Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarships

Award Overview

Value & Duration

Scholars will receive:

  • Membership in a community of other Scholars, Mentors, and Fellows, all of whom are leaders and change-makers in their respective disciplines and sectors;
  • Leadership training from Mentors and Fellows;
  • $40,000 per year for three years to cover tuition and reasonable living expenses; and
  • Up to $20,000 per year for three years, as a research and travel allowance.

Scholars must:

  • Attend a community retreat and two Institutes of Engaged Leadership during the first year of their term;
  • Collaboratively plan and participate in a conference event during the second year of their term;
  • Work with other Scholars, Mentors, and Fellows on a creative project during the third year of their term.

Successful applicants may receive multiple awards and accumulation is permitted to a certain extent. Beginning in 2019, the first $20,000 of the $40,000 stipend will be guaranteed to all Scholars. For those who receive multiple awards, the Foundation will reduce the amount of the remaining stipend in accordance with the value of the award such that a Scholar who receives an external award of $20,000 or less would qualify for $40,000 and those with external awards of $50,000 or more would receive $20,000.


The renewed Scholarship program of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation is a gateway for courageous, bold, original thinkers who are hungry to play a leadership role in their communities. The Foundation’s three-year program aims to train Engaged Leaders, in order to build the capacity for academics to make their research accessible beyond academia, to partner and work with a diversity of actors across society, and to help address some of the most pressing domestic and global issues of direct relevance for the future of Canada.


At the time of application:

  • Applicants must have been accepted into or be currently registered in the 1st, 2nd or 3rd year of a full-time doctoral program in the humanities or social sciences*;
  • Applicants’ doctoral work must relate to the Foundation’s central themes: Human Rights and Dignity, Responsible Citizenship, Canada and the World, and People and their Natural Environment;
  • Applicants who are Canadian citizens are eligible whether they are at a Canadian institution or an international institution;
  • Applicants who are permanent residents or foreign nationals must be enrolled in a doctoral program at a Canadian institution.

* The Foundation recognizes that many doctoral students are working on research projects that are interdisciplinary and qualify as advanced research in the social sciences and humanities, regardless of their faculty or department affiliation. Most importantly, all applicants must relate their research to one or more of the Foundation’s central themes. Due to a large volume of requests, the Foundation is not able to assess the eligibility of individuals’ research topics by email or over the phone.

* To date, the Foundation has offered scholarships to students in many fields, including public health, anthropology, communications, criminology, law, economics, history, literature, philosophy, religion, environmental sciences and political science.

Selection Criteria

The Trudeau Selection Committee is looking for:

  • Academic excellence;
  • Thematic relevance of the doctoral research to the Foundation’s central themes;
  • Community engagement;
  • Leadership experience and abilities;
  • Originality and audacity;
  • Communication skills and desire to contribute to public dialogue and knowledge dissemination;
  • Interest for the scientific theme of the 2020-2023 cycle: “Technology and ethics”. Applicants do not have to have expertise on this topic, but must be willing to engage with this theme as part of the leadership training program (see the Foundation’s Leadership Development webpage). 

The Foundation is committed to selecting a diverse group of Scholars, including diversity in terms of gender, perspectives, language, race/ethnicityCanadian region of study and disabilities. The Foundation also welcomes First Nations, Inuit, and Métis candidates.  

Application Process

Applicants must be nominated by the Canadian or foreign institution where they are currently accepted or enrolled in a doctoral program. Files sent directly to the Foundation by students will automatically be declined.

Revised! Due to recent application launch and deadline changes from the Foundation, applicants will be applying directly to the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) for the centralized University competition (i.e. evaluation at the graduate unit level has been removed from this year’s application process).

The online application will be launched on the Trudeau Foundation’s website on November 15th. To assist in the preparation for the application, SGS has posted a PDF of the previous year’s Trudeau Doctoral Scholarships online application in the “Application Requirements” section below.

In order to be considered for a nomination, applicants must: ​

  1. Register for an account on the Foundation’s application portal (launching on Nov.15th) – be sure to select the “University of Toronto” as the nominating institution. Applicants who already have an account from a previous scholarship competition can login using their existing login credentials or request a password reset;
  2. Receive a username and password by email within 4 business days of registering (check spam folder);
  3. Complete the online application through the Foundation’s portal by filling out the contact information in the “Coordonnées / Contacts” section and the application form in the “Ébauche / Draft” section;
  4. Upload scanned copies of their current official transcripts covering all of their post-secondary education, including grading legends (CEGEP exempted);
  5. Enter the name and email address of two (2) referees in the box provided;
  6. Submit the complete application online; and
  7. New! Email the SGS Graduate Awards Officer, Internal at tara.lock@utoronto.ca with a screenshot of their submitted application status and to notify SGS that they wish to be considered. This ensures that the application will be included in the university’s selection process.

Note: It takes up to 4 business days for applicants’ online registration requests to be processed and applicants are encouraged to check their spam folders for the login information. Applicants who already have an account from a previous scholarship competition can login using their existing login credentials or visit the Foundation’s portal and click on “Reset or create password” to receive new login credentials.

Applicants are responsible for ensuring that their referees upload the letters of reference to their online application before they submit their application or by 4:30pm on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 at the latest. Incomplete applications and late materials will not be considered.

All complete applications will be reviewed by the SGS Awards Committee, which will select the top four applicants for the University nomination to the Foundation.

Application Requirements

To assist in the preparation for the application, a PDF of the previous year’s Trudeau Doctoral Scholarships online application is available for applicants’ reference.  Further information on this year’s competition can also be found on the Foundation’s Frequently Asked Questions webpage.  Technical issues regarding the online application or letters of reference must be directed to scholarships@trudeaufoundation.ca.

For the U of T selection process, documents that are uploaded in a language other than English will require an English translation.


Applicants will be required to enter the email addresses for two (2) referees. The system will send each referee an email titled «FPET | Demande de recommandation / PETF | Recommendation Request» which will include:

  • A weblink; and
  • Instructions to upload and attach their reference letter in PDF format directly to the application via the web-link. The referees will not be able to view any part of the online application.

Applicants will not be able to view the content of their referees’ letters via the online application system but will be able to see when they have been uploaded. Only two (2) references will be evaluated in this competition. If an error occurs and more than 2 references are uploaded to an application, the first two completed references in the order listed will be used. Alternatively, applicants may email tara.lock@utoronto.ca​​ to have any erroneous references deleted from the system.

Reference letters should be a maximum of one page, submitted in PDF format, and should focus on how the applicant meets the Foundation’s selection criteria. The letters should be signed (electronic signatures are acceptable) and the name and contact information of each referee must be clearly stated. There are no other particular formatting standards.

The academic reference should focus on the applicant’s academic excellence and the leadership reference should focus on the applicant’s leadership skills and abilities. The Foundation is seeking candidates whose leadership experience and abilities go beyond the academic world and their selection criteria reflect this. The leadership reference letter should focus on leadership skills and abilities as opposed to academic excellence. However, if an applicant feels that the person who is best placed to attest to their leadership skills happens to also work in an academic setting, the applicant may ask that person for a leadership reference. Please ensure that this reference understands what the Foundation expects from leadership references as opposed to academic references.

Referees and applicants will receive a confirmation email once a reference has been successfully submitted. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure the references are submitted by their referees before the graduate unit’s deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered.


Applicants must upload scanned copies of their current official transcripts covering all of their post-secondary education – with grading legends – as a single PDF file to their online application. Any candidates who attended CEGEP in Quebec should not include their CEGEP transcripts).

  • Scans of unofficial transcripts are not accepted;
  • Official hardcopy transcripts must be retained until late April, as the Foundation may request the originals during the interview process.

Safety Abroad Requirements for Travelling Scholars

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 (regardless of receiving scholarship support). Contact safety.abroad@utoronto.ca for further information on the process and/or requirements below.

The following steps must be completed prior to departure and cannot occur retroactively:​

  1. Review the Safety Abroad website for details on what is necessary prior to travel date;
  2. Complete a profile if a first-time user;
  3. Log upcoming travel dates on the Safety Abroad Registry;
  4. Complete the online Safety Abroad Workshop (valid for 1.5 years); and
  5. Obtain supplementary health insurance (if not already covered).

For travel to a region designated by the Global Affairs Canada as “Avoid Non-Essential Travel” or “Avoid All Travel” students must contact the Safety Abroad Office at safety.abroad@utoronto.ca as soon as possible to learn about the additional requirements they will need to complete.


The SGS Graduate Awards Officer, Internal will notify all applicants of the University competition results in late-January (graduate units will receive a separate email notifying them of their applicants’ results).

In late February 2020, the Foundation will select and invite finalists to an in-person interview in Montréal. The interview will be held in English or French, or in both of the official languages of Canada, depending on the language skills and preference of the finalist. Unsuccessful nominees will be directly notified by the Foundation in late March. Up to 20 Scholars will be chosen and notified but will not be publicly announced by the Foundation until April/May.

Contacts & Resources

For program information and the online application, visit the Trudeau Foundation website. Note that the online application will be launching on the Trudeau Foundation’s website on November 15th.

Technical issues with registration, the online application or letters of reference must be directed to scholarships@trudeaufoundation.ca.

For information regarding the U of T selection process, please contact: ​​

Tara Lock
Graduate Awards Officer, Internal
School of Graduate Studies