Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Doctoral Scholarships

Award Overview

Value & Duration

Scholars will receive:

  • Membership in a vibrant community of Scholars, Mentors, and Fellows, all of whom are leaders in their respective disciplines and sectors;
  • Leadership training from Mentors and Fellows, including unique experiential learning opportunities that enrich and complement their academic experience;
  • Opportunities to acquire greater proficiency in Canada’s official languages (French and English) as well as Indigenous languages;
  • Up to $40,000 per year for three years to cover tuition and reasonable living expenses;
  • Up to $20,000 per year for three years, as a research, networking, and travel allowance. This funding may also be used for activities related to the learning of languages; and
  • Lifelong membership in the Foundation’s alumni network.

Scholars must:

  • Engage in Foundation events, including custom-designed Institutes of Engaged Leadership and Retreats during the first year of their term. NOTE: Due to the situation stemming from COVID-19, the format of forthcoming events will be adapted in accordance with national and local restrictions. Some small in-person gatherings may take place, if conditions allow. Otherwise, the Foundation will continue to engage its community through digital events;
  • Collaboratively organize a conference event (Impact Conference) during the second year of the leadership program and present this conference during the third year;
  • Serve their communities as volunteers: Outside Foundation programming, active Scholars are expected to perform 30 hours of volunteer service or community initiatives each year and report on these activities to the Foundation. The Foundation takes a broad interpretation on volunteerism, particularly within the context of COVID-19; and
  • If they are not fluently bilingual in both of Canada’s Official Languages (French and English), take steps, through formal or informal training, to improve their proficiency in the Official Language with which they are less familiar. Scholars also commit to becoming more familiar with Canada’s Indigenous Languages through the leadership program.


This three-year leadership program is designed to train Engaged Leaders, equipping outstanding doctoral candidates with the skills to translate their ideas into action, for the betterment of their communities, Canada, and the world. Up to twenty (20) doctoral Scholars are selected each year and receive generous funding for their studies in addition to leadership training.


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 at least one of the Foundation’s 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 four themes. Due to the 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 and intellectual capacity;
  • Commitment and openness to engaging with a plurality of perspectives;
  • Leadership and engagement; and
  • Agility and resilience.

Other considerations:

  • Young researchers who are at the beginning of their professional career will be given priority and special circumstances will be considered;
  • Willingness to embark on a transformative leadership journey which will require commitment, humility, emotional investment, and self-reflection;
  • Commitment to participate fully in all mandatory activities of the program:
    • Virtual Community Retreat in Montreal, QC – June 2021
    • Institute of Engaged Leadership in Moncton, NB – November 2021
    • Institute of Engaged Leadership in Cape Town, South Africa – March 2022
    • Impact Conference in years two and three
    • Participation in virtual events (mandatory and optional) on an ongoing basis
  • Commitment to improving your abilities in the Canadian official language with which you are less familiar and an interest in becoming familiar with Indigenous Languages;
  • Commitment to volunteer service or community initiatives (requirements are flexible in the context of the pandemic);
  • Authenticity and integrity; and
  • Willingness to learn from peers, Fellows and Mentors.

The Foundation is committed to selecting a diverse group of Scholars, including diversity in terms of gender, race, disability, language, socioeconomic background, Indigenous knowledge, and region of origin, as well as in terms of perspectives and disciplines.

Application Process

NEW: Beginning in Fall 2020, the Foundation is asking all applicants to apply directly to its Scholarship competition via a new application platform. In contrast with previous years, universities are no longer required to nominate a limited number of their preferred candidates.

The new online application is available on the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation website.

In order to apply, applicants must: ​

  1. Register for an account on the Foundation’s new application portal (click “Register Here” button)*;
  2. Once registration is complete, create an application for the 2021 Competition, for which you will need to provide:
    • Demographic information on yourself for statistical purposes;
    • Answers to 4 Essay Questions;
    • Information on your Doctoral Project and Themes;
    • Contact information for 2 Referees** (at least one must be an academic referee);
    • Information on your Language Skills, Post-secondary Education, Achievements and Relevant Work Experience; and
    • Upload Transcripts for all post-secondary education (excluding information related to CEGEP).

* Candidates who already have an account from a previous scholarship competition will need to register for a new account this year, as the Foundation has implemented a new application portal.

** Once the name and email address of each referee has been entered into the space provided in the application form, an email will automatically be sent to each referee, asking them to complete a predetermined referral form directly on the Foundation’s application portal. Referees must complete the predetermined referral form, which includes both narrative answers and numerical evaluations. Reference letters in PDF format are no longer required. All candidates are strongly advised to follow up with their referees to ensure they complete and submit the form before January 5, 2021 at 11:59 p.m EST.

The Foundation will review and assess all applications that are complete and submitted (including 2 predetermined referral forms) before the deadline.


NEW: The Foundation will notify all applicants of the results as per the selection process below:

Feb.10, 2021: Round One: Invitation to semi-finalists
Feb.23-25: Round One: Virtual group interviews and information sessions with semi-finalists
Mar.1: Round Two: Invitation to finalists
Mar.24-26: Round Two: Final interviews with members of the Application and Nomination Review Committee
May: Official announcement of 2021 Scholars

The virtual interviews 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.

Additional Info

Safety Abroad Requirements for Travelling Scholars

The Government of Canada advises against all non-essential travel outside of Canada. Accordingly, the University is also advising all members of its community to avoid all non-essential international travel at this time. Please consult the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 travel advisory website for more information on international travel. As of September 28, 2020, the University of Toronto has extended the cancellation of future University activity to international locations for all students until April 30, 2021.

PhD students planning to travel abroad for dissertation research during this time should contact the Safety Abroad Office at safety.abroad@utoronto.ca​​. For current information on this and other travel related information, please refer to the COVID-19 Information for U of T Students webpage.

Contacts & Resources

For program information and access to the new application portal, visit the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation website.

Technical issues must be reported to leadership@trudeaufoundation.ca​​.

Questions may be directed to:

Tara Lock
Graduate Awards Officer, Internal
School of Graduate Studies