MA Program

Admission Requirements

A candidate for the MA must have completed, with at least B+ standing, a four-year BA or its equivalent, in which course work in the medieval period formed part of the program. They are also required to have taken at least one full year Latin introductory course with at least B+ or equivalent mark; more information follows below.

Master of Arts Degree Requirements

The normal length for the MA program at the Centre for Medieval Studies is one year.


Students who achieve the Level One pass in Medieval Latin upon arrival in September are required to take three full courses (or a combination of full and/or half courses totaling the same).

Students who have not achieved the Level One pass in Medieval Latin upon arrival in September must take three full courses, plus the Latin course MST1000Y.

MA students may substitute a thesis for one full course as part of their degree requirements. Submitted theses must follow the formatting guidelines set by the School of Graduate Studies.

The non-Latin MA courses are normally chosen from the Centre’s annual list, though permission to take a course not on the list can be granted. Students are encouraged to consult the Associate Director about their choices, talk to instructors, and sit in on the first classes of various courses before making a final decision by the end of September/early October (the deadline for submission of enrolment forms).

The Centre for Medieval Studies refrains from prescribing any course or program of courses. Medieval Studies in Toronto includes all subjects between about AD 500 and 1500 (and may include some further centuries at either end of that period). Although anchored in the Latinate regions of Europe, CMS course offerings range across all Europe, the Mediterranean, and indeed beyond. Furthermore, the Toronto approach to Medieval Studies is strongly interdisciplinary and offers a training in a variety of disciplines, including languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion, art, and more. No single set of courses can provide an adequate introduction to all this.

Latin is the fundamental and sole common requirement for all CMS students, and Latin classes meet daily. Proficiency in Latin is crucial for success in the program and its emphasis on working with original manuscript sources. The hallmark of Centre graduates is their ability to use primary sources, in the original languages and in their original (usually handwritten) form.

Incoming MA students should have received formal instruction covering at least the entire contents of a comprehensive textbook like Wheelock’s Latin or Moreland and Fleischer’s Latin: An Intensive Course, preferably more. The expectation is that incoming MA students will already have acquired, when they commence the MA, a solid and comprehensive command of the rules of grammar and syntax, and a strong core vocabulary. Nothing less than such a preparation, and solid retention of the material, is fully adequate for enrolment in the MA program at CMS. The examples of textbooks given above are some of the most common used in North America; however, students who have prepared Latin using other materials in other languages are also welcome to apply, as long as they have acquired an equivalent level of proficiency in Latin. Potential applicants uncertain about whether their training is adequate are invited to contact the Associate Director or the Chair of the Latin Committee for feedback prior to the application.

Mindful that not everything can be done in a single MA year, we offer the following suggestions for course packages that will help students acquire fundamental skills, breadth in unfamiliar areas, and depth in chosen areas of specialization.

A. For those who have not passed the Level One examination:

  • MST 1000Y (required).
  • 2 or 2.5 FCE in courses that are more discipline-oriented: History, Philosophy, Literature, Liturgy, Art History, etc.
  • 0.5 or 1 FCE in languages other than Latin, such as Old English, Old French, Old Norse, Old and Middle Irish, Middle Welsh, Old Saxon, Middle High German, and Ge’ez. Students should, however, be aware that it can be difficult to begin too many languages all at once.

B.  For students who have passed the Level One, and wish to prepare for the Level Two Latin examination:

  • Those who are thinking of proceeding to a PhD are strongly urged to audit MST 1001Y (Medieval Latin II), though a pass at the Level Two Latin examination is not required for the MA degree.
  • Latin Palaeography (MST 1104H and/or MST 1105H) is advised.
  • Codicology (MST 1101H), Textual Criticism (MST 1107H), and Diplomatics (MST 1110H) require that students have already taken one of the Latin Palaeography courses. It is not often, therefore, that a student takes one of them during their MA.
  • See the list of courses suggested in A (above).

C. For students who have passed both the Level One and Level Two Latin examinations:

  • There is no need to take any more Latin (though advanced courses are offered and may be attended). Three full courses are required for the MA degree, though four may be taken.
  • Latin Palaeography (MST 1104H and/or MST 1105H), as outlined in B above.
  • A mixture of courses, as suggested in A and B (above). Students in this category are ideally placed to take other languages, if needed, and to build up skills in editing, if this is what they are interested in pursuing.

These three packages are only suggestions. Students may wish to take mainly (or only) foundation courses in new areas; they may wish to take mainly (or only) courses in their areas of specialization; they may have done palaeography elsewhere, or even (though we would be surprised) not wish to take it at all. We do urge all students, however, to take the opportunity of the first year to open gateways to future research.

Language Requirements

The only language requirement for the MA at the Centre is Level One Latin/MST 1000Y. MA students are, however, urged to have a try at the Level Two Latin, and at the French and German examinations: failures are not recorded. An MA student’s pass in a language exam that is part of the PhD requirement will be recorded on the transcript.


Forms for MA students (e.g. to enrol or submit a thesis) are available from the School of Graduate Studies.