International Students — FAQ

1. I’m thinking of applying to the MFA/MA/PhD program in Film at York University. What are my chances of being accepted?

In each of the programs, we may accept  international applicants each year, out of a roster of very competitive candidates. In all cases, your transcript should indicate that you have at least an B+ (or higher) average and your writing sample (MA, PhD) or portfolio (MFA) should indicate strong potential.

In the MFA, we also will consider the equivalency of professional accomplishments, such as productions, screenings, festivals and awards.

2. What is most important in my application?

For the MFA degree programs, your portfolio is the most important component of your application.

Production: should consist of links to 3-6 works (can be original single-channel works or documentations of installations/transmedia projects). Ideally, these would have been made following the completion of a BFA or equivalent program, exhibited publicly, and authored (written/directed) by you.

Screenwriting: must include one previously written feature dramatic screenplay, correctly formatted (pdf attachment). The portfolio can also include any 3 of the following: short dramatic screenplays; short stories; other relevant examples of recent work which reflect your writing abilities and creativity; a completed film whose script you authored, along with a copy of the script and relevant production details.

For the MA/PhD in Cinema & Studies, your statement regarding a proposed area of research and your writing samples are the most important. Both should indicate clarity in writing and analysis and a grasp of some of the key debates in the field.

3. What are the language requirements?

If you have attended an English post secondary university you do not need to complete an English proficiency exam. If you have NOT attended an English post secondary institution, you must meet minimum requirements of one of the following language proficiency tests:

  • TOEFL: (Paper-based: 600; Computer-based: 250; iBT: 100)
  • IELTS: Overall Band Score: 7.5
  • YELT: (York English Language Test) Band: 1

4. What is the cost of tuition? And living expenses?

The cost of tuition for an MA/MFA international student is approximately $6500 per term, or $32,500 over a 5 term/2 year degree ($CDN). (There is no part-time option).

The cost of tuition for a PhD international student is approximately $6200 per term, or $74,500 over a 12 term/4 year degree.

Living expenses of course vary widely, but you should budget $1500-2000 CDN/month for living (rent, meals, supplies, transit) in Toronto.

5. Living on campus vs. downtown Toronto?

York University is located in Toronto’s North York suburb, and is fully accessible by public transit. The commute is typically an hour by subway/bus (and yes, the long-awaited York University subway stop will finally open in 2017!) or 30 minutes by car. Most grads choose to live downtown, in order to get involved with Toronto’s dynamic film community, and the grad/alum network is often a good resource for securing affordable housing.

6. What kind of financial support would I be eligible for?

As an MA/MFA student, you will receive a fellowship amount of approximately $19,000 each year, which works out to be $6333/term, paid out over the length of your degree, plus $1000 of health benefit coverage each year.

There may be opportunities to apply for a GA-ship in your first and second year of studies, and a TA-ship in your second year (note: we currently only have TA-ships available for less than half of our MA & MFA students—but not getting a TA-ship will not affect your funding).

For doctoral students, your guaranteed funding is approximately $33,500 per year for four years, plus health benefits. In exchange, you may be assigned RA/GA/TA duties.

Some outstanding candidates may be eligible for York entrance scholarships ($3-10K), awarded by the program to outstanding applicants. In the late fall of the first year of your degree, MAs/MFAs will be encouraged to apply for the highly competitive SSHRC (Social Science Humanities & Research Council) and OGS (Ontario Graduate Scholarship) awards, worth $15-17K. PhD’s will be encouraged to apply to SSHRC/OGS for each year of their degree.

7. How long is this program? Can I study part time?

5 terms or almost 2 years. Yes, part-time study is an option, but part-time students do not receive funding.

8. I would like to get some information about your MA and MFA courses.

Information on our program and courses offered is available at our program website:

9. Do I have to write a thesis for this program?

An MA thesis consists of a major research paper (MRP), an MFA thesis consists of an original film or screenplay (weighted at roughly 75%) plus a support paper (weighted at 25%). For filmmakers, a thesis is generally an original short film that they have written and directed (but can also be an installation, i-doc, series of shorts -- the department embraces expansive notions of what cinema and new media can be). For screenwriters, a thesis is generally the final draft of an original feature-length screenplay that they are the sole author of.

10. What is the deadline for applying to the program?

The deadline for applications for a start in September 2022 is 15 December 2021 (late applications may be considered).

11. Do I have to write a proposal before I apply for the program? If yes, how many pages do I have to write?

Applicants are expected to write a Statement of Intent (approximately 500 words). Focus on why you wish to do a degree in York's MA/MFA program.

12. What is meant by sample of written work?

For MA applicants attach a sample of your written academic work (preferably two essays, with a total word count of no more than 7500 words or 30 pages). Written work is optional for Production Applicants, and could include: an essay authored by you; reviews of your work; background research related to your thesis project; a script; a visual treatment; etc. For screenwriters, your portfolio is an original feature screenplay or equivalent, as well as additional materials. See online application information for more detail.

13. Do you offer conditional admission for applicants who meet all but one admission requirement?

Our program does not offer conditional admission. All conditions must be meet before starting our program.

14. Is it possible to schedule a meeting or interview with the Admissions Committee to discuss my qualifications?

Our Admissions Committee does not meet with prospective applicants. Please direct your questions to the Graduate Program Director or Graduate Program Assistant.

15. How can I provide proof to York University that the medium of instruction in my university was English?

If the medium of instruction at your undergraduate university was English, York University will already be aware of this. York University has a current and updated listing of worldwide universities with English as the main language of instruction.

16. As I have a high GPA can I get the TOEFL waved?

The English Proficiency test cannot be waved. It is recommended that students apply to our program only once they have received the required proficiency score outlined above.

17. If I want to enroll for Winter registration, when should I start the admissions process?

Our program has only one start period, September of each year.

18. Do I need to secure a supervisor before applying?

No. Faculty supervisors are arranged in the first term as you develop your Major Research Paper (MRP) or thesis proposal.

19. Is there funding available for this program?

Yes, all full-time students receive a York Graduate Fellowship. There is no separate application for it, and all applicants are automatically considered. Any funding commitment made will be listed in the offer of admission letter.

To see what kind of other funding is available, please go to

20. Do you provide accommodation facilities?

There are graduate residences buildings available on campus. For information, including rental rates, please review the York Apartments section of the website at:

21. What is the cost of living in Toronto?

Students are expected to cover all costs of living including books, rent, and food. It is recommended that applicants review websites such as which outline the cost of living in this city. It is recommended that students entering the program have savings in which to draw.

For any further inquires, please direct them to: