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Academic Excellence Fund

Academic Excellence Fund 

Launched in the fall of 2021, the Academic Excellence Fund (AEF) program supports graduate students in advancing their research and scholarly objectives through simple and timely access to funds. Activities that are supported by AEF include research, dissemination of scholarly or creative work as well as well as student-led initiatives, activities or events that advance graduate research and professional development. Students are able to apply for and access AEF funds before the expenses are incurred.


Eligible students may request up to $2000  for expenses directly related to their own research and scholarship activities, as well as $300 for collective initiatives per academic year.


All actively registered part-time and full-time Masters and doctoral students are eligible, except for Schulich Masters and Osgoode Professional Development students. Students must be actively registered at the time the expenses are incurred as well as when they apply for AEF.

Supported Activities and Eligible Expenses

There are four types of activities subsidized by AEF described below as well as eligible expenses.

Formerly Graduate Development Fund

  • Transportation costs necessary to present scholarly or creative work at recognized events, e.g., conferences, colloquia, poster presentations and exhibitions
  • Conference registration fees
  • Accomodation

Maximum of $1000 per academic year in this category

  • Expenses related to activities to disseminate scholarly or creative work to academic and non-academic audiences, including
    • Materials related to dissemination activities
    • Submissions fees to disseminate in academic (i.e. publications) and creative venues
    • Editing services for publications

Formerly Fieldwork Cost Fund

Graduate students undertaking research for graduate courses, major research papers, theses, or dissertations involving human participants are required to follow the appropriate procedures and obtain ethics approval before conducting research activities. Students also must maintain active registration status while conducting the approved research. Applicants are required to have ethics approval before incurring fieldwork expense and/or embarking on fieldwork.

  • Expenses for fieldwork including travel, accommodation
  • Equipment, materials, supplies, and other services that are essential and that are exclusively used for the proposed research
  • Honorarium for participant incentive

Up to $300 in this category

  • Workshops and other initiatives that are organised by graduate students and enhance graduate research.

Up to an additional $1000

AEF supports students who have incurred or will incur additional expenses for accessibility accommodations while participating in eligible activities subsidized under Categories A-D. Examples of eligible expenses include assistive devices, software, or guides.

Please note that expenses typically covered by medical insurance such as hearing aids, medications, appointments, etc. are not eligible for subsidy under AEF.

*Applications for category E will be assessed on an exception basis, subject to fund availability and may not be available for renewal.

  • Expenses that are not directly related to activities supported by AEF. For travel expenses, the main purpose must be research or a conference presentation. Vacation packages are not eligible under AEF.
  • Academic association membership fees
  • Tuition and Training fees (i.e. courses and workshops)
  • Expenses that have or will be reimbursed by another source of funds, or those that were previously supported by AEF or related prior funding such as Fieldwork Cost Fund and Graduate Development Fund.
  • Expenses for regular activities that are expected of a graduate student, including computers, books, internet service, phone and data usage as well as local transportation (within the GTA).
  • Wages, Research Assistantship and any other expense related to employment.

Application Process


The applicant completes the AEF application portal. They are asked to provide their supervisor information as well as details of their proposed activities.


After the student submits an application, their supervisor will be notified and asked to complete the supervisor form, within 10 days of the student deadline.


Retain required documentation for one year in case of audit as described below:

  • Proof of payment for all expenses; and,
  • For conference presentation, confirmation of acceptance to present;
  • For travel, confirmation of travel including boarding passes, train tickets, gas receipts;
  • For other activities, confirmation that the proposed activity was carried out, including event information, research dissemination materials, and publications.
  • All expenses must be incurred within 4 months of the Academic Excellence Fund deadline.
Deadlines: October 30, February 28, and June 30

There are three student deadlines per year, once in each term: October 30, February 28, and June 30

Applications are reviewed once a term and students are notified approximately one month after the deadline.

Students may apply before the expenses are incurred; however, they must describe the expense amount accurately in the application and must be in a position to incur expenses within four months of the deadline. For conference support, they must have been accepted to present at the time of application.  

Students may also apply after incurring expenses. They must submit an application for the next available application cycle.  

Results: 4 - 6 weeks after the deadline.

Approved AEF funds will be posted to students account, 4 - 6 weeks after the deadline. Students are not required to submit a claim for reimbursement; however, proof of payment and supporting documentation must be retained for one year and must be presented when audited. Failure to provide proof of payment/receipts may result in the reversal of the award.


If you require further assistance, please contact our Associate Director, Research, Scholarships & Awards by visiting our FGS Staff Directory.