CGS Doctoral (CIHR / NSERC / SSHRC) Award Competitions

Please visit the CIHRNSERC and SSHRC websites for full information on these award opportunities. The information below contains information and reminders specific to students applying to hold one of these awards for PhD study in the Faculty of Information.

SGS Information Sessions

Graduate Award Information sessions are available to students interested in applying for Federal and/or Provincial awards (to start award in 2021-22 academic year). Note: international students are only eligible to apply for Vanier and OGS out of the sessions being offered.

Information sessions presented by SGS staff will be held virtually (on Zoom) and provide general program information including eligibility requirements and application process. Sessions will also be recorded and made available at a later date accessible through Quercus.

Updated September 3, 2020:
Recordings from the SGS Tri-Agency awards and OGS information sessions for students are now available via Quercus for streaming.

The slides from these presentations are also available on the SGS website within each of the award’s pages under the “Additional Info” section:

2021-2022 CGS Doctoral (CIHR / NSERC / SSHRC) Competition

Award Overview

Student submission deadline: September 23, 2020 end of day
[CIHR Application goes offline for applicants:  CIHR only*: October 5, 2020]

CGS D – $35,000 per year for 36 months
NSERC PGS D – $21,000 per year for 36 months
SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship – $20,000 per year for 12 to 48 months

Level of Study: Doctoral
Required Legal Status: Domestic (Canadian citizen or permanent resident)
Results: April 2021, directly from Tri-Agency

*Note: CIHR application on ResearchNet will go offline for University of Toronto applicants on October 5th; however, the NSERC and SSHRC application systems will remain open. Applicants must submit their application by the graduate unit deadline.

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.

Eligibility to Apply
Please refer to the Tri-Agency CGS D website for complete eligibility requirements.

Applicants must:

  • 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 CIHRNSERC 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.

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.

Selection Criteria
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.

Application Process
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 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. 

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 202020) 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 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.

The SGS Graduate Awards Office will notify those who were forwarded to SGS of the University competition results in late-November. The results of the national competition are communicated directly by the Tri-Agency in April 2021.


Next Steps and Results

  • The Faculty of Information Awards Committee adjudicates all candidates for these awards and provides a ranked summary to the School of Graduate Studies.
  • The School of Graduate Studies facilitates a University-wide adjudication round with committee members from across the University.
  • Top applications are forwarded to NSERC for a final, national adjudication round.
  • Results are announced in Spring, 2021.