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Funding your Studies at SEPH

Updated: Nov 25, 2020

Written by: Shannon Thompson

Funding in the School of Epidemiology and Public Health (SEPH) differs for MSc and PhD students and is also unique to the program. Here's some information on how you will be able to fund your studies.


Admission Scholarship

Upon entering the program, all students are considered for an admission scholarship. Below is a brief summary of how the admission scholarship works at SEPH, but please refer to the  potential scholarships portfolio to see how much funding you are entitled to. 

MSc Epidemiology students (both thesis and research paper)

Current students (if you began before May 2021):

  • MSc Epidemiology students are offered the Graduate Studies Scholarship, if eligible. The Admission Scholarship is not available to MSc Epi students.

  • You may be eligible if you: (1) are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, protected persons or member of a diplomatic corps, (2) are registered full-time, and (3) have an admission average* of at least A- (8/10).

  • This scholarship has a value of $2,000 per term for up to 6 terms for those in the thesis stream (total of $12,000) and up to 3 terms for those in the research paper stream (total of $6,000).

Changes starting September 2021, onwards:

  • The admission average* to be eligible for the Graduate Studies Scholarship has been increased to at least A+ (9/10).

  • For more information on the new changes to be implemented in September 2021, please check out the admission scholarship page.  

PhD Epidemiology students:

Current students (if you began before May 2021):

  • An admissions scholarship will be given automatically to those who are eligible.

  • You may be eligible if you: (i) are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, protected persons, member of a diplomatic corps, or international student, (ii) are registered full-time for 12 consecutive terms, and (iii) have an admission average* of at least A- (8/10).

  • The admission scholarship covers tuition ($9,000 per year for a maximum of 4 years) and a minimum of $9,000 per year for 4 years offered in the form of assistantships or soft-funded scholarship (to be discussed with your supervisor).

Changes starting September 2021, onwards:

  • If you are an incoming Ph.D. student and you hold an external scholarship, the first component will remain applicable to you (i.e., your tuition will be covered), but the second component will be optional for your supervisor (and may be adjusted, accordingly).

  • For more information on the new changes to be implemented in September 2021, please check out the admission scholarship page.  

*Admission average is based on your grades from the last 60 credits (20 courses). This is generally the last 2 years of study.

Do we get stipends?

Although the Faculty of Medicine (FoM) has a minimum stipend policy for graduate students in the basic sciences, there is no stipend for MSc Epidemiology students. The minimum stipend for PhD students in Epidemiology is $9,000. This stipend is mandatory and through your supervisor(s) in the form of either teaching/research assistantships or funded directly through your supervisor’s thesis grants. The stipend is not meant to be a salary but is meant to help graduate students pay basic living expenses.

How do we go about getting funding?

Students are encouraged to apply to external scholarships. While there are many opportunities for funding, all eligible students should consider applying to the three major provincial and federal awards. 

The main provincial awards are the Ontario Graduate Scholarship (OGS) and the Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship (QEII-GSST), both valued at $15,000 per year. These are due December 1st of every year for both MSc and PhD students. Additionally, consider applying to the major federal award: the Canadian Graduate Scholarship (CGS), valued at $17,500 for MSc and $35,000 for PhD students per year. The award is also known as the “Tri-agency” and includes CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC. The deadline for CGS is mid-October for PhD students, and December 1st for MSc students. 

As an added bonus, any recipient of a major external award (e.g. OGS, QEII-GSST, CGS) will also receive an Excellence Scholarship, which will pay your uOttawa tuition fees (up to $10,000) for every year the external award is held. (Note that the Excellence Scholarship will replace the Graduate Studies Scholarship or Admission Scholarship for MSc or PhD students, respectively).

For more information regarding scholarships, please visit either the University of Ottawa’s financial support page found here and check out our blog on internal scholarships available here!

What are your other options?

Scholarships are hard to get, but that doesn’t mean you’re on the streets just yet! The second most common way of funding your SEPH studies is finding part-time work. Both the MSc and PhD programs can accommodate working while studying, as long as you meet your course and research requirements; as such, the majority of students try to find some part-time work, both to gain some extra cash and to grow their experiences and networks before graduation. Here are four examples of places to work.

First, exam proctoring is a great way to make some extra side cash, and the perk of it is you can work however many hours extra you want on top of your normal responsibilities. However, with the switch to online learning, exam proctoring opportunities have been greatly reduced. (Note that external scholarship recipients may have a maximum number of work hours allowed per week, sometimes 10hrs. Refer to your Award Holder’s guide.) 

Second (and thirdly), as a graduate student, teaching/research assistantships are available and may be part of your personalized funding package (this is something to discuss with your thesis supervisor). Before applying to either, be sure to understand the responsibility that each of these entails. Teaching assistantships are often semesterly contracts and involve supporting a professor/lecturer in a variety of ways including leading group discussions and grading assignments and exams. Here at SEPH, teaching assistantships are typically something that takes place in your second year for MSc students, and you can TA the introductory courses you took in your first year. (Note: you are not restricted to applying within the Faculty of Medicine and you can apply to teaching assistantships in other faculties; however, most faculties favour their own students, so there’s increased competition for these positions.) Research Assistantships, on the other hand, involve performing research-related tasks under the supervision of a professor/faculty member. This may or may not be work related to your thesis. Here is a link to the uOttawa postings page where students can apply for proctoring opportunities, teaching and research assistantships.  As well, under the resources page of the SEPHGSA website, we have a list of research assistantship positions available specifically with SEPH professors.

Finally, being located in Ottawa provides SEPH with the unique advantage of fostering strong collaborations with governmental agencies at the local (e.g., Ottawa Public Health), provincial (e.g., Public Health Ontario), and national level (e.g., Public Health Agency of Canada). If you are an incoming student looking to gain epidemiological experience working with or alongside public health officials, the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) may be right for you! For more information, check out our blog on the subject.


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