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Graduate Studies

CIHR Strategic Master’s Award

The CIHR Strategic Master’s Award program provides financial support to scholars who are engaged in an eligible master’s program in Canada (refer to Eligibility) and that are relevant to specific CIHR priority research areas. This support allows these scholars to concentrate on their studies in their chosen fields.

The CIHR Strategic Master’s Award program is supported by CIHR Institutes and Initiatives with specific priority areas and is administered by CIHR.

Important Dates

Signature Pages to SGS: December 8th, noon
Application Deadline: December 14, 2023
Application Notice of Decision: May 30, 2024
Funding Start Date: May 1, 2024

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

CIHR is committed to supporting a research environment that reflects the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion, and honors its commitment to reconciliation by strengthening the health and well-being of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. Achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to responding to local, national and global challenges. Beyond efforts to bolster EDI, CIHR recognizes that First Nations, Métis and Inuit are rights-holding as First Peoples of Canada, and initiatives should be developed through distinctions-based approaches, as found in the strategic plan Setting new directions to support Indigenous research and research training in Canada 2019-2022.

Research Areas

This funding opportunity will support projects relevant to the following research areas:

  • CIHR- Centre for Research on Pandemic Preparedness and Health Emergencies: The CRPPHE’s mandate is to grow Canada’s research leadership in preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery from pandemics and public health emergencies, including by building and supporting Canadian research capacity in these areas. CRPPHE encourages interdisciplinary applications, including (but not limited to) those that are focused on questions requiring One Health approaches, more than one of the emergency management pillars (i.e., preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery), and/or spanning more than one pillar of health research, i.e. biomedical; clinical; health systems services; and population health.
  • CIHR- Institute of Genetics (IG): Applications must focus on Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and Health Data Science in genetics and genomics. Applications that address health equity, sex and gender and/or Indigenous health and wellness issues are encouraged.
  • CIHR- Institute of Gender and Health (IGH): Applications must focus on Sex, Gender and Intersectionality in Health Research. The IGH mandate, includes but is not limited to 2S/LGBTQIA+ Health and Wellness and Women’s Health through an intersectional lens as well as race, racism, gender and health.
  • CIHR – Institute of Indigenous Peoples’ Health (IIPH): Applications must focus on First Nations, Inuit and/or Métis Health and Indigenous Health. IIPH fosters the advancement of a national health research agenda to improve and promote the health of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples in Canada, through research, knowledge translation and capacity building. The Institute’s pursuit of research excellence is enhanced by respect for community research priorities and Indigenous knowledges, values and cultures.

Funds Available

CIHR and partner(s) financial contributions for this initiative are subject to availability of funds. Should CIHR or partner(s) funding levels not be available or are decreased due to unforeseen circumstances, CIHR and partner(s) reserve the right to reduce, defer or suspend financial contributions to awards received as a result of this funding opportunity.

The total amount available for this funding opportunity is $262,500, enough to fund approximately 15 awards. This amount may increase if additional funding partners participate. The maximum amount per award is $17,500 per year for up to one year.

  • Of this $262,500:
    • $70,000 is available to fund 4 applications relevant to Pandemic Preparedness and Health Emergencies
    • $52,500 is available to fund 3 applications relevant to Bioinformatics and Computational Biology and Health Data Science in genetics and genomics.
    • $70,000 is available to fund 4 applications relevant to Sex, Gender and Intersectionality in Health Research. IGH will provide funding for applications determined to be relevant to its mandate and that explicitly incorporate an intersectional lens within sex, gender and health research. The IGH mandate is to foster research excellence regarding the influence of sex and gender on health and to apply these findings to identify and address pressing health challenges facing men, women, girls, boys and gender-diverse people. One of these awards will be dedicated to applications relevant to the Race, Racism, Gender and Health research area.
    • $70,000 is available to fund 4 applications relevant to First Nations, Inuit and/or Métis Health, and Indigenous Health.
  • Applications relevant to each research area will be funded in order of ranking, with the highest rated first.

For more information on the appropriate use of funds, refer to Allowable Costs.


The objective of the CIHR Strategic Master’s Award program is to help develop research skills and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel (HQP) by supporting students who demonstrate potential in undergraduate and early graduate studies whose applications are relevant to any of the research areas.


For an application to be eligible, all the requirements stated below must be met:

The Nominated Principal Applicant (NPA) 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 date
    be enrolled in or have applied for full-time admission* to an eligible master’s program:

    • Program of study eligibility: An eligible master’s 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 (equivalent to a master’s level) with a professional degree for example, MD/PhD, DVM/PhD, JD/MA, JD/PhD, MBA/PhD, MA/MBA) as well as clinically oriented programs of study, including clinical psychology, are eligible if they have a significant autonomous research component, as described above.
    • Master’s programs that are based only on course work are not eligible since they do not include a significant research component, as described above.
    • The Institution Paid must be authorized to administer CIHR funds by the application deadline (see List of CIHR Eligible Institutions)
  • identify a primary supervisor on the application. Consult the funding opportunity and the CIHR Application Administration Guide for more information.
  • have completed, as of December 31 of the year of application
    • either between 0 and 18 months of full-time studies (or full-time equivalent) with a minimum of 12 months of study remaining upon award activation in the program for which the NPA is requesting funding,** which may be one of the following:
      • a master’s program
      • a combined master’s-doctoral program
      • a master’s program that will transition to an eligible doctoral program, either before or after award activation, with no master’s degree conferred (fast-track)
  • not be currently holding a CGS M scholarship from CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC
  • complete one of CIHR’s three interactive modules on sex and gender in research and include the completion certificate with their application (How to Apply section for further details).

Note: NPAs may submit a maximum of one CIHR Strategic Master’s Award application per academic year. NPAs may also submit an application to the CGS Master’s program for the same academic year. Note that 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).

*Refer to the Tri-agency research training award holder’s guide for details regarding part-time admission.

**All studies credited toward the eligible program will be counted, whether or not they were completed at the degree-granting institution.


General CIHR Policies

Before submitting an application to this funding opportunity, NPAs should review the relevant policies and guidelines on the CIHR Funding Policies page to ensure understanding of their responsibilities and expectations, including the Tri-agency research training award holder’s guide (TARTAHG).

Allowable Costs

Applicants are advised to consult the Use of Grant Funds section of the Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC) Guide on Financial Administration (TAGFA) to determine if an expenditure is an appropriate use of grant funds (if applicable).

Use of Personal Information

Personal information submitted during the application process, including but not limited to information provided through NPA CVs, the Self-identification Questionnaire and other application documents required by this FO, will be made available to CIHR personnel for the purposes of future program design and delivery, results measurement and reporting. For further information about the Self-identification questionnaire and the use of personal information, see the Self-identification Questionnaire Frequently Asked Questions.

Conditions of Funding
  • The award must be accepted within 15 working days of the date of offer or the award will be cancelled.
  • The NPA is required to obtain the research institution’s signature.
  • Awards will only begin after the recipient has registered in their full-time program of study and has provided official confirmation from the Registrar’s office of their enrollment.
  • Awards must start either on May 1, 2024, September 1, 2024, or January 1, 2025.
  • Data related to First Nations, Inuit or Métis communities whose traditional and ancestral territories are in Canada must be managed in accordance with data management principles developed and approved by those communities, and on the basis of free, prior and informed consent. This includes, but is not limited to, considerations of Indigenous data sovereignty, as well as data collection, ownership, protection, use, and sharing.
  • The NPA must consent to the use and disclosure of full application and nominative information at the time of application, for purposes of relevance review and/or funding decisions by the relevant sponsors.
  • The NPA may be required to submit a final report.
  • The NPA will be required to contribute to the monitoring, review and evaluation of CIHR’s programs, policies and processes by participating in evaluation studies, surveys, workshops, audits, and by providing data or reports as required for the purpose of collecting information to assess progress and results.
  • Awards must be held at a CIHR eligible Canadian institutions. Awards are not intended to be portable; however, at the discretion of the host institution and with CIHR approval, exceptions may be made in certain circumstances (for example, parental reasons, medical reasons, family-related responsibilities, or pandemic).
  • NPAs and award holders must comply with the policies and guidelines set out in this Funding Opportunity; in the Tri-agency research training award holder’s guide and in any other documents related and/or relevant to this program.
  • NPAs cannot concurrently accept or hold a Canada Graduate Scholarships Master’s CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC award. NPAs cannot be concurrently holding another CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC award.
  • Funds will only be released to the institution or organization identified as the Institution Paid. If the Institution Paid is not already authorized to administer CIHR funds, for the duration of the grant term, it may be required to undergo a financial and eligibility review and sign a funding agreement, or the successful NPAs may choose to have their funds administered by a CIHR eligible institution. Please contact the Contact Centre to enquire about the process.

Review Process and Evaluation

Relevance Review Process

To conduct relevance review, CIHR and Partners will have access to various information submitted by NPAs (completed relevance form, project titles, summaries). Alignment of the proposed research with the specific objectives of the CIHR Institute, Initiative, Branch and/or partners offering funding through the CIHR Strategic Master’s Award Funding Opportunity is required.

Applications that are not deemed to be relevant will be withdrawn from the competition.

Review Process

A CIHR review committee will evaluate the full applications. The top ranked applications relevant to each pool will be funded in rank order as far as funds per Research Area will allow.

For information on CIHR’s peer review principles, see the Peer Review: Overview section of CIHR’s website.

Evaluation Criteria

To support the objectives of this funding opportunity, the following evaluation criteria will be used:

  •  Academic Excellence (25%)
    • Demonstration of past academic results, transcripts, awards and distinctions.
    • Examples of indicators of academic excellence:
      • Academic record
      • Scholarships and awards held
      • Duration of previous studies
      • Type of program and courses pursued relevant to the research area.
  • Research Potential (25%)
    • Demonstration of research history, interest in discovery, the proposed research, its potential contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the field and any anticipated outcomes.
    • Examples of indicators of research potential:
      • Quality of contributions to research and development (e.g., research publications, reports, books, guidelines, datasets, code, tools, training and mentorship, volunteerism, community engagement, standards, software and commercialized products).
      • Relevance of work experience and academic training to field of proposed research
      • Significance, feasibility and merit of the proposed research
      • Judgment and ability to think critically
      • Ability to apply skills and knowledge
      • Initiative and autonomy
      • Research experience and achievements relative to expectations of someone with master’s level academic experience.
  • Personal characteristics and interpersonal skills (25%)
    • Demonstration of professional and relevant extracurricular interactions and collaborations.
    • Examples of indicators of personal characteristics and interpersonal skills:
      • Work experience
      • Leadership experience
      • Project management including organizing conferences and meetings
      • Ability or potential to communicate theoretical, technical or scientific concepts clearly and logically in written and oral formats
      • Involvement in academic life
      • Volunteerism/community outreach
  • Research Training Environment (25%)
    • Demonstration that appropriate elements of the research environment that will contribute directly or indirectly to the quality of the NPA’s research training experience are available (including space, facilities, funding, mentoring, training, collaborations, and personnel support).
    • Demonstration of the commitment of the proposed supervisor and their institution to support the development of the NPA’s research project (funding, facilities, equipment, etc.), professional development,
    • Demonstration of the commitment of the proposed supervisor to foster an equitable and inclusive relationship with the NPA.
Funding Decision

Upon completion of the peer review, CIHR will generate ranking lists for each pool (research area). These lists will be used for funding decision-making purposes and will remain anonymous. Applications will be funded by pool from the top down in order of ranking as far as the budget will allow. Each relevant pool will have its own, separate funding budget as described in Funds Available.

CIHR reserves the right to break ties in ranking by using the consolidated percent rank for ties between applications within a committee.

Applications that receive a final rating below 3.5 will not be funded.

The names of successfully funded NPAs will be published on the CIHR website.

How to Apply

  • The application process for this funding opportunity is comprised of one step: Full Application using ResearchNet.
  • To complete the Full Application, follow the “Specific Instructions” listed below. Please read all instructions regarding the application process before applying.
  • Applicants who are Protected Persons must contact CIHR’s Contact Centre for additional instructions
  • NPAs and their Primary supervisor are required to:

* Applicants and their supervisor(s) should each only have one ResearchNet account. If you have already accessed ResearchNet in the past, do not register for a new account.

Specific instructions to complete your ResearchNet application

Special Note – Signature Pages

  1. Print/ the signature page PDF file which is found on ResearchNet.
  2. The Primary Supervisor signature is required (page 2). Printed names should always accompany signatures.
  3. The signature of individual with signing authority from the Institution Paid is required. All 3 Signature Pages must be submitted to after the supervisor’s signature has been obtained, no later than noon, Friday, December 8th, 2023. The Institution Paid signature will be provided for you and returned to you by Tuesday, December 12th, 2023 for upload to your application.
  4. All 3 pages of the document must be uploaded as part of the application prior to submission.