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

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 the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships and the Canada Graduate Scholarships—Doctoral Program (CGS D) are offered through one annual national competition. Applicants need to submit only one application to be considered for one or both awards. As each award has notable differences, applicants must read the descriptions for each award carefully to determine if they are eligible to apply for and hold each award. Applicants eligible for both the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships and CGS D Scholarships will automatically be considered for both awards.

Key Dates

  • Thursday, October 12, 2023, 11:59 p.m. – SSHRC On-Line System deadline
  • Mid-late October 2023 – Quotas given to departments by Associate Dean
  • Wednesday, November 15, 2023, noon – Recommended Candidates due to SGS from departments or Associate Deans.
  • No later than Thursday, November 30, 2023 8:00 p.m. – McMaster will submit the selected applications to SSHRC and inform the applicants of the internal results.

 SSHRC’s Assigned Quota to McMaster:  45

SSHRC provides a national quota to McMaster University for the number of recommended applications permitted to submit to the national SSHRC Competition by the School of Graduate Studies.

Note: All applicants registered in a degree program at a Canadian university during the 2023 calendar year (January 1, 2023 to December 31,2023 ) 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 CIHR Doctoral competition. For students not enrolled at McMaster in 2023, they can use CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC’s simplified flowchart to clarify where they should submit their application.

NOTE: Failure to submit an application through the correct channel will result in an application being rejected.

SSHRC CGS Doctoral Eligibility

To be eligible to apply, you must

  • 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
  • have completed no more than 24 months of full-time study in your doctoral program or the PhD portion of your joint professional undergraduate/PhD program (such as MD/PhD, JD/PhD, DVM/PhD) by December 31 of the calendar year of application if previously enrolled in a graduate program
  • have completed no more than 36 months of full-time study in your doctoral program by December 31 of the calendar year of application if enrolled directly from a bachelor’s to a PhD program (without having completed or enrolled in another graduate program)
    • direct-entry applicants must be enrolled in their doctoral program at the time of application
  • have completed no more than 36 months of full-time study in the PhD portion of your joint professional undergraduate/PhD program (such as MD/PhD, JD/PhD, DVM/PhD) by December 31 of the calendar year of application if you have not previously enrolled in another graduate program
    • if you have not previously completed or enrolled in another graduate program, you must be enrolled in your joint MD/PhD program at the time of application
  • have completed no more than 36 months of full-time study in your joint program by December 31 of the calendar year of application if enrolled in a joint graduate program (such as, MA/PhD, MSc/PhD, MBA/PhD)
    • if you fall into this category, you have access to the 36-month window whether or not you were previously enrolled in a master’s program

Number of months

Eligibility for CGS D is based on the number of months of full-time study, including summer months, toward the degree for which you are requesting funding by December 31, 2023. Two terms of part-time study count as one term of full-time study

Note: The agencies count all studies toward the doctoral degree for which funding is requested, whether or not they were completed at the degree-granting institution.

Fast-track and joint programs

Fast-track: If you were registered in a master’s program and subsequently transferred to a doctoral program (fast-track), the months of study completed are calculated starting from the date on which you transferred into the doctoral program.

Joint programs: If you are registered in a joint program and a master’s degree is obtained as part of the program (for example, MA/PhD, MSc/PhD), the months of study are calculated starting from the date on which you are officially registered in the joint program (including the master’s portion of the program).

If you are registered in a joint professional undergraduate/PhD program (such as MD/PhD, JD/PhD, DVM/PhD), only the months of study in the PhD portion will be counted.

Other restrictions

  • You can submit a maximum of one scholarship or fellowship application per academic year to either NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC. Should more than one application be submitted, the eligible application submitted first chronologically will be retained. Nominations to the Vanier CGS program and applications to the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program do not count toward this limit (other exceptions may apply to CIHR internships)
  • You cannot have already received a doctoral-level scholarship from NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC (does not apply to CIHR Fellowships)
  • You cannot hold a tenure or tenure-track appointment concurrently with your CGS D award

Value & Duration

CGS Doctoral Scholarships: $35,000 per year; for 36 months

SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships Eligibility

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 toward 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

SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships: $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

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

Black student researchers

The Government of Canada has deployed additional funds to increase direct support for Black student researchers. CGS D applicants who self-identify as Black and provide consent to be considered for funds targeted towards specific groups may be selected to receive this funding. Each agency has a limited number of additional CGS D awards reserved for this initiative.

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

Indigenous Talent Measure

SSHRC is committed to supporting and promoting research by and with Indigenous peoples. As such, SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research are provided to merit reviewers to help build understanding of Indigenous research and research-related activities, and to assist committee members in interpreting SSHRC’s specific evaluation criteria in the context of Indigenous research. Concerted efforts are made to include experts in Indigenous research in doctoral merit review committees.

Review SSHRC’s Indigenous Research Statement of Principles and its Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research. Applications that meet SSHRC’s definition of Indigenous research will be reviewed in the context of these guidelines. Select “Yes” to signal to the multidisciplinary merit review committee members that your application should be reviewed according to these guidelines.

Option for self-identified Indigenous applicants

If you select this option, you choose to have your doctoral application considered for submission beyond your institution’s doctoral awards quota. Applications from self-identified Indigenous applicants who are required to submit directly to SSHRC are automatically evaluated in the national competition.

For more information, consult SSHRC’s Indigenous Talent Measures.

Self-Identification Data Collection in Support of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)

All applicants are asked to voluntarily self-identify their age, gender identity, sexual orientation,
Indigenous identity, population group, language, membership in a visible minority group, and/ or status as a person with a disability. Completing the self-identification form is mandatory, but for each category there is an option for “I prefer not to answer”. For more information, visit:

Consent for the Use of Self-identification Information

Occasionally, the three federal granting agencies may receive priority or targeted funding. As such, a checkbox in the application form allows applicants to consent to have their responses to the self-identification questionnaire used for the purpose of consideration for additional priority or targeted funding, should it become available.

Diversity Considerations in Research Design Module

All applicants are 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. At the current time, this component serves as an awareness tool, and is not subject to merit review.

Allowable Inclusions (if applicable)

If applicable, attach a PDF document indicating your allowable inclusions.

SSHRC asks its selection committees to consider special circumstances that could have affected applicants’ research, professional career, record of academic or research achievement, or completion of degrees. Relevant circumstances could include administrative responsibilities, maternity/parental leave, child-rearing, illness, disability, cultural or community responsibilities, socio-economic context, health-related family responsibilities, trauma and loss, or the COVID-19 pandemic. Specify the dates for any delays or interruptions.

As part of the Indigenous Talent Measures, Indigenous applicants are encouraged to use the “Allowable inclusions” section of their application to describe special circumstances that could have affected their academic or career paths.

All information provided to SSHRC is subject to the Privacy Act. Applicants are reminded that the information included in the “Allowable inclusions” section of their application will be shared with selection committee members for consideration as part of their application. SSHRC merit reviewers cannot share this information outside the merit review process, which is subject to the Tri-Agency Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Policy. For more information, see the principles for SSHRC merit review.


Include up-to-date official transcripts of all your undergraduate and graduate studies in the application. Retain the paper copy of any uploaded transcripts, as you could be asked to provide it for verification purposes.

Up-to-date official transcripts are defined as transcripts issued by the registrar’s office and dated or issued in the fall session of the year of application (if currently registered) or after the last term completed (if not currently registered).

If you are applying through an eligible Canadian institution, you must confirm directly with your institution their policy on official transcripts and whether or not unofficial transcripts will be accepted as part of their internal review process.


  • If you submit transcripts written in a language other than English or French, you must provide a certified English or French translation.
  • If you are or were registered at an institution that does not provide transcripts, you must instead submit a letter bearing the official institution seal/stamp or a letter signed by the Dean of Graduate Studies, confirming:
    • your program of study;
    • your registration status;
    • the date of initial registration;
    • the degree obtained or sought; and
    • that the institution does not provide transcripts.

McMaster internal deadline: Monday, October 2, 2023 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 will not be able to submit their applications to the SSHRC On-line System until all their required tasks are completed, including referee letters of appraisal.

A complete application package includes the following:

  • SSHRC Doctoral Award application
  • Application Profile
  • Program Information (where the institution with a quota is identified)
  • Areas of Study
  • Diversity Considerations in Research Design Module
  • Research Proposal – upload (max. two pages)
  • Bibliography / Citations – upload (max. five pages)
  • Transcripts & official letters confirming part-time status or interruptions – upload
    (max. 10 MB)
  • Allowable Inclusion – upload (max. one page if applicable)
  • Research Contributions, Relevant Experience and Activities – upload (max. two pages)
  • Justification pages for supplements and joint initiatives (only if applicable)
  • Referees – 2 letters of appraisal

Helpful Links

Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral Program (CGS D)
SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships
SSHRC On-line System
How To Apply

SSHRC Contact Information

SSHRC Doctoral Awards
Toll-free: 1-855-275-2861

For help with technical difficulties, contact the helpdesk:

Phone: 613-995-4273

SGS Contact Information

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 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