All you need to know

Launched in 2017, this program ran through a total of five competitions, supporting 58 laureates in their research projects. Please note that this program is now closed. We invite you to discover our Strategic Research Funding Program launched in 2021 to address scientific challenges of national importance, which will provide funding to many students and researchers.

Fields supported

These scholarships support research in the areas delineated in our Canada First funding proposal: data science in the broad sense, encompassing methodological research in data science (machine learning, operations research, statistics) and its applications in multiple sectors, including our priority sectors (health, transportation and logistics, energy, business, and finance) and any other sector of application (e.g., sociology, physics, linguistics, engineering).


The goal of this program is to support you in your training as a future actor in the field of digital intelligence, researcher, faculty member, or highly qualified professional.


  • Opening of the competition: December 3, 2020, 9 a.m EST
  • Deadline for submitting an application: January 27, 2021, 1 p.m. EST
  • Announcement of awardees: Postponed end of May 2021
  • Funding start date: April 1 or September 1, 2021

Amount, duration and terms of payment

Amount and duration

Please take note of the new conditions concerning the duration of the scholarships.
25,000 per year for a maximum of 9 sessions or three years.

Terms of payment

The funds will be transferred to the research office of the supervisor’s home university, and the university will pay you according to its specific rules. For projects requiring ethical approval, funds will not be released until approval is obtained. Some projects may require specific agreements, for example regarding intellectual property. Funding may be reduced, withheld, delayed or cancelled in special situations that will be explained in the letter of award.

Eligibility criteria

For students

  • You are enrolled in your final semester of master’s studies or have earned your master’s degree prior to applying. If you have been admitted into a doctoral program from a bachelor’s program (direct-entry), you must have completed the first six semesters of full time graduate studies and must be enrolled in your doctoral program. In the case of a direct entry, the first six semesters of study can only be financed by a master’s scholarship.
  • You are or you intend to enrol in a doctoral program program at HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal, Université de Montréal, McGill University, or the University of Alberta.
  • You have maintained a first-class minimum cumulative average (3.7/4.3 or 3.5/4.00) during your graduate studies.
  • As of September 1, 2021, you must be enrolled in a doctoral program to take advantage of the scholarship.
  • You have not previously been awarded an IVADO PhD Excellence scholarship.
  • We will be flexible for candidates who justify career interruptions and special circumstances. We invite you to indicate this in your application (examples: maternity, illness, etc.).

For the supervisor filing the application

  • You must be a faculty member at one of the following institutions: HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal or Université de Montréal;
  • If you are a faculty member at the University of Alberta or McGill University, you may be a supervisor provided that you are also a full member of one of our research groups (Mila, CIRRELT, GERAD, CERC in Data Science for Real-Time Decision-Making, CRM, Tech3Lab);
  • You must have one of the following eligible status: assistant professor, associate professor, full professor, research professor, or visiting professor. Adjunct professors are not eligible;
  • You may not submit more than one application for this competition.

/!\ The student and his/her supervisor must be from the same institution.

For the potential co-supervisor, there are no constraints.

Submitting an application

Go to our dedicated online platform to apply.

/!\ Applications submitted by e-mail will be automatically rejected.

The application package must include:

  • A questionnaire to be completed on the dedicated platform, INCLUDING a description of the project (maximum one page, references can be listed on a second page);
  • Your CV (free format);
  • Your official transcripts from bachelor’s and master’s degrees and marks already obtained at the doctorate level if you have started it (please explain the grading scale in the case of non-Canadian universities);
  • At least two but no more than three letters of recommendation, including one from the supervisor of the doctorate (current or potential), to be uploaded directly to the platform by their authors.

Evaluation of applications

Applications will be reviewed to ensure compliance with the program criteria (e.g., applications must be complete, must comply with the page limit, and must list eligible applicants and supervisors only) and alignment of the research project with the field of digital intelligence.

/!\ Only applications that meet all criteria will be forwarded to the review committee.

The review committee will consist of university professors with an expertise in the IVADO areas of excellence, none of whom must be listed as a supervisor by any of the applicants. Subject to availability of reviewers, we will constitute an inclusive review committee. The review committee will verify that the proposed project aligns with IVADO’s scientific orientations, and then rank the applications based on excellence as well as the projects’ alignment with IVADO’s overarching framework, which aims to promote multidisciplinary collaboration and diversity in digital intelligence.

The review committee will rank the applications based on excellence, paying particular attention to:

  • The applicant’s aptitude for research;
  • Alignment of their experience with the proposed project; and
  • The depth and breadth of their experience: multidisciplinary and professional experience, extra-academic activities, collaborations, contributions to the scientific community and to society as a whole, etc.

For more information on the process and general evaluation practices of our programs, please consult the “EVALUATION OF GRANT AND SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS” section of the Conducting Research Responsibly Handbook.


For students

  • Contribute to leading our IVADO student community and to our activities; including:
    – Giving presentations on your research project;
    – Taking part in consultations, training activities, and/or knowledge dissemination activities;
    – Providing support during various activities that are normally undertaken by career researchers; e.g., mentorship, participation in evaluation processes, co-organization of events.
  • Acknowledge that you are a member of an academic community to which you are contributing.
  • Acknowledge the support of IVADO and the Canada First Research Excellence Fund / Apogée and/or the FRQ when disseminating research results and, more broadly, in all activities in which you take part.
  • Publish your research findings/tools (e.g., papers, recordings of presentations, source code, databases) in compliance with the applicable intellectual property rules and the Tri-Agency Open Access Policy on Publications.

For the supervisor

  • Oversee the student’s work;
  • Provide a work environment suitable to the completion of the project.

Our commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

To ensure all members of society draw equal benefit from the advancement of knowledge and opportunities in digital intelligence, we promote principles of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion across all of our programs, and we commit to providing a recruitment process and research setting that are inclusive, non-discriminatory, open, and transparent.


  • Does my CV need to be in a specific format?

No, there is no particular CV format to be followed. Note, however, that each element of your application package must help the members of the review committee to form an opinion. A CV that is too long or confusing may make assessment more difficult.

  • Are there any specific rules for the letters of recommendation?


  • As a candidate, can I send the letters of recommendation myself?

No; letters of recommendation may only be uploaded by their authors, via the dedicated platform.

  • Can I send in my unofficial transcripts myself?

No; you must use the dedicated platform to upload all your official transcripts, including all current results.

  • Can this scholarship be combined with others?

This scholarship may not be combined with others funded by NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR or IVADO. Generally speaking, we do not encourage combinations with scholarships funded from other sources, but we do not prohibit them either, as they may be justified in some cases.

  • If I’ve already started my PhD, can I still apply for a PhD Excellence scholarship?

Yes, provided that you provide your master’s transcripts and any PhD grades already earned.

  • I have not completed my Master’s degree but have already started my PhD, can I apply for a doctoral award?

You can apply if one of the universities eligible for the competition has accepted your admission to the doctoral program. We suggest that you attach a letter explaining your situation. In addition, you must attach all your official transcripts, including the marks of your uncompleted master’s degree and your current doctoral results.

  • I’m eligible based on my grades from last year, but my more recent grades aren’t high enough (or vice-versa). Am I still eligible?

No, but if you can provide justification for the lower grades (e.g., medical certificate), we may accept your application.

  • Can I engage in any other paid activity while doing my PhD?

The funding amount is meant to allow you to focus exclusively on your research; however, complementary activities are equally important to your training. To balance these two aspects, it is acceptable for you to engage in paid activities that:

– are compliant with the policies of the home institution regarding other sources of income; and
– do not prevent you from doing the work for which you are receiving IVADO funding as if you were doing it full time.

  • If I am a laureate of the competition, will I be able to benefit from a fourth year of funding for my PhD?

IVADO’s PhD Excellence scholarship program is financed through the Canadian First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF). Our funding is ending in August 2024, therefore we cannot, at the moment, make any engagement past August 2024. If the situation changes in the coming years, we will inform you and we could then discuss the possibility of extending the scholarship to fund a fourth year of PhD.

  • Can I take maternity or parental leave during this scholarship?

IVADO offers maternity/parental leave supplements to our MSc and PhD Excellence scholarship’s laureates as follows:

– The supplement is offered within six months following a child’s birth or adoption, to students who are the primary caregivers of the child.

– The supplement is paid to students based on their current stipend for up to six months.

– If both parents are receiving IVADO Excellence Scholarships, each parent may take a portion of the leave for a combined maximum of six months.

– The duration of the supplement of up to 6 months will be agreed upon with the supervisor and should be communicated to us by email at

– The initial award (2 years for MSc’s scholarships and 3 or 4 years depending on the competition for PhD’s scholarships) and the supplement of up to 6 months for parental leave cannot be paid after August 31, 2024, the date on which the CFREF funds from which the IVADO funding programs are financed ends.

The measure is effective retroactively as of June 1, 2021 for all our MSc and PhD laureates.

Have other questions? Please send them to:

In the event of any differences in translations or interpretations, the French version shall prevail.