Vanier Application

Supporting Information

It is recommended that you review this information ahead of completing the Vanier Application to ensure you are aware of what each section is looking for and where to address certain points accurately

Frequently Asked Questions when Completing the Vanier Application

Application Components
Reference Letters

General Information:

Review the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships website for Eligibility - Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships
Full applications are evaluated and selected on 3 criteria weighted equally:

  1. Academic Excellence
  2. Research Potential
  3. Leadership (Potential and Demonstrated Ability)

We highly recommend working with your mentors, your supervisor and other faculty advisors, and taking advantage of all supports offered through the Graduate Leader’s Circle mentorship / workshops / cafes.

Steps for completing and submitting the application

Information below is based on common questions received from applicants. This information is supplemental to the Vanier Application Instructions
Only students who have been successful at the PAF stage will be invited to apply to the main competition.


Q: How do I decide which agency to apply to?  Review the Agency website for details of the research they cover, also discuss with your program and supervisor.

Q: Can I submit to a different agency than the one I stated in the PAF?  Yes. However, you must contact the graduate scholarship officer in the Graduate Award Office ( to identify this change ahead of time.

Q: If my PAF was retained, can I change information this year? Yes. The PAF previously submitted is not reviewed by the committee nor is it compared to the current PAF. Information is expected to change.

Q: How do I attach the departmental letter to the final application? The departmental letter, and its attachment, will be handled by the graduate scholarship officer. They will attach this ahead of a final submission, should you be selected for nomination to the national committee.

Q: Can I switch to a different institution if I receive the Vanier/apply for Vanier for a different institution? No. Candidates must be nominated by the institution at which they want to study. No changes to institution are permitted for these programs.

Q: Would the Vanier have to be put on hold for exchange experiences? Please see the Tri-agency research training award holder’s guide for details regarding Interruptions to the award.


Q: Even if we didn’t complete a degree, do we need to send those transcripts? We require all transcripts to complete the application, regardless of the number of credits or incomplete. Undisclosed degree time can impact your eligibility.

Q: I have previously begun and withdrawn from a PhD program, should I address it in my application? Transcripts will be reviewed by all committees and it is to your benefit to provide an explanation where possible.

Application Components


Q: Can I just re-write and expand my PAF leadership statement for the full application? It's a great base to start from. We highly recommend working with the Graduate Leader’s Circle and taking advantage of all supports offered through mentorship/workshops/cafes, to ensure you submit the strongest application.

Q: When selecting leadership experiences to focus on and who to request the leadership reference letter from, should I choose an experience/person with whom I’ve had more history or one that is  newer but potentially more relevant/valuable? It is vital that leadership is central to all parts of a Vanier application. This is an opportunity for you to select the person(s) who can best attest to yours.

Research proposal

Q: If the concept of my dissertation is still in progress, how should I write my research proposal? You can include general information about your topic as it is a great opportunity to conduct exploratory research into areas with missing literature and begin to develop relevant research questions. You are not held accountable to complete the research proposal exactly as it is written at the time of the application. Application/nomination instructions - Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

Q: Do you recommend bolding/emphasizing sections of my leadership statement or research proposal? This can be a helpful tool to draw attention to some of your salient points, but should not be overdone. This is particularly a component where receiving peer review (such as in Graduate Leaders Circle mentoring events) can be helpful to ensure you’re striking the right note. Application/nomination instructions - Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

Research Contributions / CCV

Q: What if I don’t have any research contributions? Students are assessed on the stage they are at in their graduate work and the expectation for research contributions at that stage. The application will be reviewed with this in mind.

Q: Can I list a paper that is in review/preparation in my Common CV (CCV) or research contributions? Papers in preparation do not hold much weight unless supported by comments in the references. Papers under review can be listed supported by the journal details and submission number and some comment made by your supervisor that the paper is under review.

Q: Does it make sense to include an unpublished master’s thesis as a research contribution? A master's / doctoral thesis should not be included in publications although there may be a place in the CCV for this type of document.

Q: If I was an invited speaker at a conference that also published my abstract in conference proceedings, can I add these as two separate contributions?  Yes, once as an oral presentation and once as a published abstract. NSERC - Guidelines on the assessment of contributions to research, training and mentoring (

Q: Where do I list any Special Circumstances? Depending on the information to be included, this may entered in a number of areas. Please see the Vanier instructions for details.

Q: How do I properly describe my contributions without over-hyping my accomplishments? As this is as competitive award, you do want to ensure that you’re properly describing your accomplishments and successes and giving yourself due credit for your work. However, a way to keep this from veering into “over-hyping” territory is to ensure that you are not overemphasizing or extrapolating the impacts of your work too far. Make sure to stick to the facts of what you’ve done (providing numbers when appropriate and available, e.g., during my time at X organization, uptake of our services increased by 14% from 2021-2022), but do not imply that you’ve solved all the problems of an organization/issue singlehandedly.

Q: How do I decide what to emphasize in the research contributions? Selecting your research contributions should fit into the broader package of your application. It is typically helpful to select your most “impactful” contributions, i.e., oral presentation at a prestigious international conference or publication in a high impact journal. However, it is also important to use the research contributions to build a narrative of how you are equipped to execute your proposed research and be a leader in your university.

Q: What are examples of “non-academic” research contributions? Knowledge dissemination for the general public, knowledge translation events, industry events, Op-ed, school visits, as well as Other examples of Contributions

Reference Letters

Q: What if one of my referees would need their letter to be translated/what languages can be submitted to Vanier? If you have supporting documents written in a language other than English or French, you are required to submit a certified translation of these documents

Q: Can an academic referee also provide a leadership reference? As the Referee assessments provide your academic references with the opportunity to also comment on your Leadership skills, it is not recommended that you ask the same person to submit a Referee Assessment and a Leadership Reference letter

Q: Can I get a leadership reference from someone I’ve mentored? Yes, in many cases having someone who has experienced your leadership rather than observing it can provide a helpful recommendation – however, this is not necessarily right for everyone and you will have to consider how this individual’s letter would fit into your application as a whole. Application / nomination instructions - Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships

Q: What makes a graduate program departmental letter really shine? The letter should be written with specific detail on the applicant and a strong rationale for their recruitment to UCalgary.  What does the student bring and why is UCalgary the best fit for their doctoral studies.

Q: Can we only use leadership referees who have letterheads available? Vanier does not stipulate this. However, its always best where possible, as reviewers may wish to look up programs/organisations. If a letterhead is not available, it is recommended that the contact information is clearly listed.

Q: Is it preferable to have domestic references to international referees? You should choose the individuals who can write you the best letter of support for your application.