Scholarships for Master’s Programs in Canada 2024

With the new year fast approaching, many students who have recently completed their bachelor’s degrees may be considering their higher education options, including pursuing a Master’s program. Canada offers world-class Master’s programs at top universities across the country, but the cost of tuition and living expenses can be high. Fortunately, there are various scholarship opportunities available to help international and domestic students fund their graduate studies in Canada. This guide will explore the types of scholarships for Masters programs in Canada available for the 2024 admission year, as well as tips for strengthening your scholarship applications.

Overview of Master’s Education in Canada

Before diving into specific scholarship details, it’s helpful to provide some context on Master’s programs in Canada. At the graduate level, most universities in Canada offer two main types of Master’s degrees – Course-based Master’s and Research-based Master’s.

Course-based Masters

A course-based or taught Master’s program involves taking a certain number of graduate-level courses over 1-2 years. This type of Master’s is focused on expanding your knowledge through classroom learning. Course-based programs are suitable for students interested in developing specialized skills and expertise in their field of study through an interdisciplinary curriculum. Popular course-based Master’s subjects in Canada include business, education, public health, public policy, and engineering.

Research-based Masters

A research-based or thesis Master’s places more emphasis on independent research and writing a substantial thesis or dissertation. This type of Master’s takes 2-3 years to complete on average. It prepares students for careers requiring advanced analytical and problem-solving abilities gained through a research project. Some common research-based subject areas are sciences, social sciences, arts, and humanities. Research-based Master’s programs tend to be more competitive to get into due to their focus on original student contributions through a thesis.

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Both course-based and research-based Master’s degrees are valuable for advancing your knowledge and career prospects in countless fields. The type of Master’s program that’s the best fit depends on your individual academic interests and career goals. Top universities in Canada offer world-class Master’s programs of both formats, providing high-quality graduate education.

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Major Sources of Scholarship Funding in Canada

Now that we have provided an overview of Master’s programs in Canada, let’s explore the major sources of scholarship funding available. Scholarships to support Master’s studies come from both governmental and private organizations. The most prominent sources of scholarship money are:

Federal Government Scholarships

The federal government awards scholarships through three main granting councils:

  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC): Offers Master’s awards of CAD 17,500 for one year. SSHRC scholarships support studies in areas like history, languages, sociology, psychology, and more.
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC): Provides Master’s awards up to CAD 17,300 for one year. NSERC is best suited for studies in natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, and engineering.
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR): Awards Master’s Scholarships of CAD 17,700 annually to support research-focused programs in health-related fields like medicine, nursing, and biomedical sciences.

These federal scholarships are prestigious and highly competitive. Eligibility depends on having at least an A- average in your previous studies. Strong research proposals and reference letters are essential. Application deadlines are usually mid-fall.

University Scholarships

In addition to government grants, Canadian universities offer their merit-based entrance scholarships directly through each institution. Award values typically range between $5,000-$15,000 annually based on academic achievement. Top students with a history of high grades are encouraged to apply. Most internal scholarship deadlines are in early January.

Private Sponsor Scholarships

Various external organizations offer private scholarships for Canadian graduate studies as well. Rotary, Knights of Columbus, and numerous professional associations fund international Master’s students each year. Award amounts vary greatly and application processes differ by sponsor. It’s worthwhile to search scholarship databases for these alternative funding opportunities with deadlines outside the university calendar.

This covers the major financial resources available for prospective Master’s students in Canada. A combination of sources, such as a federal scholarship paired with a university award, can significantly reduce your education costs. Effective planning is key to maximizing your eligibility and chances of winning competitive scholarships.

Strengthening Your Scholarship Applications

With so many talented applicants vying for limited scholarship dollars each year, it is crucial to present yourself as the ideal candidate through a strong application. Here are some tips for boosting your profile:

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Craft a Meaningful Personal Statement

Your statement should paint a clear picture of your academic interests, and career goals, and why a particular scholarship program/university best aligns with achieving those aims. Emphasize any relevant experience and highlight your demonstrated strengths and passion for the field of study. Avoid generic statements – connect all elements back to the specific scholarship opportunity.

Ask Referees to Highlight Your Strengths

Select referees, usually professors, who can speak to your academic abilities, work ethic, leadership qualities, and suitability for graduate studies from direct experience supervising you. Provide referees with a draft statement about yourself and your goals to help them compose supportive letters tailored to the scholarship criteria.

Quantify Your Achievements

Instead of vague descriptions like “leadership roles”, quantify your past experiences by including details such as “Led a team of 15 club members as President” or “Volunteered over 80 hours coordinating campus fundraisers”. Scholarship reviewers want to see evidence of your impact.

Polish Your Resume or Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Tailor your resume/CV specifically to the scholarship by emphasizing attributes and experiences most relevant to the award’s selection factors, such as research experience for a thesis-based program. Format it neatly and proofread it carefully to leave a polished impression.

Meet All Eligibility Requirements

Review listed criteria like academic prerequisites, citizenship status, and enrollment timeline expectations thoroughly to avoid any eligibility pitfalls that could lead to automatic disqualification before the evaluation begins. Provide all necessary supplementary documentation.

Following these best practices can strengthen your profile and narrative as a standout candidate deserving of scholarship support for your graduate studies goals. High-caliber applications enable reviewers to select you above others for precious funding. Give yourself the best shot at a successful funding package with careful preparation.

We’ve now explored Master’s programs in Canada, the key sources of scholarships available, and advice on application strategies. Let’s next look at specific scholarship details for three leading postgraduate granting councils.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

SSHRC offers a range of graduate awards ideal for supporting Master’s research theses in humanities and social science domains. Some of their prominent Master’s-level scholarship programs include:

Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarships (CGS M)

  • Value: $17,500 per year for up to 2 years
  • Eligibility: Canadian citizens or permanent residents engaged in SSHRC-eligible programs
  • Due: Competition typically opens in July with an October deadline
  • Number Awarded: ~550 annually across Canada

SSHRC Master’s Awards (SSHRC MA)

  • Value: $17,500 for 1 year
  • Eligibility: Canadian citizens or permanent residents enrolled full-time in a thesis-based SSHRC-eligible Master’s program
  • Due: Usually in October with awards announced the following spring
  • Number Awarded: Over 1,700 annually
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SSHRC Master’s Canada Graduate Scholarships (SSHRC CGS M)

  • Value: $17,500 for 1 year
  • Eligibility: International students pursuing SSHRC-eligible programs
  • Due: Opens in July with an October deadline
  • Number Awarded: ~130 to international applicants each year

SSHRC’s selection is based on academic excellence, research potential and quality of proposed programs of study. Their robust suite of funding options provides substantial support tailored for research masters across diverse SSH disciplines.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

As Canada’s largest graduate research funding body for sciences and engineering, NSERC offers several scholarships geared for coursework or thesis-based Master’s programs in NSERC-supported fields like physics, chemistry, and computer science. Key programs include:

NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s (CGS M)

  • Value: $17,300 for 1 year
  • Eligibility: Canadian or permanent resident students undertaking eligible programs
  • Due: Typically July to October application cycle
  • Number Awarded: Around 1,450 recipients annually country-wide

NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships (NSERC PGS M)

  • Value: $17,300 for 1 year
  • Eligibility: Canadian students in eligible full-time thesis-based Master’s programs
  • Due: Applications open around May with a mid-September deadline
  • Number Awarded: Around 500 awards were distributed in each competition

NSERC judging emphasizes academic excellence plus the quality and relevance of proposed master’s research to scientific or technological advancement within their mandate areas. With nearly 2,000 total annual graduate awards, NSERC generously supports STEM master’s studies across Canada.

Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)

As the primary health research funder in Canada, CIHR offers Master’s awards designed for students pursuing a thesis in a CIHR-eligible health field. Their scholarship programs include:

CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s (CIHR CGS M)

  • Value: $17,700 per year for 1 year
  • Eligibility: Canadian or permanent resident students enrolled in a thesis-based health master’s program
  • Due: Applications typically open in June with a mid-October deadline
  • Number Awarded: Around 500 annually across Canada

CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarships (CIHR Banting and Best CGS Master’s)

  • Value: $17,700 annually for 2 years of master’s study
  • Eligibility: Outstanding Canadian and permanent resident students in health-related master’s programs
  • Due: Same as CIHR CGS M above
  • Number Awarded: Approximately 120 awards distributed per cycle

CIHR emphasizes excellence in research potential and academic achievements. Reviewers also consider how your proposed thesis aligns with CIHR’s mandate areas like cancer, health services, infection, and immunity. CIHR scholarships provide significant funding for research-oriented health sciences master’s degrees across Canada.


What are the typical scholarship application deadlines?

Most scholarship applications are due between July and October for funding the following academic year starting September 2024. However, there are some opportunities throughout the calendar year. Be sure to verify individual program deadlines which can vary.

When will I be notified about the scholarship results?

Most scholarship notifications happen 4-6 months after the application deadline. For example, the October 2023 application cycle would see results released between February and April 2024. Ensure you plan submission timelines accordingly to meet admission and enrollment timelines too.

Can I apply for multiple scholarships simultaneously?

Yes, it is acceptable and even advisable to submit separate applications to various sponsors to improve your overall funding potential. Just be sure not to duplicate any components between applications going to different programs or councils. Tailor each one individually.

What if I have additional questions during the application process?

Review program guidelines and FAQs thoroughly first. Scholarship websites also commonly have live chatting features to get quick answers. Feel free to reach out to them via phone or email. Granting agencies aim to support applicants, so don’t hesitate to contact them directly.

About the author


Subchief is the chief administrator and lead developer of He has over 10 years of experience in web design, development and digital content strategy.

As the founder and content strategist of Subteller, Subchief oversees all aspects of content creation and website management. He works closely with freelance writers and editors to develop valuable, informative articles on topics related to immigration, careers, legal issues and more.

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When he isn't coding or managing Subteller, Subchief enjoys spending time with his family, reading non-fiction books and staying up-to-date with new technologies. He holds a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the University of the People in CA, US.

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