Siotoh Global Mobility

The Ultimate Guide to Getting a PhD Scholarship in Canada

Getting a PhD scholarship in Canada can be competitive but it is an incredibly rewarding endeavor. In terms of the experience and the greatness it brings to your career. 

Siotoh Global Mobility is here to give you some very insightful and comprehensive guides to help you navigate the PhD scholarship process as an individual going into Canada.

12 Steps to Getting a PhD Scholarship in Canada


Research and Choose Your Field of Study

Selecting the right field of study is crucial for your PhD journey. It is important that you go for something that is in line with your past degrees, career paths and or passion. The PhD scene is tough enough, you wouldn’t want to be stuck with something you are not familiar with / denied visa applications due to the considerable difference in fields. Your PhD will require a deep and sustained commitment, so choose a field that you are passionate about/ familiar with.

Be sure to consider your long-term career aspirations. How would the chosen field align with your career goals? Will it open up opportunities in academia, industry, or other sectors?

Canada is known for its diverse and high-quality education system. Look for universities that have strong programs in your chosen field. Consider factors like faculty expertise and modern facilities, research spaces, university achievements and often times, location.

Once again, narrow down your field to specific research areas or topics that interest you the most. This will also help you find potential supervisors and tailor your applications.

Identify Scholarship Opportunities

There are various scholarship programs available for international students in Canada. Be sure to look through the scholarship requirements, scope and consider your eligibility. We have provided some resources to ensure you identify the right scholarships for you, as well as some of the most prominent ones in Canada:

  • Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships: For doctoral students with excellent academic achievements and research potential.
  • Trudeau Foundation Scholarships: For students pursuing social sciences and humanities research.
  • NSERC Scholarships: For students in natural sciences and engineering.
  • CIHR Scholarships: For those pursuing health-related research.

Meet Admission Requirements

Check the admission requirements for your chosen program and university. You’ll need to provide transcripts from your previous academic institutions. Ensure they are translated into English or French (depending on your chosen university) if necessary, letters of recommendation as well. Usually, you’ll need two to three letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who can speak to your academic and research abilities.

Your statement of purpose is a critical part of your application. It should articulate your research interests, why you want to pursue a PhD, and why you’re interested in the specific program and university you’ve chosen. 

Most universities in Canada require proof of English or French language proficiency, usually through tests like TOEFL or IELTS. Make sure you meet the minimum score requirements.

Some programs may require standardized test scores like the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) or GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test). Check the specific program requirements.

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Contact Potential Supervisors

Reach out to potential supervisors whose research aligns with your interests. Discuss your research ideas and express your interest in working with them. This step is crucial, as having a supervisor who supports your work is essential for a successful PhD journey.

Prepare a Strong Application

Craft a compelling application package that showcases your academic achievements, research experience, and future goals. This application is your chance to make a compelling case for admission and funding as well as how your research will contribute to the academic community. Tailor your statement of purpose to each university, highlighting how their unique programs fit your aspirations or how your research interests align with the faculty’s expertise and the university’s resources. Emphasize your research experience, publications, and any projects relevant to this application. Describe how your background has prepared you for doctoral-level research. Follow our guide on writing an effective motivation letter.  Do not forget to choose strong and credible recommenders who can speak proudly on your research potential and qualifications. You can provide them with your CV and a clear understanding of your goals for a better letter.

secure funding

Secure Funding

In addition to scholarships, explore funding opportunities such as research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and grants from your chosen university or department.

Fulfill Language Proficiency Requirements

Most Canadian universities require international students to demonstrate proficiency in English or French through standardized tests like TOEFL or IELTS. So, prepare for the language proficiency test by taking practice exams, studying vocabulary and grammar, and improving your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

Register and take a recognized language proficiency test such as TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). You’re good to go once you achieve the minimum required scores set by the university.

Worry not If your language proficiency falls short. Consider enrolling in language courses or programs to enhance your skills. As an international student, many universities offer language programs to help you improve your language and communication skills in the country. 

Meeting language proficiency requirements is essential because it ensures that you can fully participate in classes, discussions, and research activities during your PhD program in Canada.

application form

Apply for Scholarships

It seems like it shouldn’t be said but, submit your scholarship applications by the deadlines. Be sure you’ve provided all necessary documents and follow the application instructions closely. We’ve provided some resources for finding education scholarship funds to make things easier for you.

Prepare for Interviews

Some scholarship programs may require interviews as part of the selection process. Do not be scared. Prepare by researching the program, understanding your proposed research, and articulating your motivations clearly. The scholarship interview process is mainly just to get the awarding committee to know you better and see how you and your goals align with theirs. How to impress your visa interviewer.

visa or passport application

Visa and Study Permit

Once you receive an offer of admission and secure funding, you’ll need to apply for a Canadian study permit and, if required, a temporary resident visa. Obtaining the necessary visa and study permit is a crucial step for international students planning to study in Canada

Begin the visa and study permit application process well in advance. The processing times can vary, so applying early ensures you have all the required documentation in order. Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for a study permit.  A study permit application can be done online or through a local Visa Application Center (VAC). You will need to submit a valid passport, the acceptance letter from your university, proof of financial support, and possibly other documents as requested by the Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). Like documentation of a clean criminal record, and a medical exam (if required). If medicals are required then insurance often follows so, ensure you have adequate health insurance while studying in Canada. Some provinces provide health coverage, while others require you to purchase private health insurance, find out which ones apply to you.

Plan Your Arrival

Make arrangements for accommodation, travel, and any necessary quarantine measures. Familiarize yourself with the local area and the university campus. Preparing for your stay in Canada is essential for a smooth transition to the environment and a successful start to your PhD program. You might want to start off with booking your flight well in advance, considering the date of your program orientation. Be sure to stay informed about any COVID-19 regulations, quarantine requirements, and vaccination procedures. Though the world seems to be getting back on track, it’s best to stay up-to-date on the latest guidelines.

Then arrange your accommodation in advance. Many universities offer on-campus housing options for international students so look through the university website for their accommodations . If you’re staying off-campus, do your research about neighborhoods and housing options in your university’s vicinity. There would be university assistance for when you wish to open a bank account, obtain a local phone number, and get someone to help you familiarize yourself with public transportation options in your new city.

Start Your PhD Journey

Once you arrive in Canada and begin your studies, be proactive in building relationships with your peers, professors, and the academic community. Schedule meetings with your academic advisors and professors. Discuss your research plan, course requirements, and any academic goals you have for your program.

Engage in research activities, attend seminars, make the most of orientation programs and academic workshops, and contribute to the academic environment.

Starting your PhD journey in Canada is a significant step towards achieving your academic and career goals. Proper planning and preparation will help you make the most of your time in this vibrant and diverse country.

The process can be competitive, so it’s essential to start early, maintain a high level of academic excellence, and be persistent in your pursuit of a PhD in Canada. We wish you good luck!

You can contact Siotoh Global Mobility to help with your PhD Scholarship Processes

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