Canada Graduate Scholarships — Doctoral program
|$35,000 per year
|Canadian institutions only
|Through a Canadian institution: Contact your institution
Directly to the agencies: October 17
To determine whether you should apply through a Canadian institution or directly to the agencies and which application deadline applies to you, consult the Where should I submit my application? flowchart.
|How to apply
|Refer to the Application procedures section below.
|Application forms and instructions
NSERC: Online system and instructions
CIHR: ResearchNET and instructions
SSHRC: Online system and instructions
- Agency-specific doctoral awards
- Program of study
- Application procedures
- Application deadlines
- Selection process
- Indigenous student researchers
- Black student researchers
- Selection criteria
- San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment
- Notification of results
- Conditions of the award
- Official languages
- Related opportunities
The objective of the Canada Graduate Scholarships — Doctoral (CGS D) program is to promote continued excellence in Canadian research by rewarding and retaining high-calibre doctoral students at Canadian institutions. By providing support for a high-quality research training experience to awardees, the CGS D program strives to foster impacts within and beyond the research environment.
The Canada Graduate Scholarships — Doctoral (CGS D) program is a federal program of scholarships administered by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Scholarships are awarded through national competitions by these three granting agencies.
The CGS D program supports and promotes research excellence in a wide variety of disciplines and broad fields of natural sciences and engineering, health and social sciences and humanities, including interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research. This support allows scholars to concentrate on their doctoral studies more fully, to seek out the best research mentors in their chosen fields and to contribute to the Canadian research ecosystem during and beyond the tenure of their awards.
Agency-specific doctoral awards
In addition to the CGS D, each agency has its own doctoral awards.
For all three agencies, only one application must be completed and submitted to be considered for both a CGS D award and either an agency-specific doctoral award (for NSERC/SSHRC applications) or any available doctoral Priority Announcements (for CIHR applications). CGS D awards are then offered for the top-ranked eligible applications in each agency’s competition.
Some eligibility requirements for CGS D differ from those of the agency-specific doctoral awards. Refer to the appropriate literature for NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC for further details as well as information on doctoral awards tenable at foreign institutions.
To be eligible to apply, you must
- be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada or a Protected Person under subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada), as of the application deadline
- have completed no more than 24 months of full-time study in your doctoral program or the PhD portion of your joint professional undergraduate/PhD program (such as MD/PhD, JD/PhD, DVM/PhD) by December 31 of the calendar year of application if previously enrolled in a graduate program
- have completed no more than 36 months of full-time study in your doctoral program by December 31 of the calendar year of application if enrolled directly from a bachelor’s to a PhD program (without having completed or enrolled in another graduate program)
- direct-entry applicants must be enrolled in their doctoral program at the time of application
- have completed no more than 36 months of full-time study in the PhD portion of your joint professional undergraduate/PhD program (such as MD/PhD, JD/PhD, DVM/PhD) by December 31 of the calendar year of application if you have not previously enrolled in another graduate program
- if you have not previously completed or enrolled in another graduate program, you must be enrolled in your joint MD/PhD program at the time of application
- have completed no more than 36 months of full-time study in your joint program by December 31 of the calendar year of application if enrolled in a joint graduate program (such as, MA/PhD, MSc/PhD, MBA/PhD)
- if you fall into this category, you have access to the 36-month window whether or not you were previously enrolled in a master’s program
Note: If you are eligible to apply to the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s (CGS M) program, you may be able to maximize your potential period of funding by applying to the CGS M program for your first year of doctoral funding instead of the CGS D program. You are responsible for choosing the type of award for which you apply. See Other restrictions below for more information.
Number of months
Eligibility for CGS D is based on the number of months of full-time study, including summer months, toward the degree for which you are requesting funding by December 31 of the calendar year of application. Two terms of part-time study count as one term of full-time study.
Note: The agencies count all studies toward the doctoral degree for which funding is requested, whether or not they were completed at the degree-granting institution.
Fast-track and joint programs
Fast-track: If you were registered in a master’s program and subsequently transferred to a doctoral program (fast-track), the months of study completed are calculated starting from the date on which you transferred into the doctoral program.
Joint programs: If you are registered in a joint program and a master’s degree is obtained as part of the program (for example, MA/PhD, MSc/PhD), the months of study are calculated starting from the date on which you are officially registered in the joint program (including the master’s portion of the program).
If you are registered in a joint professional undergraduate/PhD program (such as MD/PhD, JD/PhD, DVM/PhD), only the months of study in the PhD portion will be counted.
- You can submit a maximum of one scholarship or fellowship application per academic year to either NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC. Should more than one application be submitted, the eligible application submitted first chronologically will be retained. Nominations to the Vanier CGS program and applications to the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program do not count toward this limit (other exceptions may apply to CIHR internships)
- You cannot have already received a doctoral-level scholarship from NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC (does not apply to CIHR Fellowships)
- You cannot hold a tenure or tenure-track appointment concurrently with your CGS D award
Program of study
An eligible doctoral program must include a significant research component that leads to the completion of a thesis, major research project, dissertation, scholarly publication, performance, recital and/or exhibit that is merit/expert-reviewed at the institutional level as a requirement for completion of the program.
Joint programs with a professional degree (for example, MD/PhD, DVM/PhD, JD/PhD, MBA/PhD) as well as clinically oriented programs of study, including clinical psychology, are eligible if they have a significant autonomous research component as described above.
Selecting the appropriate agency
You should complete the agency application that is best aligned with your research subject matter to ensure that it is reviewed by experts in disciplines closest to your field(s) of study. For more information refer to Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency.
To complete the application process, refer to the appropriate agency’s application website and instructions.
NSERC: Online system and instructions
CIHR: ResearchNET and instructions
SSHRC: Online system and instructions
Incomplete applications may be rejected from the competition.
Where to submit an application
You must apply either through a Canadian institution or directly to the appropriate agency depending on your registration status at the application deadline date and/or your registration status in the calendar year of application. Failure to submit an application through the correct channel will result in your application being rejected.
To determine the correct channel, you must
- determine if an institution has a quota for your selected agency
- refer to the chart and supporting information in the Where should I submit my application? flowchart
If you are unsure of your registration status in the calendar year of application, contact your faculty of graduate studies (or its equivalent).
The term “quota” refers to the maximum number of applications an institution can forward to each agency’s national competition. Institutions receive separate quotas from each agency (NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC).
If you are applying through an institution, you must submit your application by the deadline set by the institution, which may be well in advance of the agency deadline.
For more information about institutional deadlines, you should contact your faculty of graduate studies (or its equivalent).
If you are eligible to apply directly to one of the agencies (consult the Where should I submit my application? flowchart), you must submit your application using the appropriate agency application portal before 8:00 p.m. (ET) on October 17. If the deadline falls on a weekend, applications can be submitted the following business day before 8:00 p.m. (ET). Incomplete applications may be rejected.
The faculty of graduate studies (or its equivalent) at each Canadian institution is responsible for coordinating the institutional evaluation of CGS D applications. Institutions then submit applications according to their quotas for consideration to each agency.
Agency selection committees review applications (whether sent directly to the agencies or via the institutions).
Indigenous student researchers
Institutions may recommend applications from self-identified Indigenous student researchers to the doctoral awards competition beyond their application quota. Self-identified Indigenous student researchers must agree to their personal information being used for this purpose by making the appropriate selection in the application form.
Black student researchers
The Government of Canada has deployed additional funds to increase direct support for Black student researchers. CGS D applicants who self-identify as Black and provide consent to be considered for funds targeted towards specific groups may be selected to receive this funding. Each agency has a limited number of additional CGS D awards reserved for this initiative.
For more information, consult the Frequently asked questions about the new Black scholars funding.
The evaluation of CGS D applications, whether by institutions or the agencies, is based on the following criteria:
- quality of research proposal
- specific, focused and feasible research question(s) and
- clear description of the proposed methodology
- significance and expected contributions to research
- relevant training, such as academic training, lived experience and traditional teachings
- research experience and achievements relative to the applicant’s stage of study, lived experience and knowledge systems
- quality of contributions and extent to which they advance the field of research—contributions may include publications, patents, reports, posters, abstracts, monographs, presentations, creative outputs, knowledge translation outputs, community products, etc.
- demonstration of sound judgment and ability to think critically
- demonstration of responsible and ethical research conduct, including honest and thoughtful inquiry, rigorous analysis, commitment to safety and to the dissemination of research results and adherence to the use of professional standards
- enthusiasm for research, originality, initiative, autonomy, relevant community involvement and outreach
- ability or potential to communicate theoretical, technical and/or scientific concepts clearly and logically in written and oral formats
- scholarships, awards and distinctions (amount, duration and prestige)
- academic record
- duration of previous studies
- program requirements and courses pursued
- course load
- relative standing in program (if available)
- professional, academic and extracurricular activities as well as collaborations with supervisors, colleagues, peers, students and members of the community, such as
- teaching, mentoring, supervising and/or coaching
- managing projects
- participating in science and/or research promotion
- participating in community outreach, volunteer work and/or civic engagement
- chairing committees and/or organizing conferences and meetings
- participating in departmental or institutional organizations, associations, societies and/or clubs
|Research ability and potential
Indicators of research ability and potential:
|Relevant experience and achievements obtained within and beyond academia
Indicators of relevant experience and achievements obtained within and beyond academia:
San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment
In 2019, NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC, along with other Canadian research funding agencies, signed the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). The agencies are committed to meaningful assessment of excellence in research funding and to ensuring that a wide range of research results and outcomes are considered and valued as part of the assessment process. They will continue work to ensure that their strategies, policies and guidance align with DORA.
Notification of results
Applicants whose applications were submitted to the agencies, whether directly or via their institution, will be notified of results by April 30.
The agencies will publish the names (and other basic award information) of scholarship recipients on their respective websites.
For more information, see the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.
Conditions of the award
Applicants and award holders must comply with the policies and guidelines set out in the Tri-agency research training award holder’s guide and in any other documents related to scholarship applications and awards.
The agencies reserve the right to interpret and enforce the policies and guidelines for their funding opportunities set out in their published materials.
Award holders may be eligible to hold their awards part time. Refer to the Tri-agency research training award holder’s guide for further information.
Applicants may submit their application in the official language of their choice. Institutions must have mechanisms in place to review both English and French applications.
CGS D holders may be eligible for:
- Canada Graduate Scholarships—Michael Smith Foreign Study supplements
- Canada Graduate Scholarships to Honour Nelson Mandela
- SSHRC supplements and related initiatives
- NSERC supplements
- CIHR related initiatives
For further information, contact the appropriate agency:
CIHR contact centre
- Date modified: