NSERC Doctoral Research Awards

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) offers two types of research training awards through one application: the Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral (CGSD) and the NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral (PGSD).

The Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarships-Doctoral (CGSD) Program provides financial support to outstanding eligible students pursuing doctoral studies in a Canadian university. The Government of Canada established these prestigious scholarships, to be awarded through national competitions by the granting agencies, to ensure a reliable supply of highly qualified personnel to meet the needs of Canada's knowledge economy. Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholars will help renew faculty at Canadian universities and will be the research leaders of tomorrow.

The NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral (PGSD) Program provides financial support to high-calibre students who are engaged in doctoral programs in the natural sciences or engineering. This support allows these students to fully concentrate on their studies and to seek out the best research mentors in their chosen fields.

Value and Duration

  • CGS D: $35,000 a year for 2 or 3 years
  • PGS D: $21,000 a year for 2 or 3 years

Timeline and Deadlines

  • Early September - NSERC's Online Application opens
  • October - Graduate Program Deadlines close. Deadlines vary among Graduate Programs. 
  • Monday, October 29, 2018 - SGPS Deadline for Graduate Programs to submit ranked recommendations to SGPS  
  • Early November - SGPS Selection Committee Convenes  
  • November 25 - Agency Deadline for Universities to submit quotas of A-list applications
  • By April 1 - Results released to students and universities


  • Form 201 – Application for a Postgraduate Scholarship or Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Form 201 asks the applicant to identify a University Designate who is responsible for uploading the transcript file (PDF) to the online application. To confirm who the designate is for each program, check the Graduate Scholarship Contacts at Western
  • It is the responsibility of the applicant to:
    • Provide all official and current transcripts as required to the graduate program in advance of the program’s deadline
    • Confirm that the subject matter of the research proposed in the application is eligible for NSERC support
    • Submit a complete application online by the program’s deadline


All Eligibility Conditions and Regulations must be met in order to apply and therefore must be reviewed carefully before beginning an application.

  • Applicant Eligibility
  • As of the graduate program’s application deadline, an applicant must:
    • Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada
    • Hold, or expect to hold when taking up the award, a degree in science or engineering from a university whose standing is recognized by NSERC
    • Intend to pursue, in the following year, full-time doctoral studies and research in an eligible program in the natural sciences or engineering supported by NSERC. See Eligibility Criteria
  • Window of Eligibility
  • An applicant must have enough time left in the proposed program to be able to hold the award if successful. The determination is measured as of Dec 31st of the year of application.
    • For a PhD, an applicant must have spent between 0 and 6 terms (24 months) in the program for which the funding is being requested.
    • For a direct-entry PhD, an applicant must have spent between 1 and 9 terms (4 and 36 months) in the program for which funding is being requested.
    • If an applicant was registered in a master’s degree and subsequently transferred to the PhD, the time in the doctoral program will be calculated starting from the date of official transfer to the PhD.
    • In the evaluation of eligibility, NSERC will consider all studies counted toward the graduate degree for which funding is requested, whether completed at the degree-granting institution or not.
    • Two sessions of part-time study equal one session of full-time study.
  • Also, an applicant
    • must not have previously taken up an NSERC PGS B, PGS D, CGS D, IPS 2,* or a Vanier CGS; and
    • must not hold, or have held, a CGS D or Vanier CGS from either CIHR or SSHRC.
  • Academic Eligibility
    • At Western, an eligible applicant must have achieved a minimum of 80% in each of the last two completed years of full-time study, or equivalent to full-time study. Eligibility averages for competitive scholarship are rounded ONLY to the nearest decimal place. The eligibility averages are based on grades on the transcript(s) up to August 31st of the year of application.

Holding the Award at Western

Acceptance and Activation

  • Accept the offer of award from the agency following the instructions provided in the letter of offer, and then activate it for payment by completing the required agency forms.
  • Initiate the payment process at Western by following these steps:
    • Access the Student Center
    • Select ‘Self Service’ from the main menu, then 'Campus Finances'
    • Select ‘My External Scholarships’ and follow the activation steps for the Vanier CGS
    • Choose the start date that matches the date stipulated by the agency in the offer

Method of Payment

  • At Western University the annual value of an award is divided into three equal installments and each is pre-paid to the award holder’s Student Center account at the start of every term (September, January and May).

Terms and Conditions

  • The Tri-Agencies (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC) have harmonized their post-award policies, where possible, for research training programs and have incorporated these policies into a harmonized Tri-Agency Research Training Award Holder's Guide. These policies became effective September 1, 2016 and the Guide is available on NSERC's website. The Guide applies to Tri-Agency research training awards such as Vanier CGS, NSERC PGSD/CGSD, SSHRC DF/CGSD, CIHR CGSD and all CGSM. It contains all the forms that training award holders and the University need to facilitate post-award activities allowed by the Tri-Agencies.
  • Access and review your Tri-Agency Research Training Award Holder's Guide and comply with the regulations governing use of the award.
  • Complete an annual SGPS Progress Report Form
    • Submit the form by the deadline specified by SGPS in the annual notification email
    • Annual deadlines will vary for each Vanier Scholar depending on the anniversary of the award start date, but will annually fall in either August, December, or April
    • A Progress Report can be submitted no earlier than 60 days prior to the anniversary date
    • Failure to submit the annual Progress Report will result in the suspension of further payments