INS Admission Requirements, Application Process and Forms

The INS application process is longer than most graduate applications. You are urged to contact the faculty members relevant to your research prior to beginning the application process and obtaining their agreement to act as a supervisory committee member. We suggest reading through the process well in advance and starting your proposal before opening an online application.

INS application deadline

Intake: Summer and Fall  (please note that there is no intake for Spring)

  • OPEN:  October 15
  • CLOSE: February 15
All parts of the application must be received by the application deadline. Failure to upload the application documents to the application system may result in a denial. 

1. Review the INS admission requirements

Individualized Interdisciplinary Studies admission will be made only when:

  1. A student is applying to pursue a graduate degree (MA, MSc, PhD)
  2. The applicant is exceptionally academically able, normally evidenced by:
    1. a minimum CGPA at the previous degree level of 3.67
    2. demonstrated scholarly achievements in the form of first authored papers or conference presentations of research at national or international meetings
    3. awards signifying academic excellence
    4. for doctoral applicants: a successful completion of a master's thesis
  3. The applicant’s proposed course of study is interdisciplinary and/or cannot be pursued in any one existing program
  4. There is little need for additional expenditure of University funds
  5. Supervisory support for the student has been identified 
  6. Expected financial support for the student has been identified. The minimum funding committment from the supervisory committee is $12,000 per year for 2 years for master's or $12,000 per year for 4 years for doctoral.
  7. The program plan made for each individual student must be approved at the time of application. Changes to the program plan are only allowed in limited circumstances and must be approved by the Individualized Interdisciplinary Studies Steering Committee.

NOTE: The admission made for an individual student do not set a precedent for other graduate students with similar interests.

INS admission requirements are in addition to all SFU Graduate admission requirements.

2. Build your INS supervisory committee

  • Before beginning the application process, make contact with potential supervisors and supervisory committee members 
  • A senior supervisor and two committee members from at least two different SFU academic units are required for all INS students
  • Obtain the informal agreement of all committee members to act as your supervisory committee 
  • Confirm that the INS minimum funding offer is achieved

3. Prepare your application

As part of your INS application, you will need to prepare the following components:

  • Supervisory Committee and Resources (INS Supervisory & Committee Resources form)
    • Includes financial and resource support from proposed supervisor
    • Includes Home department designation
  • Research proposal (up to four pages)
    • You may have already prepared a version of this when making contact with potential supervisory committee members. For application purposes, however, please be sure your research proposal includes the following elements:
      • Describe the field you will be researching.
      • Tell us why this field is important.
      • Describe the current (and relevant) "hot topics" in the field.
      • Describe the specific area you will be researching in the field.
      • Tell us how your research will add to the field (explain why your work is important - does it address any unanswered questions in this field?)
      • Summarize the current research base in your specific area of interest and highlight any gaps in the research that you plan to address with your research.
  • Writing sample (five or more pages of your academic writing)

  • Program requirements (INS Proposed Program Timeline form)
    • Required course work for an INS doctoral program will normally consist of a minimum of four graduate level courses. a master's program will normally consist of a minimum of six graduate level courses.
    • A minimum of two of courses must be taken on-campus in class with other students (cannot be Directed Readings courses).
    • Courses must be from at least two different SFU academic units.
    • Directed Readings courses are all will be taken within INS.
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    • Your CV
    • One page CV summaries of all members of the supervisory committee
  • All post-secondary transcripts
    • Copies of your unofficial transcripts will be uploaded as part of your online application.
    • Official transcripts will be requested prior to an admission offer.

4. Complete the online application

  • Complete the online application using the Graduate Studies Application System
  • You will need to submit the basic online application prior to moving on to the next step.
  • Academic references
    • You will be asked to provide the name and contact details for three referees through the online application.
    • One reference must be from your proposed senior supervisor. The additional two references should be from an academic field (personal references are not accepted)
    • Once you have submitted your application, they will be sent an automated email prompting them to complete their reference online.

5. Pay the application fee

  • All applicants must pay a non-refundable application fee by credit card* (Visa or MasterCard):
    • $90 CAN - applicants with Canadian transcripts
    • $125 CAN - applicants with international transcripts**
  • The full application fee is due within seven (7) days after your application has been submitted. Your application will not be considered until the full payment has been received. 
  • You must have the 'pop-up blocker' on your web browser turned off (disabled) in order to make a payment.

*If you are unable to pay the application fee by credit card, see How to Pay Your Fees for alternative payment methods. If you would like to pay in person, go to Student Services at the Burnaby campus. Please specify that your payment is for your application fee (otherwise it may end up in your student account).

**Please note that the application fee is not assessed based on your citizenship, place of residence, or immigration status. It is a fee to evaluate transcripts from countries other than Canada. This means that even if you are a Canadian citizen, if you hold a transcript from a country other than Canada (an international transcript), you will be required to pay the international application fee.

6. Upload supporting documents

  • Please upload the following documents listed in Step 3 (click here for a printable checklist):

The INS steering committee may request changes to your proposal after the application period has ended. Your proposed senior supervisor will contact you if revisions are required.  

SFU Burnaby