Scholarships: Practical tips

Finding funding

Get to know yourself. Examine every aspect of your life:

  • academic record
  • professional experience
  • community involvement
  • religious affiliation
  • social and student status (single parent, mature, returning and/or part-time student, etc.)
  • financial situation (complete a budget)
  • member of a designated group (woman, ethnic, disabled, francophone, etc.)

This introspection will allow you to determine the type of funding for which you can apply.

Institutions: The primary places to look for sources of funding are both at the current and/or host post-secondary institutions. Universities Canada website provides links to all recognized post-secondary institutions in Canada.

Internet: The Web is a great source of information for awards and other forms of financial support. You may visit our website for links to many external and internal funding sources and search engines.

Organizations in your field: Contact public and private companies, associations, agencies, and the Ministry of Education in the province/state/country in which you wish to pursue your studies to find out if they offer funding. If not, find out if they know of organizations that do.

Publications: Publications on funding and their bibliographies are great resources.

Applying for funding

Information on application procedures and/or application forms are available on our Web site.

Holding an award is always conditional on being registered in a program. Successful applicants always have the right to refuse an award. Therefore, even if you are only thinking of pursuing graduate studies, you should apply for all scholarships for which you are eligible.

Deadlines for major scholarship competitions are usually in October or November for the next academic year. Rule of thumb:The greater the value of the award, the earlier the deadline. There is usually only one deadline each year for each scholarship program unless otherwise stated.

Each scholarship program has its own application procedures and/or application forms, which are available six to eight weeks prior to the application deadline.

Keep a copy of your application for your records and for future reference. Rule of thumb: If you signed it, keep a copy.

In the event that you are required to mail your application directly to the sponsoring agency, send the complete application package by courier and keep the dated receipt of delivery. You may be asked to provide proof of submission if your application is lost or inadvertently destroyed.

Completing an application form

Make sure you complete the most recent version of the application form neatly and accurately.

Neatness counts. Use photocopies of the forms as working drafts as you develop your application package. Proofread the entire application carefully. Nothing is less impressive than an application with misspelled words or grammatical errors. Ask your thesis supervisor, another professor or a friend to proofread it as well.

Be sure to complete the entire application. Unless otherwise instructed to do so, do not leave blank spaces. If a question does not apply, indicate it on the application.

Express your thoughts clearly and coherently, while choosing your words carefully. Try to avoid using technical language. Selection committees are not necessarily comprised exclusively of individuals in your field of study.

Present yourself in a positive light without seeming boastful.

Provide all supporting documents. Do not supply items that are not requested. Rather than impressing the committee, it may work against you and even render your application null and void.

For letters of recommendation, choose professors who know you well and can describe your achievements. Send them a copy of your curriculum vitae and your proposed project. You may wish to meet with all referees individually in order to remind them of your personal and academic achievements and inform them of your qualities, educational and work experiences, as well as skills of which they may not be aware. This will assist the referees in writing strong letters.

It is your responsibility to ensure that all parts of the application arrive on time. This includes supporting materials, such as letters of recommendation and transcripts. If you are a registered full-time student at the University of Ottawa at the time of application, you may request a transcript through your academic unit free of charge. Contact your academic unit for the internal procedures and conditions.

Note and respect deadlines.

When documenting your extracurricular or community achievements, give a detailed account of the organizations, their goals and your role within each organization.

Make sure you have all the required signatures and that you yourself sign the application.

Although some sponsors allow handwritten applications, always use a computer or a typewriter to complete the form. Many of the major sponsors provide an on-line application

Accepting an award

The results of the major provincial and national scholarship competitions are usually announced sometime between the end of March and mid-April.

Remember that the money you will receive may be a taxable income at the provincial level.

Make sure you understand the terms of acceptance. For example, you might find conditions pertaining to employment, registration status and holding other awards.

Inform the granting agency of your acceptance or refusal as soon as possible. Always provide a copy of your correspondence to the graduate awards office at your current university, while indicating your student identification number and your academic unit.

Definition of "academic excellence"

The University of Ottawa defines academic excellence as a grade point average of at least 8.0 (equivalent to A-) on our 10 point scale. However, publications, presentations, patents, professional experience and accomplishments relevant to the field of studies may also be taken into consideration. 

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