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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 the Where should I submit my application? flowchart
How to apply To create or access an application, log in to the online system. Read the Instructions for completing an application – form 201 before completing and submitting your application.
  • Form 201 – Application for a Postgraduate Scholarship or Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Application process resource videos
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 web page 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 in natural sciences or engineering (refer to the Eligibility criteria for students and fellows web page for more information). This support allows scholars to concentrate more fully on their studies and seek out the best research mentors in their chosen fields both within Canada and abroad.

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 award; if your application is among the next tier of meritorious applications, you will be offered a PGS D award; and if your application is one of the lower scored applications, you will not be offered an award.

Important: The majority of information about the PGS D program is contained within the CGS D program web page, including important information about:

  • eligibility
  • application procedures
  • application deadlines
  • Indigenous student researchers
  • Black student researchers
  • selection criteria
  • notification of results
  • conditions of the award

Note: You may be eligible to apply to the Canada Graduate Scholarship – Master’s (CGS M) program instead of the PGS D/CGS D program for your first year of study. Applying for a CGS M award, 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 to both the CGS M and PGS D programs in the same year.

The information on this page is specific to the NSERC PGS D program and the review process at NSERC.


Refer to the Eligibility section of the CGS D program web page and the Eligibility criteria for students and fellows web page for more information. The following pertains specifically to the PGS D program.

Proposed location(s) of tenure

You may take up your PGS D award 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 award but decide to take it to an eligible foreign institution, and are eligible to do so, you must decline the CGS D award 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 eligibility

NSERC supports research whose major challenges lie in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), other than the health sciences. The intended objective(s) of your research must primarily be to advance knowledge in one or more NSE disciplines.

It is strongly recommended that you refer to the Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency web page for more information about the agencies’ mandates and to the Addendum to the guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health web page for examples of eligible and ineligible research subject matters related to NSERC’s mandate.

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 (SSHRC) for input before reaching a decision on subject matter eligibility.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the eligibility of your subject matter, email

Application procedures

Refer to the Application procedures section of the CGS D program web page for information on applying to the PGS D program. If you are interested in a CGS D award, apply for a PGS D. There is no separate application form or process for the CGS D program.

Application deadlines

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

Review process and selection criteria

Institutional and NSERC review

NSERC scholarships and fellowships selection committees review all eligible PGS D applications submitted to NSERC (directly or via an institutional review process; refer to the Where should I submit my application? flowchart). Each application is evaluated according to the selection criteria described on the CGS D program web page. The Selection committee guide for Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships programs provides additional details on the review process.

The research subject code (refer to the List of research subject codes for scholarships and fellowships web page) entered in your application determines its assigned selection committee. NSERC may assign your application to a different selection committee if it determines that the subject matter is more appropriate for another selection committee. Should this occur, you will be contacted by email.

The selection committees are organized into broad discipline categories:

  • 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

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.

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 web page.

San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment

NSERC is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). To promote NSERC’s support of research excellence in Canada and incorporate the principles of DORA, NSERC has developed Guidelines on the assessment of contributions to research, training and mentoring. The guidelines highlight NSERC’s commitment to excellence in research funding and aim to ensure that a wide range of research results and outcomes are considered and valued as part of the assessment process.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

In order to address systemic barriers that limit the full participation of all talented individuals, NSERC aims for the proportion of short-listed and 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.

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 section of the NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research web page.

Notification of results

Refer to the Notification of results section of the CGS D program web page.

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.