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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.

2021 CGS-M Information Session

Download the 2021 Canada Graduate Scholarship – Masters Information Session presentation slides in PDF format

Value and duration

$17,500 for 12 months, non-renewable

How to apply

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. There are no extensions granted by the Agency. 

Application Deadline: December 1, 2021, 8:00 p.m. (ET)

Other awards

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.


Applicants must be

  • a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada;
    • have completed, as of December 31, 2021:
      • 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 without having ever been enrolled in a master’s program (that is, 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 (that is, fast-track); or
        • 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 previously held 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 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 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.

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.

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. Specify the dates for any delays or interruptions in the Leaves of absence and impact on research section of the CCV if appropriate. Approximate dates may be used if providing a timeline of a significant life event.

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. Given the specific requirements of certain disciplines, institutions are invited to contact the appropriate agency for guidance on the eligibility of programs of study.

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).

A complete application

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 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 2021 session (if currently registered) or after the last term completed (if not currently registered)
    • Official transcripts are defined according to institutional guideline 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 the 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.
    • Canada’s three granting agencies—the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)—acknowledge that the widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may hinder the ability of some institutions to provide applicants with official and up-to-date transcripts in advance of the deadline date, particularly at institutions which do not currently provide official electronic versions of these documents. Therefore, for this CGS-M competition, the agencies will accept unofficial transcripts if official transcripts cannot be obtained.
    • Applicants should contact their faculty of graduate studies to determine whether an official transcript can be provided. Submission of an application will continue to serve as a formal attestation that the applicant has provided true, complete, and accurate information in the application and its related documents.
  • the CGS M Canadian Common CV (CCV);
  • two reference assessment

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, 2022. Offers to alternate applicants may be made up until January 31, 2023.

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.

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 2021-22 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.

Useful Links

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