Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements

Award Overview


The Canada Graduate Scholarships – Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements (CGS-MSFSS) Program supports high-calibre Canadian graduate students in building global linkages and international networks through the pursuit of exceptional research experiences at research institutions abroad. By accessing international scientific research and training, CGS-MSFSS recipients will contribute to strengthening the potential for collaboration between Canadian universities and affiliated research institutions and universities, or other research institutions outside of Canada. A total of 250 awards are available Canada-wide each year. The current distribution of supplements among the three agencies is: 125 for SSHRC, 80 for NSERC, and 45 for CIHR.​


In order to be eligible, you must:

  • have accepted or hold one of the following awards:
    • Canada Graduate Scholarship-Master’s (CGS M);
    • CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best CGS Doctoral Award (CGS D);
    • NSERC Alexander Graham Bell CGS Doctoral Award (CGS D);
    • SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier CGS Doctoral Award (CGS D); or
    • a Vanier CGS
  • depart for your proposed trip abroad:
    • after the federal competition close date (June 10 for spring competition and October 10 for fall competition of each year; and​​​
    • within one year of receiving the notice of award for the CGS-MSFSS; but
    • no later than the last day of your CGS award tenure.
  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada by the application deadline;
  • propose a research period of a minimum of two months to a maximum of six months; and
  • not hold or have held another CGS-MSFSS.

To remain eligible for this award, you must:

  • hold an active CGS award at the time the research study period abroad starts;
  • be registered full-time in a graduate research studies program at a Canadian institution for the duration of your research study period abroad; and
  • return to complete your degree in Canada.

See complete program details on the single harmonized program description hosted on NSERC’s website​.

Application Process

Applicants must submit an electronic copy of their completed application as a single PDF file via email to debbie.chau@utoronto.ca at the Graduate Awards Office.  Applicants are encouraged to visit the  SGS Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements webpage for additional information on the application process.  Incomplete applications will not be considered.  Each application package must contain the following items:

  1. Application Forms

The MSFSS application for all three agencies should be obtained from the single harmonized program description hosted on NSERC’s website. Each agency has its own application form and instructions, and care should be taken to ensure that the appropriate form is used. The completed and signed application package must be emailed as a single PDF file to the SGS Graduate Awards Officer for consideration.

For NSERC and SSHRC: Applicants must complete the individual agency’s web-based application form, which will generate an application number and PDF file.

For CIHR: Applicants must complete the fillable PDF application form.

Budget Proposal: The supplement covers costs associated with travel (such as accommodation, meals, tuition, insurance and other necessary, non-research-related costs) during the research study period abroad. Costs directly related to the research must be covered by other funding sources.

Note: Students are to include only eligible expenses in the “Proposed Expenditures” section of the MSFSS Application form (as above). If there is a need to identify other ineligible expenses in your application, (e.g., visa fees, participant fees, and local transportation expenses), you may list these under the “Other Travel Related Expenses” section. However, they will be excluded when determining your grant value. Note the Tri-Agency normally caps the grant amount at the student’s estimated budget amount or $6000, whichever is lower. Therefore, it is recommended to be realistic and not underestimate the amount that is needed.

  1.   Intended Research Plan

The Research Plan should be a maximum two-page description (this includes all references and citations) of:

  • the intended research activities during the research study period abroad (including objectives, methodology, timelines and expected outcomes);
  • an indication of how this relates to the applicant’s CGS research topic; and
  • a description of the potential benefits to be derived from working at, or attending, the host institution in relation to current research objectives

Applicants are encouraged to review the selection criteria on the granting agency websites before preparing a research plan.

  1. Two Signed Letters of Support

Letters must be emailed directly from the Supervisor as a PDF attachment to the SGS Graduate Awards Officer  with “MSFSS Letter of Support” in the subject line. Letters may only be a maximum of one page in length, submitted on official letter head and signed. Any translations must be performed by a certified translator.

a) The letter from the current U of T Supervisor must include a justification or explanation as to why this research travel is required to complete the applicant’s thesis or dissertation. The letter must also confirm the applicant’s research is related to their CGS research topic.

b) The letter from the host Supervisor must come directly from the host Supervisor. A letter of admissions as a visiting scholar is not sufficient. Additionally, this letter must detail any resources they will be able to provide – e.g., supervising time, equipment, access to labs, libraries, etc., and any additional financial support. Non-academic host supervisors must demonstrate that they have experience supervising graduate student research.

  1. Consent Form

All applicants are required to submit a signed copy of the Consent to Disclose Personal Information form. Please find the document at the following sites:

NSERC: http://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/_doc/Students-Etudiants/GS-MSFSS_TCForm_e.pdf

CIHR:     1) http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/documents/applicant_consent_form_fillable_e.pdf; and 2) https://cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/documents/consent_disclosure_form-eng.pdf

SSHRC: http://www.sshrc-crsh.gc.ca/funding-financement/forms-formulaires/pdf/Consent_to_Disclosure-Consentement_a_la_divulgation-e.pdf


SGS will notify all applicants of the results of the University competition prior to the Tri-Agency application deadline. Decisions regarding the national competition are usually released two months after the competition deadline directly to students by the granting agency.

Additional Info

Safety Abroad

Please follow the instructions and steps as indicated on the U of T Learning & Safety Abroad Student’s page and review the U of T COVID-19 Information for Students webpage well in advance of your travel.

Safety Abroad procedures are mandatory for all U of T students travelling outside of Canada, including to the U.S.A., and must be completed before the travel occurs. Travel that is conducted without prior completion of all Safety Abroad requirements would render students ineligible. 

The following steps must be completed prior to departure for in-person conferences: 

  1. Review the Safety Abroad website for details on what action is necessary prior to your travel date;

  2. Contact the Safety Abroad Office directly by emailing safety.abroad@utoronto.ca to discuss your planned travel and be added to the Safety Abroad Registry;

  3. Sign the Consent and Terms of Participation waiver forms;
  4. Complete the online Safety Abroad pre-departure workshop (valid for 1.5 years); and 

  5. Obtain supplementary health insurance (if not already covered).

Award Holder Information


Successful applicants must notify the granting agency of their acceptance or refusal of the offer via email (as well as cc’ing debbie.chau@utoronto.ca) with “CGS-MSFSS” in the subject line.

For more information, awardees should consult the Tri-agency MSFSS Award Holder’s Guide.

To propose changes to travel plans, an email must be submitted directly to your granting agency cc’ing debbie.chau@utoronto.ca for approval at least four weeks prior to the date of departure. Be sure to provide a brief rationale for the proposed changes, as well as a letter or email from your current and host supervisors showing support for the change.

P​ayment Activation

Upon confirmation of acceptance, the transfer of funds from the associated agency to the University, and completion of U of T’s safety abroad proc​edures and completion of the MSFSS Payment Activation Form​:

  • ​ CGS-MSFSS payments will be set up on ACORN and typically issued one month prior to the date of the award holder’s departure.
  • ​The full value of the travel supplement will be distributed in a single payment and refunded to the award holder.

Contacts & Resources

For complete information, visit the Michael Smith Foreign Study Supplements Program website (housed on the NSERC website).

For more information, please contact the Graduate Awards Office and/or the council administering your CGS award (for NSERC and SSHRC inquiries, be sure to include in the subject line “MSFSS” on your email):​

SGS Graduate Awards Office

Debbie Chau, Graduate Awards Officer
Graduate Awards Office
School of Graduate Studies

Program Design and Delivery Branch
Email: CGSMSFSS-SEEMSBESC@cihr-irsc.gc.ca
Phone: 613-952-0763
Scholarships and Fellowships Division
Email: schol@nserc-crsng.gc.ca
Phone: 613-995-5521
Research Training Portfolio
Email: fellowships@sshrc-crsh.gc.ca
Phone: 613-943-7777