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Graduate Student Funding

Finances can be complicated and source of stress. If you have any questions at all about how you are funded after reading through the information below, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Grad Admin (

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Every graduate student is covered by the department’s funding formula while they are “in time”, as described in the table below.

What does “in time” mean? (how long are you covered by the funding guarantee?) TA hours (hourly rate set in the collective agreement) Research Stipend for 2022-2023 Research Stipend for 2023-2024 and beyond International Student Tuition Scholarship
Domestic MSc 2 years/6 terms 260 (~$12,000) $14,500 $15,750 $0
International MSc 2 years/6 terms 260 (~$12,000) $14,500 $15,750 $9,000
All PhD Students 4 years/12 terms 260 (~$12,000) $16,250 $17,750 $0

In many cases, these numbers will change if you are awarded a major scholarship.  For example, students who earn a CGS-M, CGS-D or OGS are typically assigned fewer TA hours. Please ask the Grad Admin for details if this applies to you.

At the beginning of each Fall term you will receive a statement from SGS by email letting you know exactly how much money you can expect to receive in every term.

Your stipend and tuition scholarship are paid as a lump sum, one third of the total at the beginning of each term (usually the first Friday).  If you have received any scholarships (from the department or from other sources), you will also receive these as a lump sum at the beginning of the term.

Your TA wages are paid by bi-weekly pay cheque in each term you are TAing.  Note that most students TA only two terms out of three.  Unlike stipends, bursaries, and scholarships, TA wages are considered taxable income.  Tax and union dues will be deducted from each pay cheque.

Your supervisor may choose to pay you as an RA (research assistant) in lieu of a TA assignment.  In that case, you’d get the same amount of money as if you were a TA (and your wages would be taxed in the same way), but you would not have any TA work.  Paying a student as an RA is the individual decision of each supervisor and not guaranteed.

Your funding is meant to cover your tuition, supplementary fees and the cost of living.  Tuition and supplementary fee amounts are set by McMaster and can be found on the Graduate Fees website

Note that international MSc students pay higher tuition fees than domestic students and receive a tuition scholarship to help offset the cost.  International PhD students pay the same tuition fees as their domestic counterparts.

If you are a PhD student and you go overtime (term 13 and beyond) you will only be charged 50% tuition.

If you take a leave of absence, you do not owe any tuition to the university but you are still required to pay supplementary fees.

In short, yes.  SGS regulations allow you to work, on average, 20 hours per week or a total of 1005 hours per year.  For more details please refer to sections 2.5.3 and 2.5.4 of the Graduate Calendar

Your funding is set up by term.  This means that if you leave part way through a term (for example, you defend your dissertation or you decide to go on a leave of absence), there will be financial repercussions that you should be aware of.

Tuition McMaster pro-rates tuition on a strict monthly basis.  If you are registered for even one day of a month, you will pay tuition for the whole month.  This is important to keep in mind when uploading your final, post-defence approved thesis to MacSphere (McMaster’s online thesis repository), which is what “stops the clock” on your tuition.  For example, if you upload before midnight on September 30, you will only pay tuition for September.  If you upload at 12:01am on October 1, you will pay tuition for September AND October.  Supplementary fees are not refundable.   Any tuition refunds owed to you will appear on your student account.  Once they appear, you can request that these be returned to you by e-transfer by sending an email to the Refunds Office.
TA/RA Assignment If you leave a TA assignment part way through the term, you will only be paid for the number of hours you have worked.  This may mean that you will receive additional wages after you leave or that you will owe some money back to the university depending on how many hours of work you have done so far.  If you defend your dissertation part way through the term, it’s assumed that you will continue your TA assignment until the end of the term (completing all 130 hours) unless you’ve made special arrangements. RA assignments are treated exactly the same way as TA assignments by HR.
Scholarships In general, scholarships (whether they come from the department or from other sources) are pro-rated on a monthly basis.  If you finish your degree in October, you will be asked to pay back the November and December portions of your scholarship (which you received as a lump sum payment at the beginning of the term).  If you know you will finish part way through a term, make sure you set aside the money you will owe back to the university.
Research Stipend Any money that comes from your supervisor is disbursed to you at their discretion.  If you finish part way through the term, your supervisor will be asked whether they want you to pay any of this money back on a pro-rated basis (you’ll receive an email letting you know).  If you anticipate that you’ll be finishing your degree part way through a term, it’s recommended that you have a conversation with your supervisor about how much of your research stipend they’d like you to pay back.