Funding & awards

Funding & awards for MAIS Students

The School for International Studies provides a range of funding opportunities to MAIS students.

Entrance Scholarships

The School for International Studies and Simon Fraser University offer entrance scholarships to top applicants. These are merit-based awards to graduate school applicants with high academic achievements in their previous education. No additional application is required to be considered for these entrance awards.

Graduate Travel and Research Award

Students who are planning to do research abroad are encouraged to apply for the Graduate Travel and Research Award (TARA). This award is intended to provide financial support to travel and expenses relating to the research component of the student’s graduate degree.

Terms of Reference

  • The purpose of this award is to fund required expenses and travel relating to the research component of the student’s graduate degree. 
  • The maximum award amount is $7,000 but individual award values will vary, depending on the expenses being submitted, academic unit approval and budgetary restrictions.  
  • Students travelling to Northern Canada, the Northwest Territories or the Yukon are encouraged to apply for the Northern Studies Training Program (NSTP).
  • Students holding a Tri-agency CGS award, including Vanier CGSD awards, are encouraged to apply to the Tri-agency Michael Smith Foreign Studies Supplement (MSFSS)
  • Awards may be paid before or after the travel takes place. In the event of travel cancellation or changes, any award payment must be reimbursed to Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. 
  • Master’s students must hold the award within 3 years (9 terms) of the beginning of their program; Doctoral students must hold the award within 5 years (15 terms) of beginning their program. These times may be extended for students who have taken an approved leave. Students who did not complete a Master's program before transferring into a PhD are eligible to hold the travel award within the first 15 terms of their PhD, from the PhD start date.
  • While holding this award, the student must be registered full time, regular (not on leave or part time), in good standing in a master’s or doctoral program. Students cannot hold this award while on a co-op or practicum term. 
  • Students apply through the graduate awards application system. The application must include: 
    1. Most recent transcript (unofficial SFU transcript for current students; previous university for new students) 
    2. A description of the travel and/or expenses and how they are relevant to the research
    3. A letter of support from the supervisor confirming the expenses
  • Awards are approved by the Senate Graduate Awards Committee Chair on the recommendation of the Graduate Program Chair. 
  • Examples of ELIGIBLE travel expenses include travel for research purposes, travel to present at or attend a conference, workshop or seminar related to research. 
  • Examples of ELIGIBLE research related expenses include direct costs of doing research such as interpretation services, paid data sets, computers/laptops, reasonable computer peripherals (keyboard, mouse, microphones), art supplies. 
  • Examples of expenses NOT eligible include travel to practicums, co-ops, internships, job fairs or interviews, business or first class travel, course related travel or supplies (such as textbooks or journals).

Application requirements

  1. Check to ensure your expense is eligible using the terms of reference above
  2. Search and apply for the award in the Graduate Awards Application System
  3. Can’t find the award in the system? Check with your academic unit - not all units hold competitions for this award

During my field work in Punjab, India I conducted 17 interviews with women aged 24 to 65. ... The travel award was invaluable toward my research process, and gave me the opportunity to speak directly to these women in order to better understand their autonomy.

MAIS student Rupi Sandher used an International Studies travel award to travel to India to conduct research for her thesis.

Learn more about Rupi’s experience →

MAIS International Travel Grant

The School for International Studies is accepting applications for the MAIS International Travel Grant. The grant, valued up to $6,000, provides support for students intending to do fieldwork for their MA thesis in the Summer term.

Please submit the following documents to in one PDF file by March 1 with your student number in your correspondence:

  • research proposal
  • budget (rough breakdown of expenses needed for the fieldwork)
  • SFU advising transcript (see instructions here)

Paid Teaching and Research Positions

The School for International Studies offers some paid positions as teaching assistants and research assistants to MAIS students. Through such work experiences, students gain firsthand experiences, working alongside International Studies professors, teaching undergraduate students and contributing to ongoing research projects. Opportunities vary and we seek to make the best matches between students’ strengths and goals and our teaching and research needs.

MAIS students are notified of any available opportunities to TA or RA with International Studies.

Additional TA and RA positions are posted on the Graduate Studies website

SFU Funding Opportunities

The opportunities listed below are provided through other SFU offices. Many MAIS students benefit from these opportunities and our Professional Development Coordinator offers guidance and assistance to our MAIS students who are interested in applying for any of these. 


SFU’s ever-popular co-operative education program is available to all MAIS students. This optional program allows students to advance their skill sets, develop contacts, and ace the job search process before they graduate by taking on paid, semester-long work terms. A range of employers hire co-op students, including departments in the federal and provincial governments, non-profit organizations, and research institutes. We recommend co-op to our MAIS students and are always thrilled to see the exciting range of positions that students take on as a complement to their studies. More information is available at the SFU Co-op website.

Tori Wong is one of our MAIS alumni who forged new opportunities through SFU’s co-op program. After completing her MAIS coursework, Tori relocated to Ottawa to take a co-op position with Global Affairs Canada. Tori is now permanently employed as the Strategic Advisor to the Director General of Gender-Based Violence Policy at Women and Gender Equality Canada.

Learn more about Tori’s co-op and work trajectory →


Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization designs and delivers research and training programs for university students in Canada. There are two programs that provide potential opportunities for MAIS students: Mitacs Accelerate funds paid internships for students that combine work experience and research; Mitacs Globalink funds students enrolled in Canadian universities to conduct research projects at universities in other countries. Learn more through Mitacs website.

David Lam Centre

The David Lam Centre (DLC) Graduate Student Travel Award provides support to graduate students to conduct research or present a paper at a conference on a topic that is related to the Asia Pacific region or its diaspora. The value of this award is up to $1,000 each, with a total number of 5 to 10 awards available.

The David Lam Centre (DLC) also offers an annual graduate student essay prize for $1200 for an outstanding paper on intercultural issues, particularly as they apply to people in or from Canada and the Asia Pacific region.

For more details, visit the David Lam Centre.


SFU’s Work-Study Program hires students to contribute to research-based projects across the university and earn supplemental income. Because a student’s first commitment is to their studies, Work-Study hours are flexible, on campus, and supervised. Work-Study positions are available during the Fall, Spring and Summer terms. Successful applicants will be awarded 140 Work-Study hours for a term. Not all students who meet eligibility requirements will receive a Work-Study offer. Work-Study will only be offered to students with the highest demonstrated financial need. To learn more, visit the Work-Study Program.

GSS Professional Development Grants

The Graduate Student Society (GSS) at SFU offers grants up to $499 to graduate students presenting at conferences or engaging in field research. Graduate students taking part in these professional development activities may apply for a GSS Development Grant. Grants are distributed by lottery to top-scoring applications coded according to an objective system established by the GSS Grants Allocation Committee.

For more details, visit the GSS Professional Development Grant website.

External Awards

External and Government Awards are funded through private, provincial, or federal sources. The application process for these may differ but in most cases students use the granting agency application or application system. In some cases, SFU handles the adjudication process and in some cases SFU only handles the award payment.

To review the list of external and government awards and to learn more about eligibility and application processes, visit SFU’s Graduate Studies Awards page.