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Awards and Funding
The School of Communication’s MA and PhD students are funded through a combination of paid teaching and research positions and awards from SFU and external agencies.
This page outlines the main funding opportunities available, but many other awards and paid positions are available within and beyond the university. Students looking for funding should also search for awards and opportunities offered by community organizations, charities, businesses (including banks and credit unions), and governments (including Indigenous students’ Nation’s governments and associations) and government departments as well as international students’ governments and academic institutions.
After perusing the information available online about awards and other positions, students are encouraged to contact the School’s Graduate Coordinator and/or their Senior Supervisor as early as possible before the application deadline (aim for at least four weeks before the deadline but larger scholarships like SSHRCs require up to 4 or more months of preparation) to confirm their eligibility and make arrangements to deliver application materials, including letters of reference, in a timely manner.
MA and PhD students are eligible for employment as Teaching Assistants (TAs) and/or Tutor-Markers (TMs). These positions are posted, allocated, and compensated according to the collective agreement between SFU and the Teaching Staff Support Union (TSSU).
The School’s Manager emails a call for applications that is submitted to the FCAT appointments database. The call for applications is normally circulated to the School’s graduate students’ list-serve, firstname.lastname@example.org, during the second month of the term before the term when the TA and TM positions start (June for the fall term, October for the spring, and February for the summer). Applications are due two weeks later, and applicants are normally informed of their assignments by three weeks before the commencement of the teaching term.
Normally, the School is able to provide TA or TM positions to MA students during four of their first six terms and to PhD students during six of their first nine terms. TA and TM positions normally pay $4,800 per term or more, depending on the number of students, tutorials and contact hours assigned.
Advanced PhD students who have completed their Comprehensive Exams are eligible to apply to teach undergraduate courses as Term Lecturers. Term Lecturer positions are posted, allocated, and paid according to the collective agreement between SFU and the SFU Faculty Association (SFUFA).
The School’s Manager circulates a call to the cmns-grad email list during the second month of each term for applications to be submitted to the FCAT appointments database. Applications are due two weeks later, and applicants are normally informed of their assignments by three weeks before the commencement of the teaching term.
Typically, Term Lecturers’ are paid $9,600 per term or more. PhD students who have completed their Comprehensive Exams who want to be considered for Term Lecturer appointments should discuss this possibility with their Senior Supervisor and/or with the School’s Manager.
Some MA and PhD students work as Research Assistants (RAs) on faculty-led projects. Often these positions become available when a faculty member has a research grant with funds to hire research assistants. RAs are also sometimes available to work on projects led by the School’s Program Chairs or Director. The payment and the timing of the payments (bi-weekly or a lump sum, for instance) and the amount of work (from 5 hours to full-time employment) depends on the project.
Students interested in working as research assistants should ask their Senior Supervisors and other faculty members about opportunities. Postings within the School of Communication are sometimes circulated to the School’s list-serve for graduate students. In addition, some university-wide RA openings are posted on the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies’ job board.
Also note that occasionally there are other work opportunities, for example, through the Student Engagement & Retention (SER) unit and other SFU units.
The Dean of Graduate Studies assigns the School of Communication a very limited number of Graduate Dean’s Entrance Scholarship (GDES) packages for exceptional students.
The School’s Graduate Program Committee nominates these candidates.
Successful applicants to our MA and PhD programs can also be nominated for a variety of other competitive, university-wide entrance scholarships. These scholarships include though are not necessarily restricted to the following:
- Arthur and Ancie Fouks Graduate Entrance Award in Public Service
- Bert Henry Memorial Graduate Entrance Scholarship
- Faculty of Science Graduate Entrance Scholarship
- Graduate Aboriginal Entrance Scholarship
- Graduate Dean's Entrance Scholarship
- Judy Graves Graduate Award
- Kruger Products Bicultural Graduate Entrance Fellowship
- Provost Prize of Distinction (PPD)
- Provost International Fellowship (PIF)
- Robert Russell Family / First Nations Graduate Award
- Simons Foundation Doctoral Entrance Fellowship
- Special Graduate Entrance Scholarship (SGES)
Normally, the School’s Graduate Program Committee considers all admitted students for these awards as part of the admissions process. The School’s nominees are sent to the Dean of Graduate Studies Office, which adjudicates nominees from departments across the university.
Please see the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellows Entrance Scholarships page for further details.
The Dean of Graduate Studies’ Office provides funding for Graduate Fellowships, which are valued at $6,500. Normally, MA students are eligible for one GF during their first nine terms in the program and PhD students are eligible for two GFs during their first fifteen terms.
The Graduate Program Coordinator emails graduate students the call for GF applications around the middle of the second month of each term (October, February and June). Successful applications are awarded GFs the following term. Applications are made through SFU’s Graduate Awards, Application, and Adjudication System (GA3). Applicants must ask their Senior Supervisors for a recommendation. The deadline is usually around the middle of the third month of each term.
GF terms of reference are available online, and additional details about the departmental application process and adjudication criteria are distributed with the call for applications sent by the Graduate Coordinator.
The Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology allocates a number of FCAT Graduate Fellowships (FCAT-GFs) to the School each year. They are valued at $3,250. These merit-based awards are different from the Dean of Graduate Studies’ graduate fellowships and are adjudicated on a competitive basis.
The call for applications for FCAT-GFs is normally distributed by the Graduate Program Coordinator in the second month of the Fall term, along with the call for applications for GFs and TMRAs. Applications are submitted through GA3. FCAT-GF applications require a research statement and a letter of recommendation from the student’s Senior Supervisor.
FCAT-GF terms of reference are available online, and additional details about the departmental application process and adjudication criteria are distributed with the call for applications each term.
Travel and Minor Research Awards
The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies also provides Travel and Minor Research Awards (TMRAs). They are available to MA and PhD students travelling either to conduct field research or to attend or present research at conferences.
The call for applications for TMRAs is distributed by the Graduate Program Coordinator around the middle of the second month of each term for awards and are allocated during the following term. Applications are submitted through GA3, including a recommendation from the Senior Supervisor, are usually due around the middle of the third month of each term. To apply for a TMRA, students must also provide travel dates and destination, a budget, confirmation of their conference acceptance, and/or a description of their proposed research.
TMRA terms of reference are available online. Normally, MA and PhD students are eligible to receive one TMRA per year. Applications may be submitted the term before or after travel occurs. Awards are up to $700 for travel within Canada and the United States, and up to $1,000 for travel to international destinations. Half of the funds are paid as an award from the Faculty of Graduate Studies and half of the funds are paid as a reimbursement from the School.
Students seeking funding to travel to conferences should also explore whether funding opportunities are available from the association sponsoring their conference and consider whether they are eligible to apply for a Professional Development Grant from SFU’s Graduate Student Society and or an Indigenous Graduate Student Travel Award from the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
The most substantial and significant external funding for the School’s MA and PhD students comes from the Canadian government’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Most of these awards are limited to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.
MA awards are valued at $17,000 for 12 months, and PhD awards are valued at either $20,000 per year or $35,000 per year for a period of one to four years. We strongly encourage all eligible students to apply for SSHRC Awards.
The deadline for Doctoral applications is usually November 1 and the deadline for Master’s applications is usually December 1 (Please see SFU’s tri-council awards page for current deadlines). Because of the highly competitive nature of these awards, it is important to begin preparing statements (including a well-developed research proposal with a well-defined question, rationale, methodology, and description of the contribution to the field, which requires some knowledge of publications and research in the field) as early as possible. Eligible applicants should begin discussing their applications and request letters of appraisal from their Senior Supervisor and other academic mentors as early as possible and, at the very latest, by the beginning of the Fall term. Applicants are also encouraged to attend workshops offered by the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows as well as by the School. These workshops normally occur in October.
One of the largest and most prestigious scholarships is SSHRC’s Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, which is open to exceptional Canadian and international students. The award is valued at $50,000 per year, and applications are normally due in mid-September. Eligible applicants should begin discussing their applications and request letters of appraisal from their Senior Supervisor no later than the beginning of the Summer term. Applicants are also encouraged to attend the Vanier Scholarship workshop offered by the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows, which normally occurs in August.
For additional details on SSHRC award competitions, please consult the following resources:
- Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows Tri-Council Awards Page
- Tri-Council Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s Program Page
- SSHRC Doctoral Awards Page
- Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship Page
MA and PhD students may be eligible for other external awards. Students can apply for some of these awards through SFU; for others, they must send their applications directly to the funding agency. It is important to research scholarship opportunities that may be available from government, corporate, non-profit, and other sectors. The Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows maintains a list of major Canadian external awards and lists other external awards on its awards timeline. Students should also search for awards offered by community organizations, businesses (including banks and credit unions) governments and Indigenous students’ Nation’s governments and associations.
Some of the most prominent and relevant external awards include:
- China Scholarship Council
- Connect Canada Internships
- Government of Canada International Scholarships
- IODE War Memorial Scholarship ($20,000)
- Mackenzie King Memorial Scholarships
- New Relationship Trust Scholarships (First Nation students from BC)
- Northern Scientific Training Program (NSTP)
- RBC Aboriginal Student Awards Program ($4,000 a year for 2-4 years)
- RBC Royal Bank Scholarships
- Rhodes Scholarship in Canada
- Schwarzman Scholars
- Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarship
- WorksafeBC Research Training Award
For an updated list of external awards, please see the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies’ Awards Timeline.
A variety of competitive private awards (usually, awards funded by donors to the University) are available to MA and PhD students. Some of these awards are exclusively allocated to students in the School. Students are encouraged to apply for all the awards for which they are eligible. This makes it possible for the Graduate Program Committee to distribute awards between more students.
- Asper Graduate Fellowship in Communications ($19,000)
- COGECO Graduate Scholarship in Communication ($17,000)
- Cable Television Pioneer Graduate Scholarship ($1,100)
- Emergency Preparedness Conference Scholarship in Emergency Communications ($4,200)
- Orient Star Media Graduate Scholarship in Global Communication (exclusive to students in the Global Communication MA program)
- Patricia Graham Annual Graduate Scholarship in Global Communication (exclusive to students in the Global Communication MA program)
- Rogers Communications Inc. Graduate Scholarship in Communication ($6,900)
- Shahrgon Annual Graduate Award in Critical Independent Journalism Studies for the Promotion of Citizenship and Democracy ($2,000)
Also note the Dean of Graduate Studies new scholarship for Ph.D. students who are close to finishing their degrees (starting Fall 2018)
There are other awards that are available to students across the University. Applications for these awards are first adjudicated within the School of Communication, then adjudicated against nominees from other programs across the University. They include but are not restricted to the following awards:
- Dr. Hari Sharma Foundation Annual Graduate Scholarship ($10,000)
- IODE Seaman Morley Scott Memorial Graduate Scholarship for females ($1,000)
- Michael Stevenson Graduate Scholarship ($21,000)
- Steel Memorial Graduate Scholarship ($15,000 + $2,000 for travel expenses)
The School’s Graduate Program Coordinator normally emails students the call for applications for private awards in mid-March with an application deadline in mid-April. Students must submit their applications through GA3. Each private award has specific terms of reference, often including a research statement, writing sample, transcript, CV, and up to three letters of recommendation from academic supervisors and mentors.
A complete list of SFU Private Awards is available from the Office of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Fellows web site, including a list of the awards that are specific to the School (see the drop down menu for “School of Communication”).
KEY Big Data Scholarships
KEY, SFU’s Big Data Initiative, provides scholarships for MA and PhD students to incorporate big data approaches, tools, and analysis into their research. These merit-based awards are valued at $6,500 for one term.
Applications require a CV, Research Statement, and reference letter. For information on this program and details on applying, including deadlines for the next round of applications, please see the Key Big Data Scholarships web site.
Mitacs Accelerate supports collaborative research between universities and non-academic partners, including industry and eligible not-for-profit organizations. The program is open to Canadian and international graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in all academic disciplines. For details on all Mitacs programs available to SFU students, please see here.