Resources for Faculty and Staff

Doctoral Micro-Grants


The FGSR Doctoral Micro-Grant (DMG) supports ideas to inspire innovations which reflect our changing world. The awards will empower University of Alberta faculty members in departments and faculties offering doctoral degrees to rethink, revisit, re-develop, re-design, or create new doctoral education models, elements, and delivery methods for the future of doctoral education.


The doctoral degree has never been one thing; nonetheless the basic structure has persisted for ages. Furthermore, the future of the doctoral degree is unknown. This funding aims to support development, or prototyping, of ideas that take on any or all of the following:

  • Recognizing that the majority of careers for advanced degree holders are, and may always will be, non-academic in nature;
  • Inclusivity of the student experience (learner-centered experiences);
  • Innovations should not lengthen the time to completion (net-zero innovations, or shortening times to completion are sought);
  • Provide an outward looking focus along with networking opportunities for students with different communities (e.g., society engagement).

DMG supports projects undertaken by faculty members and their students or staff. Direct project costs are provided by FGSR through a GoA grant and the Office of the Provost and may be matched or shared by other sources of funding such as from the departmental or faculty unit in which the faculty member resides. For reporting purposes only, please include any secured matching funds in your application, or upon approval of your application. Projects can range up to 9 months in length, and project holders may only hold one award at any given time (though they may hold consecutive awards – including the prior DMG format).

DMG projects may be at any stage of development, or address any aspect of the doctoral program, so long as the problem/opportunity is well defined and the objectives and anticipated impact are all clearly stated.

A new call for Doctoral Micro-Grants proposals has been released in April 2018. This latest call will support new projects and top-up existing projects. The projects will focus on innovations in doctoral programs that are close to the action: at the program or department level, and with with immediate application.

Fourth Call for DMG applications

Duration Up to 9 months
Value Up to $25,000
Application Deadline
June 15, 2018 (4:30 PM)
How to apply

E-mail a 2-Page Proposal (PDF)

with the subject line: “PI LAST NAME_DMG_18_4

to Dena Giroux

A proposal template is available here.

Primary contact

John Nychka, Associate Dean FGSR


Selection Criteria

  • Merit: The project must be pedagogically sound, feasible, address key areas, and promise to build knowledge and understanding or to apply existing knowledge in an innovative manner to doctoral programs.
  • Competence of the applicant or team: The applicant and/or the team must have all the expertise required to address the defined objectives competently and to complete the project successfully.
  • Benefit to the University: The proposal should outline how the project deliverables will benefit the University of Alberta within a reasonable time frame.
  • Departmental/Faculty/Other Support: Applicants are strongly encouraged to seek, and demonstrate, the material support of the Graduate Coordinator of the program of interest.Substantial contributions could be time, resources, in-kind, and funding.
  • Budget: The proposal must provide a detailed explanation and justification for each budget item of eligible research expenses. Any cost sharing from other sources/sponsors must be claimed,explained, and justified.

Ongoing projects

Below you can find information on ongoing projects, the teams who initiated them, as well as condensed abstracts describing each project's objectives. Full abstracts are available here.

First Call - November 2016

Project Title


Team Leader & Affiliation
Additional Team Members & Affiliation

Preparing Doctoral Students in Education for Diverse Careers

Despite increased public attention to the matter of post-doctoral employment, almost no data are collected specifically for the field of Education. There is a need for consultation with people who have doctoral degrees in Education but who are working in non-academic positions. This micro-grant supports preliminary work toward reshaping our doctoral programs, or elements of them, to meet the realities of current and predicted professions.

Jill McClay (Education)

Randy Wimmer (Education); Lynn McGarvey (Education)

Assessing the state-of- the-art in doctoral programs in resource economics and environmental sociology
Through a survey of graduate co-ordinators and department chairs from competing university departments in Canada, the U.S. and Australia, we hope to gain insight into how to restructure our Ph.D. program to better reflect the needs and wants of students and employers today.
Henry An (REES) John Parkins (REES)
Professional non-Academic Skills Training for The Department of Medicine’s Doctoral Students The purpose of our project is to generate a list of the professional non-academic skills that should be imparted to our students, and to develop an educational strategy for imparting the skills that aligns with the characteristics of our learners and of our existing curriculum.
Liam Rourke (Medicine)

Sean McMurty (Medicine); Heather Kanuka (Education)

Investigation of General Industrial Requirement and Appropriate Research Curriculum Structure for Doctoral Program of Engineering Design and Manufacturing
Nowadays, majority of doctoral graduates will join the industry while a small number of them pursue academic routes. The proposed project is to identify the opportunities of changes to make UA doctoral curriculum structure and contents more competitive and balanced for not only rigorous academic research but also industrial research and development (R&D).
Yongsheng Ma (Mechanical Engineering)


Second Call - February 2017

Project Title


Team Leader & Affiliation
Additional Team Members & Affiliation
Doc Comms: A Survey and Report on Communications Skills Required of Mechanical Engineering PhDs in Industry and Best Practices for Integrating Relevant Training to the Mechanical Engineering PhD Curriculum
This project will survey and report on the communications skills required of Mechanical Engineering PhD graduates working as engineers in local, national and international industry as well as best practices for doctoral-level communications training in engineering schools in Canada, the US and Europe.
Cagri Aryanci (Mechanical Engineering)

Robyn Braun (Mechanical Engineering); Jason Carey (Mechanical Engineering); Ahmed Qureshi (Mechanical Engineering); John Doucette (Mechanical Engineering)

Experience REHAB ‐ Course Development & Beyond
This objective of this project is to rethink, revise and invigorate the learning opportunities for graduate students in Rehabilitation Medicine. A two pronged approach will be used including curriculum review, to strengthen core course offerings, and a contest to engage faculty. Trish Manns (Rehabilitation Medicine)

Mary Forhan (Occupational Therapy); Teresa Paslawski (Communication Sciences & Disorders)

Modelling an Alternative EdD Program: Rigorous and Responsive to the Profession The purpose of the micro-grant is to draft a model for a blended format EdD. We will use current data and new research to evaluate feasibility of this type of doctoral program. Our research will consist of three phases: review current online and blended EdD programs; survey prospective EdD students to understand their needs; interview selected Associate Deans from current EdD program. Elaine Simmt (Secondary Education)

Doug Gleddie
(Elementary Education); Cathy Adams (Secondary Education); Evelyn Steinhauer (Educational Policy Studies)

Using ePortolios to Enhance Doctoral Training Programs – a pilot project We intend to evaluate the use of ePortfolios as a tool to assist PhD students to enhance their learning, track their professional development and growth, and monitor their success within our PhD programs.
Jeffrey Johnson (School of Public Health)
 Lisa Jensen, PhD Student
Integration of Foundational and Interdisciplinary Knowledge in Nutrition and Metabolism The objective of our project is to implement programming that ensures PhD graduates in Nutrition and Metabolism have a strong foundation in the different fields of nutrition and professional skills to enable their ability to lead in diverse, interdisciplinary work environments. Vera Mazurak (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science) Catherine Field (AFNS); Rhonda Bell (AFNS); Noreen Willows (AFNS); Rene Jacobs (AFNS); Stephen Strelkov (AFNS)


Third Call - June 2017

Project Title
Abstract Team Lead & Affiliation
Additional Team Members & Affiliation
Beyond the Jerry Rig: Engineering the Capacity to Communicate With this DMG funding we will implement the findings of our current DMG-funded survey of communication skills required by working engineers and best practices for their training. Building on the findings from our current survey, we will develop a communications training course open to all PhD students in Mechanical Engineering. Cagri Aryanci (Mechanical Engineering) Robyn Braun (Mechanical Engineering); Jason Carey
(Faculty of Engineering); Ahmed Qureshi (Mechanical Engineering)
Course in Career SkillDevelopment (CiCSD) The Course in Career Skills Development will provide doctoral students with skills needed to succeed in today’s workplaces. Funding will support visits to U of A by highly successful PhD. alumni. These visits will serve as case studies in how the transition from graduate school to the workplace can occur.
Joseph CASEY (Biochemistry) Joanne LEMIEUX (Associate Professor, Biochemistry)
Connecting Academic and Professional Skills in Sociology We intend to build and administer a follow-up survey and select in-depth interviews with doctoral alumni in academic, alt- academic and non-academic professional positions, which will be more open-ended and in-depth. In particular, we aim to identify key ways to integrate professional development with academic training. Amy Kaler (Sociology) Sara DOROW (Chair, Sociology); Pamela MINTY (Grad Program Advisor, Sociology); Alison DUNWOODY (Associate Chair, Undergraduate, Sociology); Robyn BRAUN (Adjunct Professor, Sociology; Research Communications Officer, Mechanical Engineering); GRAD STUDENT (TBA)
Evaluation of the Preparedness of Graduate Students for Careers Post-Graduation This study will use a mixed methods approach with two phases (a survey followed by focus groups) to explore the perceptions of doctoral students regarding their preparedness for post-PhD careers and identify strengths and gaps in actual preparedness experienced by recent doctoral graduates. Sujata Persad (Pediatrics) Hanne Ostergaard; Louanne Keenan; Carol Hodgson