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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 in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and/or engineering and health.

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

Canadian citizens, permanent residents of Canada or foreign citizens are eligible to be nominated.

Vanier Scholarship information session

Watch a recording of our 2021 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship information session

The event presentation slides are available in PPT or PDF.

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 7, 2021, 10 a.m. Stage 1 Letter of Intent (LOI) package is due to Graduate Studies.
  • Thursday, October 7, 2021, 10 a.m. Stage 2 endorsed candidate applications are due to Graduate Studies.
  • Wednesday, October 20, 2021, 11:59 p.m. McMaster Internal ResearchNet deadline (for students): Stage 2 endorsed candidates will submit a complete application on ResearchNet.
  • Tuesday, November 3, 2021 (8 p.m. Eastern Time) Vanier deadline McMaster must forward their selected nominations to the Vanier CGS program

You will find complete application instructions in the Fall 2021 Vanier Application Process document.

McMaster Quotas*

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

  • CIHR – 10 applications
  • NSERC – 7 applications
  • SSHRC – 4 applications

*NEW! Indigenous applicants

Institutions may recommend applications from self-identified Indigenous applicants to the Vanier CGS competition above and beyond their institutional quota. Indigenous applicants must agree to their personal information being used for this purpose by making the appropriate selection in the application form, by attaching the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (Vanier CGS): Voluntary Self-Identification Form to their application in ResearchNet.

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 2021 Vanier competition, please refer to the Vanier website.

Application Documents

You need these four documents:

  1. Fall 2021 Vanier Application Process
  2. 2021 Graduate Studies Approval Form – Vanier
  3. 2021 Vanier Stage 1 Checklist
  4. Major Scholarship Support Letter guide* (PDF) or Major Scholarship Support Letter guide* (PowerPoint)

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

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The Vanier CGS program encourages equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI), as part of the Tri-Agency’s broader commitment to excellence in research and research training in Canada.  EDI considerations must be taken into account throughout the Vanier CGS competition, including during the selection committee member recruitment process and during the selection, endorsement and review processes of an application.

The EDI page of the Vanier CGS website provides guidelines and resources geared towards applicants, host institutions, referees, and reviewers and readers, and addressing the following topics: research respectfully involving Indigenous communities; reducing unconscious bias, and promoting equity, diversity and inclusion. ALL participants must review their appropriate tab in advance of completing their section of the application.

An important component ensuring EDI is reflected in our selection process is the careful consideration to each applicant’s career interruptions and personal circumstances. The review of an applicant’s track record will take into consideration the availability of research and leadership opportunities. Applicants are thus encouraged to identify any circumstances that may have delayed or interrupted their academic and/or career advancement (if applicable) in the Personal Leadership Letter attachment of their application.

Tri-Agency Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council are committed to excellence in research and research training. Read more in the Statement from the Tri-Agency Presidents.

Sex- and Gender-based Analysis Plus (SGBA+)

In order to ensure the research we fund is impactful and relevant to the diversity of the population, we now require applicants to systematically examine how differences in identity factors (such as sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age and mental or physical disability) affect the outcomes of research and the impacts of research findings.  Applicants are now encouraged to take SGBA+ principles into account in their proposed research (see Application/nomination instruction – Task 10).

 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, such as following the Principles of OCAP® (i.e., ownership, control, access and possession/protection), the CARE Principles for Indigenous Data Governance, and/or other principles as determined by relevant communities.

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, grounded in, or engages with First Nations, Inuit, Métis and/or Urban Indigenous communities, societies, and/or individuals, and their wisdom, cultures, experiences, and/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

In order to be funded, research involving and engaging with Indigenous communities must fulfill the pillars for respectful research engaging with Indigenous peoples.

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 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, 2022.
  • have completed no more than 32 months of full-time study in their doctoral program, by May 1, 2022, 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, 2022 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, 2022, if accelerated from a Master’s degree into a Doctoral program without obtaining the Master’s degree.

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 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 (in order of least recent to most recent) for their departments’ candidates.  Note: The Doctoral Studies Timeline form is no longer required in the Vanier CGS application.

Contact Information