Funding Packages

Funding Your Graduate Studies

Ensuring you have sufficient funding while you complete your graduate degree is essential to maintaining wellbeing and remaining focused on your academic progress. Across funding sources, our graduate students receive nearly $28 million in overall funding each year. As a graduate student, it is important that you understand how your funding works and the options available to you. On this page you will find essential information related to how funding works for graduate students at Queen’s.

Our full-time PhD students receive a guaranteed minimum funding package of $20,000 a year, with many departments setting higher minimum funding packages and all departments offering higher average funding packages for doctoral students within funding eligible years of study (i.e., typically years 1-4).

The majority of Master's students in full-time non-professional programs also receive funding support (i.e., in year one for one-year programs, and in years one and two for two-year programs). Given the variations in funding for master’s programs, please consult program specific information and discuss funding with your academic advisor, supervisor, or program coordinator.

Funded students will receive what is called a ‘funding package’, which details their committed funding for each academic year. Typically, students are notified of their funding package in the summer (July/August) preceding their funded academic year (i.e., September-onwards). Funding packages are comprised of funding from a variety of sources.

A funding package can comprise funding from any combination of the following sources:

  • Internal Awards or Fellowships: These are Queen’s based funds (e.g., Queen’s Graduate Award) that support students. They can be merit based (e.g., most donor-based fellowships) or not.
  • External Awards: These are competitive awards (e.g., Tri-council funding, Ontario Graduate Scholarship) that students need to apply to, and which are competitive based on merit. To reduce inequities in funding packages across students, if an external award is received, these awards will be included in a student’s funding package and contribute towards the University’s minimum funding commitment (i.e., these awards are not considered additional to the funding minimum).
  • Teaching Assistantships (TAs) or Teaching Fellowships (TFs): TAs and TFs are employment-based funding opportunities to apply and learn skills in teaching contexts.
  • Research Assistantships (RAs): RAs are employment-based funding opportunities to apply and learn research skills while working on faculty-based research projects.
  • Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF): Distinct from a RA, the GRF is funding, typically from a supervisor, dedicated for students to complete research activities related to the student's own thesis, project or graduate studies, though may typically contribute to the faculty member's research program as well. For a distinction between RA and GRF see the following Faculty Relations website.

Importantly, if a student does not elect to accept a TA, TF, or RA position that is part of their funding package, their committed funding amount will be decreased.

In addition to funding committed to in a student’s funding package, there may be other funding opportunities that arise throughout the academic year – additional TAs, RAs, or award opportunities – to which you may apply.

Students should apply for all scholarships and awards for which they are eligible. See our Awards and Bursaries website for more information.

For PhD students to receive a funding package, they must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. The guaranteed minimum will apply to all full-time doctoral students registered in years 1 – 4 (ie. new and continuing students) of their programs.
  2. Eligible doctoral students must maintain good academic standing in order to qualify.
  3. Eligible doctoral students must be qualified to receive the usual sources offered by their home department as part of a funding package. This implies that, particularly in the case of a TA position, the student must be in residence for enough of the full academic year in order to be reasonably available for employment. In addition, students must apply for all major external and internal (where appropriate) scholarships for which they are eligible in order to qualify for the minimum guarantee.

Students must have requested financial support upon their initial application for admission to a Queen’s doctoral program in order to be eligible. It is assumed that the information provided in terms of a Yes or No in response to the query ‘Do you require financial support from Queen's University’ applies throughout the student's academic program.

No, tuition and ancillary fees are not included or paid for by the university as part of a student’s funding package. Students need to pay for tuition and fees from their funding, savings, and/or other income.

In addition to funding provided by Queen’s and external awards, eligible graduate student can apply for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), including the non-repayable grant portion of OSAP. OSAP is a financial aid program assisting students with the costs of post-secondary studies. OSAP consists of funding from both the federal and Ontario governments and includes both repayable loans and non-repayable grant funding as based on financial need. To learn more about OSAP, review our OSAP website.

For international students, OSAP-equivalent funding, if available from your home country should be explored. Many countries offer funding for students to study abroad, including non-repayable grant programs.

Distribution of funds depends on the source of funding. Internal and external awards are typically distributed at the beginning of each term (i.e., Fall, Winter, Summer), if received for each term. Funding from TAs and RAs will be distributed for the duration of their contract. Some TA and RA contracts may be a term in length and others may be longer or shorter. Details on the length of the contract (i.e., number of hours) will be provided within the funding package letter. Distribution of funding for TAs and RAs is typically monthly, however, in some cases can be bi-weekly. Once you receive your funding package and in preparation for your first disbursement of funds, you will be asked to provide information about your banking details so that funds can be deposited directly into your bank account.

Queen’s graduate students are highly competitive in external award competitions, and we strongly encourage you to apply for all scholarships and awards for which you are eligible. See our Awards and Bursaries website for more information on available awards.

If you receive an external award (e.g., a Tri-Council award or an Ontario Graduate Scholarship), it will be considered as part of your funding package (i.e., included as a component of your minimum funding guarantee). This practice aligns with the majority of graduate schools across Canada to reduce inequities in the distribution of internal funding for all Queen’s students. Pursuing and receiving external awards is of significant value to you, not solely for financial gain, but also because these awards are competitively adjudicated based on merit (i.e., these awards are valuable contributions to a graduate student’s academic record of accomplishments).

The University recognizes the success of those who receive Tri-Council awards as incoming students by offering Tri-Agency Recipient Recognition Awards of $5,000 to incoming Master’s students (i.e., MA or MSc year 1) and $10,000 to incoming PhD students (i.e., PhD year 1), both as one-time payments.

If a student who is within their funding eligible period and who has received a funding package changes their study status (i.e., changes from full-time to part-time or inactive), enrollment status (i.e., withdraws from program), or takes leave (e.g., medical, maternity or parental), their funding may be impacted. Information on study, enrollment, and leave status options is outlined in the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar (see: Admission & Registration, Study Status, Medical Leave, and Maternity and Parental Leave). The following table outlines funding implications for changes in study, enrollment or leave status.

Change

What happens to funding?

Considerations

Change from full-time to part-time

Queen’s does not guarantee funding for part-time students as it is understood that part-time students are working full-time. If a student moves to part-time status mid-way through an academic year once a funding package has been assigned to them, the student may be able to complete any remaining work assignments and receive any remaining awards affiliated with their existing funding package; however, future funding packages will be impacted by their change to part-time status. Normally, teaching assistantship (TAs) and research assistantships (RAs) are limited to full-time students.

Students should discuss changes in study status with their supervisor and consider the funding implications for such a change as well as implications to any provincial or national loan assistance, health or dental insurance, or visa status.

Change from full-time to inactive

Queen’s does not guarantee funding for inactive students. If a student moves to inactive status mid-way through an academic year once a funding package has been assigned to them, the student may be able to complete any remaining work assignments and receive any remaining awards affiliated with their existing funding package. The student will not receive a future funding package until they resume full-time studies.

Students should discuss changes in study status with their supervisor and consider the funding implications for such a change as well as implications to any provincial or national loan assistance, health or dental insurance, or visa status.

Withdraw from program

Once a student withdraws from a program, their funding is terminated.

Students should discuss withdrawing from their program with their supervisor, if they are considering this change.

Takes medical leave

Graduate students on medical leave are not eligible to receive awards or financial support from the resources of the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs.  This includes any and all internal awards (awards, prizes, bursaries, scholarships, fellowships) all of which will be suspended at the onset and for the duration of, and reinstated at the termination of, the medical leave period.  Upon return of the student to active status, every effort will be made to make up and maintain the total financial support originally granted. For external awards, graduate students must observe the regulations prescribed by the granting agency concerned.

For students granted an approved medical leave, the statutory periods for completion of degree programs, together with the prescribed maximum periods of eligibility for financial support from School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs sources will, on resumption of studies, be extended by the time-period taken for the leave.

Graduate students who are within their funding eligible period can access, on a one-time basis, up to $5,000 to support them while on medical leave. Details of this coverage are provided at time of applying for medical leave status.

Takes maternity or parental leave

Awards to students which are derived from the resources of the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (such as but not limited to, Dean's Awards, internal Fellowships and Scholarships, and Queen's Graduate Awards) will be suspended for the duration of a maternity and/or parental leave. On resumption of studies, the award will recommence to make up the full time-span for which support was originally granted. For external awards, graduate students must observe the regulations prescribed by the granting agency concerned.

For students taking a maternity and/or parental leave, the statutory periods for completion of degree programs, together with the prescribed maximum periods of eligibility for financial support from the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs' sources will, on resumption of studies, be extended by the time-period taken for the leave.

Doctoral students who are within their funding eligible period can access, on a one-time basis, up to $5,000 to support them while on maternity or parental leave. Details of this coverage are provided at time of applying for maternity or parental leave status.

Should your studies take longer than anticipated and you exceed your funding-eligible period, graduate students can work with their supervisors and graduate programs to secure additional funding for part or all of the remainder of their studies. This funding typically involved employment in the form of a TA, RA, and TF positions. At the discretion of supervisors and graduate programs, students may also receive funding in the form of GRFs or internal/external awards, including the Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Depending on their year of study, some students may elect to take on full-time employment either at the university or external to the university, and change their study status to part-time. Decisions on study-status and funding beyond funding-eligible periods should be discussed with your supervisor.

Your graduate supervisor/advisor (if you have one as part of your program) or your graduate program assistant can help you interpret your funding letter and answer your funding questions. Having open conversations about funding with your supervisor, even before you decide to come to Queen’s, is essential. Your supervisor/advisor and graduate program coordinator can help you understand the funding landscape at Queen’s and the opportunities available to you. The Setting Expectations: A Resource Guidebook for Graduate Students and Supervisors can help you navigate conversations with your supervisor about funding as well as other important topics related to graduate studies.

Should you encounter financial difficulty as a graduate student, Queen’s has a variety of programs to support you. Specific steps you can take if you encounter financial difficulty include:

  1. Speak with your supervisor/advisor and explore funding resources and options
  2. If your issue is unresolved, speak with your department Graduate Coordinator/ Chair or the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) if in the Faculty of Law, Education, or Smith School of Business
  3. If your issue remains unresolved, speak with the Associate Dean at the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs

Funding resources and programs available to graduate students in need, include: