Preparing your application

On this page, you will learn about preparing the required documents for your award application and how to submit your application.


Common required documents

For most awards, you must fill out an application as well as submit supporting documents. Supporting documents covered on this page are:


Curriculum Vitae

Research Proposal and Statement of Study

Reference Letter

Some scholarships require additional criteria such as leadership experience or community involvement and may ask for further documentation.


Transcripts are used to evaluate your academic merit and achievements. In your scholarship application include transcripts from all post-secondary institutions that you have attended, even if no grades were assigned or you did not complete the degree.

Refer to the guidelines for each competition; requirements vary.

Curriculum Vitae, Canadian Common CV

The CV is a record of your academic background that captures degrees, awards, research, publications, presentations and other achievements. Writing a CV (including CVs completed through a portal such as the Canadian Common CV) can be a lengthy process so budget more time than you think you will need.

Listing publications and presentations

Publications and presentations highlight your academic accomplishments.

  • Provide as much background information as possible as reviewers outside of your discipline may not know the prestige of awards you have received, conferences at which you have presented or the prominence of the journal in which you have published.
  • Many competitions require publications and presentations be listed in a specific format. If there is not a specified format, follow the one most commonly used in your discipline. Contact your program and supervisor for those details.


Research proposal and statement of study

Your research proposal or statement of study is the heart of your application. Take the time to get it right. Here are some general tips to keep in mind while writing:

Be clear and succinct

Try the 30-second rule: Can you describe your research succinctly and without jargon so that anyone can understand? Remember that many adjudicators come from disciplines other than your own. Peers in unrelated fields are perfect audiences. Ask a friend or family member to read your research proposal/statement of study. They should understand what you are trying to do. If they don’t, what needs to be changed? Is there something missing?

Be persuasive

Start strong and capture the reader’s attention. Convince committee members that your studies are worth funding.

You will likely write many versions of your research proposal or statement of study. Give yourself time to do so. Below are some components you must include:

Research proposal

Research proposals are typically required for thesis-based awards. Follow the application instructions. If you are restricted to a one-page research proposal for example and you submit an extra page, that extra page will be removed before your application goes to review. In your proposal include your:

Key research question

  1. What is your main question and how will your research answer it?
  2. What is new about your research and why it is important? Highlight any way that your research project promises a notable advancement or innovation in the discipline.

Be specific. An ambiguous or indefinite proposal will weaken your application. 

Convey your research goals without resorting to disparaging others.


  1. How will you answer your key research question?
  2. Why is this the most appropriate way to explore the question? Justify your methodology.

Again, convey your research goals without disparaging others.

Time Frame

Offer expected milestones as the research progresses. The project must be achievable within the time-frame allowed.


Statement of study

Statements of study are typically required for course-based awards. Follow the application instructions. If you are restricted to a one-page statement and you submit an extra page, that extra page will be removed before your application goes to review. In your statement of study:

Your topic

What you are studying and why?

Application of study

  1. Demonstrate your ability to apply your skills and knowledge.
  2. Demonstrate your ability to think critically.

If you need help with your writing, the writing centre has many resources.


Describe the quality and originality of the contributions to your field.

Requesting a reference letter

Reference letters are completed through the online application. Your referee will be notified by email to submit your reference letter.

Here are some tips for getting a good reference.

Who can be a reference?

One of the referees must be your supervisor or someone familiar with your current academic work. For UCalgary competitions, references for admission may be used toward the scholarship competition as long as they have been written within the last eleven months prior to the competition deadline. However, we encourage students to provide the most current reference possible, to reflect the progress of their research.

How to Request References

Plan ahead when you are asking for a reference. Building the appropriate relationships with referees is an important, long-term process.

1. Establish and Maintain Connections

Allow academics to get to know you. As an undergraduate student, this might mean introducing yourself to your instructor in a few courses, and even offering to do volunteer work associated with their research. As a graduate student, you have the opportunity to expand this connectivity to conferences and even e-mail acquaintances. Don’t hesitate to go down the hall and introduce yourself to faculty members beyond your supervisor and supervisory committee.

2. Invite the Letter-writer

Three to five weeks ahead of the deadline for receipt of a reference, ask potential writers if they can provide you with a positive letter of reference. Include Tips for Writing a Scholarship Reference and a note that gives the following:

  • the purpose of the reference
  • the rationale for pursuing this research and your expected goals
  • identify and emphasize your key skills and talents that relate to this goal
  • deadline for submission of the letter
  • procedure for submission of the letter, including forms and web links

Include your updated curriculum vitae, transcripts and any parts of the application you have written (proposal, for example). You should fill out any parts of the form that relate to you (name, program or award you are applying for, etc.).

3. Follow-up

Don’t be shy. Ask for a personal meeting or phone call during which you can answer any questions the referee may have. Don’t be afraid to remind them of the impending deadline a week or more before the letter is to be submitted.

4. Thank the Referee

You should thank the referee for taking the time to submit a reference, whether or not you are successful.

*Much of the above information has been adapted from “Writing a Letter of Recommendation.” By Laura Bonetta, Ph.D. Addendum to “Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty”, copyright 2006 by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Burroughs Welcome Fund.

Get more tips by attending a scholarship workshop. These workshops are facilitated by an Associate Dean (Scholarship) and a student who has received a top award. You can find workshops for specific awards under Award Opportunities

Pre-submission checklist

Review your application

Make sure you have all of the required documents and components of the application. Also, make sure that all other eligibility criteria are met.

Check eligibility

Proofread your work

Check for spelling, grammar, formatting or factual errors. Ask a friend or colleague to read over your application to make sure it is clear. The Writing Centre may also be able to help.

The Writing Centre

Check your uploads

If you are applying online, ensure your documents are saved in the correct file format and that all digital pages are visible and clear. You won't be able to make corrections once the deadline has passed.

Good luck with your application!