The Canada Graduate Scholarships—Doctoral (CGS D) program is a federal program of scholarships awarded through national competitions by the granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The program aims 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.
Please refer to the Tri-Agency CGS D website for complete eligibility requirements.
- be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, as of the application deadline date;
- have completed no more than 24 months of full-time study in their doctoral program by December 31st of the year of application if previously enrolled in a master’s program;
- have completed no more than 36 months of full-time study in their doctoral program by December 31st of the year of application if enrolled in a joint program e.g., MD/PhD, MA/PhD);
- applicants who fall into this category have access to the 36-month window whether or not they were previously enrolled in a master’s program;
- have completed no more than 36 months of full-time study in their doctoral program by December 31 of the calendar year of application if enrolled directly from a bachelor’s to a PhD program (with no time spent in a master’s program);
- direct-entry applicants must be enrolled in their doctoral program at the time of application
- submit only one doctoral award application in a given academic year. Nominations to the Vanier CGS program do not count towards this limit;
- not have already received a doctoral-level scholarship or fellowship from CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC.
- Reminder – first-class average in each of the last two years of completed study is no longer an eligibility criterion. Universities are to continue to recommend the top-ranked applications to the Tri-Agency.
Please refer to the appropriate literature for CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC for further details on the agency specific doctoral awards as eligibility requirements may vary, e.g. tenable at foreign institutions, months of study.
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.
Undergraduate students applying to a direct entry doctoral program (i.e. never enrolled in a master’s program) should apply for a CGS M to hold in their first year as they are ineligible to apply for a CGS D until they are registered in the doctoral program.
Fast-track and joint programs:
- For those 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 an applicant transfers into the doctoral program.
- Updated: For applicants registered in a doctoral program in which they obtain a master’s degree (e.g., MA/PhD), the months of study are calculated starting from the date on which an applicant is officially registered in the joint program (including the master’s portion of the program).
Reminder for SSHRC:
- SSHRC applicants who are beyond the eligible months of study for the CGS D, may continue to apply up until their 48th month of study (as of December 31st) and will be considered for a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship.
Subject Matter Eligibility
NSERC and SSHRC applicants whose subject matter has a link, overlap, or future application to health (in particular drug discovery, disease diagnosis, treatment/prevention, development of medical devices, collaboration with pharmaceutical companies, disease population, therapy or health systems), should email NSERC or SSHRC with a one page summary of their research proposal well in advance of submitting an application to seek clarification or a ruling. NSERC/SSHRC typically responds to these types of inquiries within 3-4 business days.
Applicants working in research areas where boundaries overlap or are interdisciplinary are strongly advised to write a compelling justification in their application as to why they believe their proposal is appropriate for support by the agency to which the application is being submitted.
NSERC applicants are encouraged to consult the Addendum to the guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health, which has additional information and specific examples relating to subject matter eligibility.
SSHRC applicants are encouraged to review SSHRC’s website, which has additional information and some examples relating to subject matter eligibility. Note, the use of social sciences or humanities theories, methodologies and hypotheses is, in and of itself, not sufficient to make a proposal eligible for SSHRC funding.
The evaluation of CGS D applications is based on the following criteria:
- 50% for research ability or potential
- 50% relevant experiences and achievements obtained within and beyond academia
For full description, refer to the CGS D website.
Note: Indigenous SSHRC applicants are encouraged to complete the “Allowable Inclusion” section of their application form to describe special circumstances that may have had an impact on their academic or career paths (e.g. cultural or community responsibilities, and/or challenging socio-economic contexts). This information should be taken into account by selection committee members.
Students registered in a U of T graduate degree program at any time between January 1- December 31, 2020, or on an approved leave of absence must complete the appropriate agency’s online application form submit through their current or proposed graduate program at the University of Toronto. Applicants are to contact the unit’s graduate administrator directly regarding the submission deadline and process.
In addition to the CGS D, each agency offers its own doctoral awards. Applicants complete and submit one application to be considered for both a CGS D scholarship and an agency doctoral award. CGS D scholarships are offered to top-ranked eligible applicants.
Applicants must access the online application through the respective granting agency’s portal:
- CIHR CGS D: ResearchNet; see CIHR instructions.
- NSERC CGS D: NSERC On-line System; see NSERC instructions.
- SSHRC CGS D: SSHRC Online System; see SSHRC instructions.
Please note the following reminders:
Transcripts: The inclusion and completeness of transcripts are essential for the Tri-Agency to determine eligibility/confirm current registration, and is an integral part of the evaluation material reviewed by the selection committees. As such, in addition to transcripts for all previous degree programs (complete or incomplete), applicants must order and include their transcript for the fall session of the year of application (i.e. Fall 2020) even when no grades are available. It is the applicants’ responsibility to ensure that transcripts are complete and legible once uploaded, even if a university official (graduate administrator) is responsible for uploading the transcripts (e.g. NSERC).
Collection of Self-Identification Data: Beginning in August 2018, the Tri-Agency has been asking all applicants to self-identify with information on age, gender, Indigenous identity, disability and visible minority status. Though completing the self-identification form will be mandatory for applicants and co-applicants, each category has a “I prefer not to answer” option.
Indigenous applicants [First Nations (North American Indian – Status and Non-Status), Métis, or Inuit] are encouraged to self-identify their status on their application form as universities are permitted to recommend an unlimited number of self-identified Indigenous applicants above their application quota to the national competition. Self-identification data are not seen or used by Tri-Agency selection committee members or by the applicant’s references.
- NSERC and SSHRC applicants must provide consent within the application form to share this information with their institutions and the Tri-Agency.
- CIHR applicants should email their graduate unit separately to notify the university that they have self-identified their status on their CIHR application as this information is not disclosed by CIHR to the universities.
At the University of Toronto, CGS doctoral applications are first received by the graduate unit (department) where the student is registered or as indicated on the application. The graduate unit staff review the applications for eligibility and all eligible applications may be then adjudicated by the graduate unit’s awards committee comprised of graduate faculty members from the graduate unit. Each application is reviewed and scored as per the selection criteria set out by the Tri-Agency. Graduate units may be given quotas by their Faculty Graduate Dean’s office or the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), within which they nominate their top ranked candidates to SGS for central adjudication.
SGS receives applications from all eligible graduate units for each of its three centrally adjudicated competitions (one per research area): health sciences (CIHR), natural science & engineering (NSERC), and social sciences & humanities (SSHRC). Each application is reviewed and scored by three faculty members on the SGS Awards Committee. This Committee is comprised of graduate faculty administrators (Graduate Coordinators) and graduate appointed faculty from departments in all disciplines. No member shall review or score an application submitted by their own home department or where there is a conflict of interest. Members use the selection criteria set out by the Tri-Agency to determine and submit scores for all applications assigned. SGS collects and tallies the scores. Members then participate in an in-person review meeting where scores are discussed and final rankings are determined and confirmed. The top ranking applications within the university’s quota are forwarded to each of the Tri-Agency for the national competition.