Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarships Master's (CGS M)

Information on this page is subject to change pending updates from the Tri-Agencies.

This web page relates to the fall 2020 Tri-Agency Canada Graduate Scholarship Master’s (CGS M) competition and the University of Waterloo’s internal administration of the program.


Award Description

The objective of the Canada Graduate Scholarships Master’s (CGS M) Program is to help 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 early graduate studies.

The CGS M scholarship provides non-renewable financial support of $17,500 paid across three full-time academic terms to high-caliber scholars who are engaged in eligible master’s or, in some cases, doctoral programs in Canada.

By completing the Tri-Agency CGS M application through the Research Portal, students may identify a maximum of three institutions where they would like their application to be considered. The scholarship is not portable from one institution to another – applicants must submit their application to the institution at which they intend to hold the scholarship.

Applying for a CGS M at Waterloo

Each year, eligible Canadian institutions receive a CGS M allocation corresponding to the number of students to whom they can offer scholarships; these allocations are divided by broad fields of study: health, natural sciences/engineering, and social sciences/humanities. For the Fall 2020 competition, Waterloo’s allocations are as follows:

CIHR = 5                 NSERC = 58                   SSHRC = 38

Recipients of the CGS M who choose to hold their award at Waterloo are also eligible to receive the President’s Graduate Scholarship.

Important dates

1. Transcript request deadline- Friday, November 20, 2020

2. Application deadline – Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. (ET)

  • Applicants may only submit one application in each year to either CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC.
  • As the deadline date approaches, processing delays may stem from a high volume of users on the Research Portal, which may prevent the timely submission of the application. Requests to submit late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances.

Critical steps

1. Eligibility

It is the applicant’s responsibility to confirm that the minimum eligibility criteria of this award is satisfied before they begin the application process by reviewing the complete eligibility and selection criteria on the official CGS M website.

Note: If you entered your doctoral program directly from your bachelor’s degree (that is, you were never registered in a graduate level program) and have completed between zero and 12 months of studies in the doctoral program, you may be eligible to apply for a Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s (CGS M) or for a Tri-Agency Doctoral Award. Applying for a CGS M, if you are eligible, will maximize your potential period of funding. You are responsible for choosing the type of award for which you apply.

2. Apply for Admission to a Graduate Program at Waterloo

Prospective students who are interested in holding their CGS M scholarship at Waterloo must apply for admission into a graduate program by February 1, 2021. Applicants are not eligible to receive or accept a CGS M offer from a university where they are not enrolled in or have not applied for admission to an eligible program of study.

3. Transcripts

Up-to-date official transcripts from all current and previous post-secondary institutions (including transcripts from institutions where you completed an exchange term) are required as part of the application in order to determine whether you’ve achieve a first class average in each of the last two completed years of full-time study. Applicants who do not include a complete set of required transcripts will be deemed ineligible.

The process to obtain these transcripts is as follows:

  1. Applicants must complete and submit a CGS M applicant transcript request web form (Graduate Studies forms website). This request is free of charge and is due by Friday, November 20, 2020.
  2. GSPA will fulfil transcript requests by generating official Waterloo transcripts ONLY. Students are responsible for obtaining all other official transcripts from previous institutions.
  3. Students are responsible for compiling all of their transcripts and uploading them to their CGS M application in the Research Portal prior to submitting their application. Students are unable to submit their application until all transcripts are uploaded to their application.
  4. Students who are having issues obtaining required international transcripts must contact gsoaward@uwaterloo.caby Friday, November 20, 2020 for further direction.

4. Read the application instructions

Detailed application instructions regarding the application process, including how to create a Common CV (CCV website) can be found on the tri-agency website. Details include how to complete the application in the portal, how to ensure the application falls within the mandate of the correct agency, the number of referees required, presentation standards for free form documents, transcripts, etc.

5. Create online accounts

  • Applicants must have a reseearch portal account and a Canadian Common CV (CCV) account in order to submit their application:
    • First time users must create an account within the research portal.
    • A Canadian Common CV (CCV) account must also be created in order to upload a CV into the application during the e-submission process. If the applicant has already previously registered for a CCV account, they do not need to re-register. The CCV will have a CGS M template that will focus only on fields that are pertinent for graduate student level experience. Additional information can be found in the Instructions for Completing a Canadian Common CV (CGS M website).

6. Selecting referees

Two completed reference assessments are required in order to apply through the online portal.

  • Applicants must contact two potential referees as soon as possible, but no later than three weeks prior to the application deadline.
  • Applicants must provide potential referees with the Instructions for Completing the Reference Assessment Form that includes the Selection Criteria for the CGS M competition.
  • Referees will upload their letters electronically through the application portal; applicants will not be able to see the letters but will be able to see that the status is complete. 

Final submission of the application is not possible until the letters have been uploaded. Further information regarding reference assessments can be found in the Application Instructions (CGS M 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)
  • Applicants should be up front and ask the potential referees if they have the time and are able to provide a supporting assessment that will speak to all aspects of the particular strengths of the application
  • Applicants should provide the 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 their 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)
    • a copy of the research proposal/program of study, and
    • a list of community involvement or other extracurricular activities that demonstrate leadership qualities

7. Research Proposals

The proposed research project must be eligible within the mandate of the agency selected in the application. To confirm the proposal falls under the correct agency, applicants should refer to Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency (Government of Canada website).

8. Submitting the application

  • Once all steps have been completed, applicants must submit their CGS M application via the research portal.
  • It is recommended that applicants do not wait until the last minute to submit their application as delays may occur as a result of a high volume of users in the portal.
  • If Waterloo has been identified as one of the three institutions where the applicant wants their application considered, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs will be able to access the application from the online application system. 
  • The application will be reviewed by the proposed department as indicated in the application.

Ranking and results

  1. For applications where the University of Waterloo was selected as one of three institutions, the following process will take place:

  2. After the deadline, Departmental award committees will use the selection criteria to review and rank applications.
  3. Based on the institutional quota, the institutional selection committee* will adjudicate the applications and determine which applicants are to be offered a CGS M at Waterloo. 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.
  4. On April 1, all universities will release results to all applicants via the Research Portal.

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

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


Visit the Waterloo timeline for details on the CGS M.

Helpful resources

Questions about Tri-Agency scholarship competition process at Waterloo may be directed to the following staff in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs:

CIHR - Laura Frazee

NSERC – Miranda Bilotta

SSHRC - Elena Machado


August 31, 2020