Graduate Student Sources of Funding

Full-time Graduate Students without a major award are generally supported by 4 sources of funding: Graduate Research Studentship (GRS), Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA), Science Graduate Experience Award (SGEA), and the Science Graduate Student Award (SGSA).

Beginning in May 2016 the minimum departmental funding for all students is $22 293 per year during their program time limits.

International students can also receive the IMSA/IDSA in addition to the departmental funding.

Continuation of financial support

Students who are registered as full-time are normally supported until the end of their program time limit (2 years or 6 terms for MSc, 4 years or 12 terms for PhD from MSc, 5 years or 15 terms for PhD direct entry/transfer). However, university policy guidelines state “A student whose performance is judged to be unsatisfactory will normally receive written warning and suggestions for improvement. If the student's performance does not improve sufficiently within a reasonable period of time, financial support may be reduced or discontinued. Written warning and an opportunity need not be given in cases of serious misconduct or serious neglect of duties”. Complete policy guidelines on graduate student support can be found on the graduate studies website.

Graduate Research Studentships (GRS)

Graduate Research Studentships are given to students to supplement their GTA earnings. Please see the charts at the bottom of this page for a more detailed breakdown.

Students with major scholarships may also receive GRS support, but this will usually be less than students who do not have a scholarship. Studentships are paid as awards and thus are tax free.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA)

Graduate students in the Department of Biology normally assist in demonstrating laboratories or otherwise help in the undergraduate instructional program as a Teaching Assistant (TA). In return for this, graduate students receive “Graduate Teaching Assistantship” support which normally comprises a substantial portion of the students’ annual income.

Students are eligible for one Full 10-hour GTA (2 units) and one Half 5-hour GTA (1 unit) per year. Master of Science (M.Sc.) students are eligible for no more than 6 units during their program. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) students (with a completed M.Sc.) are eligible for no more than 12 units and those students who have transferred from the M.Sc. to the Ph.D. program are eligible for no more than 18 units during their program.

Students usually TA 2 out of 3 terms and are not permitted to do more than two TA terms in a row. As of May 2016, a full TA (10 hours per week) is $3772 per term, and a half TA (5 hours per week) is $1886 per term. Vacation pay of 4% is calculated per term.

Graduate students who are beyond their normal program limits or have reached the maximum number of TAs for their program may choose to TA as an “Other” for which they will be paid at the standard TA rate, approved by the University. Before accepting a TA position, please be sure that you have your supervisor’s approval.

Science Graduate Experience Award (SGEA)

As of September 2007, students who agree to TA will receive the Science Graduate Experience Award. As per University of Waterloo policy, the award appears as “anticipated aid” in your Quest account. Students must use a promissory note and their Quest account printout to apply this amount directly to their tuition.

As of May 2016, students with a Half TA (1 unit) receive $676 and students with a Full TA (2 units) receive $1352. This amount is reviewed annually by the Department.

Science Graduate Student Award (SGSA)

The Science Graduate Student Award is meant to aid supervisors in providing financial support to students. This award reduces the amount from Supervisors' accounts (the GRS) and does not increase the students' income each term.

The SGSA is given to eligible students who are full-time, within time-limits, and without a major scholarship. There are some exceptions, so please contact the Biology Administrative Coordinator if you have questions.

Beginning in Spring 2014 the SGSA is valued at:

Program Amount/term
All MSc & International PhD $1000
Domestic PhD $2067

International Master's/Doctoral Student Award

In addition to the general sources of funding, international students are eligible to receive the International Master's/Doctoral Student Award (IMSA / IDSA).

Eligible students will be enrolled full-time in research-based graduate degree programs at the University of Waterloo, hold a valid Canadian study permit, meet the academic progress requirements of their program, not have outstanding probationary admission requirements, and not hold external awards or sponsorships. Other conditions or restrictions may apply.

More information on the IMSA/IDSA is available on the Graduate Studies Office web site.

Sample funding breakdowns

All MSc and International PhD students:

# of TA Units GRS GTA SGEA SGSA Total


$6431 $0 $0 $1000 $7431
1 $3869 $1886 $676 $1000 $7431
2 $1307 $3772 $1352 $1000 $7431
        Yearly total $22 293

Domestic PhD students:

# of TA Units GRS GTA SGEA SGSA Total


$5364 $0 $0 $2067 $7431
1 $2802 $1886 $676 $2067 $7431
2 $240 $3772 $1352 $2067 $7431
        Yearly total

$22 293