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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.

CGS-M Information Webinar / Q&A, October 8, 2020

Q & A Session 1 – November 10, 2020, 11:00am to Noon

Q & A Session 2 – November 12, 2020, 2pm – 3pm

Value and duration

$17,500 for 12 months, non-renewable

How to apply

Complete your application to the CGS-M program 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 three universities where they would like to hold their award. Once you submit the application in the portal, no additional changes can be made. No deadline extensions will be granted by the agency.

Other awards

CGS-M applicants are eligible for additional McMaster awards, including the Ontario Graduate Scholarships and other internal awards. No additional application is necessary.


Applicants must be

  • a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada;
  • have completed, as of December 31, 2020, between zero and 12 months of full-time studies (or full-time equivalent) in:
    • the master’s program for which you are requesting funding; or
    • the direct-entry doctoral program for which you are requesting funding; or
    • the combined master’s-doctoral program for which you are requesting funding; or
      a master’s program that was or will be fast-tracked to a doctoral program, and you are requesting funding for the first 12 months of this doctoral program;
    • not have previously held a CGS-M; note that for CIHR and NSERC, scholarship support for graduate studies (master’s and doctoral) is limited to a lifetime maximum of four years (48 months) of full-time equivalency. If you have received the maximum support toward your graduate-level studies by any of the three federal granting agencies, you may not be eligible to apply for a CGS-M;
    • 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 for this competition is a Minimum A- (10/12)
    • submit a maximum of one scholarship application per academic year to either CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC (the Research Portal will allow the application to be submitted to up to five 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 if:

  • enrolled in, applied for, or will apply for full-time admission to an eligible graduate program at the master’s or doctoral level at a Canadian institution with a CGS-M allocation.

Applicants should respect the internal deadline to apply for admission for your intended program of study.

Contact the your respective graduate program at McMaster for more detailed information.

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.

Master’s programs that are based only on course work are typically not eligible since they do not include a significant research component. Given the specific requirements of certain disciplines, institutions are invited to contact the appropriate agency for guidance on the eligibility of programs of study.

A complete application

A complete application includes the following documents:

  • outline of proposed research (maximum of one page);
  • bibliography/citations (maximum of one page).
  • all undergraduate and graduate transcripts;
  • up-to-date official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate studies should be included in the application. Retain the paper copy of any uploaded transcripts, as you may be asked to provide it for verification purposes.
  • up-to-date transcripts are defined as transcripts dated or issued in the fall 2020 session (if currently registered) or after the last term completed (if not currently registered)
  • official transcripts are defined according to institutional guidelines. Ensure that the transcripts uploaded meet the internal requirements at each institution selected in your application. Contact the Faculty of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent) at the institutions selected in your application to determine their requirements.
    • 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 equivalent confirming
      1. your program of study,
      2. your registration status and
      3. the fact that the institution does not provide transcripts.
    • If transcripts are not provided for all programs of study listed in the CCV, the selection committee(s) will have less information on which to base their assessment, which may put your application at a disadvantage.
    • If an applicant has not provided the up-to-date official transcripts needed to determine if they have achieved a first-class average in each of the last two completed years of study (full-time equivalent), their application will be deemed ineligible.
  • the CGS-M Canadian Common CV (CCV);
  • two reference assessments.

Selection committee

There are three separate ranking committees, one for each agency, CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC. The members who are part of the three Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s committees are members from our 2020-21 Graduate Scholarship Committee approved by the Graduate Council at McMaster for each academic year.

Conflict of interest

Selection committee members are able to declare a Conflict of Interest and not score an application (i.e. supervisor of candidate, familial relationship to a candidate, etc.). For additional information, please refer to the Graduate Calendar, sections 6.7.1 and 6.7.2 conflict of interest in the evaluation of graduate students, as well as the definition of Arms Length under section 4.3.

Selection process

McMaster has a multi-stage process for the CGS-M competition.

  • Once the competition closes in the portal, the School of Graduate Studies provides a list of applicants to each department. Departments must confirm which students are eligible to be put forward to the main internal competition. Departments do this by confirming if the students meet the academic eligibility, have provided official transcripts, and if McMaster has an appropriate program for the student. Scholarships and Awards Officers in the School of Graduate Studies review the information put forward by each department to ensure there is transparency in the process.
  • Within each committee, each application is ranked by three members. Ranking results are then determined. Should there be applications that don’t have a consensus ranking, two additional members will rank the applications. The three competition results are then calculated and there are three final ranking meetings for each committee in order for members to discuss and approve the final rankings.