Slideshow image

Student Finances

As one of Canada's leading research institutions, we place great importance on helping you finance your education. While at Western, you will want to devote your full energy to the successful completion of your studies, so we want to ensure that stable funding is available to you.

Some funding is awarded to you upon entry into a program, some is based on recommendations from the program that is admitting you, and others you must apply for yourself, either to The University of Western Ontario or to an external funding agency.

There are two main types of funding available to graduate students:

  • Western Funding - Provided directly by department, faculty or the University, these types of funding are distributed to students on a term by term basis.
  • External Funding - Awarded by federal, provincial and private agencies, to students who apply for scholarships and awards in annual competitions to support graduate study the following academic year.  Major scholarship competitions are run through the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.


Western Funding


The Department currently strives to ensure that all graduate students not in the Accelerated Masters in Geology or Geophysics stream receive a minimum salary of no less than the total cost of tuition plus an additional $12,000 per year, typically composed of monies paid for work as a teaching assistantship (TA), supplemented by funds from the supervisor's research funds. In 2009-2010, a full-year TA (two terms) is worth $11,808 (vacation pay and two one-time payments included).

All qualifying international students are paid a fee differential to offset the high cost of international tuition. The total payable for international students is set the same as a domestic student.

The Accelerated Masters in Geology or Geophysics is not funded, apart from the international fee waiver.

An agreement between the University and the Union of Graduate Students specifies that students in the M.Sc. program are guaranteed two full years funding, and that Ph.D. students are guaranteed four full years funding, provided satisfactory academic standards and progress are maintained. Students whose studies continue beyond 2 years (M.Sc. program) or 4 years (Ph.D. program) are classified by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies as being non-fundable and as such, will not receive TA funding. International students receiving an international fee waiver, will, upon reaching this point, be required to pay full international student tuition fees.

Supervisors generally 'top up' TA and other funding sources to the Departmental recommended minimum annual salary of $20,605 (in 2011-12) including GTA top-up, and some supervisors provide funding above this level. Summer support for field or laboratory expenses is generally provided through the supervisor's research grants. Note: All scholarship monies are taxable.

External Funding

All students are encouraged to apply, where applicable, for Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology (QEIIgsst) grants. Ph.D. students in particular are expected to apply for these scholarships, not merely because of the financial advantage but also because grant-writing is an essential part of academic training, and success in acquiring grants will be essential to finding employment in the highly competitive academic job market.

The Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program

The Ontario Graduate Scholarship Program is jointly funded between the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and matched funding through donations to The University of Western Ontario. The Ontario Graduate Scholarships are designed to encourage excellence in graduate studies at the master's and doctoral levels.

Annual Value: $10,000 to $15,000

Deadline for Application: The application deadline is set by your home department.

Eligibility to Apply:

  • Plan to be enrolled full-time in a graduate program at an Ontario university
  • Canadian citizen, permanent resident or an international student studying on a study permit
  • A- (80%) average over the last two years of study if less than two years of graduate work OR the cumulative graduate average, if more than two years
  • Have not exceeded the lifetime maximum of four years of government-funded awards including OGS, and awards from CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC.

How to Apply: Online application

Tools for submitting a successful application:

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)

NSERC Postgraduate Scholarships (PGS) provide financial support for masters and doctoral students in the natural sciences or engineering research programs.

Annual Value: $17,300 to $35,000

Deadline for Application: The application deadline is set by your home department.

Eligibility to apply:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada
  • Hold (or expect to hold) a university degree in science or engineering
  • 1st class (A- or 80%) average in EACH of the last 2 years of study (full-time equivalent)
  • Intending to undertake full-time graduate studies at the master's or doctoral level in the natural sciences or engineering disciplines
    *Consult the NSERC website to verify your eligibility as more conditions may apply.

How to Apply: Application

Tools for submitting a successful application:

NSERC Industrial Scholarships (NSERC-IPS)

NSERC Industrial Scholarships (NSERC-IPS) are valued at a minimum of $21,000 per annum in 2008-2009. At least $6,000 per year of this amount will be contributed by a company, and the student will be expected to spend a minimum of 20% of time at that company working on his/her thesis project. Contact NSERC or the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for further details. These scholarships have no deadline, therefore can be applied for throughout the year.

Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology

Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship in Science and Technology (QEIIgsst), valued at $5,000 per term are awarded to students enrolled in at least their second full-time term. Students may hold the award for a minimum of two, and maximum of three terms (one year). Recipients may not simultaneously hold an Ontario Graduate Scholarship or an NSERC scholarship, and are permitted to hold a half TA per year during the award. All applicants for OGSST must have previously applied for NSERC and/or OGS scholarships, for which they are eligible. If winners are offered both the OGSST and external (NSERC, OGS) awards, they must accept the external award.

Application Deadlines: Typically April 1st, although internal Western and Departmental deadlines in March must also be met.

Additional Funding Opportunities

G. Gordon Suffel Fellowship for Graduate Studies in Applied Economic Geology

This award is available to students whose thesis involves applied economic geology (i.e. field-based study of those aspects of metal concentrations in the Earth's crust which make them mineable). Value is $7,500, awarded partly as student income ($2,500) and partly to support cost of research ($5,000).

Arcangelo Rea Family Foundation Graduate Scholarship

This is intended for exceptional students involved in Faculty of Science research concerned with environmental issues, with preference being given to Earth Science students. Value is currently up to 2 awards @ $2000 each per year. This award may be held by MSc students for up to two years, and by PhD students for up to four years. Application is by letter of nomination from the Graduate Chair. Potential applicants must contact the Graduate Chair by 1st February each year.

Other Scholarships

A wide variety of other scholarships and bursaries, funded by scientific and professional organizations, and by bequests to the Department, are also available to qualified graduate students. In particular, a generous bequest by Robert and Ruth Lumsden make it possible for the Department to offer up to 6 scholarships of $1,000, on an annual basis. Application for any of these scholarships can only be made after you have been accepted into the graduate program.

Western provides the best student experience among Canada's leading research-intensive universities.