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 $450,000 to the now defunct Alma Mater Travel Grant Program in order to expand its mandate and support graduate student travel and research dissemination across the University.

GREAT award funds are allocated to Faculties to be disbursed to graduate students. These awards cover dissemination of research through graduate student presentations at conferences, and other graduate student research-enhancement activities, such as travel for fieldwork, archival inquiry and extra-mural collaborative research.

Goal and Objectives

The goal of the GREAT awards 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 an annual GREAT awards 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 previous Alma Mater Travel Grant Program and its central competition (adjudicated by a lottery system) allowing for more deliberate, planned, and timely use of university resources;
  • Establishing accountability measures for ensuring net increases in funds distributed to graduate student research travel and dissemination.


Funding sources for this program include: 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 and Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies contribution of $430,000.


The GREAT awards allocation for each Faculty is determined by enrolment, based on the percentage of eligible graduate students. Allocations are given to faculties in December for disbursement in the following academic year.


Research Master's or Doctoral students are eligible for a GREAT award if they are:

  • 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

  1. GPS will provide an allocation to the Faculty Dean according to the timeline mentioned above.
  2. 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
  3. Faculties will submit the nominations for the students receiving the GREAT awards to GPS via the Minerva award processing form BSA.
  4. GPS will validate that the student is currently registered full time in an eligible Research Master or Doctoral program, and NOT in time limitation.