Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Doctoral Research Award

Information on this page is subject to change pending updates from the agency.

This web page relates to the fall 2019 CIHR Doctoral Research Awards competition and the University of Waterloo's internal administration of the program. For information pertaining to the Tri-Agency Canada Graduate Scholarships Master's (CGS M) competition, please visit Waterloo's Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarships Master's (CGS M) website.

Scholarship overview

The CIHR Doctoral Research Awards provide special recognition and funding to students who are pursuing a doctoral degree in a health-related field. There are two types of CIHR Doctoral Research Awards available:

  1. Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral Awards (CGS D) - for study in Canada
  2. Doctoral Foreign Study Award (DFSA) - for study abroad

Current and prospective doctoral students apply to the CIHR Doctoral Research Awards competition within “ResearchNet”. Top-ranked candidates are awarded a CGS D or DFSA depending on the proposed location of the doctoral research. *Changes from proposed location from Canada to abroad or the opposite will NOT be considered by CIHR.

The CIHR Doctoral Research Awards have a maximum value of $35,000 per year for a maximum of 3 years. Successful recipients at Waterloo will also receive the President’s Graduate Scholarship!

CGS D Harmonization

Effective fall 2019 competition, the three national granting agencies (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) have harmonized the CGS D competitions, meaning that they will share the same program guide, eligibility and selection criteria. This harmonization is separate to the agency-specific doctoral awards (CIHR Doctoral Foreign Study Award, NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship, SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship) which will continue to have their own unique program guides, eligibility and selection criteria.

By completing CIHR’s Doctoral Research Award ResearchNet application, applicants are automatically considered for both the CIHR CGS D and the CIHR DFSA. The agency determines the type of scholarship to be offered during the national adjudication. If a student is offered a CGS D but decides to take the award to an eligible foreign university (provided they are eligible to do so), they must decline the CGS D and are alternatively awarded a DFSA. Specific eligibility details are available on the official CGS D Program website and the CIHR DFSA website.

Important application dates at Waterloo

Transcript requests must be submitted to GSPA by September 19, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. (EST). Applicants should refer to Step 4: Transcripts in the Critical steps in the application process section.

Applicants interested in holding the CIHR Doctoral Research Award at the University of Waterloo must submit their application through ResearchNet by Thursday, October 17, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. (EST). Applications will not be accepted after the October 17 deadline.

Students must review the chart on the Canada Graduate Scholarships - Doctoral Program website under “Application Procedures” to confirm if they should be applying through the University of Waterloo, another Canadian University or CIHR directly. If you apply directly to CIHR when you were required to apply through a Canadian institution, your application will be deemed ineligible and rejected.

Being considered at Waterloo

Interested applicants must complete CIHR’s Doctoral Research Award ResearchNet application. The application is completed and submitted electronically, after which they are provided by GSPA to the graduate department that will be adjudicating the application. Applicants may only submit one application in each academic year to either CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC. The only exception to this rule is that applicants may simultaneously apply for both the CIHR Doctoral Research Awards and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship funding opportunities. Successful applicants can only take up one award.

Waterloo’s allocation of CIHR Doctoral Scholarships for Fall 2019 is 9.

Given the limited quota of awards available, Waterloo is required to be strategic in determining the applicants selected for institutional endorsement. The selection process within institutions tends to be quite rigorous. As an example, over the past five years, successful applicants often had averages higher than 85% in each of their last two years of full time academic study. Depending on the program, applicants also tended to have a number of contributions, including refereed journal publications, refereed conference proceedings and/or conference posters or presentations. Many applicants have also held prior Provincial (OGS/QEII-GSST) or Federal Tri-Council scholarships.

Recipients of CIHR Doctoral Research Awards who hold their scholarship at Waterloo are also eligible to receive the President’s Graduate Scholarship (PGS).

Critical steps in the application process

1. Confirm eligibility

Canadian Citizens and Permanent Residents of Canada (at the time of application) are eligible to apply for the CIHR Doctoral Research Award. It is the applicant’s responsibility to confirm that the minimum eligibility criteria of this award is satisfied before they begin the application process. Interested applicants must review the eligibility and selection criteria on the official CGS D Program website and the CIHR DFSA website before beginning their application.

Note: Applicants may also be eligible to apply for the Vanier CGS; applicants MUST apply for the Vanier CGS and for the CIHR Doctoral Research Award separately. Details about the Vanier CGS can be found on the official website; details about the Vanier application process through the University of Waterloo can be found on Waterloo’s web page.

2.  Confirm where to submit the application

The student’s registration status at the time of application will determine where they will submit their application to; i.e., either through a Canadian university or directly to CIHR. If a student applies directly to CIHR when they were required to apply through a Canadian institution, their application will be deemed ineligible and rejected.  Applicants must review the chart on the Canada Graduate Scholarships - Doctoral Program website under “Application Procedures” for details.

3. Contact the proposed supervisor

Students interested in applying to this award through Waterloo must do so in conjunction with the support of their proposed supervisor. The faculty member should be someone who is conducting research in an area that interests the applicant and who is willing to supervise him/her as a graduate student. To find a potential supervisor, prospective applicants are encouraged to visit University of Waterloo department/school or Faculty websites. Applicants must obtain the proposed PhD supervisor’s CCV confirmation number and enter it into their award application within ResearchNet.

4. Transcripts

Applicants must request their transcripts using the CIHR Doctoral Research Award transcript request form (Graduate Studies Forms website) by Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. (EST).

Transcripts are required for all programs of study listed in the CIHR CV, including if you just started your program in fall 2019. Additionally, if you were on exchange for any terms and the courses do not have an actual grade showing on your home university transcript, you will require official transcripts from the exchange institution.

Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) will fulfill transcript requests at no charge by retrieving official transcripts that were submitted as part of an admission application.

In order for GSPA to fulfill these requests, students must have provided their official transcripts from previous institutions as part of their application for admission.

If a required official transcript is not available, GSPA will email the student requesting a hard copy to be ordered and delivered in a sealed envelope marked for “CIHR Doctoral Research Award” to the attention of the Co-ordinator, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards, in GSPA, Needles Hall, Floor 2. This email will include a specific submission deadline. 

GSPA will email a single pdf compilation of the requested transcripts to the email provided so that they can be uploaded to the applicant’s CIHR Online Application.

5. Read the application instructions

Applicants must ensure they follow the detailed instructions regarding the competition process including how to create the Common CV (CCV website), creating the application in ResearchNet, the number of sponsors/referees required, etc. Application instructions can be found on the CIHR website.

IMPORTANT: Per the official application instructions, if the proposed research is being conducted in Canada, the signature page (CIHR website) only requires the supervisor(s) signature; institutional signatures (i.e., from GSPA) are NOT required on the page at the time of application.

6. Create a ResearchNet and Canadian Common CV account

The CIHR Doctoral Research Award application is now available in ResearchNet. If the applicant does not yet have a ResearchNet account, they will need to register for one. The applicant then applies to the CIHR Doctoral funding opportunity and completes the series of tasks required before they are able to submit it within the application portal.

Applicants must complete a specific CIHR Academic CCV on the Canadian Common CV website that will be linked to the CIHR award application within ResearchNet. The CV must be completed within the CCV portal.

7. Select and contact referees (sponsors)

Applicants must contact two potential referees as soon as possible but no later than three weeks prior to the October 17 application deadline.  

Applicants can manage the deadline by which sponsors must submit their assessments. By default, the Sponsor Required Deadline in ResearchNet is set for two days before the application deadline. However, applicants can adjust this to any date prior to the application deadline. Applicants can only submit their application using CIHR’s online system when both referees have completed and submitted their assessment. It is the applicant's responsibility to follow up with sponsors to ensure the assessments are submitted prior to the deadline date and therefore ensure the application completeness.

Important information for applicants on how to set a deadline for the referees to complete the Report, how to send them reminders, etc. can be found on CIHR's Doctoral Research Awards – Application instructions.

Applicants must direct their potential referees to CIHR's Reviewers Guide for Doctoral Research Awards so that they may see the selection criteria and know how applicants are evaluated.

Tips for selecting referees and reference letters

  • Applicants should select referees who know them well and are capable of making an informed assessment from an academic perspective (i.e., past or current supervisor) based on the evaluation criteria.
  • Applicants should be up front and ask their potential referees if they have the time and are able to provide a supporting reference letter that can address the applicant’s strengths based on the evaluation criteria.
  • Referees will not be able to see the student’s application in ResearchNet. As such, the applicant should provide them with a package of information that will assist them in writing a strong letter of support. This package should contain the following documents:
    • current curriculum vitae
    • transcripts
    • research proposal
    • a list of accomplishments the applicant feels should be highlighted in the letter; applicants are encouraged to request referees to address the importance of their publications and contributions in the letters of assessment (e.g., highlighting that a paper is published in a journal with a high impact factor; identifying that a paper has been widely cited; research that has received recognition outside of the academy; research that has applied outcomes that have positively influenced society, governance, industry or other sectors, etc.)

8. Research proposal

As per the application instructions, the research project summary is one of the most important components of this application and should be completed in collaboration with the proposed supervisor(s). The proposed research project must be eligible within CIHR’s mandate. To confirm the proposal falls under the correct agency, applicants should refer to “Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency” web page on the Government of Canada website.

Waterloo's administrative process

  • Applicants who are applying through the University of Waterloo must submit their CIHR Doctoral application through CIHR’s online application system by 8:00 p.m. (EST) on October 17, 2019.
  • GSPA will retrieve the applications from the online portal and provide them to the appropriate graduate department to confirm eligibility and completeness. A departmental committee will conduct a ranking of the applications submitted to determine which applicants should be highly considered for endorsement at the institutional level.
  • Based on Waterloo’s quota, the institutional selection committee will adjudicate and select nominees to go forward to the national competition.
  • GSPA will communicate with applicants to advise them of the decision after the institutional level review. Only applicants selected for endorsement will receive feedback and suggestions for improvement, if applicable.

Waterloo timeline

Visit Waterloo’s CIHR Doctoral Research Award timeline for further details on the CIHR competition at Waterloo.

Helpful resources

Questions regarding this competition at Waterloo can be directed to the Co-ordinator, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

August 2, 2019

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