Skip to McMaster Navigation Skip to Site Navigation Skip to main content
McMaster logo

Graduate Studies

NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral

Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral (CGS D) and the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral (PGS D) programs provide financial support to high-calibre scholars who are engaged in an eligible doctoral programs in the natural sciences or engineering. This support allows these scholars to fully concentrate on their studies and seek out the best research mentors in their chosen fields. There is a single application and review process for the CGS D and the PGS D programs. The top-ranked applicants are awarded the CGS D (tenable only in Canada) and highly ranked applicants in the next tier are awarded the PGS D (tenable in Canada and abroad).

Key Dates

  • Wednesday, September 14, 1 to 2:30 p.m. Fall NSERC Doctoral (CGS-D, PGS-D) Question and Answer Session
  • Monday, October 3, 2022, 11:59 p.m. – NSERC On-line System deadline
  • Early October 2022 – Quotas given to departments by Associate Dean
  • Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 12:00 noon – Recommended Candidates due to SGS from departments or Associate Deans.
  • No later than Monday, November 21, 2022 8:00 p.m. – McMaster will submit the selected applications to NSERC and inform the applicants of the internal results.

Value & Duration

Canada Graduate Scholarship-Doctoral Program-$35,000 per year for 3 years

NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral Program-$21,000 per year for 3 years

NSERC’s Assigned Quota to McMaster:  53

NSERC provides national quotas to universities for the number of Recommended Applicants that can be submitted to the national NSERC competition.  For this year’s competition, McMaster’s quota is 53.

 Note: All applicants registered in a degree program at a Canadian university during the 2022 calendar year (January 1, 2022 to December 31,2022 ) must apply through that University even if they intend to pursue their studies at another institution. Students who were registered at McMaster during the above mentioned dates MUST apply through McMaster’s Internal NSERC Doctoral competition. For students not enrolled at McMaster in 2022, they can use CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC’s simplified flowchart to clarify where they should submit their application.



  • NSERC has harmonized with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) to require PGS/CGS D applicants applying through a Canadian institution to upload and attach their own transcripts and proof of registration to their application using the NSERC online system. Institutional designates are no longer tasked with uploading student transcripts. Applicants will attach their transcripts on the Transcripts page of their application.
  • NSERC acknowledges that the widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may continue to hinder access to official versions of transcripts in advance of the deadline date. For the fall 2022 deadline, NSERC will not reject applications for including unofficial transcripts. Note that these transcripts must still be up-to-date.
  • The Transcripts and proof of registration section of the Instructions for Completing an Application – Form 201 has been updated to improve its clarity and structure. These instructions are crucial as non-compliance with transcript-related guidelines is the primary reason for the rejection of applications.
  • Electronic transcripts provided by an institution’s registrar’s office are considered by NSERC to be official transcripts. Applicants should check with their institution(s) to verify whether this option is available to them prior to submitting an application.
  • While applications containing unofficial transcripts will be accepted, 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.
  • NSERC may contact administrative staff (scholarships liaison officer or equivalent) at applicants’ institution(s) to certify that the contents of the submitted transcripts are true, complete, and accurate.
  • NSERC may follow up with applicants directly to request official transcripts at a later date.
  • If the applicant is already registered in their program of study at the time of application, they must submit a transcript for this program regardless of the number of months completed in the program or whether the transcript contains any marks. This requirement also applies to programs of study started in the fall session of the year of application. This means that current McMaster transcripts from the fall 2022 session are required for every applicant.

COVID-19 related measures pertaining to the eligibility window

The pandemic may have caused some students to face exceptional delays. As usual, when submitting a doctoral application to the tri-agencies, the calculation of the number of completed months takes into consideration leaves or part-time studies. These measures allow students who have had to put their studies on hold to remain eligible for the PGS/CGS D programs by considering the actual number of months they were registered in their program of study. Applicants are also invited to explain circumstances that have influenced their performance or productivity in the special circumstances section of their application. Should institutions have special or exceptional cases where the options above are not applicable or sufficient, SLOs may contact NSERC (or the appropriate agency) for advice before the application deadline.

Special circumstances (optional section)

Reviewers must consider any special circumstances the applicant has chosen to provide that have had an effect on their performance or productivity. This includes delays in disseminating research results due to health problems, family responsibilities, parental leave, disabilities, trauma and loss or other applicable circumstances. Reviewers must also consider any special circumstances related to COVID-19 that may have delayed or interrupted the applicant’s studies or research, or otherwise affected the performance on which the assessment for funding will be made. The description of special circumstances may include the following information as needed:

  • the duration of the delay/interruption and if applicable a percentage of reduction in workload
  • a clear description of its impact, including if relevant, the type of research contribution impacted (for example, publications, data collection, presentations)

Reviewers must recognize the impacts of the delays and/or if appropriate, assess the quality of the applicant’s performance and/or productivity during their active period (that is, excluding the period of special circumstances).


To be eligible to apply, an applicant 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 31 of the calendar year of application if previously enrolled in a master’s 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 in a joint program; for example, 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 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 (with no time spent in a master’s program)
    • direct-entry applicants must be enrolled in their doctoral program at the time of application
  • Eligibility for CGS D is based on the number of months of full-time study in the degree for which you are requesting funding by December 31, 2022. Two terms of part-time study count as one term of full-time study.
  • Applicants can submit a maximum of one scholarship application per academic year to either CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC. Nominations to the Vanier CGS program do not count toward this limit.
  • Applicants cannot have already received a doctoral-level scholarship from CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC (does not apply to CIHR Fellowships).
  • Applicants cannot hold a tenure or tenure-track appointment concurrently with their CGS D award.

Program of study

An eligible doctoral 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 with a professional degree (e.g., MD/PhD, DVM/PhD, JD/PhD, MBA/PhD) as well as clinically oriented programs of study, including clinical psychology, are eligible if they have a significant autonomous research component as described above.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Considerations in the Research Process

All applications include the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Considerations in the Research  Process module, which asks applicants to consider how equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) considerations have (or have not) been taken into account at any of the stages of the research process for the proposed research. Members are expected to take the contents of this module into account during the review process. Considering EDI in the research process, where relevant, promotes research excellence by making it more relevant to society as a whole, more ethically sound, rigorous, reproducible, and useful. NSERC acknowledges that EDI considerations may not be applicable in the context of some research projects, but nonetheless

encourages applicants to fully consider their relevance, as they apply to more areas than one might think. Generally, research that involves or impacts human subjects, organisms capable of differentiation, or their tissues or cells, can benefit from such considerations. It is important to

thoroughly reflect on the type of data collected and who might be impacted by the research findings before concluding that diversity considerations are not relevant.

Indigenous applicants

Students can self-identify as Indigenous when completing the doctoral application on the NSERC On-line System. McMaster can recommend applications from self-identified Indigenous applicants to the doctoral awards competition beyond our application quota.

McMaster internal deadline:  Monday, October 3, 2022, 11:59 p.m.

Applications are prepared and submitted by students in the NSERC On-line System by the internal deadline set by McMaster.  Students will not be able to submit their applications to the NSERC On-line System until all their required tasks are completed, including referee letters of support.

 A complete application package includes the following:

  • the “submitted” electronic version of the application (form 201) including all of its free-form attachments:
    • outline of proposed research
    • bibliography (optional)
    • justification of eligibility of proposed research (optional)
    • contributions and statements
  • transcripts for each of the degrees listed in the academic background page of the form 201. SLOs are encouraged to pay close attention to the transcripts provided, ensuring that they meet all eligibility requirements. In addition, the SLO must:
    • indicate any semesters when the applicant was not a full-time student
    • provide the exact date when a student transferred from a master’s to a doctoral degree without having completed their master’s requirements
    • verify that all uploaded documents are legible
  • the two completed reports on the applicant

Selection criteria

Expandable List

Indicators of research ability and potential:

  • Quality of research proposal
    • specific, focused and feasible research question(s) and objective(s)
    • clear description of the proposed methodology
    • significance and expected contributions to research
  • Relevant training, such as academic training, lived experience and traditional teachings
  • Research experience and achievements relative to the applicant’s stage of study, lived experience and knowledge systems
  • Quality of contributions and extent to which they advance the field of research. Contributions may include: publications, patents, reports, posters, abstracts, monographs, presentations, creative outputs, knowledge translation outputs, community products, etc.
  • Demonstration of sound judgment and ability to think critically
  • Demonstration of responsible and ethical research conduct, including honest and thoughtful inquiry, rigorous analysis, commitment to safety and to the dissemination of research results and adherence to the use of professional standards
  • Enthusiasm for research, originality, initiative, autonomy, relevant community involvement and outreach

The ability or potential to communicate theoretical, technical and/or scientific concepts clearly and logically in written and oral format

Indicators of relevant experience and achievements obtained within and beyond academia:

  • Scholarships, awards and distinctions (amount, duration and prestige)
    • Academic record:
    • Transcripts
    • Duration of previous studies
    • Program requirements and courses pursued
    • Course load
    • Relative standing in program (if available)
  • Professional, academic and extracurricular activities as well as collaborations with supervisors, colleagues, peers, students and members of the community, such as:
    • teaching, mentoring, supervising and/or coaching
    • managing projects
    • participating in science and/or research promotion
    • participating in community outreach, volunteer work and/or civic engagement
    • chairing committees and/or organizing conferences and meetings
    • participating in departmental or institutional organizations, associations, societies and/or clubs

NSERC Scholarships and Fellowships Information Session: Resources