federal government. These applications are due the fall before you start grad school. See the section on Awards and Scholarships for more information.
  • Internal Scholarships and Awards: The Faculty of Graduate Studies administers a number of generous financial awards to help graduate students finance their degree. The Humanities Research Institute (HRI) offers funding for specific purposes. See the section on Awards and Scholarships for an overview.
  • Research Assistantship (RA): From time to time your supervising professor may have funds to hire a graduate student as a Research Assistant (RA). These positions pay an hourly wage for you to work with your professor on their project. Talk to your professor for more information about RA opportunities.
  • Research Fellowship (RF): This is extra money provided by a professor to support you in your research. You are not expected to do any additional work for them in exchange for this funding. It is like a scholarship. Not every professor is able to offer a Research Fellowship.

Awards & Scholarships

Through government funding and the generosity of Brock alumni and community members, the University is able to offer a number of financial awards for graduate students in the Humanities.

Incoming awards are assessed as part of your graduate application, but other awards will require additional application material and timelines may be quite early. Familiarize yourself with what awards are available and what material you will need to assemble for the application early.

Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) awards, for example, are due the fall before your program begins and require extensive application materials. If you wish to be considered for these awards for your first year of your grad program, you will need to apply for these before you even apply to the program itself.

If your award requires references from professors, you will need to allow your professors time to complete those before the deadline. You will also need time to write and revise any statements of interest or other documents.

Please note that the scholarships and awards being offered and their dollar amount may change from year to year. 


The Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) award is a merit-based scholarship for MA and PhD level studies that is funded by the Ontario government and your university. To qualify, you must be attending a full-time program for two or more terms at the MA or PhD level.

As of spring 2023, an OGS award for two consecutive terms of study was $10,000 and for three consecutive terms of study was $15,000.

Applications are due in the January before you plan to study, so you may need to submit your OGS application before your application for the grad program is due.


The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) offers federally-funded, merit-based scholarships for academic training and research in Canada. They are part of a group of funding agencies known as the Tri-Agency that administers the Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s program (CGS-M).

As of spring 2023, the SSHRC award for MA students was $17,500 for 12 months of study. The award is non-renewable.

Applications for SSHRC are due late fall the year before you plan to start your MA. Review the eligibility criteria and application requirements carefully. The application process is detail-oriented and involved, so it is best to start the process as early as possible in consultation with your supervising professor.

To maximize your chances of success in OGS and SSHRC competitions, attend the OGS and SSHRC workshops offered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies the fall before you plan to start graduate school. Grant writing is a specific skill, so work closely with your professors to craft your application.

Awards and scholarships for incoming students are assessed at the time of your application. Be sure to check the box in your online application that indicates you want to be considered for these awards. No additional application is required.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies (FGS) offers a wide variety of awards for continuing grad students (graduate students heading into the second or subsequent year of a multi-year program). Award amounts vary from $500 to $6000. Consult the FGS website for details on each award and award eligibility. Visit the Internal Scholarships page and filter the results by “Faculty of Humanities.”

Applications for these awards are open late spring and are done online. Awards will be announced early fall. If you are in a two-year program, this means you will apply in the spring of your first year and receive the award in the fall of your second year.

Please note that these awards may require supporting materials such as reference letters, leadership statements, etc., and available awards may change year to year, so be sure to consult the FGS website for details.

These awards have been funded by generous donations to the University.

As a graduate student in Brock’s Faculty of Humanities, you can apply for membership to the Humanities Research Institute (HRI), which offers financial awards to assist with grad student conference travel and knowledge mobilization projects.

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching Assistantships offer an exciting opportunity to gain teaching experience and engage with your field’s material in a new way. Teaching Assistant (TA) workshops and events throughout the year and mentorship from professors in your program will help you grow in skill and confidence.

At Brock, TA development is supported by the Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI), which offers online and in-person workshops covering a wide variety of of opportunities and services, including:

CPI also recognizes outstanding work by TAs with their Teaching Assistant Awards.

As a Teaching Assistant, your work may include:

  • Preparing for and leading seminar discussions and activities on course material for first and second year undergraduate students;
  • Meeting one-on-one with students to provide assistance with course material, essays, and assignments;
  • Marking essays, assignments, exams, and seminar participation;
  • Meeting regularly with the course professor and your fellow TAs;
  • Attending course lectures; and
  • Monitoring student exams and collecting exam papers.

Teaching Assistants are not responsible for things like lectures, course content, course syllabi, and addressing academic integrity issues.

Students in first- and second- year Humanities courses at Brock generally have a two-hour lecture and 50-minute seminar component per week. These seminars are held in groups of maximum twenty students and are often taught by Teaching Assistants. Seminars are an important component of the students’ learning, as they allow students to engage in discussion and activity with the course material in a way that allows for deeper learning.

It’s common to be nervous about TAing for the first time, but there is lots of support on offer! Brock’s Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (CPI) offers workshops and training throughout the year on topics including:

  • Leading seminars;
  • Effective marking, grading and student feedback;
  • Using Brightspace;
  • Inclusive learning;
  • Supporting students’ critical reading;
  • Managing difficult conversations and situations in the classroom;
  • Indigenous ways of teaching and learning;
  • Working with students with disabilities;
  • Documenting your teaching; and
  • Writing a statement of teaching philosophy.

Upcoming workshops and events are posted on CPI’s ExperienceBU page.

Within two weeks of the start of class, you can expect to have a meeting with your course supervisor or department chair, who will explain what you will be expected to do as a TA. Professors often meet with their Teaching Assistants regularly throughout the semester to provide guidance on the material they want covered in seminar or how they want essays and assignments assessed. Your professor will also provide you with any course materials, a copy of the course syllabus, and access to the course BrightSpace if applicable.

You will also receive an Allocation of Hours form in September that breaks down how you are expected to spend your TA contract hours. Your work may include leading seminars, marking papers, office hours, attending lectures, prep time, meeting with the professor, etc. Be sure to keep track of your hours and let your professor know as soon as possible if you are using more hours than expected for particular tasks. You are not expected to work any additional unpaid hours beyond your contract.

As a Teaching Assistant, you are also a member of the union CUPE 4207. Your working conditions and rate of pay are governed by a collective agreement between the union and the university. If you have questions or concerns about your workload and assigned tasks you are welcome to speak to your supervising professor, your department chair, and/or your union representative.

While you do not need to submit a separate TA application for TA work in your first year of a full-time grad program, you will need to apply for Spring/Summer postings and postings in your second (and subsequent) year if you wish to work. TA positions are posted on the Careers @ Brock website according to dates set out in the collective agreement. Your department’s Administrative Assistant can usually let you know when to look for postings.

  • Winter term positions are posted between April 15 and Oct. 31
  • Spring/Summer term positions are posted between Jan. 15 and March 31
  • Fall term positions are posted between April 15 and July 30

Research Assistantships

Research Assistant positions give you the opportunity to learn more about the academic research and publishing process while assisting your professor with their research project. Each RA experience is unique, and your professor will provide you with guidance on what they need. RA tasks may include:

  • Developing a research bibliography;
  • Transcribing interviews;
  • Formatting manuscripts;
  • Indexing manuscripts; or
  • Researching images and image permissions for a publication.

Speak to your supervising professor if you are interested in a research assistant opportunity.