The Department is committed to provide graduate students with adequate funding throughout their program by a mixture of teaching and research assistantships, as well as scholarships and awards.

For thesis based student, we currently target yearly support of at least $18,000 plus an amount equal to tuition and fees, subject to time and performance conditions. This support may include external funding.

Course based students will normally not receive any financial support during their program.

Funding Guarantee

Most thesis-based MSc and PhD students admitted after September 2016 receive a Funding Guarantee from the Department. This means that the Department will ensure that the student receives a minimum amount per year (from all, including external, sources related to the student's graduate program at the Department). Usually this means $18,000 plus an amount equal to tuition and fees per year ($19,000 plus tuition and fees for PhD students). The details and conditions of this funding commitment are spelled out in the Departmental Offer Letter and attached documents (and may vary in individual cases), as well as the Regulation and Guidelines.

Note that some students do not receive a Funding Guarantee, for example, international students sponsored by their home country.

The Departmental Offer letter will specifically mention whether a Funding Guarantee applies, and to what extent.

Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Research Assistantships

Graduate Teaching Assistantships (TA) at the Department are available to most PhD and thesis based MSc students. No separate application or request is required for incoming students. Decisions on assistantships and duties are made by the Department; a typical full-time assignment will involve twelve hours per week (averaged over a full 4 month term).

TA funding is available during the Fall and Winter terms.

TA funding will normally be offered during the first two years in the (thesis based) MSc program and the first four years in the PhD program. PhD students can apply for a fifth year, but that is not guaranteed. Students who transfer from an MSc to a PhD program will usually be offered TA funding during their first five years as a graduate student at the Department.

Holders of a major scholarship (defined as providing financial support comparable to at least a full time TA) are usually not eligible for a full TA during their tenure of the scholarship, but, depending on the rules of the scholarship, may receive partial TA support (usually a quarter) if desired. 

For Spring and Summer terms (May through August) there are limited additional opportunities to work as a Marking or Lab Assistant. These are not regular TA appointments and not part of the guaranteed funding commitment of the Department. However, in some cases, where a supervisor is unable to provide the recommended summer support, they provide a welcome additional source of funding. 

Graduate Research Assistantships

During the summer months (May, June, July, and August), MSc (thesis-based) and PhD students' financial assistance is usually provided by their supervisors in the form of a Graduate Research Assistantship Fellowship (GRAF). For students receiving sufficient support from a scholarship, supervisors may decide not to provide a GRAF.

Some support may also be provided in the form of a Graduate Research Assistantship (GRA), which is an assistantship with assigned research related tasks (similar to a TA as it may not directly relate to the student's own research). Such appointments are limited to a combined average (including all concurrent TA appointments) of 12h per week (averaged over the term).

Currently, the recommended amount of summer support is $7,000 for Canadians or Permanent Residents.

International students have to pay increased tuition ("differential fees"). Supervisors are encouraged to take that into account and offer accordingly increased support from their research grants if available. (International students with a Funding Guarantee are guaranteed additional funds to make up for these International Differential Fee.)

Most students receive at least the recommended amount. In cases where supervisors are unable to provide the recommended amount, there are often additional funding sources (e.g. the Josephine Mitchell GS4 Scholarships designed for precisely this purpose, or Marker/Lab Assistant positions for the summer).

In particular, for students that satisfy the conditions of their Funding Guarantee (if applicable), the Department will ensure that they receive at least support in line with the Funding Guarantee (from all, including external, sources).

Scholarships and Awards

There are numerous scholarship and award opportunities available to our graduate students: The Department administers a number of substantial internal awards each academic year. The University offers many additional scholarships and awards.

For example, the Department normally offers several Josephine Mitchell Scholarships (worth about $4000) and one Josephine Mitchell Prize (worth about $8000) each year. There are numerous Entrance Scholarships available for exceptionally strong students.

Recipients of an NSERC Master or Doctoral Scholarship can expect significant top-ups from the University, the Faculty of Science, and the Department:

NSERC scholarship holders will receive a $3,000 Josephine Mitchell Recruitment Scholarship from the department. The Faculty of Science will provide a $2000 Scholarship to any NEW graduate student holding an NSERC, SSHRC, Commonwealth or a CIHR Scholarship, entering an MSc or PhD program. In addition, PhD NSERC scholarship holders will receive the President's Prize of Distinction of $10,000 (in the first year, and tuition and fees in subsequent years, while holding the scholarship). MSc NSERC scholarship holders will receive a Walter H Johns Scholarship to the amount of tuition and fees.

NSERC scholarship holders are usually not eligible for full time TA appointments, but are welcome to accept quarter appointments (3h/week over the term).

TA and RA Salaries

Salary scales are reviewed and adjusted annually. TA and RA compensation currently include an award component that is tax free. TA and RA appointments are governed by the Graduate Student Assistantship Collective Agreement (in its current version).

The following are the latest figures of financial assistance from the Department:

2016-2017 income for thesis based students:
(figures are for the first year in the program)

Program Per term Total for both terms
MSc Teaching Assistantship $8,628 $17,256
PhD Teaching Assistantship $9,232 $18,464
Summer Research Assistantship
(Not guaranteed)
$7,000 (May-August)

Tuition and fees in the current 2016/2017 academic year amount to about $5,600 for domestic students (see the information by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research). So an MSc student in a typical funding situation can expect at least $18,600 per year, net of tuition and fees, slightly higher than the Funding Guarantee.

While this section outlines the typical situation of a domestic student, international students with a Funding Guarantee can expect that their funding, net of tuition and program fees, is similar.

TA compensation increases yearly, provided the performance as a TA was satisfactory in the previous year.