Graduate Student Funding – Factsheet

The University of Toronto competes for the best graduate students from around the world. Our funding packages and support programs are designed to (a) attract and retain the most qualified candidates to our programs; and (b) help prepare graduate students for successful careers in their fields of choice.

This factsheet outlines graduate student funding at the University of Toronto. For more specific information about your Faculty or department’s funding arrangements, please review the School of Graduate Studies’ Understand Your Funding site and consult your unit’s graduate coordinator.

Who is Eligible for Funding?

Graduate students in full-time doctoral stream programs are eligible for up to five years of funding. Some departments and graduate units divide funding between a student’s Master’s and PhD study; others fund up to five years of a student’s PhD study.

Programs generally have a base funding package per student – the amount of financial support offered. The University also calculates the average actual income amount per student, broken down by program.

How much is the Base Funding Package?

Individual faculties and departments determine their base funding packages, which vary widely depending on numerous factors, including sources and composition of funding. Base funding packages for 2017-18 are available at the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) site. Eligible students receive their department’s base funding package, which includes the cost of tuition and fees.

Most funded graduate students have a funding package composed of internal and external fellowships, awards, and other sources, as well as employment income from teaching assistant (TA) or research assistant (RA) work.

What is “Average Actual Income”?

The average actual income of students in a program is typically higher than that program’s base funding amount, because graduate students often have additional income from research stipends, internal and external fellowships, RA employment income, and TA-ships. Across the University, average actual income for domestic students in the funded cohort ranges from $27,686 to $52,253. Average actual income data is available on the SGS site.

The Role of Employment Income in Funding

In many disciplines, teaching assistant or research assistant work is considered to be an essential component of graduate students’ training and professional development. However, there are limits on the amount of work that can be counted toward a student’s base funding package. As of September 2017, these limits are 180 hours of teaching assistant work. In some faculties, limits are also placed on research assistant work; the Faculty of Arts & Science, for instance, specifies 75 hours of hourly RA work per year. Some students choose to take on additional TA or RA work; SGS encourages graduate coordinators to discuss with students the potential impact of this additional work on their progress through their academic programs.

Annual Funding Letters

SGS advises all departments to provide their students with annual funding letters to inform them of the amount and composition of their funding as well as a disbursement schedule. SGS has funding letter templates available for departments to customize as needed.

Resolving Issues

There is often some confusion about the roles of different groups in the graduate student experience. Graduate students have several groups that represent their interests.

1. The University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union and the School of Graduate Studies have created a Funding Complaint Process so graduate students can bring forward complaints about their individual funding packages. This process was implemented in 2016-17 and covers all graduate students.

2. CUPE 3902, Unit 1 represents students in their role as Teaching Assistants through a collective agreement with the University. Approximately 58% of research-stream graduate students were TAs in 2016-17.

3. USW 1998 (Appointed) represents students in their role as hourly Research Assistants through a collective agreement with the University. Approximately 62% of research-stream graduate students were RAs in 2016-17.

4. The University Ombudsperson provides an impartial and confidential service to help any member of the University community who has been unable to resolve concerns about their treatment by University authorities through other channels.