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Graduate Studies

Vanier Canada Graduate Doctoral Scholarships

The Vanier CGS program aims to attract and retain world-class doctoral students by supporting students who demonstrate both leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement

These prestigious scholarships awarded by CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC help McMaster attract highly qualified doctoral students.


Vanier Graduate Scholarship webinar, recorded in July 2020


Award value

$50,000/year for three (3) years

Important deadlines

A two-stage internal review process is in place at McMaster to help identify the strongest applications and to select the most competitive candidates in each research mandate of CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.

  • Tuesday, September 8, 2020, 10:00 am. Stage 1 Letter of Intent (LOI) package is due to SGS.
  • Thursday, October 8, 2020, 10:00 am. Stage 2 endorsed candidate applications are due to SGS.
  • Wednesday, October 21, 2020, 11:59 pm McMaster Internal ResearchNet deadline (for students): Stage 2 endorsed candidates will submit a complete application on ResearchNet.
  • Tuesday, November 3, 2020 (8:00 pm Eastern Time) Vanier Deadline McMaster must forward their selected nominations to the Vanier CGS program

You will find complete application instructions in the Fall 2020 Vanier Application Process document.

McMaster Quotas

Universities have been assigned quotas for the number of applications that can be submitted to each agency.

  • CIHR – 11 applications
  • NSERC – 7 applications
  • SSHRC – 5 applications

Important: Before beginning your application, please read ALL instructions as there are updates and new procedures this year.

Selection criteria

Candidates are evaluated and selected on the basis of the following three criteria, which are weighted equally:  Academic ExcellenceResearch Potential and Leadership (potential and demonstrated ability).

For complete instructions on how to apply to the 2020 Vanier competition, please refer to the Vanier website.

Application Documents

You need these four documents:

  1. Fall 2020 Vanier Application Process
  2. 2020 Graduate Studies Approval Form – Vanier
  3. 2020 Vanier Stage 1 Checklist
  4. 2020 Vanier Referee Information

Vanier Referee Reference Document

This document is for the candidates to send to their referees. It contains pertinent information that will assist the referees in preparing effective assessments.

Research respectfully involving Indigenous communities

  • Tri-Council Policy Statement (TCPS 2), Chapter 9: Research Involving the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples of Canada
    • The Vanier CGS program is committed to supporting research by and with Indigenous Peoples. For nominations in which the proposed research respectfully involves and engages Indigenous communities, applicants and nominating institutions should be aware of and refer to relevant principles and protocols established for this type of research.
    • Applicants whose proposed research respectfully involves and engages Indigenous communities are asked to include “This research respectfully involves and engages Indigenous communities” at the beginning of the lay abstract. The program administrator for each selection committee (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) will endeavour to ensure that the primary or secondary reviewer on these nominations has expertise in Indigenous research. Reviewers will be asked to read and take the following into consideration:

Note: Research respectfully involving and engaging Indigenous communities is defined as research in any field or discipline that is:

  • conducted by First Nations, Inuit, Métis or other Indigenous nations, communities, societies or individuals; and/or
  • grounded in or engaged with one or more of these communities and/or their wisdom, cultures, experiences or knowledge systems, as expressed in their dynamic forms, past and present.

Examples include:

  • projects in which water samples are extracted from Indigenous lands in South America
  • analyses of educational policies pertaining to Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
  • cross-sectional studies of how injuries sustained by different groups of people, including Inuit youth, are treated

Eligibility (Complete Vanier eligibility information can be found on their website)

To be considered for a Vanier CGS, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada or a foreign citizen;
  • be nominated by only one Canadian institution, which must have received a Vanier CGS quota;
  • be pursuing your first doctoral degree (including joint graduate research program such as: MD/PhD, DVM/PhD, JD/PhD – if it has a demonstrated and significant research component). Note that only the PhD portion of a combined degree is eligible for funding;
  • intend to pursue, in the summer semester or the academic year following the announcement of results, full-time doctoral (or a joint graduate program such as: MD/PhD, DVM/PhD, JD/PhD) studies and research at the nominating institution; Note that only the PhD portion of a combined degree is eligible for funding;
  • Have achieved a first-class average (NEW) which is an A- (10/12.0 or above) at McMaster, in each of the last two years of full-time study or equivalent; and
  • Must not hold, or have a held a doctoral-level scholarship or fellowship from CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC to undertake or complete a doctoral degree.

REMINDER Eligibility: Calculating months of doctoral studies

All prior doctoral-level studies, regardless of discipline, are considered in the evaluation of eligibility, and are considered to be continuous, full-time, and uninterrupted unless otherwise confirmed by the institution (including the summer months, unless on official leave). The Vanier-Banting Secretariat will count two months of part-time studies as one month of full-time studies.

The Vanier-Banting Secretariat will start all calculations of the number of months completed from the date on which an applicant is officially registered in the doctoral program with the following exceptions: Fast-track and combined programs

For those registered in a Master’s program that subsequently transferred to a doctoral program (fast-track), the months of study completed are calculated from the original Master’s enrolment date.

For those registered in a doctoral program in which a Master’s degree is obtained as part of the program (e.g., MA/PhD), the months of study are still calculated starting from the date on which an applicant is officially registered in the combined program (including the Master’s portion of the program).

PhD studies calculation:

  • have completed no more than 20 months of full-time study in their doctoral program as of May 1, 2021.
  • have completed no more than 32 months of full-time study in their doctoral program, by May 1st, 2021 if enrolled in a joint graduate research program, e.g., MD/PhD, MA/PhD, DVM/PhD. Applicants that fall into this category have access to the 32-month window whether or not they were previously enrolled in a Master’s program; or
  • have completed no more than 32 months of full-time study in their doctoral program by May 1, 2021 if accelerated directly from a Bachelor’s to a PhD (no time spent in a Master’s program).
  • have completed no more than 32 months of full-time study in their doctoral program by May 1, 2021 if accelerated from a Master’s degree into a Doctoral program without obtaining the Master’s degree.

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that all trainees have equitable access to research funding and career support. Equity is an integral part of a sustainable research ecosystem as it encourages greater diversity among applicants. Studies show that diversity — of not only scientific expertise but also the people conducting and participating in the research—leads to more creativity and more innovation.

The Banting program strives to promote equity, diversity and inclusion throughout the application, review, and selection processes. To better equip all those participating in the Banting competition (applicants, host institutions, referees, reviewers and readers), the Tri-Agencies have curated an important list of resources to help guide each group.

More information about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is available on Vanier’s website. There are individual tabs for Applicants, Host Institutions, Referees and Reviewers and Readers.

ALL participants must review their appropriate tab in advance of completing their section of the application. 

Instructions/Information for department administrators

  • Department Graduate Administrators (or equivalent) must create an account in ResearchNet to receive access as a “Secondary User”
  • Upon account confirmation from ResearchNet, please notify The School of Graduate Studies at graduatescholarships@mcmaster.ca and include the name and email address that was used to create the ResearchNet account.
  • Graduate Administrators (or equivalent) who already have an existing account with ResearchNet for Vanier are not required to create a new account for this year’s Vanier Competition.
  • The Secondary User access will allow the administrators to review/monitor the candidates’ applications, return the candidate’s application for revisions and to upload all transcripts and the Doctoral Studies Timeline form for their departments’ candidates.

Contact Information