UBC Public Scholars Award


12 May 2024

Annual Value

Up to $10,000


Permanent Resident

Degree Level


applications for Public scholars initiative 2024/25 cohort are now open, and will run until sunday, may 12. guidelines for applicants, and application files are available below.

Upcoming General Information Session:

  • Tuesday, April 16th | 12:00 - 1:00 pm on Zoom  Register

Recording of the Previous Session:

This award is part of the UBC Public Scholars Initiative (PSI) which intends to build connections, community, and capacity for doctoral students who are interested in explicitly linking their doctoral work to an arena of public benefit and integrating broader and more career-relevant forms of scholarship into their doctoral education process.

Up to $10,000 twice, for a total of $20,000 per student is available to support innovative/collaborative scholarship which the student would otherwise be unable to pursue. Funding can be used for:

  • A research allowance (including allowance for professional development or travel relevant to the scholarly work)
  • Student stipend, if the student’s current funding source would not allow the alternative project(s)

Each year funding is available for up to approximately 30 new students from all faculties at UBC, and approximately 5 scholars from all faculties at UBCO. Scholars selected for the cohort will be eligible for a renewal funding a second year. Just like last year, the 2024-25 applications also features the special 'Health Equity Stream' created in partnership with UBC Health. The Health Equity Stream is a dedicated funding source to further increase the number of PSI scholars from all faculties and departments whose work address health issues and seek to impact health equity within local, national, and global health systems. There is a dedicated Health Stream FAQ section below, under the 'Further Information' heading. Scholars applying for the HES should elaborate on their interest in their application, ideally on the second page of the application where they are expected to articulate the public scholarship aspects of their work.

Scholars intending to apply for the Health Equity Stream will be able to do so on the qualtrics page when they are submitting the application documents (see below). The applications are otherwise identical.



  • UBC Vancouver doctoral students (PhD, EdD, DMA, including part time PhD students) in years 1-5 and; UBC Okanagan doctoral students in years 1-5
    • Applicants must have completed no more than 48 months of doctoral study as of 31 August 2024
    • Applicants must be registered in a UBC doctoral program as of 1 September 2024
    • Applicants in their 6th year (48 to 60 months of doctoral study) will be accepted only in exceptional circumstances; these applicants should receive approval from the PSI before submitting their applications.

Requirements for all funded students:

  • Submission of a report at the end of their first (and if applicable, second) year of funding
  • Presentation of their work at a Network event PhDs Go Public

All students, faculty, and collaborators will be asked to complete a questionnaire at the end of their funding/involvement. Student dissertations and student completion and career outcomes will also be reviewed as part of the assessment of this pilot initiative.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Student’s past accomplishments and future promise. Breadth of interest and accomplishment will be important, as well as an indication of the student’s fit with the proposed project.
  • Project’s relationship to PSI goals, which is to encourage and enable a broadened conception of doctoral education, such that:
    • Students' work extends beyond the academia and beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries; 
    • Students gain experience in the environments and types of scholarship they may productively engage in post-graduation;
    • Students’ work is evaluated as part of the degree, ensuring it is of the highest quality, and signaling that the university considers these diverse forms of scholarship worthy of recognition;
    • Students gain enhanced career opportunities and they foster positive public perception of the value of the doctorate;
    • Students can contribute to the public good in diverse ways through rigorous scholarship;
  • Quality of proposed scholarship. The following factors will be taken into account:
    • The work requires a high level of expertise in a discipline(s) and/or methodology;
    • The goals are clearly defined, realistic, and identify important questions;
    • Adequate preparation for and understanding of the subject is indicated;
    • Appropriate methods are proposed to achieve the goals;
    • Plans to document and disseminate the work are appropriate and effective;
    • The work has significance and is likely to contribute positively to the public good;
  • Need for alternative funding sources
  • Consideration will also be given to breadth of the initiative across disciplines

Application Procedures

(1) Download these 2 files: PSI Fellowship Application 2024-2025 and PSI Fellowship Application Instructions 2024-2025. The files can also be found in the "Further Information" Section below.

(2) Once the form is downloaded you can edit and save the form by renaming it. Name your application: LastName_FirstName_PSI

(3) Following the guidelines, complete the Application form. Please note that each section ("Outline of Proposed Scholarly Work" and "Relationship of Proposal to PSI Goals") is individually capped at 4000 characters and 1 page.

(4) Upload the completed PSI Fellowship Application 2024-2025 form and your Canadian Common CV as one pdf file (see instructions for details) to this page. The page is a Qualtrics form that will require 5 minutes to complete once all your documents are ready to be uploaded. Please read the Overview section on that page carefully before proceeding to ensure your application is submitted correctly.

(5) For the mandatory supervisor letter of support and the optional letter(s) of support from collaborators, your letter writers should go to this page. You can open the page, and share the link with them. The page is a Qualtrics form that will require 2 minutes to complete once the letter of support is ready to be uploaded.

(6) This will complete your application. 


Adjudication Procedures

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies will convene a multi-disciplinary adjudication committee to review eligible applications and select funding recipients. Funding decisions will be announced in the second half of July.

Previous Award Winners

For profiles of all existing and graduated scholars, please check the profiles section of the Public Scholars Initiative webpage.  

Meet Award Holders

Further Information

Please note that all Public Scholars are expected to participate in PSI programming to the extent they are able to. Renewal funding is often contingent on scholar's engagement with their cohort and with PSI activities. This is particularly true for the HES scholars; the HES programming is tailored to meet the specific needs of the limited number of scholars selected for the stream, and their engagement is crucial to the stream's success.

For questions about the Public Scholars Initiative and application procedures, contact Public Scholars Initiative Manager, Serbulent Turan: serbulent.turan@ubc.ca 

PSI Health Equity Stream FAQs




How many scholars will be accepted into the Health Equity Stream?
The program will accept six to eight scholars into the Health Equity Stream.

Should I apply to the Health Equity Stream or the general stream?
If your proposed project will have an impact on health equity on a local, national, or international scale, we encourage you to apply to the Health Equity Stream. This funding stream focuses on health equity in the broadest sense and is not limited to health care equity. 

Health equity* is achieved when everyone has the same access and opportunity to achieve optimal health, regardless of social, economic, environmental, and socially constructed barriers. It seeks to eliminate unfair and avoidable differences in health determinants and outcomes by removing obstacles and reducing inequities.

If you are unsure about the fit of your topic, please refer to the Definition of Health page or the Public Scholars Initiative website.

If I apply to the Health Equity Stream and am not accepted, will I be considered for the general stream?
Yes. If you apply but are not accepted into the Health Equity Stream, your application will automatically be considered for the general stream. You do not need to submit a separate application. 

How do the Public Scholars Initiative application and adjudication processes for the Health Equity Stream differ from the general stream?
The application process for the Health Equity Stream and the General Stream is the same. You will have the opportunity to elaborate on how your work is related to health equity and the goals of the stream in the Outline of Proposed Scholarly Work and Relationship of Proposal to PSI Goals sections of the application form.  

When you go to submit the application form via Qualtrics, there will be a question prompting you to confirm whether you want to be considered for the Health Equity Stream.  

All applications undergo a single adjudication committee review. Health Equity Stream applications are initially assessed for general PSI eligibility, followed by an evaluation based on factors including the overall application quality, alignment with the Health Equity Stream goals, potential cohesion of the cohort, and potential benefits of the program for the applicant. Six to eight scholars will be selected to join the stream. 

What does the Health Equity Stream have to offer?
In addition to the PSI core programming, the Health Equity Stream offers a tailored health policy workshop series, equity-focused socials, and opportunities to engage in other UBC Health activities and opportunities. All activities are informed and enriched by past and present Scholars’ preferences and experiences. While programming is provided for the selected cohort, there may be limited opportunities for other health scholars in the general stream or past cohorts to participate. 

Can I apply for the Health Equity Stream if I already hold research funding?
Yes. Applicants who already hold funding from other agencies or funders are eligible to apply for and receive funding from the Health Equity Stream.

Where can I get more information?
For more information on the Health Equity Stream, programming, eligibility criteria, and application process, the following resource is available:

 For questions about the Health Equity Stream, contact Brenda Gonzalez Cordova, Project Coordinator UBC Health at brenda.gonzalez@ubc.ca.


*Health equity has numerous definitions with consistent core concepts. Some helpful resources include: 

  • National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. Let’s Talk: Health equity [Internet]. [cited 2024 Mar 27]. Available from: https://nccdh.ca/resources/entry/health-equity 
  • Braveman P, Arkin E, Orleans T, Proctor D, Acker J, Plough A. What is Health Equity? Behavioral Science & Policy. 2018 Apr 1;4(1):1–14. 
  • Braveman P. Defining Health Equity. Journal of the National Medical Association. 2022 Dec 1;114(6):593–600. 



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