External Scholarships

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Financial support from the three federal (tri-council) agencies is substantially greater than can be offered by the Department. Canadian citizens or landed immigrants may apply to these federal agencies: (1) Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), (2) Canadian Institutes of Health Sciences (CIHR), or (3) Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The nature of your research will determine which of the Tri-Council scholarships you should apply to (some guidelines can be found here).

Ontario residents are considered for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) program; McMaster students who apply for one of the tri-council scholarships are automatically entered into the SGS central competition for OGS (e.g. a separate application is not required). Details of these and other assistance programs are available from the McMaster University School of Graduate Studies scholarship page.

  • ALL eligible PNB graduate students are required to apply for external scholarships. The season for submitting most scholarship applications is late summer into the fall term (a few are not available until winter term).
  • See Financial Support for details about how winning an external scholarship affects total income.

The School of Graduate Studies Scholarships Office does a great job of preparing instructions for each competition. These instructions and relevant forms and internet links are sent by email to departments, and we forward them on to you. Although due dates for most applications are approximately the same from year to year, details (e.g. exact deadlines, eligibility) may change. It is important to watch for the carefully constructed instructions and forms; when you receive an email announcing the competition that is relevant to you, read through the instructions carefully and make note of all the deadlines. There are often multiple deadlines for the same competition (e.g. PNB department deadlines, School of Graduate Studies deadlines, external funding deadlines).

The School of Graduate Studies maintains a full list of scholarships. Below, we provide comments and approximate dates for a subset of the most common scholarships, including the federal tri-council scholarships and the Ontario Graduate Scholarships.

General Preparation

  • Carefully read the application instructions associated with the fellowship you will be applying for because each agency has different processes. The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Scholarships Office sends instructions as soon as details become available from the government agencies.
  • Check the SGS awards-funding website for updates/changes in scholarship availability, application deadlines, etc.

Prepare a timeline:

  • You are required to obtain all OFFICIAL transcripts (from all your undergraduate and graduate academic institutions) when you apply. This can take time so plan ahead.
  • You will need to request reference letters. Plan ahead and request letters as early as possible. Your letter writers may be writing letters for many students - it will work in your favour to be prepared. Think about providing your letter writers with a summary of information that will assist them when they are thinking about what to write about you! When the due date approaches, don't hesitate to send your letter writers a friendly reminder if they have not yet submitted the reference.
  • Start preparing early and good luck!

To be considered eligible for support for the tri-council masters or doctoral scholarships, as of the application deadline date you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada,
  • have obtained a first-class average (minimum grade of “A-“) in each of the last two completed years of study (or full-time equivalent).
  • read the specific rules for the agency to which you are applying

To be considered eligible for support for the tri-council doctoral scholarships, as of the application deadline date you must:

  • intend to pursue, in the following year, full-time graduate studies and research at the doctoral level in an eligible program (see Eligibility Criteria on each site).
  • read the specific rules for the agency to which you are applying

There are a few scholarships that are open to international students. Search this page for the keyword "international" to find them.

Vanier CGS-Doctoral Competition

Late June: PNB will forward to graduate students instructions from the SGS Scholarships Office to announce the call for applications for the Fall Vanier CGS-Doctoral Competition.
September to October: A two-stage internal review process is in place at McMaster to help identify the strongest applications and to select the most competitive candidates in each research mandate of CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC. There are multiple deadlines for Stage 1 letter of intent, Stage 2 endorsed candidate application, McMaster Internal ResearchNet deadline (if you make it to Stage 2), and final Vanier Deadline.

  • Award value: $50,000.00/year for three (3) years
  • This award is open to Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and international students. Go here for complete Vanier eligibility information.
  • Note that PNB is allowed to submit only 2 Vanier applications, so it is critical that you let the Graduate Chair and Nancy Riddell know that you are intending to apply. If more than 2 students are going to apply we will need to have an internal review to determine the top 2 applications in the department.
  • SGS Scholarships Office usually holds a few information sessions for those planning to apply for the Vanier.

CIHR Doctoral

Early August: PNB will forward to graduate students instructions from the SGS Scholarships Office to announce the call for applications for the Fall CIHR Doctoral Research Award Competition.
September: There are often multiple deadlines in September/October; read the instructions provided in the August email.

  • Award value: $35,000/year for up to 3 years
  • You apply through the CIHR website and upload your own transcripts. Please let Nancy Riddell know if you've applied. Nancy does not need a hard copy.

NSERC Doctoral

Early August: PNB will forward to graduate students instructions from the SGS Scholarships Office to announce the call for applications for the Fall Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship-Doctoral Program (CGS-D) and the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral Program (PGS-D).
September: There are often multiple deadlines in September/October; read the instructions provided in the August email.

  • Value & Duration:
  • Alexander Graham Bell CGS Doctoral Scholarship: $35,000 per year for 2 or 3 years
  • NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral Program: $21,000 per year for 2 or 3 years
  • Please read the instructions carefully as there are a few complex steps.
  • It is the applicant's responsibility to enter Nancy's name and e-mail address (riddeln@mcmaster.ca) in the Transcripts – University page of the application.
  • It is important to give Nancy an up-to-date transcript for each and all of the degree programs listed under your Academic Background. Requesting and receiving transcripts take time so start this process ASAP. If you have questions about how to enter this information, please ask Nancy Riddell.

SSHRC Doctoral

Early August: PNB will forward to graduate students instructions from the SGS Scholarships Office to announce the call for applications for the Fall SSHRC CGS Doctoral Scholarships and SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships Competition.
Mid October: Internal PNB deadline

  • Value & Duration:
  • Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Scholarships: $35,000 per year; up to 36 months
  • SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships: $20,000 per year; varied for 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
  • Application is completed on-line through the SSHRC website. Please provide Nancy with an electronic copy of your application as she needs to upload it to the School of Graduate Studies via MacDrive. Contact Nancy Riddell with any questions.

Tri-Council Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS-M) Masters

Early September: PNB will forward to graduate students instructions from the SGS Scholarships Office to announce the CGS Master's Competition Information.
December 1st: The due date is December 1st unless it falls on a weekend.

The CGS-M Awards Program supports students in all research disciplines and is administered jointly by Canada’s three federal granting agencies: CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC. The selection process and post-award administration are carried out at the university level, under the guidance of the three agencies.

  • Value and Duration
  • $17,500.00 for 12 months, non-renewable

Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS)

1. OGS Central Competition

Ontario residents are considered for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) program. Students who apply for one of the tri-council scholarships are automatically entered into the SGS central competition for the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS). A separate application is not required for current McMaster graduate students.

The tri-council and OGS awards are all determined at different times. OGS awards are usually determined earliest; this ordered list included applications from all university departments at McMaster. A student who receives an OGS award may end up receiving a tri-council award. In that case, the student will take the tri-council award and the OGS award will go to the next application on the OGS ordered alternate list; this could be a student from PNB or from another department.
  • OGS Award value:
  • OGS (Ontario Graduate Scholarship) is $15,000 for one year
  • OGF (Ontario Graduate Fellowship) is $12,000 for one year; PNB will top this up to $15,000
2: OGS Central Competition for 3rd year PhD students

Early September: If this opportunity is offered this year, PNB will forward information to eligible graduate students.
Early October: SGS deadline

Over the past 2 years, SGS has allowed 3rd year doctoral students who were ineligible to apply for the NSERC or CIHR Doctoral Scholarship to apply to the OGS Central Competition. These OGS applications are ranked amongst the NSERC or CIHR Doctoral applications but only for OGS purposes. In order for the committee to properly rank these applications, this OGS application mimics the same requirements as the NSERC or CIHR Doctoral application.
Each department is allowed to submit only 2 NSERC applications and only 2 CIHR applications.
An internal competition may be held in some (but not all) years.
3: Faculty OGS

Winter term: Date of announcement of the Faculty OGS varies

There are a limited number of "Faculty" OGS awards each year (PNB usually gets in the range of 3-5). These awards are to be used strategically to recruit, retain and support graduate students. The competition is outside of the SGS central competition for OGS.
An internal competition may be held in some (but not all) years.
4. International OGS

End of March: SGS deadline (approximate).

In past years there has been only 1 international OGS available for the entire Faculty of Science.

Other Scholarships

The School of Graduate Studies maintains a list of available scholarships. A few are commented on here:

U21 Graduate Collabortive Research Awards
McMaster recently became a member of the Universitas 21 (U21) group. The group offers a scholarship for collaborative research.
Early August: Application deadline
More information: U21 Graduate Collabortive Research Awards
Canada Graduate Scholarships - Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements (CGS-MSFSS)
Graduate students who hold a Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) from one of the Tri-Council Agencies (Vanier, CIHR, NSERC, or SSHRC) may apply for a Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplement (CGS-MSFSS).
Toward end of September School of Graduate Studies Deadline
The Bill Carment Memorial Scholarship in Social Development
To be awarded by the School of Graduate Studies on the recommendation of the Chair of the Department of Psychology to a graduate student who has demonstrated excellent progress in his/her research training and who is pursuing a career in the area of social development. Value: 1 award variable up to $500. There will not necessarily be an email notification for these kinds of awards - browse the SGS Scholarships website for this and other available awards.
Usually December 1 application due to Nancy Riddell.
SSHRC Impact Awards-Talen Award
McMaster is able to submit 1 Talent Award nomination to SSHRC. As this is a very competitive competition and prestigious award, McMaster reserves the right not to submit any applicant.
The Talent Award recognizes outstanding achievement by an individual who, on March 6, 2018, holds a SSHRC doctoral or postdoctoral fellowship or scholarship (including, but not limited to, a Canada Graduate Scholarship, Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship or Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship).
Usually January: Stage 1 Letter of Intent package is due
Harvey E. Longboat Graduate Scholarships and OGS-Indigenous Applications
This award is intended as a means to recognize and acknowledge the academic achievement and exceptional promise of an Indigenous graduate student or students at McMaster University. Consideration is also given to Indigenous scholars who have demonstrated mentorship within community settings. Indigenous students who are applying to a McMaster Graduate program, as well as returning Indigenous grad students, are eligible to apply.
Usually mid-February: Deadline to apply for both Longboat and OGS-I
For Eligibility and Application Instructions, please see here.
If you have any questions about these awards, please email Andrea Cole.
Ontario Trillium Scholarships (OTS)
The Ontario Trillium Scholarships (OTS) program is a significant initiative to attract more of the best qualified international students to Ontario for doctoral studies.
Usually beginning of March: Nominations submitted by emailing graduatescholarships@mcmaster.ca.
The 2019 OTS allocations have not been confirmed at this time.
Harry Lyman Hooker Sr. Fellowships
The Harry Lyman Hooker Sr. Fellowships are made possible through a bequest from the estate of Harry Lyman Hooker. The awards are given to Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents of Canada who are entering their first year of a Master’s or Doctoral program, effective May or September 2018 of the award year, at McMaster University in those disciplines that receive funding primarily from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada. The research mandate must be SSHRC.
Note that because the research has to be SSHRC fundable, there are very few nominations for these awards in the Faculty of Science. If you are doing SSHRC fundable research but you are not sure whether you might be eligible for this award, please contact Nancy Riddell in advance of preparing the nomination package because each Department may submit only 1 Masters and 1 Doctoral nomination.
Usually mid-March: The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) nomination deadline
CAGS/Proquest-UMI Distinguished Dissertation Awards
The CAGS/PROQUEST-UMI Distinguished Dissertation Awards recognize Canadian doctoral dissertations that make unusually significant and original contributions to their academic field.
Usually mid to late March: nomination deadline

Postdoctoral Fellowships

Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship Competition
The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships provide financial support to elite national and international postdoctoral researchers who will positively contribute to the country’s economic, social and research-based growth.
Early June: PNB will forward the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship competition information from SGS
Early August: Stage 1 - Intent Package due to SGS
Early September: Stage 2 - Endorsed candidate applications due to SGS
Mid September: Banting ResearchNet online application submission
H.G. Thode Postdoctoral Fellowship
In commemoration of the late Dr. Harry Thode's achievements as a nuclear scientist and as a visionary university president, McMaster University is pleased to invite applications from outstanding candidates for an endowed postdoctoral fellowship in the general areas of Nuclear Medicine, Radiation Sciences or Nuclear Engineering.
Usually early March: Documentation provided by SGS (contact your Graduate Chair, Judith Shedden, for forms)
Usually late April: Deadline