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Graduate Studies

CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s

The CGS-M Awards Program supports students in all research disciplines and is administered jointly by Canada’s three federal granting agencies: the Canadian Institutes for 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 selection process and post-award administration are carried out at the university level, under the guidance of the three agencies.

Information Session 2023

Value and Duration

$17,500 for 12 months, non-renewable

Assigned Allocations to McMaster


Application Deadline: December 1, 2023 – 8 p.m. (ET)

There are no extensions granted by the Agency. Applicants to the CGS M program must complete their application using the Research Portal, hosted by NSERC. It is a single application form used by all three Agencies (NSERC, SSHRC, and CIHR) and the applicant can choose up to 3 universities where they would like to hold their award. Once the student submits the application in the portal, no additional changes can be made.

Other Awards

McMaster CGS M applicants are also eligible for additional McMaster awards such as the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology and the Ontario Graduate Fellowship. No additional application is necessary.


  • 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, have applied for or will apply for full-time admission* to an eligible graduate program at the master’s or doctoral level at McMaster University
  • have completed, as of December 31, 2023:
    • between zero and 12 months of full-time studies (or full-time equivalent) in the program for which you are requesting funding, which may be:
      • a master’s program
      • a doctoral program that you are entering directly from a bachelor’s program without having ever been enrolled in any graduate programs (direct-entry)
      • 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)
      • a master’s program for which the degree requirements will be completed before the end of the award, allowing the award to continue into an eligible doctoral program
    • or between four and 12 months of full-time study (or full-time equivalent) in an eligible master’s program for which the degree requirements will be completed before activation of the award, allowing it to be activated during the subsequent doctoral program for which you are requesting funding;
  • not have held or be currently holding a CGS M scholarship from NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC
  • not have held or be currently holding an Indigenous Scholars Award and Supplement
  • have achieved a first-class average, as determined by the host institution, in each of the last two completed years of study (full-time equivalent). At McMaster, a first-class average is a Minimum A- (10/12, 80%). Note: If a transcript has both letter grades and percentages, you must calculate the averages by using the percentage grades.
  • submit a maximum of one scholarship application per academic year to either CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC

Research Portal

Students submit their application using the Research Portal. The Research Portal will allow the application to be submitted to up to three institutions – refer to Application Procedures. Applicants can be considered for a CGS M at McMaster University if they select McMaster as one of the institutions on their CGS M application and are enrolled in, have applied for, or will apply for full-time admission to an eligible graduate program at the master’s or doctoral level.

Program of Study Eligibility

An eligible graduate program must have a significant research component. A significant research component is considered to be original, autonomous research 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/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 typically not eligible since they do not include a significant research component, as described above. Given the specific requirements of certain disciplines, institutions are invited to contact the appropriate agency for guidance on the eligibility of programs of study.

Special circumstances

The agencies require institutions and reviewers to take into consideration special circumstances that may have affected your research, professional career, record of academic or research achievement or completion of degrees. Relevant circumstances might include administrative responsibilities, maternity/parental leave, child-rearing, illness, disability, cultural or community responsibilities, socio-economic context, trauma and loss, family responsibilities or a pandemic.

The following question may apply:

  • Do you have any special circumstances to take into consideration that may have affected your research, professional career, record of academic or research achievement or completion of degrees?

If you answered Yes to the above question, the following prompt and text field (5,000 characters maximum, including spaces) will appear:

  • Describe any special circumstances that have had an effect on your performance or productivity (required).

Equity, diversity and inclusion

The Tri-agency is acting on the evidence that 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 respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Black student researchers

The Government of Canada has deployed additional funds to increase direct support for Black student researchers. CGS M applicants who self-identify as Black and provide consent in their application to be considered for funds designated for specific groups may be able to receive this funding through a scholarship as part of this initiative. Each agency has a limited number of additional CGS M awards reserved for this initiative.

For more information, consult the Frequently asked questions about the new Black scholars funding

Self-identification information

You must complete the self-identification form found in the person profile of the Research Portal when applying for funding. This data provides information on the diversity of the population applying for and receiving agency funds. This information increases the agencies’ capacity to monitor their progress on increasing equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in their programs, to recognize and remove barriers, and to design new measures to achieve greater EDI in the research enterprise. If you do not want to self-identify, you have the option to choose I prefer not to answer for each question, but you are required to select a response for the questionnaire to be marked as complete. Self-identification information is not part of your application and will be neither accessible to nor shared with external reviewers and/or selection committee members. For more information, refer to the Frequently asked questions about the self-identification questionnaire.

Indigenous Scholars Awards and Supplements Pilot Initiative (NSERC and SSHRC)

The Indigenous Scholars Awards and Supplements Pilot Initiative provides financial support to Indigenous scholars who are meritorious in the CGS M program.

  • The Indigenous Scholars Awards and Supplements Pilot Initiative consist of a one-year, non-renewable supplement valued at $5,000 for all meritorious Indigenous CGS M applicants and a one-year, non-renewable award valued at $17,500 for all alternate candidates, subject to the limit of available funding. If you self-identify as Indigenous you are eligible to apply for this initiative. To be considered for this funding opportunity, you must
    • select the Indigenous Scholars Awards and Supplements Pilot Initiative option from the drop-down menu
    • indicate your agreement with the self-identification and consent statement by selecting the appropriate checkbox
    • complete the Personal statement (3,000 characters max)

For additional information, consult the description of the Indigenous Scholars Awards and Supplements Pilot Initiative on the SSHRC website.

A complete application includes the following documents:

  • the outline of the proposed research (including the bibliography and citations);
    • Outline of proposed research (maximum of one page); If the document is longer than one page, the excess copy will be deleted from the application when submitted to the ranking committee
    • Bibliography/citations (maximum of one page).
  • all undergraduate and graduate transcripts
    • Up-to-date transcripts are defined as transcripts dated or issued in the fall 2023 session of the year of application (if currently registered) or after the last term completed (if not currently registered).
    • Official transcripts are defined as transcripts issued by the institution’s registrar’s office. Transcripts from other sources, such as those printed from the student’s account on the institution’s website, are not considered official.
    • Electronic transcripts provided by an institution’s registrar’s office are considered to be official transcripts. You should check with your institution(s) to verify whether this option is available to you.
    • Opening the transcript envelope and scanning the transcript will not render the transcript unofficial.
    • The agencies or McMaster University will not accept transcripts submitted outside of the application platform.
    • If you have transcripts written in a language other than English or French, you are required to provide a certified translation of the transcripts.
    • If your institution does not provide transcripts, you can submit, in lieu of a transcript, a letter bearing the official institution seal/stamp or a letter signed by the dean of graduate studies or an equivalent confirming 1) your program of study, 2) your registration status and 3) the fact that the institution does not provide transcripts.
    • Transcripts must be scanned (black and white recommended) and saved as a single PDF file.
    • Include one copy of the legend (reverse of each transcript). Do not scan the legend multiple times.
    • Maximum file size of 10 MB.
    • Page size 8 ½ in. x 11 in. (216 mm x 279 mm) or A4 (210 mm x 297 mm)
  • the CGS M Canadian Common CV (CCV)
  • two reference assessments.

Research Portal presentation and attachment standards

Prepare your attachments in any word processing program, following the requirements below. All text, including references (where applicable), must conform to these standards.

  • Acronyms and abbreviations must be spelled out completely on initial appearance in text;
  • Pages must be 8 ½” x 11″ (216mm x 279mm);
  • Pages must be single-spaced, with no more than six lines of type per inch;
  • All text must be in 12 pt. Times New Roman font;*
  • Condensed fonts will not be accepted;
  • Colour imagery is acceptable** but the text should be in black;
  • All margins must be set at a minimum of ¾” (1.87 cm);
  • Do not introduce hyperlinks or bookmarks in your documents (ensure that your software’s ‘Create bookmarks’ option is de-selected);
  • If you have supporting documents written in a language other than English or French, you are required to provide a certified translation of the document.

* The font type and size requirements do not apply to text inside tables and figures. However, for text inside tables and figures, you must use a font type and a font size that are clearly legible. NSERC reserves the right not to accept your application if it does not meet this requirement. Note that figures and tables count toward the specified page limits.

** Applicants who decide to use colour imagery should be aware that the application may not be reviewed in colour. Use of colour increases the file size of your application, and may lengthen download and upload times.

Selection Criteria

Selection Criteria is as follows:

  • Academic Excellence – 50%
  • Research Potential – 30%
  • Personal characteristics and interpersonal skills – 20%

Notification of results

Offers of awards will be available in the research portal as of April 1, 2024. Offers to alternate applicants may be made up until January 31, 2025.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to regularly check the research portal between April 1 and January 31 for results of the competition.

If you are offered an award, you will have 21 days from the date of each offer of award to accept or decline in the research portal. The status of offers not accepted within the 21 days will automatically be changed to Declined and cannot be reversed.

Applicants may accept only one CGS M offer. Once an offer has been accepted, the system will automatically change all other offers and statuses to Declined, and applicants will not be eligible to receive further offers.

Application statuses in the research portal

Received by administrator: The completed application has been successfully submitted to the institution by the applicant.

Offered: An offer has been made to the applicant by the institution.

Alternate: The application has been deemed meritorious in the institution’s competition; however, due to its ranking, it falls below the allocation cut-off. The applicant is therefore on the alternate list. Should an award become available due to a decline, an applicant on the alternate list may receive an offer.

Not offered: The application has been deemed non-meritorious in the institution’s competition. Subsequent offers will not be made to the applicant.
Ineligible: The application has been deemed ineligible based on the eligibility criteria outlined in the funding opportunity description.

Accepted: The offer has been accepted by the applicant.

Declined: (a) The offer from the institution has been declined by the applicant; or (b) an offer from a different institution has been accepted by the applicant and, therefore, all other pending offers are automatically set to Declined; or (c) an offer has not been accepted within 21 days from the date of offer.

Deferred: Before commencing an award, the applicant may defer an award for up to three years, for a maximum of one year at a time. Conditions apply; see Tri-agency research training award holder’s guide for details.

Acceptance withdrawn: The acceptance of the offer has been withdrawn at the applicant’s request.

Useful Links

Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s program resources

Competition Information

Instructions for completing an application

Research Portal – Frequently Asked Questions

Instructions for Completing the Reference Assessment Form

Create and account on the Research Portal

Login to the Research Portal with an existing account