Going To Grad School? Take Advantage Of These Financing Options


So you’ve decided to plunge deeper into the pool of academia, but you aren’t quite ready to sink further into debt.

We get it. For many students, the decision to go to grad school depends heavily on the costs and fees associated with higher education, which are also influenced by your area of study, program, and personal circumstances.

Luckily, there are a wide range of funding opportunities for grad school. To help you get started, we’ve compiled some of the best options right here!

1. Check out your University’s Admissions Funding

As a prospective grad student, your first stop for financial assistance should be the funding sources and packages provided by your potential university. Keep in mind that entrance awards and bursaries typically have strict application deadlines, so you better get cracking!

Some other options your university may offer:

Teaching Assistantships (TA)

tutor-606091_640This paid position involves assisting faculty members with preparing lectures, marking tests, and providing office hours for students. Depending on the school, you may have the opportunity to work up to 20 hours per week if you feel you can successfully balance the demands of your program with the assistantship.

Research assistantships (RA)

Paid by research grants or by an external contract, RAs are normally hired by their supervisors to assist in research projects that are directly related to their own research. If applicable to your program, this is a great way to fund your grad school and gain valuable work experience.

Merit Entrance Scholarships

These scholarships are based on the final grades of your undergrad or previous degree and are available for students with a high academic standing. Recommendations for these scholarships, typically worth anywhere from $1,000 – $12,000, are usually made by your department during the application process each year.

2. Apply for Awards

Internal awards

These are specific awards allocated to students at your particular university. Check out your university graduate studies or financial aid page for awards jointly funded by the province of study, or simply through donor support.

Need-Based Bursaries

These bursaries, usually part of an in-course financial aid program with your university, are awarded to those who demonstrate financial need in the application process and have already applied and accepted government student aid.

External awards

student-849825_640There are plenty of scholarships to look into that are open to all Canadian universities and programs. From general merit-based awards to those targeting students in a specific program, organizations like Universities Canada offer a wide range of scholarships and bursaries for Canadian grad students to choose from.

For example, the merit-based Mackenzie King “Open” Scholarship accepts applications annually from Canadians pursuing graduate studies in any discipline, in Canada or abroad.

Government-Funded Awards

For example, the Tri-council hands out Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s awards valued at $17,500 for one year for graduate students in all disciplines based on merit.

International Student Awards

Are you an international student coming to Canada for grad school? First off, there are university-specific entrance scholarships and bursaries for foreign students with study visas, so check your university-specific International Students’ page. In addition, the government also offers award depending on your country of origin, which you can check out here. Lastly, Top Universities offers a great list of scholarships for international students, including non-governmental and university-specific awards.

Awards for Graduate Studies Abroad

If you’re travelling to a different country to conduct research or study, consider perusing these Government-funded International Awards for Canadians abroad. Also, see if your International office or Study Abroad program at your home university offers bursaries or scholarships to help pay for your living expenses.

3. Apply for Financial Aid

Governance Assistance and Loans

document-428331_640If your personal circumstances prove a financial need, you are likely to be eligible for a Canada Student Loan and grants from federal and provincial governments. Check out the Government of Canada’s CanLearn for a complete comprehensive guide to the types of loans available in your province or territory and the application process.

Student line-of-credit

This is an alternative solution if your student loan doesn’t come through, or if you need a greater amount for your program of study and living expenses. However, depending on which bank you choose, be aware that you may be required to pay interest each month on whatever amount you take out.

4. Self-Funding

Part Time Study / Part Time Job

coffee-984328_640Along with your savings, you could consider funding your Master’s with a part-time job on the side of your studies. However, keep in mind that a full-time graduate studies program is like a full-time job.

Many graduate funding packages come with a provision that prevents students from working more than a certain number of hours a week. In short, before you take on that barista gig, double check your admission requirements and think carefully about whether you can handle the time commitment.

Co-operative Education

Some graduate study programs incorporate Co-op Education, which gives students the opportunity to alternate their research with paid work terms during their program. Pay off your tuition, meet key players in your industry, and potentially solidify a job after graduation? Yes, please.

Paying for grad school can be easier than you think! If you take the time to do a little research, you’ll be sure to find a financing option that works for you.

Want to learn more about Grad School? Check out our Career Guide!