Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) Canada Graduate Scholarships-Masters (CGS-M)

The CGS-M program provides financial support to high-caliber scholars who are engaged in eligible Masters or, in some cases, Doctoral programs in Canada.

What is it?

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 Program supports up to 2,500 students annually in all disciplines and is administered jointly by Canada’s three federal granting agencies: The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). The selection process, payment and management of awards occurs at the recipient’s university under the guidance of the three agencies. Students submit their application to the institution at which they intend to hold their award using the Research Portal.

How many allocations does Waterloo receive?

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 2016 competition, Waterloo’s allocations are as follows:

CIHR = 4                   NSERC = 45                   SSHRC = 30

What is the value of the award?

These scholarships are valued at $17,500 paid over 12 months. They are non-renewable. 

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

What is the application deadline? 

The three agencies have created a harmonized application, regulations, instructions and application portal for the Canada Graduate Scholarship (CGS) Master’s Award. 

Eligible students are required to submit their application via the Research Portal by December 1, 2016 at 8:00 p.m. (EST). Students may identify a maximum of 5 institutions where they would like their application to be considered. The CGS-M is not portable from one institution to another.

Note: 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.

What are the steps in the application process?

1. Confirm eligibility

Canadian citizens and permanent residents are eligible. 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-M website.

Note: Successful recipients must be registered in a graduate program that has a significant research component (e.g. thesis, major research project, scholarly publication, etc). Students registered in a master’s program that is based solely on course work are normally not eligible as they do not include a significant research component.

2. Apply for Admission to a Graduate Program at Waterloo

Prospective students who are interested in holding their Tri-Agency scholarship at Waterloo must apply for admission into a graduate program by February 1, 2017. 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

Applicants must familiarize themselves with the information pertaining to transcripts on the CGS-M applicant transcript request page (Graduate Studies forms website). Official transcripts from all previous and current postsecondary institutions are required. The deadline for applicants to submit a Waterloo transcript request  is Thursday, November 24, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. (EST).

4. Read the application instructions

The official harmonized CGS-M website has detailed application instructions regarding the application process including how to create a Common CV (CCV), completing 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, etc.

5. Select and contact referees

  • Applicants must contact 2 potential referees as soon as possible, but no later than 3 weeks prior to the application deadline.
  • Applicants must provide potential referees with the selection criteria found on the CGS-M website.
  • 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.

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 reference 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
    • 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 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.

7. Create an account within the research portal

First time users must recreate an account within the research portal.

8. Create a Common CV account

To prepare a CCV to upload into the application during the e-submission process, applicants must have a CCV account. 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 which will focus only on fields that are pertinent for graduate student level experience.

9. Submit the application in the Research Portal

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 five institutions where the applicant wants their application considered, the Graduate Studies Office will be able to access the application from the online application system. 

How are the applications adjudicated and recipients selected?

Waterloo Graduate Studies Office:

  • Applications will be saved (by proposed department) to a SharePoint site for departmental review to ensure eligibility and completeness.

Waterloo Departments:

  • Departmental committees will rank their applicants for Tri-Agency scholarship. For NSERC and SSHRC applications departments will also assign a merit score.

Waterloo CGS-M Adjudication Committee:

  • A university-wide ranking of the applications by the 6 Faculty Graduate Associate Deans, the Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and the Associate Provost of Graduate Studies will take place in March to determine which applicants are to be offered a CGS-M at Waterloo (results and offers will not be released until April 1, 2017)

Helpful tips

Waterloo timeline

Visit the Waterloo timeline for details on the CGS-M.

Order transcripts to apply for CGS-M 

Use the CGS-M applicant transcript request (Graduate Studies forms website) to order a transcript.

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

CIHR - Elena Machado

NSERC - Elena Machado

SSHRC - Heidi Mussar

Last updated: September 8, 2016.

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