The Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral (CGS D) Program stands as a beacon of support for doctoral students in Canada, offering them the opportunity to pursue their academic passions, push the boundaries of knowledge, and contribute to the nation’s research landscape. This prestigious program, administered by 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), plays a pivotal role in nurturing research excellence across diverse disciplines.
Origins and Objectives
Launched in 2009, the CGS D Program is part of the broader suite of Canada Graduate Scholarships aimed at supporting the country’s emerging generation of researchers. Its primary goal is to attract and retain top-tier doctoral students from Canada and around the world, empowering them to embark on a journey of advanced research and innovation. By providing financial support to exceptional scholars, the program encourages them to engage in transformative research that addresses critical societal challenges, fosters innovation, and contributes to Canada’s knowledge-based economy.
Eligibility and Selection
The CGS D Program’s rigorous selection process seeks to identify the most promising and innovative researchers. Eligible candidates must have a demonstrated commitment to research excellence, possess strong academic credentials, and present research proposals that exhibit intellectual curiosity and a potential for significant impact. The selection committees assess applicants based on their academic achievements, research contributions, leadership abilities, and alignment with the program’s objectives.
Fostering Collaboration and Diversity
Beyond the financial support, the CGS D Program fosters a sense of community and collaboration among scholars. By bringing together researchers from various disciplines and backgrounds, the program encourages interdisciplinary dialogue and the exchange of ideas. This diverse and inclusive environment nurtures a culture of innovation, where scholars can draw inspiration from each other and contribute to a well-rounded perspective on complex challenges.
Please refer to the Tri-Agency CGS D website for complete eligibility requirements.
- 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 date;
- REVISED have completed no more than 24 months of full-time study in their doctoral program or the PhD portion of their 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 monthsof 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 (without having completed or enrolled in another graduate program);
- direct-entry applicants must be enrolled in their doctoral program at the time of application;
- students registered in a “Direct Entry PhD” program at U of T who previously completed or were enrolled in any graduate degree program belong in the 24-month category
- REVISED have completed no more than 36 months of full-time study in the PhD portion of their joint professional undergraduate/PhD program (such as MD/PhD, JD/Phd, DVM/PhD) by December 31 of the calendar year of application if they have not previously enrolled in another graduate program;
- REVISED have completed no more than 36 months of full-time study in their 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)
- 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;
- submit a maximum of one scholarship (master’s or doctoral) or fellowship application per academic year to either CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC. 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).;
- not have already received a doctoral-level scholarship or fellowship from CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC (does not apply to CIHR Fellowships); and
- Not hold a tenure or tenure-track (faculty) appointment concurrently with a CGS D award.
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.
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 the applicant is 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.
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 an applicant transferred into and registered in the doctoral program. Note, if the successful transfer exam occurs after the beginning of the session, and doctoral registration is applied retroactively to the beginning of the session, the months of study completed are calculated starting from the doctoral registration date (i.e., beginning of the session).
- For applicants registered in a joint program and a master’s degree is obtained as part of the program (e.g., MA/PhD, MSc/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).
- NEW For applicants who 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.
- 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 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 with a one page summary of their research proposal well in advance of submitting an application to seek clarification or a ruling. NSERC typically responds to these types of inquiries within 3-4 business days.
UPDATE Applicants working in research areas where boundaries overlap or are interdisciplinary are strongly advised to complete the Justification for eligibility of the proposed research attachment. This optional attachment provides applicants with the opportunity to explain in plain language why they have chosen to apply to NSERC as opposed to one of the other federal granting agencies (CIHR or SSHRC). Applications should describe the natural science and/or engineering (NSE) research challenges of the project on which they are proposing to work during the tenure of the scholarship or fellowship and clearly explain what they will be doing and why it should be considered research that is predominantly NSE.
NSERC applicants are strongly 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.
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 degree program at any time between January 1- December 31, 2023, or on an approved leave of absence must complete the appropriate agency’s online application form and 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 specific 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 Online System; see NSERC instructions.
- SSHRC CGS D: SSHRC Online System; see SSHRC instructions.
CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC applicants are encouraged to email their graduate unit with a screenshot of their application status after they have submitted to ensure that their unit is aware of their submission.
Reminder NSERC applicants will scan & upload all transcripts required for their applications to the application system, i.e., graduate unit administrators will not receive an email from NSERC requesting them to upload the transcripts for students as the University designate.
Please note the following reminders:
Transcripts: The inclusion and completeness of up-to-date official 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 the most up-to-date transcripts for all previous degree programs/courses (complete or incomplete), applicants must include their transcript for their current degree program dated in the fall session of the year of application (i.e., September 2023) even when no grades are available. Applicants should make sure that any older official transcripts are indeed the most up-to-date version and no changes have occurred since the date of issue. It is the applicants’ responsibility to ensure that transcripts are complete and legible once uploaded.
CIHR applications require all official transcripts. While applications containing unofficial transcripts will be accepted by NSERC and SSHRC, applicants should note that submission of an application will continue to serve as a formal attestation that they provided true, complete, accurate information in the application and its related documents. The Tri-Agency may contact administrative staff at applicants’ institutions or applicants directly in order to verify that the contents of the submitted transcripts are true, complete and accurate. SGS recommends students to submit official transcripts whenever possible as reviewers will find them easier to read and authenticity will not be questioned.
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 and provide consent within the application form to share this information with their institutions and the Tri-Agency, 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.
NEW Funding for 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 are encouraged to provide consent to be considered for these additional funds in their application so that may be selected by the Tri-agency directly to receive this funding. For more information, consult the Frequently asked questions about the new Black scholars funding.
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 Associate Chairs/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/virtual 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.
Contacts & Resources
As the CGS D Program continues to evolve, its impact on Canada’s research landscape remains profound. The scholars it supports represent a collective force for innovation, progress, and societal transformation. By providing doctoral students with the resources and opportunities they need to thrive, the program helps lay the foundation for a future enriched by research breakthroughs, scientific advancements, and a deeper understanding of the world around us.
In an era defined by rapid technological changes and complex global challenges, initiatives like the Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral Program play an indispensable role in nurturing the next generation of scholars who will shape the future. As the program’s legacy unfolds, its contributions to research excellence and societal advancement will undoubtedly continue to resonate for generations to come.