BISC Graduate Student Funding Policy

The Department of Biological Sciences funds MSc, MPM and PhD students through a combination of Scholarships, Fellowships, RAships and TAships.  MSc/MPM Students are supported financially for at least 2 years and PhD students are supported for at least 4 years.

Effective September 2021 financial support is set at a minimum of $24,000/yr for MSc and MPM students in the first 2 years of their program and PhD students in the first 4 years of their program (currently $23,000/yr).  Note that this minimum funding level is the stipend that students are guaranteed to receive before paying tuition and fees, which total around $7,260/year for domestic students and $7,640 for international students.  If progress is satisfactory additional funding may be extended beyond 2 years for MSc/MPM students and 4 years for PhD candidates.

These funding rates do not apply to students in the Master of Environmental Toxicology (MET) program, who do not have minimum funding levels. As a practice, the Department of Biological Sciences does not allow self-funded students entry to the graduate programs.  In extraordinary circumstances, students that are employer-funded may be considered for entry to the graduate program, however, this will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.


Faculty members in the Department of Biological Sciences (or Faculty members from outside of BISC that are senior supervisors to BISC graduate students) are required to contribute at least $14,000 in financial support for their students. If the graduate student received Scholarships, Fellowships or TAships, the senior supervisor is not normally required to provide a RAship that would result in a level of support exceeding the minimum funding level for that year unless explicitly stated in the terms of reference of a scholarship or fellowship.

As of Sept. 2021 each student must receive a minimum of $24,000 per year for 4 years, normally $8,000 per semester per year (currently $23k/yr or $7666/sem). This amount can consist of scholarships and/or, when available and when student progress is acceptable, TAships, GFs and senior supervisor grant funds. For students without scholarships or fellowships, the senior supervisor should provide on average $14,000 per year for 4 years to attain the minimum funding level 


Students are expected to apply for TAships, the timing of which should be discussed with their faculty supervisor so that it does not interfere with course work or field or lab research schedules. Failure to apply when advised to do so by the supervisor does not obligate the supervisor to provide additional RAships to meet the minimum funding level.

The Department assigns TAships according to the provisions set out in the TSSU Collective Agreement and the Departmental Priority System, which is posted on the Graduate Student Notice Board.

Student salaries are calculated based on the graduate student TAing 2 4-base unit courses per year. A senior supervisor cannot require a graduate student to TA more than 8-base units on average (or 336 h) per year to offset the RAship contribution of the senior supervisor.

Scholarships and Fellowships

Students are expected to apply for scholarships and fellowships. Failure to apply will not obligate the faculty member to provide additional RAships to meet the minimum funding level.

Rankings for scholarships and most internal awards are adjudicated by the Department Scholarships Committee (DSC). The DSC is careful to evaluate applications for all awards according to the published criteria. The DSC regularly reviews the criteria, as well as privacy legislation, to ensure that all of the rules are respected. Generally, all applicants are ranked independently by all DSC members. Unless prescribed by these criteria, no weighting formula is used to score applications. The ranking information is summarized, and at a meeting the DSC discusses each case to arrive at a final ranking based on consensus.

The DSC follows a guideline that major awards are not granted to students concurrently (i.e. in the same semester) holding another major award, if the award could be directed to a biology graduate student without full support. The intent of this guideline is to help ensure, that in so far as it is possible and reasonable, all graduate students in the department are fully supported financially.

All currently offered (internal and/or private) funding opportunities can be found on the SFU Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies webiste using the award application link.



A student that brings their own personal funding with them (eg. through family-based funds) not requiring salary input from the Department or supervisor to meet the Departmental minimum salary levels. Students funded through a scholarship or fellowship are not considered self-funded.


A student that is paid through an employer and do not require salary input from the Department or supervisor to meet the Departmental minimum salary levels. Students funded through a scholarship or fellowship are not considered employer-funded.