On this page: General budget guidelines | Budgeting a contract: key differences

General budget guidelines


As of September 15, 2011, the Tri-Agencies’ regulations on minimum and maximum support levels no longer apply. CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC will also no longer restrict researchers from using some of their grant money to provide supplements to scholarship holders.

University minimum rates:

A new Collective Agreement for AMURE Research Associates and Research Assistants was signed on June 28, 2023.

The attached document lists important changes regarding job profiles as well as salary scales and minimum salaries going forward.

Research Associates and Research Assistants as of June 1, 2023:

  • Minimum rate for Research Associates: $31.20 + mandatory benefits (please validate with your local finance officer)
  • Minimum rate for Research Assistants 2: $30.00 + mandatory benefits (please validate with your local finance officer)
  • Minimum rate for Research Assistants 1: $28.50 + mandatory benefits (please validate with your local finance officer)

All Full-time RA positions can be either between 35h and 40h (lunch hour not included).

Research Associates can be hired on a full-time or part-time basis (less than 35 hours)

Research Assistants 2 and Research Assistants 1 can be hired on a full-time, part-time (less than 35 hours) or casual basis.

Student Research Assistants (typically students):

On June 1st of each year, a Student Research Assistant will receive an economic increase as outlined in the table below or the new minimum rate, whichever is greater.

Student Research Assistants

June 1, 2023

June 1, 2024

June 1, 2025

June 1, 2026

Economic increase





Minimum Hourly Rate


$ 18.19



Estimated benefits is 22.33% in addition to salary. Please validate with your local finance officer.

Student Research Assistants may be hired on a full-time, part-time or on a casual basis however their principal objective remains the successful completion of their studies.

While the term Research Assistantship (RA) is sometimes used to describe any position held by graduate students or postdoctoral fellows whereby monies are paid for engaging in research, at McGill there is a clear distinction between providing funds paid to graduate students or postdoctoral fellows as Stipends and those paid for (true) Research Assistantships.

Stipends: Stipends are not be confused with Research Assistantships. Student stipends are fellowships; research assistantships are employment.

Student Stipends are monies paid to students (typically at the graduate level) from a professor’s grant for the purpose of allowing the student to further his/her own research/thesis or other program or academic requirement. Stipends are fellowships awarded to provide financial support to the student while he/she is completing his/her degree.

As noted in the Income Tax Act (IT-75R4), “this work is undertaken by the student because participation in it will assist the student in qualifying for a degree or other scholastic recognition in the field in which the research is being carried on.”

Such activity may include research collaboration with the supervisor or others, developing techniques and methodologies, or gaining knowledge of scientific or scholarly ideas or materials – as long as the objective is the student’s advancement toward educational goals for the desired degree.  Thus, to be awarded a stipend it is not necessary for the student’s work to be a part of the superior’s research or be carried out in collaboration with him/her.   

A Research Assistant's (RA) salary is an hourly wage for research work by a student that does not advance the student's own research/thesis or assist the student in progressing toward his/her degree. RA payments are processed via the HRIS system Workday and are considered employment income and therefore subject to mandatory statutory governmental deductions.

In order to maintain full-time status, a graduate student should not work more than 180 hours per term over 15 weeks with 12 hours per week as described in the ecalendar.

Also, see McGill's Student Stipends website.

Postdoctoral Fellows

For up-to-date information, please click here to consult the dedicated webpage of GPS. 

Graduate Students receiving stipends:

  • Supplemental health and dental insurance: PIs may elect to pay/offset health and dental insurance for graduate students. The maximum permitted is $575 which is equivalent to McGill's Post-graduate Student's Society (PGSS) single-coverage insurance fee.
  • If you choose not to pay this cost from your grant, your post-doctoral fellow or graduate student will assume the cost.
  • Additional information can be found on the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office (GPSO) website.

Indirect Costs

All research incurs indirect costs. The indirect costs of research are institutional costs that benefit and support research.

These costs must be included in budget requests to external sponsors of research, except for the Tri-Agency (NSERC, CIHR, SSHRC), the Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQNT, FRQS, FRQSC), and the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE), as indirect costs for the research they fund are paid to the University through separate federal and provincial indirect costs programs.

For more information on how indirect costs are handled at McGill, please see the Indirect Costs page.

Rates effective from March 1, 2017:

Grants from government and not-for-profit organizations 27% on total direct costs or maximum rate allowed by sponsor
Contracts and agreements with government and not-for-profit organizations 27% on total direct costs or maximum rate allowed by sponsor as per written guidelines or as pre-negotiated by McGill University (please contact OSR for specific sponsor rates)
Grants, contracts, and agreements from industry and other for-profit organizations 40% on total direct costs (Industry sponsored grants and contracts that are matched through industry-partnered federal and provincial programs - e.g. NSERC Alliance, MEI Programme Innovation, Quebec consortia, etc. carry 27% indirect costs.)
Clinical trials 30%
Gifts Indirect costs on gifts in support of research are negotiated by University Advancement
Grants and Contracts with U.S. Federal agencies (except NIH grants) 43.4% on direct salaries and wages, including fringe benefits (in accordance with McGill University’s DHHS Rate Agreement dated November 6, 2020).
National Institutes of Health (NIH) 8% on total direct costs except equipment (in accordance with NIH Grants Policy Statement).
Contracts through Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC) 65% on direct salaries and benefits, including fringe benefits; 2% on travel.

Exceptions: For research grants totaling less than $100,000 per annum inclusive of indirect costs from the same not-for-profit sponsor, where the Principal Investigator (PI) is requesting a rate lower than McGill standard indirect costs rate, the PI submits a written justification to the Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) for approval.

All other requests for an exception to the indirect cost rates must be approved by the relevant Dean(s) and Vice-President (Research and Innovation). It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (PI) to obtain all appropriate approvals/signatures.

Goods and Services Tax (GST) - Effective January 1, 2013

Budget items that are subject to goods and services taxes must add *6.937%. This rate includes the Federal GST (*5%), Québec TVQ (9.975%), 67% rebate on the federal GST and 47% rebate on the Québec TVQ.

Further details are available on the McGill Financial Services website.

Purchase of goods & services ($100,000 and over)

According to the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), all purchases of $100,000 and over must be tendered publicly for a minimum of 15 calendar days. For more information, please consult McGill's Procurement website.

Contact Procurement as soon as the grant has been awarded and the specifications of your requirements have been determined. Please note that 4-6 weeks advance notice to Purchasing is required.

Import and export of goods

For general information regarding import and export, please consult McGill's Procurement website.

Should you have specific questions regarding applicable duty or required forms to be completed when importing goods, you may contact Anna Gentile at Procurement at (514) 398-1720, or Sébastien Lavallée at Affiliated Custom Broker (McGill University’s customs broker), at (514) 288-1211, ext. 250.

Animal care

Contact the arc.info [at] mcgill.ca (Comparative Medicine and Animal Resources Centre (CMARC)) to obtain the current per diem rates.

Exchange rates

Use current rates. Contact General Accounting for more information at (514) 398-3880.

Computing costs

Continuing users of the Computing Centre's facilities are advised to base their future estimates on previous costs. New clients should consult with Debra Simpson at (514) 398-7413. Click here for more information on Computing costs.

Budgeting a contract: Key differences

When budgeting a contract, one prices rather than costs the work to be undertaken. This is one of the biggest differences between a grant, which only costs the work (direct plus indirect costs), and a contract (which incorporates the full cost of carrying out the research or services).

In a contract, the detailed budget remains an internal document: the contractor is only to see the fixed or lump-sum price for the work.

For some projects, the price may be broken down into three or four amounts coinciding with various deliverables through the project's life, or alternatively, broken down by broad categories of expenses that are all-inclusive, such as labour, equipment, consumables and miscellaneous.

In addition to the direct and indirect costs of the research, a contract will also incorporate depreciation of equipment, direct administration charges, contingency and the salary of the Principal Investigator.

For more information on budgeting, please contact an OSR Grants and Agreements Officer.

Back to top