Funding & awards

Funding & awards for MAIS Students

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

MAIS Entrance Scholarships

The School for International Studies at SFU offers full tuition coverage for the first year of study to all students entering the Master's of Arts in International Studies (MAIS) program.

Top admitted students will be considered for the Simons Foundation Canada Graduate Fellowship, receiving additional financial awards of up to $25,000 to support their studies.  

All students – domestic and international - will be automatically assessed for these department awards on application to the MAIS program. (There is no separate application process.)

MAIS International Travel Funding

A signature award within the School for International Studies is the Simons Foundation International Travel Grant. This award is issued by our School to students who are planning to do research, study, or work abroad. Enrolled MAIS students are eligible to apply for this award. There are two annual application deadlines for this award: October 1 and February 1.

Terms of reference

  • The award is valued up to a maximum of $6,000 and is tenable in the Fall, Spring or Summer term.
  • Applicants must be actively enrolled, declared IS Majors or Master’s students.
  • Awards are allocated according to demonstrated financial need and student achievement.
  • Students may only hold one ISTA during their studies at the university.
  • There are two application intakes each year. The deadline for submission is October 1 or February 1.
  • Awards will be dispersed after proof of completion is documented.
  • The recipient will submit a one-page essay on the experience within one month of return.
  • Students can apply preemptively, in anticipation of a term abroad that they have been selected for. Students can also apply retroactively, asking to have the funds applied to a term abroad already fulfilled, provided that happened no more than one year before the application deadline.
  • COVID-19
    Given the Covid-19 context, our School is well aware that travel possibilities are entirely ambiguous at this point. With that, we know that students typically have a placement confirmation about three or so months before departure, at latest. And so, this year, the School is welcoming applications for the Simons Foundation International Travel Grant, and is prepared to give provisional awards, contingent on approval from SFU International for students to resume travel. At this point, we are hopeful and feel that we can reasonably conceive that regular travel and exchange may resume.

Application requirements

Submit the following documents to

  • advising transcript in PDF format (sorted by both term and subject)
  • one-page document that includes:
    • Description of the proposed learning opportunity.
    • Explanation of how the experience would support your academic and career objectives, and foster engaged, global citizenship.

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 →

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 and Postdoctoral 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.

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.


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.

Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies Graduate Student Funding

The Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies at SFU offers several awards for graduate students’ scholarship. These include the Edward W. Said Memorial Scholarship valued at $4,000, the Muslim Studies Graduate Student Travel Award valued at $2,000, and the Dossa Family Essay Prize.

For more details, visit the Centre for Comparative Muslim Studies.

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.