Graduate Education Innovation Fund

Fund Overview

The Graduate Education Innovation Fund (GEIF) contributes to the mission of School of Graduate Studies, by fostering excellence in graduate education, including an exceptional student experience. The purpose the GEIF is to enrich the learning experience of graduate students in both our research-based and professional degree programmes, by supporting projects within and across academic divisions and units, that create positive, innovative changes in the design and delivery of graduate education at the University of Toronto.

This three-year pilot project was launched in Fall 2021. A review process will ensue to ensure that the initiative meets its goals. Read about the winning proposals from Fall 2021.

“Through the Graduate Education Innovation Fund, we want to support creative and thoughtful experimentation to revitalize our programs and better train the future generation of change-makers.”

Prof. Vina Goghari, SGS Vice-Dean, Research and Program Innovation

Goals of the Graduate Education Innovation Fund

The goal of the GEIF program is to advance excellence and innovation in graduate education through greater exposure to innovative educational practices within and across programs and curricula, including both the classroom, practica, and field settings. Proposals that accomplish at least one of the following themes are invited. Proposals in areas outside the ones listed are encouraged to liaise with SGS to discuss suitability.

Experiential Learning: Support and enhance the transfer of learning through active learning opportunities, within and beyond traditional educational settings and methods.
Interdisciplinary Learning: Encourage collaborations among instructors across academic disciplines, units and divisions with the purpose of creating exceptional interdisciplinary learning experiences for graduate students.
Technological Innovation: Use of technology to enhance the educational experience.
Indigenous Ways of Knowing: Renewal of graduate education with specific attention to representation of Indigenous ways of knowing.
Diverse Cultural Perspectives: Renewal of graduate education with specific attention to representation of racialized perspectives, other minoritized voices, as well as intercultural experiences and civic engagement. Strengthen opportunities to learn abroad, international work, and bringing global and international experiences into our local environment.
Decolonization, Anti-oppression, and Anti-racism: Enhancing educational practices, such as teaching and curriculum renewal, to build a more just and equitable learning environment.
Professional Development: Create, strengthen and assess professional development opportunities for graduate students. 
Public Scholarship: Focusing on engaging the public through a scholarly agenda. Strengthen opportunities for public dissemination of scholarly work (e.g., personal blog post, podcast interview, or op-ed) and for partnerships with a school, community organization, or cultural institution (e.g. museum, theatre, archive) in an ongoing two-way exchange of knowledge and practices.

Research Component

The GEIF is a grant for curricular, teaching, and professional development innovation; it is not a research grant. While a research component to a project may be appropriate, the sole purpose of a proposal should not be the production and dissemination of new research. The fund is for ‘creating’ something innovative that enhances the education, teaching, and curricular capabilities of the University.

If a component of a project proposal involves the production of new research through the engagement of human participants, please ensure that Research Services has been consulted for ethics guidance.


University of Toronto faculty members with continuing appointments are eligible to apply (i.e., assistant professor, associate professor, and professor for both the tenure and teaching streams; part-time assistant, associate, and professor that have undergone continuing review). Typically, applicants will hold Graduate Faculty Membership with SGS. Collaborators can include librarians, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows etc., as appropriate to the project.

Funding Amounts 

Ten seed grants of a maximum of $5,000 each will be available on an annual basis. Applicants are encouraged to seek out contributions from their unit or division and document it in their budget.

General Guidelines

  • All budget items must be accompanied with a justification of the amount and necessity.
  • It is recommended and encouraged that GEIF recipients use existing University of Toronto resources where appropriate; that is, student participation, technical support services, professional services, etc.
  • GEIF funds may not be used for any of the following:
    • Pay faculty salaries.
    • Offset travel costs to conferences at which you are presenting your work.
    • Basic computer and related equipment expenses, nor will such items be considered as matching funds. However, specialized equipment that is specifically related to the project may be eligible, so long as a justification for inclusion is contained in the application.
  • The most valuable resources that GEIF can support is time. We encourage applicants to budget for time by including line items for items including:
    • Project coordinator and / or project management costs.
    • Research assistants, teaching assistants and work-study students who can support projects.

Adjudication Process

The adjudication committee will consist of:

  • Vice-Dean, Research and Program Innovation, SGS (Chair)
  • Three Faculty Members
  • Two Graduate Students

Each application will have three reviewers. Each reviewer will:

  1. Provide strengths and weaknesses of the application based on scheme presented below.
  2. Providing a rating score based on the scoring system below.
  3. Rate each application in the top 50% or bottom 50% of applications.

An adjudication committee meeting will ultimately decide the funded applications.

Meets one or more of the goals listed above (or has liaised with SGS to verify proposal is appropriate).

Clear detailing of the rationale, objectives, process, and key outcomes or learnings that are expected.

Link process, outcomes or learnings to scalability and / or transferability as described below.

Seed grants are intended to encourage experimentation at the local level (within a course or set of courses) or across disciplines (interdisciplinary offerings), as a means to foster small-scale innovations or pilots with the potential for scalability.

These projects should hold significant promise for scalability within their home unit or transferability into other graduate learning contexts.

Please note—all that is required is the ability of the work to have scalability and / or transferability and a description of that process or strategy.

Timeline is clearly articulated and linked to objectives and outcomes/learning. The majority of the work should be completed within a 1 year timeline. Proposal is feasible with budget described and budget is appropriately justified.

In selection of the cohort of funded applications, the committee will strive to ensure there is diversity of disciplines, divisions, and categories of innovation represented.

Reviewers will highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the project for each evaluation criterion; strengths and weaknesses that contributed to the application rating must be clearly articulated.

One holistic score will be assigned for the whole application based on the criteria below.

Outstanding4.5–4.9The application excels in most or all relevant aspects. Any short-comings are minimal.

If an application is innovative, fills an important critical gap in knowledge, has very few flaws, and the applicant (with support of team if applicable) is well poised to perform the work.
Excellent4.0–4.4The application excels in many relevant aspects, and reasonably addresses all others. Certain improvements are possible.

If an application is very interesting, makes important advances, the applicant (with team if relevant) is suited to perform the work, but there are some minor limitations that need to be addressed or a clear description of impact is missing.
Good3.5–3.9The application excels in some relevant aspects, and reasonably addresses all others. Some improvements are necessary.

If an application is compelling, but has limited scope or impact, and / or raised some concerns about the feasibility of the application or applicant(s); or in other words, the grant has strengths, but needs work.
Fair3.0–3.4The application broadly addresses relevant aspects. Major revisions are required.

If an application has merits but also has many limitations. Will not be funded.
Poor0.0–2.9The application fails to provide convincing information and/or has serious inherent flaws or gaps.

If an application has significant flaws and is not ready to be funded. Will not be funded.
Scoring system for Graduate Education Innovation Fund (GEIF) applications.

Reviewers indicate for each of their assigned applications, whether the application is competitive (top 50%) or non-competitive (bottom 50%) in its current form.

Application Information

For details on applying, please take a look at the summary of our September 2023 GEIF information session (PDF).

Please refer to our list of previously funded applications. We encourage applicants to re-submit to a subsequent adjudication cycle if unsuccessful.

The deadline for applications is November 1, 2023 and April 3, 2024.

Application Checklist:

  • Identifying Information (name(s) of applicants, their home units, and contact information; name(s) of collaborators, their home units, and contact information)
  • Project Title
  • Lay Summary (maximum 250 words)
  • Innovation Area(s) & Description (maximum 250 words)
  • Rationale & Objectives (maximum 500 words)
  • Anticipated Process, Outcomes and / or Learnings (maximum 500 words)
  • Scalability & Transferability (maximum 250 words)
  • Timeline (maximum 250 words)
  • Budget (attach file that includes rationale for requested funds)
  • Support Letter from Graduate Chair

Successful applicants will report their process, outcomes, experiences, and / or learnings in a one page lay summary that may be posted as is or in part on the GEIF website. Successful applicants may also be asked to participate in SGS events promoting this initiative. 

Appendix: Potential Other Funding Sources