August, 2015

Guaranteed Stipends

Graduate Students in sciences at the University of Toronto are guaranteed a minimum annual stipend. For 2015-16, this minimum is $15,500 above tuition and fees. The EEB Department adds an additional, guaranteed amount $1000 to the stipends of all students in the funded cohort (in 2015-2016, for this year only, this amount was increased to $1300 with the extra expansion funds available). For 2015-2016, for domestic students (= Canadian citizens and permanent residents) the resulting base income guarantee is $25,250, and for international students (on visas) it is $38,352. These base stipends are guaranteed for 16 months (1.33X guaranteed income in total) for students in the M.Sc. program; for four years for students (with a MSc) in the PhD program; and for five years for students entering directly from a bachelor's program or transferring from an MSc to a PhD program. The annual stipend packages for individual students are assembled from different categories of support. Each category of support is described below the following table (and in more detail in the stipend information letter that graduate students receive with their stipend information letter that graduate students receive with their stipend information in late August). Winning an external scholarship can reduce the amount of teaching (TAing) that you need to do and can raise your disposable income. Please note the last line in the table - for those that don't finish during the time period when there is a guaranteed stipend, the amount of TAing will probably increase and the amount of the stipend will probably decline (please talk to your supervisor/potential supervisor about this). 

Income Specified in Support Packages for Different Groups of Graduate Students

Student Group TA hours required* to achieve guaranteed income Total of support package (including TA$) Disposable income after tuition and fees
Standard Arts & Science model grad student in sciences


$23,239D, $37,051I


EEB Students without major scholarship support


$25,250D, $38,352I


Students with a major scholarship

Usually 70

Amount vary with the value of the scholarship

Amount vary with the value of the scholarship

As one example: in 2015-16, a domestic student with an NSERC CGSM in the first year of a MSc




For EEB MSc students beyond 16 months, and PhD students beyond 4 years (for those with a MSc) or beyond year 5 (PhD direct entry without MSc) 

210 hours may be recommended

Determined by supervisor

TAing and DCA**

* Students may decline a TA offer but their income will then be correspondingly reduced unless their supervisor replaces the lost income by increasing the Research Assistantship component of the support package. Alternatively, students may TA more than specified in the initial stipend package, if they obtain permission from their supervisor. In 2015-2016, a 70-hour TA slot pays about $3100.

D Canadian students and permanent residents, I International students on visas

** The Doctoral Completion Award (DCA) (approx. $2000-4000/year for two years) may be available to some students in this category. See "Doctoral Completion Awards" below for details.

Individual Stipend Funding Packages

In August of each year, you and your supervisor will receive a statement of your guaranteed income for the following year, a breakdown of the value of each kind of support in the total package, and a letter describing each of the kinds of support. This description will take into account your visa status (domestic/international), term of first registration, any major scholarships you hold, and your stage in your degree program. The package represents a framework you and your supervisor can customize to some extent. Together you may choose to alter TA hours and amounts paid as Research Assistantships according to some constraints (see "Details..." below). The scheduling of RA payments can be adjusted to best meet your individual needs. When you and your supervisor have agreed on the details, a jointly signed description of the customized support plan should be submitted to the local financial administrator for implementation. You will receive more information in August about this, when you receive your stipend package form. 

September Cash Payments from the Support Package:

All new students and many continuing ones will receive, in early September, an early payment that is part of their support package to help pay for relocation and/or getting ready for the new academic year (max. amount: $1300). The amount of this payment will be specified in each student's detailed description of the stipend package sent out in August.  

Categories of Support in Graduate Stipend Packages:

Teaching Assistantships (TA):

Funding packages for students without major external fellowships include income from 140 hours per year that each student works as a teaching assistant in undergraduate courses. Each student is paid ~$6,200 per year for this teaching activity. [Funding packages mandated by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences specify 210 hours of TA activity; the reduction to 140 hours by the EEB Department allows students to focus more time on their research activities without sacrificing income.] Funding packages for students supported by major external scholarships (NSERC, CIHR, OGS, FQRNT) require only 70 TA hours per year, accounting for ~$3,100 in income. The TA component of support packages may be increased or decreased based on discussions between students and their supervisors and, for students out of the regular funded cohort, may be contingent on the availability of TA positions. A student is permitted to teach fewer hours than specified in their funding package, but they thereby reduce their total income. Alternatively, a very few supervisor decide to replace part or all of the package's TA income so that a student can devote more time to research. The replacement is accomplished by the supervisor increasing the value of the Research Assistantship (RA) component of the package. Alternatively, with the permission of the supervisor(s), if extra TA slots are available, a student may take on more teaching than is specified in the support package, increasing his/her total income.

Research Assistantships (RA):

In our department, Research Assistantships are paid by supervisors to their graduate students as part of their stipend. This funding comes from the supervisors' research grants and helps to pay for the students' fees and their living expenses. 

MSc program: For 2015-16, the RA for both domestic and international students in the 16-month MSc program is $9300 for the first 12 months and $9300 for the remaining four months. In the first 12 months, MSc students without a major scholarship are expected to TA 70 hours. This scheme keeps the student's income about level over the whole program. RA amounts may be less for students holding external awards, if the scholarship provides enough support to replace some or all of the usual RA. Such RA reductions are permitted only when the reduced value of the RA is compensated for by a larger value of the scholarship. 

PhD program: The RA for PhD students is currently $9300 per year for both domestic and international students over the 4- or 5-year period of guaranteed income. 

If a student is unable to finish his/her degree program within the EEB guaranteed income period, the RA, external scholarship, TA, and special Doctoral Completion Awards are the only categories of support available. Students who anticipate that they will not finish during this period should consult their supervisors as soon as the possibility arises, so that adjustments in the research program and/or plans for extended support can be implemented.

University of Toronto Fellowships (UTF):

UTF funds are provided by the Faculty of Arts & Science to help pay for tuition fees while students are in the guaranteed income period ("funded cohort"). For students whithout large external scholarships, the value of the typical UTF award each year is about $8,000 for domestic and about $21,000 for international students. The difference in amounts is purely to offset the differential tuition and fees paid by the two groups, so that their after-fees incomes are equal. Students supported by external fellowships usually exceed base guaranteed income levels without any UTF support. UTF "top-ups" are awarded by the Faculty of Arts & Sciences and may be added on top of the base guarantee for winners of eligible scholarships. UTF funds cannot be allocated to students who have proceeded beyond the Arts & Science funded time limits without finishing their degree. Students within those time limits are referred to as being in the Arts & Science "funded cohort".

EEB Internal Awards (Restricted Awards):

EEB Restricted Awards are funded by the interest on donations by private individuals to the Department, supplemented by matching gifts from the University and sometimes the Province. This endowment plays a critical role a) in allowing, our department to provide graduate students an income that is above the minimum level set by Arts & Science, b) in reducing the TA hours required in our standard funding packages, and c) in allowing us to recognize outstanding achievements by individual students (eg., with top-ups not covered by FAS). No applications are necessary for the awards. Every graduate student in EEB is automatically considered for them. For some endowed awards, recipients must be studying particular groups of organisms or kinds of processes (as requested by the donor(s)). There are some financial needs requirements for some of the awards, but most graduate students (unless they are independently wealthy) satisfy those criteria; for these awards, before students will be paid, they must complete and submit a form to the EEB Graduate Office. Typical values of the Restricted Awards vary widely depending on other components of students' financial package.

Major scholarships/fellowships:

Scholarships valued at $10K -$30K that are awarded based on national or provincial competitions represent a major source of support for EEB students. This support frees up grant money from RA allocations to fund further research, conferences, ect. Arts & Science provides top-up awards to the department for some eligible, major scholarships. It is EEB departmental policy to add these top-up awards to the guaranteed incomes of students winning eligible scholarships and to reduce the number of TA hours in support packages for winners of the larger scholarships.

Doctoral Completion Awards (DCA, not available to P1-P4 students):

This Arts & Science funding program is aimed at domestic or international PhD students who areleaving the funded cohort before finishing their degree. Administration of the DCA program is done by our department. 

  • Have not received more than 1 year of support from the DCA program.
  • Are within the 6-year time limit for PhD students who arrived with an MSc degree, or 7 years for direct-entry and MSc-transfer students.
  • Have completed all their coursework and passed their appraisal exam (= achieved candidacy).
  • Have had a committee meeting in the last year and have shown good progress based on committee meeting reports and their supervisor's evaluation, and
  • Are recommended for support by their supervisors.
Application Form and Deadline:

The EEB Graduate Office will send the relevant information and form to all eligible students during the summer (usually late July or early August). The award value and information about payment of the award will be available in July. In recent years, the amounts have varied from $2000-2600 for domestic and double that for international students.