Funding and awards

Graduate student financial support

Graduate students are financially supported through a variety of sources including teaching assistantships (TA), research assistantships (RA), graduate research studentships (GRS), internal University of Waterloo scholarships, external scholarships, teaching opportunities, and other funding support. Note that full-time students are restricted to a maximum of 10 hours/week of paid work through TA, RA, or teaching opportunities through the University. 


Full-time Master's thesis option students are normally provided with two terms of funding during their first year, currently $15,580 minimum. The normal completion time for the Master's program is approximately two years. There are often extra teaching assistant positions available to apply for each term, but positions are not guaranteed. You should plan your time and financial resources accordingly.

Coursework option students are not promised funding on admission; however there are often extra teaching assistant positions available to apply for each term. The coursework option is normally completed in one year (three terms).  


PhD support

Full-time Doctoral students are normally provided with three terms of funding during their first four years. The annual amount is currently $24,055. The normal completion time for the doctoral program is three to four years, so you should plan your time and financial resources accordingly.


If you are receiving a teaching or research assistantship, you must complete the onboarding process on Workday (including tax deductions, direct deposit, contact information, etc.). You must complete a promissory note to arrange your tuition fees each term in order to have your tuition deducted from any scholarships first and any balance owing ($100 or more) deducted in monthly installments with each monthly pay period. Any amount owing less than $100 after scholarships cannot be deducted monthly and must be paid directly. If you received more scholarship funds than tuition owing, the balance will be deposited to your direct deposit account set up on Workday. 

International students employed through the University of Waterloo are now exempt from needing an Employment Authorization provided the primary document is a valid Student Authorization. If authorizations have to be renewed, kits are available from the International Experience team in the Student Success Office.


Students are encouraged to apply for external scholarships, including the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) or a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Scholarship, the most common ones for our students. Students who successfully obtain external scholarships receive the President's Graduate Scholarship along with matching support from the Department (usually in the form of a one-term teaching or research assistantship) to meet the minimum annual funding commitments. If students have external scholarships, they are not guaranteed additional teaching assistantship support beyond the one term of matching funding in order to provide funding for other graduate students. However there are often extra teaching assistant positions available to apply for each term.


A teaching assistantship (TA) is a position held by a qualified full-time student to assist a faculty member with instructional responsibilities. TA positions are assigned by a committee of the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Department Administrator based on a combination of student funding commitments and funding received to date, instructor needs and requests, student progress in their program, and relevant background experience for each course.

Students and instructors are asked to complete the TA survey each term to provide information about their TA needs and preferences to assist the department with assigning TA positions, and for students without funding commitments to be considered for extra TA positions. Once TA positions are assigned, the TAs should meet with the instructor to complete the TA contract outlining the course responsibilities. Students are advised to be available from the first day of classes until the end of the final exam period to perform all necessary TA duties.

Teaching assistantships are usually 10 hours per week for 16 weeks of the term, though some positions are 5 hours per week. Payments are comprised of a monthly salary (two-thirds of the total payment) paid on the last Friday of each month along with a Graduate Experience Award (one-third of the total payment) received in the first month as a scholarship. Part-time students do not normally qualify for TA positions and are unable to receive a Graduate Experience Award. 


A Research Assistant (RA) performs a designated list of research duties under the supervision of one or more faculty members. RA positions are arranged by individual faculty members with the student.

If you are interested in holding an RA position, you should make known to each faculty member in a related area your interest in becoming a research assistant (RA), and the skills you can bring to this task. The needs of any particular faculty member with a research project may vary considerably, and the amount of research funding available from faculty members changes constantly due to the irregular availability of grants and contracts. It is up to the individual faculty member as to whom is hired as their RA.

Research assistantships are usually either 10 or 5 hours per week for 16 weeks of the term. Payments is a monthly salary paid on the last Friday of each month. 


A Graduate Research Studentship (GRS) is direct scholarship support for a student in a graduate thesis program to work on their own thesis research. The funding is provided by the supervisor through research grant or contract funds. Since the funding is for the specific student's research, this opportunity is rare unless the student's project aligns with a faculty member's research grant or contract. Occasionally there are funding opportunities for students to apply for research funds (i.e., Mitacs) that are held by the faculty member on behalf of the student. Results of the student's research efforts are expected to comprise the student's research thesis , but may also in parallel lead to joint publications with his/her supervisor.

Graduate research studentships are paid as a scholarship during the first month of the term.


Doctoral students are encouraged to teach at least one undergraduate course at some time during their program of study. Generally these are courses that need to be covered during sabbatical or other leaves. Available courses will be advertised to students ahead of each term. Students must have completed their PhD comprehensive examination to be eligible to apply. Completion of the Fundamentals of University Teaching program through the Centre for Teaching Excellence is also normally required. Applications are reviewed and decisions made by the Executive Committee (Department Chair, Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies, and Department Administrator). Undergraduate teaching is remunerated at the standard university term rate for sessional instructors. A faculty member will be assigned as a mentor to assist with this teaching experience, along with support from the Executive Committee.




Graduate students currently enrolled in a degree program at Waterloo are eligible for conference support once per fiscal year (May to April) to present results of research they conducted while at University of Waterloo at professional or academic meetings or conferences. Students must be the first or second author and must be the conference presenter. Assistance is provided jointly by your supervisor (if funds are available), the Department ($200 for both masters and doctoral students), the Faculty ($100 for masters students and $150 for doctoral students) and the Graduate Studies Office (up to $500). Note that funding may not cover all of the expenses incurred to present at the conference.

If your abstract has not yet been accepted, it is still best to apply before the deadline. If not accepted, you can always cancel the request and reapply for another conference during the fiscal year.

The Graduate Studies Conference Assistantship form is submitted to your supervisor and then to the Department to request these funds. Deadlines are August 1 for Fall term conferences, December 1 for Winter term conferences, and April 1 for Spring term conferences. Applications submitted after the deadline may be approved, subject to availability of funds. Applications submitted after the conference has occurred are not approved for funds.