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Graduate Research Enhancement and Travel Awards (GREAT Awards)

In 2009, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, in consultation with the Faculty Deans and Associate Deans, introduced the Graduate Research Enhancement and Travel awards (GREAT awards) program. The University added an annual budget of $300,000 ($150,000 from the Provost’s office plus $150,000 from GPS) to the now defunct Alma Mater Travel Grant Program in order to expand its mandate and support graduate student travel and research dissemination.

GREAT awards funds are allocated to Faculties and then disbursed to graduate students. These awards cover not only dissemination of research through graduate student presentations at conferences, but also other graduate student research-enhancement activities, such as travel for fieldwork, archival inquiry and extra-mural collaborative research.

For more information about the GREAT awards, please refer to the page concerning funding opportunities for study abroad.

Goal and Objectives

The goal of the GREAT program is to create a net increase in McGill’s research profile, to allow flexibility in the determination and distribution of graduate student travel awards, and to introduce more efficient and effective administrative and allocation mechanisms.

These goals will be achieved by:

  • significantly increasing the overall pool of funds for the enhancement of graduate student (and hence university-wide) research activity and visibility;
  • providing Faculties with a yearly GREAT allocation so that they can increase the funding for graduate student research travel and dissemination according to their own research and funding strategies;
  • giving Faculties maximum flexibility in the distribution of the GREAT awards to complement and enlarge (not replace or decrease) existing Faculty and departmental programs, as well as those graduate student travel funds provided by faculty members from research grants and other sources;
  • eliminating the current Alma Mater Travel Grant Program and its central competition (currently adjudicated by a lottery system) allowing for more deliberate, planned, and timely use of university resources;
  • developing an online form and nomination process to eliminate paper submissions and streamline the program’s procedures and administration. This form is designed to feed into the new Banner Student Aid for Canada (BSAC) module to allow disbursement directly into the student’s bank account (eliminating the need for the student to complete and submit paper forms for payroll disbursement);
  • establishing accountability measures for ensuring net increases in funds distributed to graduate student research travel and dissemination.


Funding for this program includes new resources of $300,000 annually in addition to the sources of funds that contributed to the now defunct Alma Mater Travel Grant program (endowments and annual donations directed to the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Alma Mater fund, SSHRC and NSERC general graduate studies funds, as well as a share of royalties from McGill patents and inventions).

It is estimated that the above funds will provide a budget of approximately $400,000 annually for the next three years, to be allocated to Faculties.


The GREAT allocation for each Faculty will be determined by enrolment, based on the percentage of eligible graduate students, with allocations in January for travel from May 1st to the following April 30th.


  • All Research Master’s or Doctoral students in good standing, registered fulltime, and NOT in time limitation.
  • Awards must be used to support research travel and dissemination of research, including, but not limited to:
    • conference presentations (and equivalent dissemination activities in research-creation disciplines, such as Music);
    • field research; archival research; collaborative research outside the university.
  • Students must meet the eligibility criteria at the time of travel and when the award is paid.


Value(s) and recipients of the GREAT awards will be at the discretion of the Faculty.

Nomination procedures

  • GPS will provide an allocation to the Faculty Dean according to the timeline mentioned above.
  • The Faculty will decide on an awarding mechanism, considering:
    • Award value
    • Selection mechanism or allocation to academic departments
    • Policy on matching funds requirements
    • Approval mechanism – to ensure that students are eligible in terms of purpose of travel
    • Prioritizing purpose of travel
  • Faculties will submit the nominations for the students receiving the GREAT awards to GPS via the Minerva award processing form BSAC.
  • GPS will validate that the student is currently registered full time in an eligible Research Master’s program or in a Doctoral program, but NOT in time limitation. (updated as per the Feb. 22, 2010 memo)
  • GPS will process payments to the awardees’ bank accounts as award payments. No expense reports will be processed by GPS.