Scholars-at-Risk Fellowship​

Award Overview


Established with initial funding from the Donner Canadian Foundation, the School of Graduate Studies and Massey College provide this Fellowship, on an annual basis, as an established mechanism through which the University of Toronto is able to support eligible candidates who meet the criteria listed below. The Fellowship offers financial support for academic endeavours and the opportunity to participate in the Massey College community.

Value and Duration

Up to $10,000 for one year. Fellowships will be awarded and held by current or incoming students in addition to the program’s normal funding commitment (for those within the funded cohort).​

Recipients are granted the status of Scholar-at-Risk at Massey College in the University of Toronto. Scholars-at-Risk Fellows are invited to become a member of the Massey College community, with the membership fee waived by the College as part of the Fellowship.


Applicants must:

  • Be a current or newly admitted graduate student who meets one of the following criteria:
    • who is, or has been within the last 5 years, an asylum/refugee seeker anywhere in the world (regardless of status in Canada); OR
    • whose current or proposed program of study has been impacted by changing political environments in their country of current or future study, including changes in immigration law;
  • Be registered, or have accepted an offer of admission as a new or transfer student to a full-time master’s or doctoral program at the University of Toronto for the upcoming academic year;
  • Have an outstanding academic record as demonstrated by a) transcripts and b) research potential or other measures of scholarship;
  • Demonstrate a commitment to enhancing the student experience of their peers through previous extracurricular leadership at a university or commitment to community outreach and involvement, as demonstrated by extracurricular activities beyond academe; and
  • Demonstrate financial need within a financial need assessment form (ie: the Total Need number is close to $0 or less).


  • The Scholars-at-Risk Fellowship does not provide any form of assistance in obtaining travel visas or refugee status claims. Applicants who do not meet all of the eligibility criteria cannot be considered.
  • Recipients may reapply to hold the award for a second year, provided they continue to meet all of the above criteria, for a lifetime maximum of two years.

Application Process

Applicants must submit an electronic copy of their completed application as a single PDF file via email to by the application deadline, using the file naming convention “Last name, first initial– SAR 2021App”. Applications that are incomplete, ineligible or are submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

Application Package

A complete application will include all of the following items (no other supporting documentation will be accepted):

  • Completed and signed application form;
  • Statement of Intent describing how the applicant meets all of the Scholars-at-Risk Fellowship eligibility criteria. This statement should include background information on why the candidate came to Canada, or why they are seeking to study in Canada; their current circumstances, and why they are pursuing their chosen graduate program (2 pages max – single spaced, 12 pt font);
  • Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions (scans of official, unofficial, student-issued or web transcripts are permitted);
  • Curriculum vitae outlining academic achievements, scholarships and awards received, plus publications, work experience, and extracurricular involvement both inside and outside a university. Extracurricular experience should be clearly separated into two categories: inside and outside of the university context;
  • Copy of University of Toronto Offer of Admission letter, if not currently registered in a U of T grad program;
  • Proof of asylum/refugee seeker status;
    • In most cases, multiple documents will need to be submitted. Examples of such documentation are:
      • Passport or birth certificate from home country;
      • Email correspondence with Consulate/Embassy;
      • Email correspondence with humanitarian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs);
      • Immigration application form from Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada showing claimant applied for immigration as a refugee;
      • Letter confirming applicant has been approved to remain in Canada as a temporary resident while application for permanent residence is reviewed (issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada);
      • Interim Federal Health Certificate stating eligibility of coverage of health care costs based on immigration status (issued by Government of Canada);
      • Letter confirming application for permanent residence in Canada under humanitarian and compassionate considerations has been received (issued by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada);
      • Letter confirming Status Verification as Protected Person (issued by Department of Citizenship and Immigration Canada);
      • Notice of Decision letter that claimant has been determined as a Convention refugee (issued by Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada);
      • Refugee Protection Claimant Document (issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada);
      • Document/email explaining extension of Refugee Protection Claimant Document, if expiry date has passed.
  • Completed SGS Financial Need Assessment Form;
  • Additional Supplementary Documentation to support the candidate’s eligibility; and
  • One (1) Letter of Reference regarding leadership and community involvement – maximum two pages, written by an individual who knows the candidate in an academic or a non-academic capacity.  For further details regarding the letter’s content, please see list below;
    • The letter must clearly state the name and contact information of the referee, remain confidential and must not be reviewed by the applicant;
    • By the application deadline, the referee must email the letter as a PDF attachment directly to with “Scholars-at-Risk Reference Letter” in the subject line​. For the PDF file, please use file naming convention “Applicant last name, first initial – SAR2021Ref”.

The content of the letter of reference should address the following:

    • Personal achievement:
      • impactful involvement and achievement in professional programs/associations such as sports, arts, science, business etc.
      • entrepreneurial achievement (start-up company); and/or
      • foreign travel and study.
    • Involvement in academic life:
      • mentoring/teaching;
      • supervisory experience;
      • involvement in student government and in the institution community, including committees, teams, senate, boards, ethics committees, etc.;
      • project management;
      • roles in academic/professional societies; and/or
      • organization of conferences, meetings, courses etc.
    • Volunteerism/community outreach:
      • community involvement in charity or not-for-profit organizations.
    • Civic engagement:
      • parliamentary page positions and internships;
      • political activity; and/or
      • elected positions.
    • Social skills:
      • develops positive relationships with a diverse range of people;
      • cares about and listens to what others say and gives feedback;
      • knows how to motivate individuals;
      • is persuasive;
      • is supportive of peers;
      • is able to negotiate;
      • is viewed as trustworthy, ethical and dependable;
      • is well-respected; and
      • displays mastery of presentation skills and public communications.


Applicants will be contacted directly in mid-June.

Additional Info

Massey College

Massey College offers residence and provides a unique, congenial and intellectual environment for graduate students of distinguished ability in all disciplines to share in a rich and stimulating community. Applicants may explore additional opportunities at Massey College including applying separately to become a Junior Fellow. Junior Fellows in financial need are eligible to apply for Massey Bursaries​ to help offset their fees.​

The deadline to submit a Junior Fellow application is 12pm on April 30, 2021. Details are available on the Massey College website​.

Read About Past Recipients

Nuclear physicist Diego Jesus Rada Rojas from Venezuela lands at U of T with help of Scholars-at-Risk Fellowship (U of T News, October 27, 2020)

A former police officer, U of T’s Serdar San now studies the Turkish regime that cost him his job (U of T News, October 16, 2020)

Scholar-at-Risk: U of T’s Noura Al-Jizawi, a key player in the Syrian uprising, became an opposition leader (U of T News, September 26, 2017)


Contacts & Resources

Please direct questions regarding this competition to:

Tara Lock
Graduate Awards Officer, Internal
School of Graduate Studies
(416) 978-2386