Master of Arts in Children’s Literature

UBC School of Information offers the only interdisciplinary Master of Children’s Literature (MACL) program in the world—and the only Master’s program in children’s literature in Canada. The MACL program is offered in collaboration with UBC’s English Department, the School of Creative Writing, and the Department of Language and Literacy Education. This program has produced multiple award-winning authors, scholars and publishing industry professionals. Access all MACL theses through the MACL collection in cIRcle, UBC’s Institutional Repository.


Application deadlines

January 15 (applications); February 1 (supporting documents)

Start date


Program length

approx. 24-36 months



MACL Program Overview

Program Start Date:The program may only be started in September.
Part-Time Studies:The MACL degree may be taken on a full-time or part-time basis.

The MACL program provides specialized education for graduate students in the study of children’s and young adult literature and media using a multi-disciplinary approach. This multi-disciplinary approach exposes students to many schools of literary criticism, educational theory, and professional and creative practice. It acquaints students with the broad literary canon of children’s literature across a spectrum of languages and cultures, and with a variety of critical perspectives and professional application. Across various disciplines, departments, and faculties, a broad range of courses provide disciplined, academic study of children’s and young adult literature and media.

The MACL Program is the only one of its kind in the world offered from such a broad, multidisciplinary perspective and the only Master’s program in children’s literature in Canada. The program is unique in that two faculties and four academic units jointly provide program support to give the graduate students a unique perspective on the full life-cycle of children’s literature.

MACL faculty are authors of both acclaimed children’s books and scholarly guides to the literature. They serve on national and international children’s book juries, lead national research studies, and have received awards for scholarship, service, and teaching.

UBC Library’s collection includes a renowned collection of contemporary children’s books, including some 4,000 early and rare children’s books and some 50,000 modern children’s books. The library also maintains an extensive collection of research materials on children’s literature.

Degree Requirements

Students begin the program in term one of the Winter Session (September).

Please consult the MACL degree program page for detailed information on course-selection and degree requirements.

The Master of Arts in Children’s Literature is awarded upon the completion of 30 credits of work, including 24 credits of coursework and a six-credit thesis. Twenty-four credits of coursework are taken from approved courses in various genres and topics of children’s and young adult literature and media, writing and publishing for children, and courses germane to children’s literature within the departments and across the University.

The six-credit thesis is developed according to the disciplinary perspective of the department in which the supervisor is situated, i.e., the thesis may be a literary study, a creative writing thesis, a research project involving children and books in the classroom or library, etc. The committee includes the supervisor and two thesis committee members from at least two out of the four departments in the program.


Q: Must I have an undergrad degree in English or Children’s Literature to apply?

A: We have applicants from a range of academic disciplines, but students who have degrees in English or Childhood Studies tend to have a stronger connection to the goals of our program, and possess the skills necessary to write a thesis in an academic style. That is not to say that students with other backgrounds cannot and have not been successful. For students with no background in children’s literature, taking non-degree courses in a related field (English Literature, Childhood Studies, etc.) might enhance the application, but are not required. These courses would allow the applicant to develop the background (and probably the appropriate writing samples) needed to be a strong candidate for admission. Most students who come from other fields (psychology, natural sciences, education) have some strong connections with youth and youth literature (author, volunteer with youth, teacher, etc.) that make their applications compelling.


Q: How many students are admitted each year to the MACL program?

A: We only admit 6-10 students per year to the MACL program.  Admissions are quite competitive, and we take into consideration academic potential as well as the fit with our faculty expertise and availability of thesis supervision.


Q: I want to write a children’s or young adult book as my thesis. Can I do this?

A: Yes. We admit only 1-2 student per year to work with the creative writing faculty. If you want to do creative writing for your thesis, you must submit creative writing samples with your application, and specify that you wish to work on a creative thesis.


Q: What is a “hybrid” thesis? How does that work?

A: Some students wish to develop a hybrid approach, which combines creative and academic work. A hybrid thesis can take many forms, and usually requires work with several faculty. The opportunity to do a hybrid thesis is limited by the availability of appropriate supervision. It is highly advisable that applicants indicate which faculty members they wish to work with in their research statement, and may contact these faculty in advance to check availability.


Q: What kind of writing samples should I send?

A: High quality academic writing samples, such as papers written for an undergraduate or graduate seminar in English, Literature Studies, History or other humanities/social science topics are most appropriate. If you wish to pursue a creative thesis, at least one sample should be original creative writing. Fan fiction and similar derivative works are discouraged. All samples must be written in English or translated by the applicant into English.


Q: How long should writing samples be? Should I send my book/thesis?

A: Writing samples may be 5-10 pages, and no longer than 20 pages. Do not send extended treatises, theses, or book-length manuscripts.


Q: Can I submit other kinds of creative works, such as an illustration portfolio?

A: If applicable, creative portfolios or multimedia works may be submitted, but do not take the place of writing samples in the decision of the admissions committee. It is recommended that these portfolios be submitted electronically or as a hyperlink.


Q: What kind of funding/scholarships or financial aid are available?

A: As many as four entrance bursaries of $2000 each are offered to students of exceptional promise. Some research and teaching assistantships are available, but cannot be guaranteed at admission. The Ronald Jobe Scholarship, a competitive scholarship for continuing students, may be applied for at the end of the first year of study. All students, regardless of nationality and citizenship, are encouraged to apply for SSHRC CGS-M or Affiliated fellowships (up to $16,000).


Q: What is the difference between the Personal Statement and the Research Statement? How long should these be?

A: Your personal statement documents the origins of your interest in children’s literature, outlines your qualifications to join the program, and imagines how the MACL program would support your career goals and aspirations. Your research statement provides a sense of the type of work you hope to do in the program. It is not a binding research proposal, but it will help the admissions committee match you with an appropriate supervisor. The research statement should demonstrate some knowledge of children’s literature through citation, and an awareness of how the thesis might contribute to the body of existing scholarship (originality). Each statement should be two to three pages in length.


Q: Do I indicate who I want to work with for my thesis? How will I know who my supervisor is?

A: Applicants should look at the list of current faculty and their expertise, and indicate 2-3 MACL faculty with whom they would like to work. The admissions committee will use student preferences and the research statement to identify a faculty supervisor at the time of admission. The student may have the opportunity to switch supervisors if the topic or nature of the thesis changes, subject to supervisor availability.


Q: When will I know if I’ve been admitted to the program?

A: The application deadline is January 15, with all documents required by February 1. Admissions decisions are usually rendered by early March, and all applicants will be notified of the decision by March 15. Official copies of transcripts may be sent after the admissions decision is rendered, and before June 1.