Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Doctoral Scholarships


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

This web page relates to the fall 2019 SSHRC Doctoral Scholarships 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 SSHRC Doctoral Scholarships support high-calibre students engaged in doctoral programs in the social sciences and humanities. There are two types of SSHRC Doctoral Scholarships available and applicants are automatically considered for both by applying through one application:

  1. Josesph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS D) – offered to top ranked applicants; without exception, these awards are tenable only at eligible Canadian universities; valued at $35,000 a year for three years.
  2. SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship - offered to next tier of highly ranked applicants, for study in Canada or abroad. These awards may be taken up at any eligible Canadian university or an eligible foreign university provided that the applicant has received a previous degree in social sciences and humanities from a Canadian university. This award is valued at $20,000 for one to four years.

The agency determines the value, duration and type of award during the national adjudication based on the applicant's eligibility and the number of months of full-time study completed by December 31 of the year of application. An applicant offered a CGS D who decides to take the award to an eligible foreign university (provided they are eligible to do so), must decline the CGS D and alternatively would be awarded a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. Specific details can be found on the official SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship website and the CGS D Program website.

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.

Both the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships and the SSHRC CGS D are offered through a single annual national competition. Applicants should refer to the online descriptions for each award to determine their eligibility to apply to and hold each award, as there are notable differences. Applicants eligible for both the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships and the CGS D Scholarships will automatically be considered for both awards. Specific details are available on the official SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship website and the CGS D Program website.

Important application dates at Waterloo

Transcript request deadline

Students applying through Waterloo have until Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. (EST) to complete and submit a SSHRC Doctoral Scholarships - applicant transcript request (Graduate studies forms website). Transcripts ordered through this method will be free of charge.

This will ensure all transcripts are emailed to students prior to the application deadline of October 17, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. (EST). (Further details under “Critical steps, #3” below)

Students are unable to submit their application until all transcripts are uploaded to their application.

Application deadline

Students who are currently registered in a degree program at Waterloo or were registered in a degree program at any time during this calendar year (January-December 2019) must complete the SSHRC Doctoral Awards application through the SSHRC Online System and indicate the University of Waterloo as the “Organization at Time of Application” 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 under "Eligibility" on the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships website and the chart under "Application procedures" on the CGS D website to confirm if they should be applying through the University of Waterloo, another Canadian University or SSHRC directly. Applicants who apply incorrectly will be deemed ineligible.

Being considered at Waterloo

Interested applicants must complete the SSHRC Doctoral Awards application form through SSHRC’S Online System. New this year – the application is completely submitted online and students are no longer required to print off their application and submit a hard copy!

Once the application is completed and submitted electronically, GSPA will provide the applications to the appropriate 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 Scholarships and the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship funding opportunities. Successful applicants can only take up one award.

Waterloo’s allocation of SSHRC Doctoral Scholarships for the Fall 2019 is 45.

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.

Recipients of a SSHRC Doctoral Scholarship 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
It is the applicant's responsibility to confirm that the minimum eligibility criteria is satisfied before they begin the application process. Some eligibility requirements for the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships differ from those of the CGS-D Scholarships. Interested applicants must review the official eligibility criteria (subject matter, program of study and of the applicant) on the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship website and the CGS D Program 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 Scholarships (Fellowship and CGS D) separately. Details about the Vanier CGS are available on the official agency 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. This is provided no more than 12 months of graduate-level study have been completed by December 31 of the year of application in the program for which they are requesting funding. If eligible for both a CGS M and a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship/CGS D, then the decision of which competition to apply through lies with the applicant.

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 SSHRC.  It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure they are submitting their application through the proper channel by selecting the correct "current status" option (ie. A, B, C or D) in the SSHRC application. 

Students must review the chart under "Eligibility" on the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships website and the chart under "Application procedures" on the CGS D website to confirm if they should be applying through the University of Waterloo, another Canadian University or SSHRC directly. Applicants who apply incorrectly will be deemed ineligible.

3. Transcripts

Transcripts are required for all programs of study listed in the SSHRC CV, including if you just started your program in Fall 2019.

In order to obtain these transcripts, applicants must complete and submit a SSHRC Doctoral Scholarships - applicant transcript request (Graduate studies forms website). This request is free of charge and is due by September 19, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. (EST).

GSPA will fulfill transcript requests by retrieving official transcripts, which 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. Provided students have done so, GSPA will retrieve transcripts from the previous institutions identified on this form from Waterloo's data management system at no charge to the applicant.

If a required official transcript is not available, GSPA will email the student requesting a hard copy to be delivered in a sealed envelope marked "SSHRC Doctoral Scholarships" to the attention of the Manager, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards Programs, in GSPA, Needles Hall floor 2 by the September 19 deadline.  Applicants who are in the following situations are responsible for providing their final official transcripts from previous post-secondary institutions:

  • Waterloo undergraduate students who attended a previous post-secondary institution for an exchange (ONLY if CR shows on Waterloo transcript) or for a previously completed undergraduate degree.
  • Students who went 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.
  • Students who have not provided their final official transcripts from previous institutions to GSPA for graduate admission purposes.

GSPA will email a single pdf compilation of these transcripts to the email provided in order that they can be uploaded to the SSHRC Online Application.

Students are unable to submit their application until all transcripts are uploaded to their application by GSPA.

4. Read the application instructions

Applicants must follow the detailed instructions provided on SSHRC's website 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. There is also a separate set of instructions for the SSHRC Curriculum Vitae (CV) which should be consulted.

5. Select and contact referees

Applicants must contact two potential referees as soon as possible, but no later than 3 weeks prior to the October 17 application deadline. Invitations for the referees are initiated through the SSHRC Online System at which point a deadline is also provided to the referee. Referees should be given a deadline at least 3 days in advance of the application deadline.

Applicants can only submit their application using SSHRC's Online System when both referees have completed and submitted their Applicant Appraisals. Applicants will only be able to see that the referees have submitted their appraisals, but will not be able to see the content of them.

Important information for applications on how to set a deadline for the referees to complete the Report, how to send them reminders, etc. can be found on SSHRC's Instructions.

Applicants must provide the potential referees with SSHRC's evaluation and adjudication guidelines (see SSHRC website).

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

Additional 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. Research proposal

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

7. A complete application

Applicants must complete a SSHRC Doctoral Awards application form (including attachments) and their SSHRC web-based curriculum vitae (CV).

  • SSHRC web based CV (not the Canadian Common CV!)
  • Web based application form (required)
  • Program of Study (required - max. two pages):
  • Bibliography and citations (required - max. five pages)
  • Official and/or certified copies of all undergraduate and graduate level transcripts (required) and an official letter to confirm part-time study and/or Leave of Absence (max. one page for this letter, if applicable)
  • Allowable inclusions (if applicable, max. one page)
  • Research contributions (required - max. two pages)
  • Supplement justification (if applicable, max one page)
  • Joint or Special Initiatives Justification (if applicable)
  • Two completed letters of appraisal (max. one page each)

Waterloo's administrative process

  1. Applicants complete an electronic application through the SSHRC's online system and submit it by 8:00 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, October 17, 2019.
  2. GSPA will retrieve the applications from the online system and provide them to the proposed department to confirm eligibility and completeness.
  3. Departmental award committees will conduct a ranking of the applications received to determine which applicants should be highly considered for scholarship offers at the institutional level using the Selection Criteria as defined by the agency.
  4. Based on the institutional quota, the institutional selection committee* will review and assess the applicants using the same selection criteria to determine which applicants will go forward for national adjudication.
  5. 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.
  6. SSHRC will communicate results in to all applicants in April and will also notify our office.

*At Waterloo, the institutional selection committee is comprised of the Associate Vice, President, GSPA(chair), the Assistant Vice-Presidents, GSPA , and the six Faculty Associate Deans, Graduate Studies (AHSARTSENGENVMATHSCI), or designates as appropriate.

NOTE: All reviewers for this competition must agree to Waterloo's privacy, confidentiality and conflict of interest guidelines.

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 Elena Machado, Manager, Graduate Financial Aid and Awards Programs in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.

August 6, 2019

Return to top