Graduate Funding

Graduate Funding

Minimum Level of Support

As an MSc or PhD student in the Department of Biology, you receive a minimum level of support, which for academic year 2022-23, is $19,608, plus a full tuition & fees subsidy. Since tuition and fees vary with residency status, the total funding package ranges from $24,599 for Québec residents to $41,581 for international students.

The minimum level of support is provided to MSc students for 2 years and to PhD students for 4 or 5 years, depending on whether you enter as PhD 2 or PhD 1, respectively. After this time, support will be offered only at the discretion of the department and your supervisor.

Funding Package Overview

You will receive funding from several different sources during your studies at McGill, which together make up your “funding package”. Once a year, you and your supervisor will sign and agree to a financial support form that details the funding you will receive. This funding will fall into several categories, with additional details for each provided below:

1. Stipends

You will receive a stipend to pursue your studies and progress towards your degree. This amount is not considered employment income and is not subject to income tax. Stipends are paid by your supervisor and/or by awards that you receive.

2. Tuition & Fees Subsidy

In addition, you receive a subsidy to cover the cost of tuition and fees which you must pay to the University each term. This subsidy is paid by your supervisor and/or by awards that you receive. International students may additionally receive a Differential Fee Waiver (DFW) from GPS or an international student tuition relief award from the Department to offset your higher tuition cost.

3. Employment Income

To bridge the gap between the stipend and the minimum level of support, you are typically expected to take on 180 hours per year of paid work as a McGill teaching assistant (TA). Unlike a stipend, assistantship income is taxable and comes from the Department/University.

4. Awards & Scholarships

You are strongly encouraged to apply for internal and external awards. Depending on the award amount, it may be used to offset your supervisor's contributions to your stipend and tuition and fees and/or to reduce the number of TA hours you work.

5. Base support

This funding typically comes from the departmental Graduate Excellence Fund (GEF; Biology’s enrollment-driven allocation from GPS for graduate studies) and is intended to increase your total “take home” level of support.

The baseline funding package therefore consists of a stipend, employment income (i.e. TAships and RAships), and a tuition and fees subsidy. When calculating your anticipated annual “take home” support, you should subtract the tuition and fees that you will owe for the year from your total funding package:

Funding Package = Stipend + Employment Income + Base + Tuition & Fees Subsidy

Take Home = Funding Package - Tuition & Fees Owed

Funding Package Details


The 2022-23 minimum stipend is $11,163 and is intended to help cover your living expenses. This amount is scheduled to increase annually by 1%. Stipends are paid by your supervisor, but may also be funded by awards or scholarships received by you. Supervisors can increase the stipend value for any reason and may do so, in particular, to ‘buy out’ your need to take on employment as a TA.

Employment Income

Typically, you will take on one 180-hour contract or two 90-hour TA contracts per year, which, in 2022-23, results in $5,945 of taxable income. TAs receive the same remuneration regardless of the course or position (e.g. lab vs. lecture assistant). As a TA, your wages are negotiated annually by the Association for Graduate Students Employed at McGill (AGSEM) according to a collective bargaining agreement. Any increase in assistantship income due to negotiated or scheduled increases in TA wages that occur after your first year do not affect the minimum stipend level that you receive and thus serve to increase your “take-home” support level.

You can take on additional TA contracts to increase your income. Before committing to additional assistantships, you should keep in mind that you are provided support for your degree for a limited time and that additional assistantship hours may reduce research productivity. You should discuss additional assistantships with your supervisor, ideally through your letter of understanding. Alternatively, you can choose to forgo assistantships if you receive awards or are able to subsist on less than the specified minimum level of support.

Although they are uncommon in the Department of Biology, research assistantships may be available irregularly throughout the year and are another way for you to supplement your income.

Awards & Scholarships

You are strongly encouraged to apply for awards and scholarships whenever possible. These are good for you (valuable experience and good for your CV) and good for your lab/research group (free up funds for experiments, etc.). The value of these awards ranges from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. Internal awards are those from within McGill. External awards are those from any body outside of McGill, including awards from government agencies, industry, and sources outside Canada. For some internal awards, you are automatically considered, but for others, you must apply. For external funding, applications are required and the selection process is usually highly competitive.

You and your supervisor are encouraged to establish expectations for award allocation through your letter of understanding. Within the Department of Biology, awards will often contribute to offsetting your supervisor’s contribution to your minimum level of support (i.e. stipend and tuition and fees). If the total value of received awards exceeds this amount, you will receive the excess amount as a ‘bonus’ or ‘top-up’, which can be used to supplement or replace TAship/employment income.

Some of the more common internal and external awards that Biology students across disciplines can apply for are listed in the tables below. (Note: award values and deadlines are approximate)

Internal Awards

Value (total)


Biology Excellence Award (new students)


Call for nominees prior to Fall/Winter application deadlines

Graduate Research Enhancement and Travel (GREAT)  Award


Closed for the 22/23 academic year. It will open Fall 2023. 

Mobility Award



Science Graduate Professional Development Allocation 



Writing Year Award



b PhD students only


External Awards

Value (per year)


Canada Graduate Scholarship - Mastersa



Canada Graduate Scholarship - Doctoralb



Charles R. Drew Graduate Fellowship



Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarshipb



Tomlinson Doctoral Fellowshipsb (newly admitted PhD students only)



Quebec Provincial Awardsab



a MSc students only, b PhD students only

Additional resources

Funding Opportunities | Department of Biology

MSc Funding Opportunities | Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

PhD Funding Opportunities | Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

International Student Funding Opportunities | Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

Travel Funding Opportunities | Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

Award Application Workshops | Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

Tips for Writing a Research Proposal | Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

Base support

As of Fall 2022, every MSc and PhD student within their guaranteed funding period (2 years for MSc students and 4 or 5 years for PhD students, depending on whether they enter as PhD2 or PhD1, respectively) will receive $2,500 annually as “base” support from the Biology department/GPS. This amount replaces the one-time entrance award.

Need-based Financial Support

To supplement the specified minimum level of support, you can seek need-based financial support through McGill’s Work Study Program. The Program offers access to clerical, research, technical, library or other jobs on campus or in some of the McGill-affiliated hospitals and organizations. You must demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the Work Study Program.

You can also apply for government loans. Canadian students, including those from Quebec, apply directly to their province or territory of residence, while US students can apply for funding offered by their federal government and/or by a number of alternative loan providers. International students interested in need-based student aid should inquire directly with their domestic governmental agencies.

Teaching Assistantships

Choosing which course(s) to TA

Ultimately, you choose whether to TA and to which courses you apply, but your supervisor may have some helpful suggestions or may even ask you to TA for a course they’re teaching. Browse the Biology course catalog to get a feel for the content and structure of courses offered by the Biology department. (Note: you may also apply to TAships outside of the Biology department.) Biology courses with TA positions are listed by term here. Not sure if a particular course will work with your schedule? You can use the McGill Virtual Schedule Builder to find out.

The time commitment and nature of the TA work will vary widely course-to-course. Some positions require heavy grading and/or a lot of time in the lab, whereas others may be more organizational and/or remote. It is a good idea to talk to your peers about which courses they have TA’d to get a sense of which TA positions will work best for you.

Most 100-200 level courses are fairly basic content-wise and only require a general understanding of biology and statistics. There is no need to necessarily stay within your specific area of expertise. Specific qualifications will be addressed in the Workday TA job postings.

You may apply to three TA positions, which you rank by preference. TA positions are awarded by the department largely based on the so-called “Priority Pool”, as negotiated in the AGSEM Teaching Assistant Collective Agreement (see the AGSEM FAQs for TAs for more information), which is considered alongside qualifications. Positions, especially in upper-level courses, may be limited and it is always good to have a backup choice. (Note: if you want the 180 hour position for a course that offers both 90 and 180 hour contracts, apply to both, while clearly specifying your preference in the application.)

Who to contact about TA questions

Susan Gabe, Undergraduate Student Affairs Coordinator (susan.gabe [at]

Applying for TAships and Workday

Effective March 2021, all candidates must apply for TAships through Workday. The Biology department’s instructions for applying for TAships can be found here.

TA postings are made available no later than:

March 31st for Summer courses

May 31st for Fall and Full Year courses

November 1st for Winter courses

Application deadlines cannot be earlier than 15 days after the TA posting is made.

Note: these dates may change year-to-year. Keep an eye out here for application deadlines and on your inbox for emails from Susan Gabe.

You must apply either as an internal (current/active employee) or external (new or former employee) candidate. Even if you have held a TAship at McGill in the past, that contract is terminated once the TAship has ended and you will have to apply externally. Instructions for applying internally or externally can be found here


Once you have been selected as a TA for a course, you will receive an email from Susan Gabe which will describe the “Onboarding” process. A Workday onboarding notification email will also be sent to your primary work email (if you already have a work email address) and to your primary home email (which you used to create the application).

If you applied externally, you may encounter the following common technical difficulty during the onboarding process (not addressed in the instructions):

When trying to access your McGill employee account (using VPN) you may get authorization failures and be redirected to your student account. Follow these steps:

1. Login into your student Minerva account and create a password for your account under the Personal menu - reset McGill username password. This will reset the password for both the student AND employee accounts.

2. Open a new browser window in “incognito” mode, type in and login with your new employee credentials. Set up two factor authentication when prompted.

3. After the first two steps, you should be logged in to Workday and able to complete the onboarding process.

Once logged into your employee account on Workday, you will begin the process of onboarding. Multiple steps will be sent to your Workday inbox, and the site will automatically walk you through all tasks. A step to step guide to completing the tasks and navigating Workday will be attached in an Onboarding email. (Note: Failing to complete your onboarding tasks in a timely manner may cause unnecessary consequences, such as delaying your first pay, or incorrect deductions on your pay.)

Wages & Getting Paid

All TAs are paid the same hourly wage regardless of whether you choose to work 90 or 180 hours or if you TA a lab or a lecture course. This wage is negotiated by the AGSEM.

You will be prompted to input your banking information directly into Workday during the onboarding process. The banking information you are required to enter can be found at the bottom of a cheque for the bank account you would like to use. Pay dates occur bi-weekly beginning on the first day of classes. Access your payslips and tax documents through your Workday account under the “Pay” tab.

Rights & Responsibilities

Please see the AGSEM website for a great description of all of your rights as a TA. Your basic responsibilities as a TA should be outlined on the job posting and more specifically in the contract that you sign. If you have questions or concerns about your responsibilities, you should bring those up with the instructor.

One very effective way to know you are doing an appropriate amount of work is to keep track of your hours. If you think you will exceed the hours listed in the contract, you should bring that up with the instructor. If you have significant issues as a TA, especially if those issues are with your instructor, you can contact a grievance officer through the AGSEM.

TA Resources

Tips and tricks

  • TA for a class on a topic that you like or want to know more about, this will help make the work more enjoyable.
  • Class attendance can be required, so check with the instructor.
  • Keep track of your hours and (if needed) prepare for labs, conferences, and classes in advance.
  • Review the material and be familiar with it to avoid learning everything at the same time as the students.
  • Don’t leave your work as a TA to the last minute as there can be a lot of students in a class, which means lots of questions, meetings, and exams to grade. Plan ahead and be reachable!
  • Being a TA is not mandatory, a student can choose not to be a TA if they do not wish to do so. There is no obligation to do it every semester. Your PI cannot ask you to not TA. Whether or not you TA is your choice.
  • A student can hold more than one TA position as long as the maximum of 180h is not exceeded, although this is rare.
  • Speak to the course instructor or fellow course TAs (if any) concerning any of the responsibilities assigned.
  • A student may be TAing a course alone or with other students, this is something which you should consider when applying for a job.
  • Make sure to complete all of your requirements for TAing, especially if lab responsibilities are involved, as WHMIS training may be required.
  • Remember to be respectful and inclusive to all students. Resources available on this subject can be found here, here and here.
  • Remember to fill out all of the necessary forms on time:

Tuition & Fees

Tuition & Fees Cost

The cost of tuition and fees varies by program registration status (full-time, continuing, additional session, thesis-evaluation) and provincial/national residency (Quebec, Canada, International).

You are in full-time status while you complete your program residency requirements: three terms for MSc students and six to eight terms for PhD students depending on whether you enter as PhD 2 or PhD 1, respectively. Typically, only fall and winter terms contribute to residency requirements. During the summer, you are assigned a status of ‘continuing’. There is no tuition or fees owed for these ‘continuing’ status terms.

When you have met the residency requirements but are still completing your program requirements, you are assigned the ‘additional session’ status during fall, winter, and summer terms. Unlike ‘continuing’ status summer terms, you will be charged tuition and fees for ‘additional session’ summer terms.

If you submit your thesis past the deadline for one-term evaluation, you will have ‘thesis evaluation’ status for the following term while your thesis is being reviewed. If the thesis evaluation takes place during the summer term, you will still be charged registration and associated fees.

Below is an example of the total tuition and fees for MSc students by registration status for Fall 2022. Note that other statuses with different tuition and fees exist, including part-time and extension statuses. In addition, tuition and fees are not constant across the year and are typically highest in the Fall term, lower in the Winter term and lowest during Summer ‘additional’ sessions. McGill provides a tuition calculator which will allow you to see your tuition and fees based on program and status here.



Registration Status








Additional Session




Thesis Evaluation




Paying Your Tuition & Fees

You are responsible for paying tuition and fees every term. An e-bill that details the tuition and fee charges will be available through Minerva roughly one month before the start of each term. Payments are technically due at the start of each term. However, you have a ~30 day grace period to pay tuition and fees. During this period, you will not be charged interest or be denied access to course registration. After the grace period ends, non-payment will result in interest charges, late payment fees, and account holds that block access to registration, course add/drop, transcripts, etc. Payments are typically made through online banking, cheque, or other methods and take 1-3 working days to process.

The funds to cover tuition and fees are transferred to you via direct deposit from the funding source (typically your supervisor’s research grants). However, this amount is most commonly received via a series of disbursements that are evenly distributed throughout the year. This means that you often have to cover tuition and fees “out-of-pocket” prior to receiving your full tuition and fees subsidy.

Tuition Payment Deferrals

If you will be unable to pay your tuition and fees before the end of the 30-day payment grace period or you prefer to pay in “installments”, you can complete a tuition payment deferral.

You may choose to defer tuition, registration fees, health and dental insurance charges, if you are waiting for funding disbursements to be deposited into your account. Deferred payments will not be charged interest, are granted on a term basis, and will be deferred by 3-4 months, depending on the source of expected funding. To apply for a tuition payment deferral:

1. Log in to Minerva

2. Click on the Financial Aid/Awards tab

3. Click Defer Payment of Tuition and Fees

Differential Fee Waivers & International Tuition Relief

To offset your greater tuition and fees, international students may be eligible for a Differential Fee Waiver (DFW). DFWs can be external or internal. External DFWs, also known as “exemptions”, are available to a certain number of citizens from countries whose governments have entered into agreements on tuition fees with Québec. All French citizens are eligible for these exemptions. Internal DFWs are allocated to Faculties and Departments at McGill by GPS and, in the Department of Biology, are awarded by the GTC. It is the responsibility of your supervisor to notify the GPD that you should be considered for one of these internal DFWs. Your supervisor will notify you if the DFW is awarded.

You may also be awarded international tuition relief by the GTC. International tuition relief differs from a DFW in both the source of the funds and in its administration. International tuition relief awards come from the Biology’s departmental budget, whereas DFWs come from GPS. International tuition relief provides you with additional funds with which to pay your international tuition and fees, whereas DFWs are applied directly and reduce the tuition and fees that you must pay. The application process is, however, the same for both.

Funding Administration

Student Support Forms

Once a year, your supervisor and you must sign a “Student Stipend Authorization Form”. This form is typically completed in mid- to late August and covers the following academic year (e.g. in August 2021, you should sign the form for Fall, Winter and Summer 2021-2022). Students starting in the Winter term will sign a prorated version of this form, usually in December (e.g. in December 2021, you should sign the form for Winter and Summer 2022).

The dollar value in the “Amount” field on this form is the money that will be paid to you from your supervisor’s grant(s) and does not include other sources of funding that you might receive, such as TAship income, international tuition fee relief, or an entrance award. Thus, for students who do not hold awards/fellowships, this value should be at least equivalent to the minimum level of support minus the value of 180 hours of TAship, which will be disbursed separately.

For example, for academic year 2021-22, the minimum level of support is $16,880, plus a full tuition & fees subsidy. This means that for full-time registered Canadian PhD student, the minimum level of support = $16,880 + $4,891 (tuition & fees) = $21,771, of which $5,828 is TAship employment income → the minimum amount to be paid by your supervisor and entered in the “Amount” field = $15,944.

This annual exercise is a good opportunity for you to review your funding situation with your supervisor, especially with respect to TAships and expectations for award allocation. You should also make sure that the tuition & fees subsidy matches what you expect to pay. It is not uncommon for mistakes to arise if your registration status will change during the year (e.g. going from full-time to additional sessions).

These forms are prepared by the Biology Administrative & Student Affairs Coordinator and their timely completion relies on your registration status. You must confirm your registration for both the Fall and Winter terms by adding the registration confirmation course REGN RCGR in Minerva. Failure to do so by the registration deadline may delay completion of your stipend authorization form and consequently your stipend payments.

Funding Disbursements

Stipends, tuition and fees subsidies, employment income, and some awards will be delivered through disbursements rather than in lump-sum payments. Disbursement schedules vary but are typically made on a monthly or biweekly basis, on the 1st and/or 15th of each month. Note that income from TAships is distributed only during the term of employment, whereas stipends, tuition and fees subsidies and awards are typically divided equally across the entire year. You may see your disbursement schedule by doing the following:

1. Log in to Minerva

2. Click on the Financial Aid/Awards tab

3. Click Scholarships & Awards Menu

4. Click My Financial Aid & Awards

5. Select Aid Year and Period

6. Click an award’s Disbursement Schedule


Pay Schedule

Below is a table with typical pay schedules for different sources of income and payments. Please note that pay schedules may vary


Pay Schedule

Tuition & fees

Bills typically appear twice per year in Minerva, in August and December, i.e., before the Fall and the Winter Semester. Payments are due by the end of September/January, but can be deferred.

Stipend, tuition & fees subsidy

Paid out biweekly, throughout the year

TAship salary

Paid out biweekly, but only during the semesters of active TAships

Differential fee waiver*

Deducted automatically from tuition & fees

International student tuition relief*

Paid out at the beginning of Fall and Winter Semesters

Internal/external awards & scholarships


*Applies to some international graduate students

Research Expenses

During your studies, the day-to-day costs of your research (e.g. consumables, facility fees) are generally covered by funds from your supervisor’s research grants. However, you may need to pay for travel, small research equipment, and other expenses, especially in relation to field work. These expenses should ultimately be covered by your supervisor or the Department but in the short-term, you may need to pay out-of-pocket. To minimize this financial burden, you can apply for advances to cover the cost of anticipated expenses and/or complete expense reports to be reimbursed for outstanding expenses.

In general, graduate students are expected to own their own laptop that they will use for coursework, research, etc. Students should discuss possible solutions/alternatives with their supervisor should personal ownership of a laptop create an unmanageable financial situtation and/or if their personal laptop is insufficient for their research.

You can get in-person guidance pertaining to research expenses by scheduling a meeting with the Department of Biology’s Financial Services Team (scipod1.managers [at]


You can apply for a travel advance for expenses related to conference travel, field research, small departmental expenses, and more. Consult the Procedures for Travel and Other Reimbursable Expenses for more information on the different types of advances.

Expense Reports

You must complete an expense report to reconcile an advance or be reimbursed for expenses related to travel, conference registration, field research, and more. Most expenses must be accompanied by digitized (i.e. scanned or photographed) original receipts. Notable exceptions include mileage claims and meal per diems. Consult the Procedures for Travel and Other Reimbursable Expenses and Helpful Tips and Reminders for more information.

Payment and Procurement

Goods and services can be paid for using different methods depending on the type of purchase and value. For clarifications on using available payment methods, please see the Overview of Procurement & Payment Methods. You can use the purchase decision chart to determine which payment method is most appropriate.

The McGill MarketPlace (MMP) is an e-procurement system; a virtual shopping mall where users can view, compare and order products from McGill contracted and preferred vendors. You can assign a cart with research-related items (e.g. lab supplies) to your supervisor for final review and purchasing.

The McGill University Procurement Card (PCard) is a credit card assigned to some McGill employees in order to allow purchasing of goods and services up to specified amounts for approved business purposes. Students will rarely use a PCard and should complete purchases through the McGill Marketplace, whenever possible.

Payment Requests are to be used when no other method of payment is appropriate (e.g. Purchase Requisitions, PCard, Payroll and Expense Reimbursements). Consult the Payment Requests Policy to determine whether a Payment Request is appropriate.

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