SSHRC Institutional Grants

2021 Competition

Value $5,000 per year minimum
Duration 3 years
Application deadlineFootnote * December 1, 2021 (8 p.m. eastern)
Results announced Spring 2022

Application form and instructions

Note: To access the SSHRC Institutional Grants application form, applicants must be granted research grants officer (RGO) status on their Convergence Portal accounts. Applicants who do not yet have RGO status should contact SSHRC at before beginning the application process.

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Through its SSHRC Institutional Grants (SIG) funding opportunity, SSHRC provides annual grants to help eligible Canadian postsecondary institutions fund, through their own merit review processes, small-scale research and research-related activities by their faculty and students in the social sciences and humanities. SIG funds are intended to help Canadian postsecondary institutions strengthen research excellence in the social sciences and humanities.

Complementary to, and in line with, SSHRC’s three main pillars of activities (Research training and talent development program, Insight research program and Research partnerships program), SIG funds can be used to offer SSHRC Explore Grants and SSHRC Exchange Grants.

  • SSHRC Explore Grants:
    • support social sciences and humanities researchers with modest research funding requirements at any stage of their career;
    • allow for small-scale innovation and experimentation by providing funding to develop a research project or to conduct pilot work; and
    • enable researchers to hire students at any level to participate in their research projects, thereby contributing to the students’ professional development.
  • SSHRC Exchange Grants:
    • support the organization of small-scale knowledge mobilization activities, such as workshops and seminars, to encourage collaboration and the dissemination of research results both within and beyond the academic community; and
    • allow researchers to attend or present their research at scholarly conferences and other dissemination venues that align with SSHRC’s mandate in order to advance their careers and encourage the exchange of ideas and research results at the national and international level.

SSHRC expects that all SIG-funded research training will incorporate appropriate dimensions of the Guidelines for Effective Research Training.

Value and duration

SSHRC provides annual block grants for three-year terms. These are calculated according to the following formula:

  • $50 for each full-time faculty member whose discipline falls within SSHRC’s mandate; plus
  • an amount based on the postsecondary institution’s average performance, over the three previous competition years, in all SSHRC research support funding opportunities, calculated at the rate of:
    • 23% of the first $100,000 awarded;
    • 20% of the next $400,000 awarded; and
    • 14% of the remainder, if any.

This formula recognizes multi-institutional grants by distributing credit for performance to all co-applicants.

SIG block grants will be calculated once per three-year funding cycle.

Eligible institutions that are deemed to meet the review and eligibility criteria will receive a minimum grant of $5,000 per annum.

Supplementary funding for small institutions (fewer than 250 full-time faculty in the social sciences and humanities)

SSHRC recognizes the importance of supporting smaller institutions and is committed to assisting them in their efforts to increase research and research-related activities in the social sciences and humanities. Therefore, SSHRC provides an annual supplement to the annual block grant. In this competition cycle only, an additional $500,000 per year will be added to the total supplement funding envelope. The amount granted to each eligible small institution will be based on the amount of the annual block grant that the institution receives and in accordance with the ranges below:

Annual block grant Annual supplement
$5,000 $10,000
$5,001-$9,999 $15,000
$10,000-$19,999 $25,000
$20,000 or more $30,000

Note: The amounts above are maximum amounts; grant sizes will be adjusted to fit within the available funding envelope.



To be eligible for the SIG funding opportunity, a postsecondary institution must:

  • be a Canadian postsecondary institution eligible to administer SSHRC funds;
  • be independent of the federal government for the purpose of faculty employment status;
  • independently grant university degrees in the social sciences and humanities disciplines at the undergraduate level or beyond;
  • have designated one individual at the vice-president level to be responsible for the oversight of the grant funds;
  • agree to clearly brand grants for research purposes as “SSHRC Explore Grants”;
  • agree to clearly brand grants for dissemination purposes as “SSHRC Exchange Grants”; and
  • have submitted all outstanding reports for SIG and/or Aid to Small Universities grants before the application deadline.

Note: Institutions that received SIG funds in the 2018 funding cycle will not need to submit final reports to be considered eligible, but must have submitted the preliminary activity report before the application deadline.

To be eligible for supplementary funding, an institution must meet the eligibility requirements listed above and:

  • have fewer than 250 full-time faculty members in SSHRC-related fields; and
  • demonstrate the need for the additional funds by confirming expenditures equal to or greater than 50% of the funds allocated in the first two years of the grant. To meet this requirement, at the end of the grant’s second year, institutions receiving supplementary funding must submit a preliminary activity report indicating that at least 50% of the supplement had been allocated by March 31, 2024. The third-year funding will be placed on hold until the report has been received in good order.

Note: Institutions affiliated with a postsecondary institution that is itself too large to be eligible for the supplement, but that operate independently in terms of governance and fiscal operations, could be eligible for supplementary funding.


Postsecondary institutions receiving SIG funds determine the number of competitions they will hold annually; establish deadlines that best suit the needs of their researchers; and set the application procedures. Institutions can distribute funds according to their own priorities.

However, in awarding funds, recipient institutions must meet the following conditions:

  • Recipients must be affiliated with an eligible Canadian postsecondary institution, and must maintain such an affiliation for the duration of the grant period. Researchers who maintain an affiliation with a Canadian postsecondary institution, but whose primary affiliation is with a non-Canadian institution, are not eligible to hold SIG-funded grants.
  • Postdoctoral researchers affiliated with the institution are eligible to receive support for eligible activities, provided that they maintain their affiliation for the duration of the grant period.
  • Students are not eligible to hold SIG-funded grants; however, SSHRC encourages researchers to employ students in SIG-funded research.
  • Recipient institutions acknowledge SSHRC support for their research or research-related activities.


  • Each Explore or Exchange grant awarded cannot exceed $7,000. Grants awarded via the supplement to small institutions are permitted to exceed this maximum for both faculty and institutional capacity-building activities. Grants related to capacity building need not be branded and can be identified as “capacity-building activity” in the institution’s activity report.
  • The value of Explore and Exchange grants awarded to a single project must not exceed $7,000 per year (i.e., large projects cannot be funded with multiple grants awarded to more than one researcher).
  • Individuals cannot hold more than one SIG-funded grant for the same activity in a given fiscal year.
  • The subject matter of the project or activity must be consistent with SSHRC’s mandate (see Subject Matter Eligibility for more information.)


Postsecondary institutions receiving SIG funds must submit, no later than three months after the end of the grant period, both an achievement report, which reports on outcomes from the grant, and a final activity report, which lists all the sub-grants awarded (i.e., SSHRC Explore Grants, SSHRC Exchange Grants or capacity-building grants awarded through the supplement). Non-compliance with reporting requirements will result in the freezing of future instalments, until the reports are received in good order. Additional information on the reporting requirements will be communicated to institutions in the Notice of Award.

Application process

Research grants officers (or equivalents) must complete the application form on the Convergence Portal and submit it by December 1, 2021. Consult the SIG application instructions for information about the new application form.

Note: To have access to the SIG application form on the Convergence Portal, applicants must have been granted research grants officer (RGO) status. Applicants who do not yet have RGO status should contact SSHRC at before beginning the application process.

Evaluation and adjudication

SSHRC staff review SIG applications for completeness and compliance with the criteria below.

All applications that meet the criteria for funding will receive a grant. The size of the grant will be calculated according to the formulas in the Value and duration section and the funds available (grant amounts will be adjusted to fit within the total amount of funding available).

Review criteria

The following criteria will be used to review SIG applications:

  • comprehensiveness of the institution’s plan to use the grant funds to enhance research in the social sciences and humanities—institutions receiving a supplement must provide an additional plan if some or all of the supplementary funds will be allocated to capacity-building activities;
  • appropriateness of the method of distribution of funds within the institution;
  • rigour of the merit review processes in place at the institution (except in the case of capacity-building activities, which need not be allocated through merit review);
  • existence of a suitable governance structure to ensure the effective stewardship of SIG funds; and
  • compliance with SSHRC reporting requirements with respect to SIG funding.

Rating table

Based on the following table, a rating will be assigned for each of the above-noted criteria. Applications must receive a “satisfactory” rating for each criterion to be recommended for funding.

Rating Descriptor
Satisfactory Meets or exceeds expectations
Unsatisfactory Does not meet expectations

Communication of results

Institutions will receive their results on the Convergence Portal in spring 2022.

Administrative regulations and related information

All applicants and grant holders must comply with the Regulations Governing Grant Applications and with the regulations set out in the Tri-Agency Guide on Financial Administration.

For descriptions of SSHRC terms used in the grant application process, see Definitions of Terms.

Contact information

If you have questions:

  • regarding the SIG program, contact your institution’s research office, or address questions to:; or
  • on matters related to the Convergence Portal, contact the Online Services Helpdesk by email at or by phone at 613-995-4273.

Research Grants Portfolio
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
125 Zaida Eddy Private, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1R 0E3

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