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SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships

Value $20,000 per year
Duration 12, 24, 36 or 48 months
Application deadlineFootnote * Directly to SSHRC: October 17, 2019
Through a Canadian institution with a quota: Contact your institution
Results announced April 2020
Apply Web CV, application and instructions

Important note: Both the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships and the Canada Graduate Scholarships—Doctoral Scholarships (CGS-D) are offered through a single annual national competition. Applicants should refer to the online descriptions for each award to determine their eligibility to apply to and hold each award, as there are notable differences. Applicants eligible for both the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships and the CGS-D Scholarships will automatically be considered for both awards. Only one application is required for consideration of one or both awards.

The SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships are expected to respond to the objectives of the Talent program.

The SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships support high-calibre students engaged in doctoral programs in the social sciences and humanities. This support allows scholars to fully concentrate on their doctoral studies, to seek out the best research mentors in their chosen fields and to contribute to the Canadian research ecosystem during and beyond the tenure of their awards.

SSHRC welcomes applications involving Indigenous research, as well as those involving research-creation.

Related Initiatives

SSHRC and its partner organizations offer initiatives that complement this funding opportunity:

Please consult the related initiatives section in the Talent program description and SSHRC’s Funding search tool to learn more about supplements, specific joint initiatives, as well as other SSHRC funding opportunities that may be of interest for doctoral award applicants.

SSHRC invites all applicants to review Imagining Canada’s Future’s 16 future global challenges and to consider addressing one or more of these areas in their research proposal. This is not an evaluation criterion for merit review and does not offer additional or dedicated research funds for this funding opportunity.

SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships are valued at $20,000 per year for 12, 24, 36 or 48 months, up to a total of $80,000.

SSHRC determines the value and duration of an award based on the number of months of full-time study (or equivalent) the applicant will have completed by December 31 of the year of application. See Eligibility—Applicant section below for more information.

Note: the value and duration of SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships differ from those of the CGS-D Scholarships.

Subject matter

SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships support and promote research excellence in a wide variety of disciplines, including interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research.

Applicants should complete the application that is best aligned with their research subject matter to ensure that it is reviewed by experts in disciplines closest to their field(s) of study. Applicants who are uncertain should consult the guidelines for selecting the appropriate federal granting agency.

Eligibility of degree programs

An eligible doctoral program must include a significant, autonomous research component that leads to the completion of a thesis, major research project, dissertation, scholarly publication, performance, recital and/or exhibit that is merit/expert-reviewed at the institutional level as a requirement for completion of the program.

Joint programs with a professional degree (e.g., MD/PhD, DVM/PhD, JD/PhD, MBA/PhD) as well as clinically oriented programs of study, including clinical psychology, are eligible if they have a significant autonomous research component as described above.


To be eligible to apply, an applicant must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, as of the application deadline date;
  • not have already received a doctoral-level scholarship or fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) or SSHRC;
  • submit only one doctoral award application in a given academic year to either SSHRC, CIHR or NSERC. Nominations to the Vanier CGS program do not count towards this limit;
  • have completed no more than 48 months of full-time study in their doctoral program by December 31 of the year of application.

Some eligibility requirements for the SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships differ from those of the CGS-D Scholarships.

Notes: Completed months of study

Eligibility for a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship is based on the number of months of full-time study that will be completed by December 31 of the year of application.

Part-time study is counted as half time. For example, two terms of part-time study count as one term of full-time study.

The months of study completed are calculated starting from the date on which an applicant is officially registered in the doctoral program; this also applies to applicants:

  • registered in a master’s program and subsequently transferred to a doctoral program (fast-track);
  • registered in a doctoral program, even if a master’s degree is obtained as part of the program (e.g., MA/PhD); or,
  • registered in a doctoral program directly from an undergraduate program (i.e. never enrolled in a master’s program). These applicants, however, may be eligible to apply to the CGS-M program for their first year of doctoral funding.

The agencies count all studies toward the doctoral degree for which funding is requested, whether or not they were completed at the degree-granting institution.

Number of months completed by December 31 of the year of application Duration of SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship
Between 0 and 12 months 48 months
Between 13 and 24 months 36 months
Between 25 and 36 months 24 months
Between 37 and 48 months 12 months
49 months or more Not eligible

Eligibility to hold an award

SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships are tenable at any recognized institution in Canada or abroad. For the fellowship to be held abroad, the award holder must have completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree at a Canadian postsecondary institution. For award holders who do not meet this requirement, the fellowships are tenable only at recognized Canadian postsecondary institutions.

For applicants who qualify for both a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship and a CGS-D Scholarship, the CGS scholarship is only tenable at an eligible Canadian institution. There are no exceptions.

Award holders may be eligible to hold their awards part time. Refer to the Tri-Agency Research Training Award Holder’s Guide  for further information.

Qualifying or “make-up” years of study are not eligible for support.

Multiple applications and holding multiple awards

Individuals may submit, as an applicant, only one fellowship or scholarship application per academic year. Nominations to the Vanier CGS program do not count toward this limit.

Please see SSHRC’s regulations regarding multiple applications and holding multiple awards for more information.

Applicants must complete the application form  in accordance with accompanying instructions.

Applicants eligible for both a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship and CGS-D Scholarship will automatically be considered for both awards.

To apply, you must:

  1. Ensure that you meet the requirements specified in Value and duration and Eligibility.
  2. Complete only one application form, together with the SSHRC CV and required attachments. Application instructions can be accessed when you log in to the application form  in the SSHRC web-application system.
  3. Determine your current registration status from the table below, and submit your completed application to the appropriate institution or to SSHRC directly as required.

Where to submit an application

An applicant must apply through a Canadian institution with a quota or directly to SSHRC. Failure to submit an application through the correct channel may result in an application being rejected from the competition.

The term quota refers to the maximum number of applications an institution can forward to SSHRC’s national competition. Applicants should first determine if an institution has a quota, then refer to the following table to determine where to submit their application. Applicants who are unsure about where to apply should contact SSHRC.

Applicant’s status at time of application Where to submit application
Currently registered in a degree program at a Canadian institution with a quota for SSHRC. Note: This includes applicants on an approved leave of absence from a Canadian institution with a quota for SSHRC. The Canadian institution at which the applicant is currently registered.
Registered concurrently at a Canadian institution with a quota for SSHRC and a foreign post secondary institution (e.g., in a cotutelle). The Canadian institution at which the applicant is currently registered.
Not currently registered in a degree program but were registered at any other time during the year of application in a degree program at a Canadian institution with a quota for SSHRC. The Canadian institution at which the applicant was registered in a degree program.
Currently registered at an institution (Canadian or foreign) without a quota for SSHRC. Directly to SSHRC
Not registered at any time during the year of application in a degree program at a Canadian institution with a quota for SSHRC. Directly to SSHRC

Indigenous applicants

Institutions may recommend applications from Indigenous applicants for submission to the doctoral awards competition beyond their application quota if applicants have agreed to their personal information being used for this purpose by making the appropriate selection in the application form.

Indigenous applicants who have selected this option in their application and who are required to submit directly to SSHRC are automatically evaluated at the national competition.

For more information, please see SSHRC’s Indigenous Talent Measures.


Note: Once the 8:00 p.m. (eastern) application deadline has passed for direct applicants on October 17, the application form will be offline and applications will not be accepted. The application form will come back online after 48 hours, and only applications from Canadian institutions with a quota will be accepted for the November 21 deadline.

Institution deadlines

Applicants applying through their institution must submit their applications by the deadline set by the institution.

The institution will review all applications received, rank them and submit the recommended applications to SSHRC by 8:00 p.m. (eastern) on November 21. Institutions will notify applicants of the outcome of the institutional evaluation.

For more information about institutional deadlines, applicants should contact their Faculty of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent).

Directly to SSHRC deadline

Applicants applying directly to SSHRC must submit using the appropriate application portal before 8:00 p.m. (eastern time) on October 17. If the deadline falls on a weekend or a Canadian public holiday, applications must be submitted by the following business day before 8:00 p.m. (eastern time).

Applicants requiring assistance while preparing their application should communicate with SSHRC well in advance of their application deadline.

Applications are adjudicated, and available funds awarded, through a merit review process. SSHRC bases funding decisions on the recommendations of the adjudication committee and on the funds available.

Institutional review

The faculty of graduate studies (or equivalent) at each Canadian institution is responsible for coordinating the institutional evaluation of doctoral award applications. Institutions then submit applications according to their quotas for consideration to SSHRC.

SSHRC review

Applications (whether sent directly to SSHRC or via the institutions) are evaluated by multidisciplinary selection committees covering broad research areas.

Selection criteria

The evaluation of doctoral award applications, whether by institutions or by SSHRC, is based on the following criteria:

Criteria Description Weight
Research ability and potential

Indicators of research ability and potential:

  • Quality of research proposal
    • specific, focused, and feasible research question(s) and objective(s)
    • clear description of the proposed methodology
    • significance and expected contributions to research
  • Relevant training, such as academic training, lived experience and traditional teachings
  • Research experience and achievements relative to the applicant’s stage of study, lived experience and knowledge systems
  • Quality of contributions and extent to which they advance the field of research. Contributions may include: publications, patents, reports, posters, abstracts, monographs, presentations, creative outputs, knowledge translation outputs, community products, etc.
  • Demonstration of sound judgment and ability to think critically
  • Demonstration of responsible and ethical research conduct, including honest and thoughtful inquiry, rigorous analysis, commitment to safety and to the dissemination of research results, and adherence to the use of professional standards
  • Enthusiasm for research, originality, initiative, autonomy, relevant community involvement and outreach
  • The ability or potential to communicate theoretical, technical and/or scientific concepts clearly and logically in written and oral formats
Relevant experience and achievements obtained within and beyond academia

Indicators of relevant experience and achievements obtained within and beyond academia:

  • Scholarships, awards and distinctions (amount, duration and prestige)
  • Academic record, such as:
    • Transcripts
    • Duration of previous studies
    • Program requirements and courses pursued
    • Course load
    • Relative standing in program (if available)
  • Professional, academic, and extracurricular activities as well as collaborations with supervisors, colleagues, peers, students and members of the community, such as:
    • teaching, mentoring, supervising and/or coaching
    • managing projects
    • participating in science and/or research promotion
    • community outreach, volunteer work and/or civic engagement
    • chairing committees and/or organizing conferences and meetings
    • participating in departmental or institutional organizations, associations, societies and/or clubs

SSHRC’s Guidelines for the Merit Review of Indigenous Research are relevant for researchers (applicants and project directors) and students preparing SSHRC applications related to Indigenous research. SSHRC provides these guidelines to merit reviewers to help build understanding of Indigenous research and research-related activities, and to assist committee members in interpreting SSHRC’s specific evaluation criteria in the context of Indigenous research. SSHRC makes concerted efforts to include experts in Indigenous research in doctoral and postdoctoral adjudication committees. The guidelines may also be of use to external assessors, postsecondary institutions and partner organizations that support Indigenous research.

Communication of results

SSHRC informs all applicants in writing of the outcome of their applications in April of each year. Results are not provided by telephone or email.

The Faculty of Graduate studies (or its equivalent) of Canadian institutions with a quota will be informed of the competition results of applications submitted through their institution via SSHRC’s secure site.

SSHRC will publish the names (and other basic award information) of scholarship recipients on its website.

Please note that all communications of results, including publication of recipients’ list, meet all requirements of the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

SSHRC reserves the right to determine the eligibility of applications, based on the information therein. SSHRC also reserves the right to interpret the regulations and policies governing its funding opportunities.

All applicants and scholarship/fellowship holders must comply with the Regulations Governing Fellowship and Scholarship Applications and with the regulations set out in the Tri-Agency Research Training Award Holder’s Guide.

Official languages

Applicants may submit their application in the official language of their choice. Institutions must have mechanisms in place to review both English and French applications.

Guidelines and related support material

All applicants for SSHRC funding should consult the following guidelines while preparing their applications:

For more information, contact:

Tel.: 613-943-7777

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