Scholars-at-Risk Fellowship​

Award Overview

Value & Duration

Up to $10,000 for one year. Graduate SAR 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).​ At-risk students who  experience financial hardship during their program of study are encouraged to inquire with their Graduate Administrator or Registrar regarding the availability of any local short-term financial assistance and the SGS Emergency Loans and Grants programs.



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.


Applicants will:

  • Be a student:
    • 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 financial need through the completion of a financial need assessment form; and
  • Can demonstrate a commitment to enhancing the student experience of their peers through university or community outreach and involvement.


  • The Scholars-at-Risk Fellowship does not provide any form of assistance in obtaining travel visas or refugee status claims.
  • Students may reapply in subsequent application cycles, up to three times, provided they continue to meet the award criteria.

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– SAR2022App”.

Application Package

A complete application will include the following items:

  • Completed and signed application form;
  • (Updated) Personal Statement of Intent describing how the applicant meets 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, including financial hardship, why they are pursuing their chosen graduate program, and describe their commitment to enhancing the student experience (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 any extracurricular involvement both inside and outside a university.
  • 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 some cases, multiple documents may be required. 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; and
  • (Updated) One (1) Confidential Letter of Reference – maximum two pages, written by an individual who knows the candidate in an academic or a non-academic capacity. Applicants who experience difficulties obtaining a new reference letter may inquire with their graduate department about having an admissions reference letter currently on file with the department, forwarded to the Graduate Awards Office.
      • The letter should clearly describe the applicants strengths and suitability for graduate school, addressing the applicant’s academic and personal achievements which may include, involvement in academic life, volunteerism/community outreach, civic engagement, social skills, and financial hardship;
      • By the application deadline, the referee (or graduate unit) must email the confidential 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 – SAR2022Ref”


Applicants will be contacted directly in mid-June.

Additional Info

Massey College

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.

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 set by Massey College annually each winter. Details are available on the Massey College website​.

Read About Past Recipients

Censored in Iran, Scholar-at-Risk Negar Banisafar is eager to create a new future at U of T (U of T News, December 08, 2021)

Kameka Morrison, a Scholar-at-Risk, has bold plans for the future of Black education (U of T News, December 01, 2021)

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:

Carla Serpe
Acting Graduate Awards Officer
Graduate Awards Office
School of Graduate Studies