Award Guidelines

Below is essential procedural and policy information for UBC graduate award recipients. Award recipients are advised to read the contents of this page carefully, particularly the Award Holder’s Guide section.

Accepting an award

Graduate awards are paid through the Student Service Centre.

Award activation

For internal awards (awards funded by UBC), it is not necessary for the student to notify Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies that funding has been awarded. For external awards (awards funded by an agency outside UBC), however, students must notify Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies about the award, as the external agency may not notify Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies directly.

In order to activate each external award, students need to submit all required forms to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at least three weeks before requested award start date. Activation forms will be accepted after this deadline, but in such cases the first award payment(s) might be delayed (though students will receive payment retroactive to requested award start date).

Tri-Agency (CIHR/NSERC/SSHRC) Award Activation Forms

To be sent by the award recipient to

  • External Graduate Award Activation Form
  • Copy of Notice of Award provided by funding agency - the Notice of Award must list the start and end date of the award, the stipend amount, and any terms and conditions to the funding.
    • For Vanier CGS and CIHR doctoral awards, award recipients can download the Notice of Award from ResearchNet.
    • For Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) CGSM (Master's), award recipients can download the Notice of Award from the Research Portal.
  • For NSERC (CGSD, PGSD) and SSHRC (CGSD, DF) doctoral award recipients only - Request for First Instalment or Reinstatement of Award Paid by Canadian Institution is required.
    • The Graduate Awards team would sign in the Part 4 section
  • For CIHR doctoral award and Vanier award holders only - Authorization for Funding (AFF) document. This document is sent to doctoral award holders by CIHR/Vanier after the holder accepts the award. CIHR doctoral awards and Vanier awards cannot be processed without it.

Additionally, for CIHR doctoral awards only – to set up your research allowance account

Award acceptance

When an award is offered through the Student Service Centre (SSC), an e-mail is sent to the student, directing the student to their account on the Student Service Centre. Once logged into the Student Service Centre, the student can select the offered award and follow the online instructions to accept the award. Only after the award has been accepted will the award pay out to the student.

Award payments

Award payments will only be issued if students are registered in courses or thesis credits during the terms of the academic year that they are receiving an award.


Awards issued by the University are first applied towards any outstanding tuition fees. If the amount of the award is greater than the outstanding fees in any term, the surplus funds are paid to the student through Electronic Funds Transfer. An email confirming the funds transfer will be sent to the student. Students are strongly encouraged to set up the their banking information in SSC for Electronic Funds Transfer.


Students are encouraged to check their financial record on the Student Service Centre for confirmation of award instalment amounts and dates. Normally, awards are paid out using the following payment schedule:

Department Recommended Awards:

  • Under $1,000 - paid out entirely in one term
  • $1,000 - $5,999 - paid out in two terms (equal instalments)
  • $6,000 or greater - paid out over the three terms of the year (33.3% in September, 33.3% January, and 33.4% in May)

External Awards and Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Awards:

  • September 1st to April 30 amount is assigned in August and pays out in two equal installments in September and January (two thirds of yearly amount)
  • May 1st to August 31st amount is assigned in April and pays out in one installment in May (one third of yearly amount)
  • External awards with different start and end dates are prorated
    • example: award of $21,000 per year starting on 1 October 2018 and ending on 30 September 2019 will be paid out:
      • $5,250 in October 2018
      • $7,000 in January 2019
      • $7,000 in May 2019
      • $1,750 in September 2019

Tuition awards, such as the International Tuition Award and the tuition portion of Four Year Fellowships, are assigned in August (for September and January terms) and April (for the summer term), to coincide with the tuition assessment at the beginning of each term.


Award holder's guide

The contents of the "Award Holder’s Guide" below outline the policies for holding graduate student funding at UBC.

Recipients of Four Year Doctoral Fellowship (4YF) funding should additionally review the 4YF Guidelines for 4YF-specific policies.

Recipients of external graduate awards, scholarships, and fellowships are additionally advised to review the policy guidelines on the appropriate award agency’s website. The Tri-Agency (CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC) Research Training Award Holder's Guide is available online. Other major fellowships have different guidelines. Please refer to your offer letter and/or the agency's website for guidelines.


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Senate Regulations Governing University Awards

Awards holders are responsible for reviewing and adhering to the Senate Regulations Governing University Awards.

Conditional Acceptance

External Awards

In order to take up an external award, students are required to be unconditionally accepted to their UBC program. In cases when students are offered conditional acceptance to their program, those conditions must be met before the award can be activated and award payments be made.

UBC Awards

UBC awards (like Four Year Fellowships) will be processed without confirming that the condition of admission was met. However, students are still responsible to meet the condition of their admission by the deadline specified in their offer letter (typically within 12 weeks of starting their program). If the condition of admission is not met, the UBC award will be cancelled, and student will be required to repay all funds received from the award.

Registration in Courses

Award payments will only be made to students who are registered as full-time UBC graduate students. Award holders are required to maintain registration for the duration of their award funding period.

Receiving funding from multiple sources

In some cases, a student who holds an award or fellowship may not be eligible to hold additional fellowships, depending on the awards/fellowships involved.  Students considering applying for additional funding to be held concurrently with other funding should check the award’s policies to see if such an arrangement is permitted.  For example, some external scholarships will reduce the amount of the funding they give a student if the student wins other funding.

Completion of Program

Awards are prorated to the end of the month in which students complete their degree program (typically submission of final copy of their thesis to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies). To avoid any overpayments, please advise Graduate Awards of your completion date as soon as possible. Please note that students who complete their program partway through a term may be required to repay a portion of funds paid to them at the beginning of the term (e.g., if a student receives a $7,000 award payment in September and completes his/her program in November, he or she may be required to repay $1,750 - the December portion of the award).

For Tri-Agency awards only, funding is pro-rated to the end date of the academic term in which the degree requirements are completed.

Withdrawal from Program

Awards are prorated to the effective date of withdrawal from a degree program. To avoid any overpayments, please advise Graduate Awards of your withdrawal date as soon as possible. Please note that students who withdraw from their program partway through a term may be required to repay a portion of funds paid to them at the beginning of the term (e.g., if a student receives a $7,000 award payment in September and completes his/her program in on 15 November, he or she may be required to repay $2,625 - the amount for the November 16 to December 31st period).

Leave from Program

Award holders are not eligible to receive award payments while on approved academic leave from their program. Please advise Graduate Awards to arrange for the suspension of your award payments until your return from on-leave status.

Students who hold external fellowships that allow paid leaves of absence, should contact the funding agency and the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to request a paid leave of absence well in advance of the leave start date. Conditions for paid leave of absence differ between funding agencies. Students should refer to the relevant funding agency's website for further information.

Program transfers

Program transfers include transferring from a Master’s to a PhD, PhD to Master’s, or between Master’s or between PhD’s.

Students who hold an external scholarship must check their award’s policy documentation as typically any change to the degree program will require approval from the funding agency to continue to hold the award funding.  Additionally, some awards are restricted to a particular degree program or degree level or a particular graduate program.  

Students should contact Graduate Awards if they are unsure if their award will be affected by a potential program transfer.

Advancement to candidacy

It is required that all doctoral students be admitted to candidacy within 36 months from the date of initial registration.  An award recipient whose candidacy is overdue will have their award funding put on hold until their advancement to candidacy paperwork is processed or an extension to time allowed for advancement to candidacy is submitted and processed.

Program Extension

University regulations establish a five-year time limit for the completion of a master’s program and a six-year time limit for the completion of a doctoral program. The time that the student is on approved leave does not count in the determination of the time limit. 

When an award recipient reaches the end of their program duration limit, they will be unable to register in future terms (and future award payments cannot be set up in the system) until a program extension is completed and processed.


Changes in citizenship status from international student to permanent resident of Canada may affect award funding.  Awards that are restricted to international students (such as the International Tuition Award) cannot be held by a permanent resident of Canada or Canadian citizen.  In cases where international student funding was paid to the student, and the student later updated their status to permanent resident retroactively, the student would be required to pay back the funding for the period that they are no longer eligible (the date they were granted permanent residency and onwards).

Changing supervisors

Students who are planning to change supervisors should consult their award’s policy documentation, as the policy may require that the funding agency be informed of the change in supervisor to continue to hold the funding.

Changing research project

Students who are considering changing their research project should consult their award’s policy documentation, as the policy may require that the funding agency be informed and approve the change in research to continue to hold the funding.

Award Payments

Graduate awards are paid through the Student Service Centre.

Award Overpayment

Award holders will be required to return any excess amounts issued to them. This includes overpayment for the time period after their effective completion or withdrawal date, Student Service Centre errors, etc. 


Effective March 2018, students who hold awards totalling $17,500 or more per year are no longer required to limit their number of hours of employment to an average of 12 hours per week. However, please note that award holders are expected to devote full-time hours to the research or studies for which they were funded, and are required to make satisfactory academic progress throughout their funding period.

However, in some cases a student may wish to interrupt (pause) their award to undertake work experience or an internship without taking a corresponding leave of absence from UBC.

  • Tri-Agency Award Holder’s guide policy on unpaid interruptions
  • Four Year Fellowship policy (see the 4YF Guidelines posted under ‘Further Information’)
  • For other scholarships, students should refer to the award’s policy documentation
Income Tax

Income tax is not withheld from SSC awards. Enrolment Services will provide a T4A form at the end of the calendar year for all award payments received during the calendar year. Students can download T4A from the Student Service Centre. Students are responsible for filing income tax returns on these awards.

The Canada Revenue Agency typically does not tax scholarships.  However, depending on you and/or your spouse’s (if applicable) country of citizenship, your scholarship may be taxed by your/your spouse’s country of citizenship.  Contact your country of citizenship’s taxation department for more information on tax implications on scholarships.

Progress Reports

Students who hold an award more than 12 months in duration must submit to Graduate Awards an annual progress report. Failure to submit a progress report will result in award payments being suspended until a satisfactory progress report is received. Multi-year fellowships can include NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR, Killam Doctoral Fellowships, Four Year Fellowships, Aboriginal Fellowships, Rick Hansen Fellowships, and Affiliated Fellowships.