Update: July 18, 2017
While the Faculty will honour the dollar amount of PhD packages when a portion of the DERA was paid by SPGS, due to the added strain on the Faculty budget and depending on departmental/program resources, students may once again be asked to serve as a teaching assistant in two terms. Social Science continues to pay PhD students more than any other Faculty at Western.

Update: Feb 15, 2017
Due to budget constraints, the SGPS portion of the DERA has been discontinued.  Those who currently hold DERA’s will continue to receive the full DERA payment, with the SPGS component and FSS component, until the end of their tricouncil award.

Doctoral Excellence Research Award (DERA) and FSS - May 18, 2016

The Doctoral Excellence Research Award (DERA) is to recognize outstanding academic achievement by committing to financial support that supplements Tri-Council (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) awards.

This page explains how the DERA guarantees $5,000 minimum funding from the Faculty of Social Science (FSS), through the department/program[1], for Tri-Council award winners.  This minimum is added to funds supplied by SGPS: $10,000 in year 1; $5,000 in subsequent years.  Thus, in year 1 these students receive $15,000 minimum from Western and $10,000 in subsequent years (assuming full-time enrollment). Though these amounts may be all that is received from Western most DERA students receive (considerably) more than this minimum. Award winners are encouraged to discuss with their Graduate Administrator how a Tri-Council award impacts their specific funding package.

Who earns a DERA?

Those PhD candidates from the Faculty of Social Science who earn any of the following awards are guaranteed a DERA:

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship – CIHR NSERC Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral
Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship – NSERC NSERC Postgraduate Scholarship – Doctoral
Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship – SSHRC SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral
CIHR Canada Graduate Scholarship – Doctoral SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship

How do DERA winners receive their $5000 FSS portion?

In most cases, the DERA will not result in new funds to the student from FSS (department/program).  The FSS portion may not appear in your funding package labelled as “DERA”, but students who earn Tri-Council doctoral awards are encouraged to cite the total DERA amounts above on their CV.  How the FSS portion of the DERA is paid to the student is left to the department/program within two defined parameters: i) the guaranteed minimum - currently $5,000 – is paid by FSS (through the department/program) to the student and; ii) the FSS commitment cannot be met with funds from the supervisor (e.g., research grants). The FSS commitment may come in a variety of forms including Western Graduate Research Scholarship (WGRS), Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTA), Dean’s or Graduate Chair’s scholarships, or some combination thereof.  For example, a “full” 140hr GTA will more than meet the full DERA commitment from the FSS.  A “half” GTA of 70hrs would not meet the $5,000 commitment and would typically be supplemented with WGRS funds. If a department/program guarantees funding from FSS to cover tuition (e.g., as WGRS), since tuition exceeds $5000, that too would cover the FSS portion of the DERA. 

Why is the DERA not added on top of the amount quoted in my original offer letter?

Students’ efforts to earn a Tri-Council award create the opportunity to sustain high levels of funding for all graduate students in the Faculty.  In the interest of equity, for each Tri-Council award winner the FSS portion of the funding package is adjusted downwards and redistributed to maximize the Faculty’s financial commitments to non-award winners. However, unlike many other universities the DERA guarantees a minimum financial commitment from Western to Tri-Council winners such that these students still typically take home much more total funding (from all sources) than their peers who do not hold such awards.  However, the redistribution allows FSS students as a group, on average, to remain among the highest paid at Western. Award winners are encouraged to discuss with their Graduate Administrator how a Tri-Council award impacts their specific funding package.


[1]Faculty of Social Science (FSS) funds pay for many sources including: WGRS, GTA, Dean’s Scholarships and Grad Chair Scholarship.  These FSS funds are distributed through the departments/programs.