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Graduate Studies

SSHRC Doctoral Scholarships and Fellowships

SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral and the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships support high-calibre students engaged in doctoral programs in the social sciences and humanities. This support allows scholars to fully concentrate on their doctoral studies, to seek out the best research mentors in their chosen fields and to contribute to the Canadian research ecosystem during and beyond the tenure of their awards. Both programs are administered through a single application.

SSHRC CGS Doctoral

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 months of 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 months of 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, 2021. 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 and applications to the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program do not count toward this limit.
  • Applicants cannot have already received a doctoral-level scholarship from CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC.

Value and duration

$35,000 per year; for 36 months

SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships

To be eligible to apply, an applicant must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, as of the application deadline date;
  • not have already received a doctoral-level scholarship or fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) or SSHRC;
  • submit only one doctoral award application in a given academic year to either SSHRC, CIHR or NSERC. Nominations to the Vanier CGS program do not count towards this limit;
  • have completed no more than 48 months of full-time study in their doctoral program by December 31 of the year of application.

Value and duration

$20,000 per year; varied for 12, 24, 36 or 48 months

SSHRC Fellowship eligibility table

Number of months completed by December 31 of the year of application Duration of SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship
Between 0 and 12 months 48 months
Between 13 and 24 months 36 months
Between 25 and 36 months 24 months
Between 37 and 48 months 12 months
49 months or more Not eligible


Allowable Inclusions

Last year, the agencies added “pandemic” to the list of special circumstances that applicants may cite as having an impact on their research and academic trajectory. The agencies have retained its inclusion for this year and have also added “trauma or loss”.


SSHRC acknowledges that the widespread disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may hinder the ability of some applicants to access official and up-to-date versions of their transcripts in advance of the deadline date, particularly at institutions which do not currently provide official electronic versions of these documents. As such, for the fall 2021 competition, SSHRC will accept unofficial electronic transcripts if official transcripts are not available.

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.

Indigenous Talent Measures

 Indigenous applicants

Institutions may submit applications from Indigenous doctoral applicants beyond their quota of applications for the national competition. Indigenous applicants who wish to have their application considered for submission beyond their institution’s quota are asked to select the “Option for Self-identified Indigenous Applicants” in the “Application Profile” section of the online application form. This information will be visible only to the applicant and institutional officials with appropriate access to the SSHRC online system. It will not be visible in the PDF-generated application. This information is otherwise considered confidential and must not be shared with selection committees.

 Special circumstances

Indigenous applicants may complete an allowable inclusion to explain any special circumstances that may have had an impact on their academic or career paths (e.g., cultural or community responsibilities, and/or challenging socio-economic contexts). This information should be taken into account by selection committee members.

 Indigenous research

Applicants and selection committee members may identify a proposed program of study as Indigenous research, such that SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research will apply.

The instructions have been updated to clarify that the identification of Indigenous research can happen in two ways: 1) the applicant identifies it as such, and 2) the selection committee judges that the Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research apply.

 Diversity Considerations in Research Design Module

 All applicants are now required to indicate whether or not diversity considerations are applicable to their research proposal and to explain why or why not. Before applicants complete this module, they should carefully read the Guide to Including Diversity Considerations in Research Design for Doctoral and Postdoctoral Award Applicants.

This first year of implementation of the module is a pilot and an awareness-raising phase. Although

mandatory, this module is not subject to merit review and is not shared with institutions or committee

members. Integration into evaluation is planned for the 2022 competitions.

McMaster internal application deadline:  Sunday, October 3, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.

Applications are prepared and submitted by students in the SSHRC On-line System by the internal deadline set by McMaster.  Students are no longer required to submit a paper application.  Students will now be uploading required documents and their transcripts to their application.

Electronic submission of Letters of Appraisal

Applicants are now required to invite their referees via an automated email generated by the SSHRC On-line System. Letters of appraisal are to be submitted by referees using the On-Line System. Applicants will not be able to submit their application without both letters.

Selection criteria

Expandable List

Indicators of research ability and potential:

  • Quality of research proposal
    • specific, focused and feasible research question(s) and
    • 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 formats

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