NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships


Tuesday, 17 September 2019 at 12 PM (noon) PDT

Annual Value



Permanent Resident

Degree Level


The NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral (PGS-D) program provides financial support to high-calibre scholars who are engaged in an eligible doctoral program in the natural sciences or engineering. This support allows these scholars to fully concentrate on their studies and seek out the best research mentors in their chosen fields.

Effective fall 2019, Canada’s three federal granting agencies (CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC) have now harmonized the Canada Graduate Scholarship - Doctoral (CGS-D) program. Please visit the new CGS-D program page for the harmonized application process and timeline. Applications to the CGS-D program will automatically be considered for NSERC's Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral (CGS-D) award, which is offered to the top-ranked applicants. The next tier of meritorious applicants will be offered a PGS-D award. The majority of information about the PGS-D program is contained within the harmonized CGS-D program description.

Fall 2019 competition deadlines:

  • Application deadline (through The University of British Columbia): Tuesday, 17 September 2019 at 12 PM (PDT)
  • Graduate program nomination deadline (to Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies): Friday, 11 October 2019 at 4 PM (PDT)


To be eligible to apply, an applicant must:

  • be enrolled in a program of study that includes a significant research component;
  • be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, as of the application deadline date;
  • have completed no more than 24 months of full-time study in their doctoral program by December 31 of the year of application (no more than 36 months if transferred directly from Bachelors to a PhD or enrolled in joint program, e.g., MD/PhD, MA/PhD);
  • submit only one doctoral award application in a given academic year. Nominations to the Vanier CGS program do not count towards this limit;
  • not have already received a doctoral-level scholarship or fellowship from CIHR, NSERC or SSHRC.

Note: To be considered eligible for the PGS-D program, the applicant's proposed research must clearly lie within the natural sciences and engineering, rather than the health sciences. Applicants are encouraged to review NSERC's addendum to the guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health, which provides examples of research subject matter that are eligible and ineligible for NSERC's funding support, in addition to NSERC's eligibility criteria for students and fellows and Tri-Agency's guidelines on selecting the appropriate federal granting agency.

Complete eligibility criteria are available on the CGS-D program page.

Evaluation Criteria

Complete evaluation criteria are available on the CGS-D program page.

The evaluation of NSERC doctoral award applications is based on the following criteria:

  • Research ability and potential (50%)
  • Relevant experience and achievements obtained within and beyond academia (50%)

Application Procedures

Students registered in a UBC degree program (or on an approved leave of absence from UBC) between 1 January and 31 December 2019 must complete the NSERC online application by Tuesday, 17 September 2019. Please follow the application instructions.


  1. Confirm eligibility
  2. Confirm subject matter: Select the appropriate funding agency. Applicants should complete the agency application that is best aligned with their research subject matter.  
    1. Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
    2. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
    3. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)
  3. Determine where to submit an application (through a Canadian institution such as UBC or directly to the appropriate agency). See the CGS-D program page for guidance. If applying via UBC, complete the application by the UBC application deadline, Tuesday, 17 September 2019
  4. Read the application instructions and complete the NSERC online application
    • Online submission of transcripts: Applicants who submit their application to UBC will be asked to identify a ‘university designate’ (i.e., the applicant's graduate program staff) who will upload the applicant's transcripts to their NSERC application. Applicants are responsible to confirm with their graduate program which transcripts need to be provided by the student and which transcripts the graduate program already has on file to be uploaded. Please note that applicants must request certified true copies of transcripts from their graduate program, not from the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Transcript requirement is outlined in the application instructions.
    • Online submission of reports on the applicant: Applicants are required to invite their referees via the NSERC online application. Reports are to be submitted by referees using the online system. Applicants are responsible for inviting two referees: one referee should be very familiar with their research and abilities (i.e., current or previous research supervisor) and the other should be sufficiently familiar with their research and abilities to provide a meaningful commentary. Applicants will not be able to verify their application until each referee form has been successfully verified and completed. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure their referees complete and submit their assessments in advance of the application deadline.

Affiliated Fellowships-Doctoral application: NSERC PGS-D applicants applying through UBC do not need to submit a separate Affiliated Fellowships-Doctoral application. To be considered for criteria-based Affiliated Fellowships, students should submit the criteria-based Affiliated Fellowships checklist to their graduate program.

Nomination Procedures

Graduate programs review and rank the applications they receive, and forward their top applicants to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. Nominations must be submitted by graduate programs to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by 4:00pm on Friday, 11 October 2019.

Adjudication Procedures

NSERC PGS-D applications are first reviewed and ranked by the applicant's UBC graduate program. The graduate program forwards a limited number of its top-ranked applicants to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, which oversees a university-wide adjudication. Adjudication committees composed of UBC faculty members review and rank nominated applications and select which applications will be forwarded to the national competition. UBC's nominees are forwarded to NSERC, which oversees a nation-wide competition that selects which NSERC doctoral scholarship applications will be funded.

Further Information

NSERC's FAQs provide helpful information for applicants.

For further information, please visit the NSERC PGS-D page.