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NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral program

Value $21,000 per year for three years.
Application deadline
Through a Canadian institution: Contact your institution

Directly to NSERC: October 17

To determine whether you should apply through a Canadian institution or directly to NSERC and which application deadline applies to you, consult “Where should I submit my application?”
How to apply Form 201 – Application for a Postgraduate Scholarship or Postdoctoral Fellowship

To create or access an application, log in to the online system. It is imperative that you read the instructions before completing and submitting your application.
For more information Consult the contact list.

Refer to the Selection committee guide for Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships programs.
Important note This program description should be read in conjunction with the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral program for complete program information.


The NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral (PGS D) program provides financial support to high-calibre students who are engaged in an eligible doctoral program (see Eligibility criteria for students and fellows) 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.

Applications to the PGS D program will automatically be considered for the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Doctoral (CGS D) award. If your application is one of the highest scored applications, you will be offered a CGS D; if your application is among the next tier of meritorious applications, you will be offered a PGS D; and if your application is one of the lower scored applications, you will not be offered an award.

The majority of information about the PGS D program is contained within the CGS D program description, including important information about

  • eligibility
  • application procedures
  • Indigenous applicants
  • application deadlines
  • selection criteria
  • notification of results
  • conditions of the award

The following information is specific to the NSERC PGS D program and the doctoral award selection process at NSERC.

Note: You may be eligible to apply for a Canada Graduate Scholarship – Master’s (CGS M) for your first year of study in the doctoral program. Applying for a CGS M, if you are eligible, will maximize your potential period of funding. You are responsible for choosing the type of award for which you apply. You cannot apply for both a CGS M and a PGS D in the same year.


Refer to the CGS D program description for information on eligibility. The following pertains specifically to the PGS D award.


You may take up your PGS D at any eligible Canadian institution. You may also take it up at any eligible foreign institution, provided you have received a previous degree from a Canadian institution.

If you are offered a CGS D but decide to take your award to an eligible foreign institution, and are eligible to do so, you must decline the CGS D to be offered a PGS D award in its place.

Note: If you are a permanent resident of Canada and will be taking up your award outside of Canada, you should contact the relevant Canadian immigration authorities to determine how doing so may affect your Canadian residency status.

Subject matter

To be considered eligible for the PGS D program, your proposed research must clearly lie within the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), rather than the health sciences. If your proposed research falls outside of NSERC’s mandate, and you are not offered a CGS D award, your application may be deemed ineligible for the PGS D program. NSERC staff may consult, as required, with outside experts or officials at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for input before reaching a decision on subject matter eligibility. Refer to NSERC’s Eligibility criteria for students and fellows for additional information.

Indigenous applicants

Refer to the CGS D program description for information on considerations given to self-identified Indigenous applicants to the doctoral funding programs.

Application procedures

Refer to the CGS D program description for information on applying to the PGS D program. One application must be completed and submitted to be considered for both a CGS D and a PGS D awards. CGS D awards are then offered to applicants with the highest scored eligible applications.

Application deadlines

Refer to the CGS D program description for information on institutional and agency deadlines.

Review procedures and selection criteria

Institutional and NSERC review

Selection committees evaluate each application (whether submitted directly to NSERC or via the institutional review processes; see “Where should I submit my application?”) within one of the following broad discipline categories that correspond to the NSERC scholarships and fellowships selection committees:

  • cellular and molecular biology
  • chemical, biomedical and materials science engineering
  • chemistry
  • civil and industrial engineering
  • computing sciences
  • electrical engineering
  • evolution and ecology
  • geosciences
  • mathematical sciences
  • mechanical engineering
  • physics and astronomy
  • plant and animal biology
  • psychology

The research subject code (see List of research subject codes for scholarships and fellowships) entered on your application will determine the selection committee in which your application will be evaluated. NSERC may assign your application to a different selection committee if it determines that the subject matter is more appropriate for another selection committee. The selection committees recommend scholarships for the applications they consider to be most meritorious, according to the selection criteria described in the CGS D program description and within the limit of available awards. Note that in order to address systemic barriers that limit the full participation of all talented individuals, NSERC aims for the proportion of short-listed or funded applications from those who self-identify as members of underrepresented groups to be at least similar to the proportion of applications received from these groups. This equalization process is performed as needed, and only amongst meritorious applications.

NSERC expects selection committee members to consistently guard against the possibility of unconscious bias influencing the decision-making process, whether these biases are based on a school of thought, fundamental versus applied research, certain sub-disciplines, areas of research or approaches (including emerging ones), size or reputation of an institution, age, gender and/or other personal factors.

NSERC is acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and is aligned with the objectives of the Tri-agency EDI Action Plan.

For more information consult the Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations at each stage of the research process web page.

In preparing your application, you should consult the Selection criteria and indicators section and appendix A of the Selection committee guide for Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships programs, which provide useful information on what selection committee members look for in assessing applications. You should also read the Instructions for completing an application – form 201.

Notification of results

Refer to the CGS D program description for information on the notification of results.

Conditions of the award

Refer to the Tri-agency research training award holder’s guide for policies and requirements about holding the award, such as acceptance, start date, deferment, paid parental leave, holding the award on a part-time basis, etc.