Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Scholarships

Information and dates may be updated depending on further information from the tri-council agency.

The information contained on this web page pertains to the Fall 2018 SSHRC Doctoral Awards competition and the internal administration and evaluation process at the University of Waterloo. 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.

What are the SSHRC Doctoral Awards?

The SSHRC Doctoral Awards program seeks to develop research skills and assist in the training of highly qualified personnel by supporting students who demonstrate a high standard of achievement in undergraduate and graduate studies in the social sciences and humanities. There are two types of SSHRC Doctoral awards available:

  1. Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships Doctoral (CGS D) - for study in Canada, valued at $35,000 per year for up to three years
  2. SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship - for study in Canada or abroad, valued at $20,000 per year for up to four years

Applicants are automatically considered for both levels of award based on a single application. The agency determines the value, duration and type of award during the national adjudication based on the number of months of full-time study completed by December 31 of the year of application. Specific details can be found on the official SSHRC Doctoral Awards website.

Successful recipients who hold their scholarship at Waterloo are eligible to receive the President’s Graduate Scholarship!

The University of Waterloo is able to submit a total of 39 applicants for consideration at the national level competition.

Applications for these scholarships are adjudicated and sent forward to a national competition by Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) at the University of Waterloo. In some cases students may apply directly to SSHRC. Applicants must check the SSHRC website for complete details regarding the competition.

What are the important application dates at Waterloo?

Students who are currently registered in a degree program at Waterloo in Fall 2018 must submit their application to the graduate department that will be adjudicating their application (in most cases, this is the applicant’s current graduate department). Each graduate department establishes its own deadline – applicants must check with the co-ordinator of the graduate department they are planning to submit their application to for the deadline. This deadline will normally be sometime in October.

Students who are NOT currently registered in a degree program at Waterloo in Fall 2018 must submit their application directly to SSHRC by November 6, 2018.

How do applicants get considered?

Interested applicants must complete the SSHRC Doctoral Award application available now on the SSHRC website. The application is completed electronically, however, it must be printed off and a hardcopy provided 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 to both the SSHRC Doctoral Awards and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship funding opportunities. Successful applicants can only take up one award.

The maximum number of nominations Waterloo may submit to the national level competition for Fall 2018 is 39.

Given the limited quota of awards available, Waterloo is required to be strategic in determining the number of 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.

What are the critical steps in the application process?

1. Confirm eligibility

Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada are eligible to be considered for the SSHRC Doctoral Awards. It is the applicant’s responsibility to confirm that the minimum eligibility criteria is satisfied before they begin the application process. Interested applicants must review the official eligibility criteria and evaluation criteria on the official SSHRC Doctoral Awards website before beginning their application.

Note 1: Applicants may also be eligible to apply for the Vanier CGS; applicants MUST apply for the Vanier CGS and for the SSHRC Doctoral Awards 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 Vanier web page.

Note 2: Applicants who are or will be registered in a combined MA/PhD, fast-track (accelerating from a master’s program into a doctoral program without obtaining the master’s degree) or direct-entry PhD program, may be eligible to apply for a CGS Master’s Scholarship provided no more than 12 months of graduate-level study have been completed by December 31 of the year of application.

2. Contact the co-ordinator, of the graduate department that will be responsible for reviewing the application, for the deadline

Applicants registered in a degree program, or on an approved leave of absence from their degree program in the Fall 2018 term must submit their application through the institution. Applicants must contact the graduate co-ordinator, of the department to which they are submitting their application, for the deadline. Each graduate department will have its own internal deadline by which it must receive applications.

Applicants NOT registered in a degree program in the Fall 2018 term but intend to undertake doctoral studies, must submit their SSHRC Doctoral Awards application directly to SSHRC by November 6, 2018.

3. Transcripts

Official hardcopy transcripts from all previous and current postsecondary institutions are required as part of the application, even if the applicant just started their program in September 2018. Eligible undergraduate and graduate students who are applying for a SSHRC Doctoral Award through Waterloo may order their Waterloo transcripts, at no charge, using the SSHRC Doctoral Research Award - applicant transcript request form (Graduate Studies forms website). It is the applicant’s responsibility to obtain official hardcopy transcripts from any non-Waterloo institutions attended and have them sent in sealed envelopes to the graduate department co-ordinator.

The deadline for eligible applicants to request their Waterloo transcripts using the web form above is Friday, October 5, 2018 at 3:00 p.m. (EST). The Waterloo transcripts will be sent to the department graduate co-ordinator who will combine them with the rest of the application once the applicant submits it.

4. Read the application instructions

The official SSHRC Doctoral Awards website has detailed instructions regarding the competition process including how to complete the application, how to confirm the proposed research falls under the correct agency’s mandate, the number of referees required, presentation standards of the free form documents, etc. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure he/she reads and follows the application instructions outlined on the official website.

5. Select and contact referees

Applicants must contact two potential referees as soon as possible but no later than 3 weeks prior to the departmental deadline; referees must be faculty members who have had sufficient opportunity to assess the applicant’s potential and if applicable, the importance of any publications.

Applicants must provide the potential referees with SSHRC's evaluation and adjudication guidelines (SSHRC website). Referees must submit their appraisals directly to the department graduate co-ordinator prior to the department deadline.

Further information regarding referees, including recommendations for who should be completing the appraisal, can be found in the Application Instructions (SSHRC website).

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.
  • Applicants should provide their referees with a package of information that will assist them with writing the appraisal. This package should contain:
    • current curriculum vitae
    • transcripts
    • a list of research contributions; applicants are encouraged to request referees to address the importance of their publications and contributions in the letters of appraisal (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)
    • a copy of the research proposal/program of study, and
    • a list of community involvement or other extracurricular activities that demonstrate leadership qualities

6. Write the research proposal/program of study

The proposed research project and doctoral program of study must be eligible within the mandate of the agency to which the application is being submitted. To confirm the proposal falls under the correct agency, applicants should refer to Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency (Government of Canada website) or “Subject Matter Eligibility” (SSHRC website) for more details about applying to the correct agency. Applicants can only apply to one Tri-Agency competition and it is important to ensure it is the correct one; otherwise, there is a risk of being disqualified.

Waterloo's administrative process

Applicants complete an electronic application available on SSHRC’s website and submit a hardcopy of their application materials to the co-ordinator of the graduate department that is conducting the assessment by a department-set deadline.

The graduate department will review the applications to confirm eligibility and completeness, and a departmental committee will assess the applications submitted to determine which highly ranked applicants should be considered for endorsement at the institutional level.

Based on the University quota, the institutional selection committee will decide which nominees will go forward to the national competition.

GSPA will communicate with applicants to advise them of the decision after the institutional level adjudication. Only applicants selected for endorsement will receive feedback and suggestions for improvement, if applicable. 

Waterloo timeline

Visit Waterloo’s SSHRC Doctoral scholarship timeline for further details on the SSHRC Doctoral Awards competition at Waterloo.

Helpful resources

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

August 7, 2018

Last updated September 7, 2018 (Helpful resources)

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