Competitive Graduate Research Assistantship for Racialized Students

CBS Competitive Graduate Research Assistantship for Racialized Students

Questions about this scholarship or graduate studies in CBS in general? Please contact Sarah Bates in the ADRGS office (SSC 3478) or by Teams chat. 

This scholarship was established in 2021 in recognition of the fact that racialized students are typically underrepresented in graduate studies in the life sciences and are more likely to be disadvantaged by historic and present-day systemic inequities. As a result, the main goal for this program is to promote the recruitment of historically disadvantaged individuals by minimizing the financial barrier for securing an MSc position by those students who have had less opportunities to develop research skills and prioritizing life experiences and clearly described research interests. Adjudication of these awards are based on non-traditional metrics of research potential and, therefore, previous research experience is not required.

Availability: There will be three awards available annually for an incoming MSc student in CBS. Recipients must enroll in a thesis-based MSc program in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Integrative Biology or Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Duration and Value: Each award is valued at $10,000 (payable over 3 semesters during the student’s first year of study). A major goal of this program is to remove a financial barrier for faculty members to recruit an individual without prior research experience and, therefore, the expectation is that faculty advisors will utilize this award to reduce their financial commitment to the recipients annual stipends. Recipients must receive a total annual stipend of at least $2,000 per year over the college minimum of (i.e. $24,460, which is at least $2,000 per year over the college minimum of $22,460*, in keeping with the CBS graduate funding policy for students with major awards), resulting in $8,000 in savings for faculty members.
*New stipend amounts effective F24.

Eligibility: To be eligible to apply and hold this award, students must:

  • self-identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or a Person of Colour
  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • meet the normal minimum admission requirements for their thesis-based MSc program of interest (see CBS admission requirements for program-specific requirements)
  • maintain full-time status for the duration of the award

Important: Students do not need to have an advisor identified, or be accepted into a graduate program in CBS by the application deadline. Students selected for this award will normally be expected to submit a graduate application and enrol in their program of interest in S24, F24 or W25.

Tenability with other awards: The Competitive GRA is not tenable with other major awards, including GTS, OGS, NSERC, CIHR, Vanier or Morwick. Minor awards (~$5k or less) can be held at the same time as the Competitive GRA.

Tenure of awards: Recipients must remain enrolled as full-time students and maintain satisfactory progress for the duration of the scholarship in order to maintain funding.

Application process: To apply, students submit the following:

1) A completed, signed eligibility confirmation form

2) A personal statement (maximum 2 pages) that describes the following:

  • Your research interests. Within this section, please make sure you describe why you are interested in doing research and what scientific questions you are interested in exploring during your MSc research. Consider relating your research interests to your academic experience. Examples of such experience could include, but are not limited to, how specific course(s) sparked your interest in that research area, experiential learning in labs taken during your undergraduate courses, formal research and/or volunteer opportunities and activities or events outside of the university. The type of previous academic experience is not as important as the personal reflection and description of what you learned from these experiences that stimulated your interest in pursuing an MSc thesis.
  • Your leadership activities (which may take a variety of different forms including, but not limited to: work experience, volunteering, extracurricular activities, caregiving, small group work, etc.).
  • The 3 accomplishments you are most proud of (this can be anything and relate to either personal growth or external impact).

Note: Transcripts cannot be included in the application, but students can make reference to specific courses in their personal statement if applicable to their research interests. While transcripts cannot be included, successful students will need to meet the minimum admission requirement of a 75% average during their last two years or 4 semesters of undergraduate study to be accepted into the MSc program and be eligible to hold the award.

Deadline: Application materials should be submitted by January 31, 2023 to as a single PDF file.

Adjudication: Applications will be adjudicated by the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies and a faculty representative from each department’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Selection will be entirely based on research potential and leadership, based on the rubric below.

Post award process: The Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies (ADRGS) office will assist selected students with identifying potential advisors in CBS that align with their research interests and provide coaching in how to contact them.

Once an advisor has been secured, the applicant will submit an application to the appropriate MSc program (see instructions on CBS website). Given application approval timelines, the applicant will normally expect to start in the following fall or winter semester; however, when an advisor has been secured fairly quickly, it may be possible to apply in time for a spring semester start.

Should a selected student end up securing a major award (OGS, etc.), then the Competitive GRA will be offered to the next student on the reversion list.

Process timeline:

  • January:
    • Students prepare and submit application by Jan. 31
  • February:
    • Adjudication (results announced by March 1)
  • March 1 to Aug. 31:
    • Secure faculty advisor in CBS (college will assist)
    • Apply to relevant graduate program
  • Enroll in MSc program in F24 or W24 (S24 start also possible).

Rubric for the evaluation of research and leadership potential

Criteria High Potential (7-10 points) Medium Potential (4-7 points) Low Potential (0-4 points) Score Comments
1. Attitude towards research and discovery Clear commitment to and enthusiasm for research and discovery, from two or more pieces of evidence. Commitment to or enthusiasm for research with at least one piece of evidence. Commitment to or enthusiasm for research unclear or not evident.    
2. Clarity of research interests Student demonstrates a clear and articulate understanding of their research interests, providing specific research questions within a given area. Student indicates research interests with identifiable questions, but they are vague or superficial.  Student does not clearly state research interests.    
3. Leadership Potential Student provides a clear record of leadership activities and demonstrates deep reflection on the value/importance of these activities. Student provides a poor description of their record of leadership activities and/or minimally reflects on the value/importance of these activities. Student does not provide a record of leadership activities and/or does not reflect on their value/importance.    
4. Impact of three accomplishments Student provides an outstanding reflection related to three accomplishments, including an understanding of personal growth and/or external impact of these contributions.  Student provides only minimal reflection on their accomplishments and their impact (personal or external). Student does not provide a reflection on their accomplishments and their impact (personal or external).     
Total (out of 40)