Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (Vanier CGS)

Please note: Information and dates may be updated depending on further information from the Tri-Agencies.

The information contained on this web page pertains to the Fall 2018 Vanier Canada Graduate (Vanier CGS) Scholarships competition and the internal administration and evaluation process at the University of Waterloo.

What is the Vanier CGS?

The Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (Vanier CGS) program was created to attract and retain world-class doctoral students and to establish Canada as a global centre of excellence in research and higher learning. Vanier Scholars demonstrate leadership skills and a high standard of scholarly achievement in the social sciences and humanities, natural sciences and engineering, and health-related fields.

Institutions are provided with a yearly quota within a three year quota allotment. It is the most prestigious of the doctoral scholarships offered by the Federal Government. Scholarship recipients are selected by Canada’s three federal granting agencies:

The Vanier CGS is valued at $50,000 per year for up to three years. Successful recipients at Waterloo will also receive the President’s Graduate Scholarship!

What are the important application dates at Waterloo?

The application process at Waterloo is handled in two steps. The University requires that interested candidates request support from the proposed department where they intend to continue or pursue their doctoral program at UW by August 3, 2018. Without exception, applicants who are successful in the Vanier CGS competition must hold it at the university that provided the endorsement.

Applicants who receive departmental support to continue with the second step of the application process are required to submit their complete application within ResearchNet by 9:00 a.m. on September 20, 2018.

How do applicants get considered?

Interested applicants must complete the Vanier CGS application, available now in ResearchNet, in collaboration with the proposed host Canadian institution to which they are pursuing doctoral studies. Without exception, the Vanier CGS is tenable ONLY at the institution that supported the original application.

In an effort to support scholars in broadening their research horizons and seeking new opportunities and challenges, the Vanier program encourages candidates to seek support for this scholarship at an institution where they have not been previously affiliated.

The maximum number of nominations Waterloo may submit to the national level competition for Fall 2018 are as follows:

CIHR – 2        NSERC – 12        SSHRC - 6

Given the limited quota of awards an institution can host, 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 three years, nearly 60% of successful applicants have had averages higher than 90% in each of their last two years of full time academic study. Nearly 60% had more than 10 contributions (publications, presentations, etc) and nearly 50% held a tri-agency or OGS scholarship at the master’s level!

Given the prestige and competitiveness of the Vanier scholarship, applicants are expected to demonstrate strong leadership potential and ability that goes above and beyond the expected norms and has resulted in overcoming obstacles, mentoring others, or leading and instilling change for the betterment of others. Given the academic strengths of all the applicants, successful applicants often differentiate themselves through the leadership component.

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What are the critical steps in the application process?

*NOTE: applicants MUST receive endorsement from the proposed department prior to submitting an application - see Point 3 below

1.   Confirm eligibility

Canadian Citizens, Permanent Residents of Canada and international students are eligible to be considered for a Vanier CGS at the institution where they wish to pursue their doctoral studies. 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 criteria and selection criteria on the official Vanier CGS website before beginning their application.

Note: Applicants of the Vanier competition are NOT automatically considered for agency-specific doctoral award competitions. Eligible applicants MUST apply for the Vanier and for agency-specific funding opportunities separately*

*NEW FOR 2018 – applicants may apply to the same or a different federal granting agency in the same academic year, provided that the research proposed in each application falls within the mandate of the agency to which the application is submitted.

2.   Contact the proposed supervisor

Prospective applicants interested in applying for the Vanier CGS through the University of Waterloo, who are not already in a PhD program at Waterloo, must contact a faculty member in the proposed department they are planning to complete their PhD as soon as possible. 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.

3.   Contact the proposed nominating department

Prospective applicants* interested in applying for the Vanier must email the Graduate Officer of the department where they intend to hold the Vanier (if successful) by August 3 and provide him/her with the following:

  • their expressed written interest and intent in applying for the Vanier CGS
  • the name of the faculty member they are interested in working with
  • a copy of their CV and transcripts (if not already a UW student) and UW student ID number (if applicable)
  • a lay abstract of the proposed research (maximum one page)

Departments will review the information provided and determine whether the student will be a competitive applicant. The department Graduate Co-ordinator must email the Assistant Director, Graduate Financial Aid & Awards (copying the applicant) by August 31 confirming the departmental support of the applicant; if the student does not receive departmental endorsement then he/she is not permitted to apply for the Vanier through UW. The department is to notify candidates who they have decided not to endorse.

*In situations where the department has identified a prospective competitive applicant, the department co-ordinator must still email the Assistant Director, Graduate Financial Aid & Awards (copying the applicant) by August 31 confirming their support.

Reminder: the Vanier CGS can only be held at the institution that is providing the endorsement; students can only be nominated by one university. Students are strongly encouraged to pursue their studies at a university other than that (or those) which granted the undergraduate and previous graduate degrees.

4.   Transcripts

Once the applicant knows they have received departmental endorsement, they may proceed with requesting transcripts. Applicants who are currently registered at Waterloo may proceed with completing the Vanier applicant transcript request form (web form) by 3:00 p.m. (EST) on September 20, 2018. (Late requests will NOT be processed.)

Applicants not currently registered at Waterloo but intend to be for their doctoral program, are responsible for obtaining transcripts from their previous institution(s). The transcripts must be in a sealed envelope with "for Vanier competition" written on the envelope and be sent to the attention of the Assistant Director, Graduate Financial Aid & Awards in Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs, 2nd floor Needles Hall no later than September 20, 2018.

GSPA will ensure transcripts are uploaded to endorsed student’s applications in ResearchNet prior to final submission to the agency.

5.   Read the application and nomination instructions

The official Vanier website has detailed instructions regarding the competition process including how to create a Canadian Common CV (CCV), starting the application in ResearchNet, how to confirm the proposed research falls under the correct tri-agency, 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/nomination instructions outlined on the Vanier website.

6.    Create a ResearchNet and Canadian Common CV account

The Vanier CGS 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 Vanier CGS 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 Vanier-Banting academic CCV on the Canadian Common CV website that will be linked to the Vanier CGS application within ResearchNet. The CV must be completed within the CCV portal.

7.    Select and contact referees

If departmental support has been received, the applicant must contact potential referees as soon as possible thereafter but no later than three weeks prior to the institutional deadline of September 20.

Leadership references

Two leadership reference letters are required and should be written by referees who can speak about the candidate in a non-academic capacity and who are able to highlight the demonstrated leadership abilities and potential of the applicant. Further details about the leadership reference letters can be found in the application/nomination instructions. Per the instructions, faculty members may provide this letter as long as they can speak about the applicant in a non-academic way and address the leadership qualities and potential in a non-academic environment.

Academic references

In addition to the leadership references, two academic references are also required. Per the application/nomination instructions (refer to Point 8), applicants must provide these referees with the selection criteria guidelines found on the Vanier website.

The academic referees must complete their assessment through ResearchNet at least two days prior to the institutional deadline of September 20 in order to allow the applicant time to finish submitting his/her application – applications CANNOT be submitted until the assessments have been submitted and uploaded to the application electronically through ResearchNet.

Tips for selecting referees

  • Applicants should select referees who know them well and are capable of making an informed assessment 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. As appropriate, this package should contain the following documents from the applicant:
    • 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.    Write the research proposal

The proposed research project and doctoral program of study must be eligible within the mandate of the agency to which the nomination will be submitted. To confirm the proposal falls under the correct agency, applicants should refer to Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency (Government of Canada website).

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Waterloo's administrative review process

Once department-supported applicants submit their official application through ResearchNet, the graduate departments will review and rank the applicants.

Based on the University quota, the institutional selection committee will adjudicate and select nominees to go forward to the national Vanier CGS competition.

Waterloo's timeline

Visit Waterloo's Vanier CGS timeline for further details on the Vanier competition at Waterloo.

Helpful resources

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

June 26, 2018

Last updated September 7, 2018 (Helpful resources)

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