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Applying for external funding

All prospective students, both Canadian and International are encouraged to apply for external funding. This includes fellowships and awards allocated by: 

  • Federal departments and agencies (i.e. CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC for Canadian applicants)
  • Canadian awards for international students (PBEEE, Vanier CGS, Trudeau Scholarship)
  • Foreign government awards for study in Canada (check with your country’s educational authority)
  • Provincial departments and agencies (i.e. FQRNT, FQRSC, FRSQ)
  • Foundations
  • Private companies

External funding is handled by the student, sometimes with the support of the academic unit. In some cases, the prospective student should investigate this avenue before even applying to the university, because the timelines can be quite long. In other cases, students can apply for external funding after they have already begun their studies. Please contact your prospective academic unit to confirm how they handle external funding.

Why apply for external grants?

  • Grants give you financial support while you continue your academic career
    • Fellowships are worth up to $50,000 for top Canadian students
    • Other grants are worth up to $30,000 for Quebec residents
  • They help to bolster your academic resume
  • Grants enhance your academic reputation and help your career development

Who should apply for external grants?

Award eligibility varies greatly by the award and the granting agency providing the funds. Many awards are only available to residents or citizens of a specific region or country or to applicants of a specific discipline. Most external awards are competitive and require a minimum CGPA or other academic and leadership qualifications. Make sure to check the award’s terms of eligibility to see if you qualify.

International students should visit the international student funding page, and contact your country's educational authorities to inquire about funding opportunities to study abroad.

How do I apply for external funding?

Each competition will vary as to when and how you submit your application. Please review the applicable Awards page of the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) website to determine whether your application should be submitted directly to the agency or through your academic unit, and the terms of application including:

  • Overview of award terms (value, duration, deadline, etc.)
  • Eligibility
  • How to apply
  • Required documents
  • Resources
  • Post award information (accepting, activating and maintaining award)

When do I apply for external funding?

You should apply for external funding as soon as you have made your decision to pursue graduate studies. In some cases, academic units (departments, schools or institutes) require that you apply for this funding before applying to McGill. In other cases, students can apply for external funding after they have already begun their studies. For many external fellowships, you need to apply one year before your program begins. These awards are often renewable.

You should visit your department’s website to find out more. Refer to the sample funding questions you may want to ask your department.

Which award is right for me?

Visit the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies’ student funding opportunities page for a selection of external awards.

* The Government of Canada provides a description of the types of research these fields include
** by nomination only

For a collection of scholarships and awards from organizations outside McGill who do not rely on departmental nominations, please visit: 

Need more help?

McGill offers students a series of workshops on applications to external agencies that will cover everything you need to know about the application process – from the basics to best practices – to help you maximize your chances of securing funds. Also reference tips for writing a research proposal. These sessions are offered in September every year. Visit the archive of past presentations. These sessions are intended for students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher, and who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.

After you review the information available on this site, if you still have questions on external funding, please contact your departmental representative. graduatefunding [dot] gps [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies,) along with your department, are here to support you in applying to external agency