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Connected Minds Master's Scholarships


New technologies are revolutionizing society, creating a 'techno-social collective' where humans and intelligent technologies are deeply interconnected. While such advances present exciting opportunities, they also present significant risks, especially for vulnerable and/or marginalized populations. The Connected Minds Program –supported by the Canada Research Excellence Fund, York and Queens’ Universities, and our many partners from multiple sectors—envisions a world where breakthroughs in technology promote social health and justice for all, with special focus on Indigenous Peoples in Canada. For further details, see:

Connected Minds Long-Term Goals:

  1. To understand how the interplay of humans and intelligent technologies produces unexpected, emergent properties at the community/whole society levels
  2. To predict how new technologies will disrupt the techno-social collective
  3. To use these predictions to drive new research and technology development

As such, we expect all funded initiatives and awards to contribute towards the long-term goals of our program.


Research Themes: Connected Minds research aligns with three core themes: Theme I (Co- creating Research for Societal Needs and Predicted Impact) projects will mobilize transdisciplinary academics expertise and non-academic partnerships (including Indigenous Communities) to co- create research topics, priorities, and approaches. Theme II (Fundamentals of Social Interaction: Neural, Algorithmic, and Social Networks) projects will study different levels and scales, from the local (e.g., cortical microcircuits, network modules, system components) to global (e.g., whole- brain functional connectivity, control systems), to the social networks composed of both humans and machines. Theme III (Designing and Developing Socially Responsible Technologies) projects will engage current and new partners in industry, healthcare, government, and not-for-profit sectors to develop these intelligent technologies, and promulgate policies that promote a healthy, just society, and bench to world validation.


The Connected Minds Master's Scholarship will provide financial support to high-calibre trainees doing scholarly work that is aligned with the Connected Minds program.

Connected Minds will support interdisciplinary training programs across its three pillars and will support training opportunities with partners in industry, government and non-profit sectors that will enhance the trainee's graduate experience. Scholarships will be awarded competitively based on the strength of the candidate, the strength of the research proposal, and fit with the goals of the Connected Minds program in addition to the Affirmative Action policies noted below.

Specifically, successful Applicants are expected to make meaningful contributions towards fulfilling a subset of Connected Minds' strategic objectives and pivotal performance benchmarks, encompassing:

  • Collaborations with industry, academic, government, & community partners (including Indigenous Peoples & Communities)
  • Increased interdisciplinary scholarship, research, & art creation
  • Increased international recognition, collaboration, & leadership
  • Contributions to one or more of the following three National Science and Innovation Priority Areas (NSIPA): 1) Healthy Canadians, 2) Innovative Resilient Communities 3) Technologically Advanced Canada

In recognition of the underrepresentation of Black and Indigenous Peoples within these fields, at least 10% of available scholarships will be designated for qualified applicants identifying as African, Caribbean, and Black, and at least 10% for Indigenous Peoples (First Nations, Metis, and Inuit), totaling at least 20% of scholarships. To qualify for these designated awards, applicants must complete the voluntary self-identification form and meet the minimum requirements set for the award.

Additionally, if you belong to one of the other underrepresented groups (racialized individuals; persons with disabilities; women and 2SLGBTQIA+), self identification will be used as a tiebreaker for candidates who are deemed equal. The tie breaker situation is directly linked to thresholds the Connected Minds program seeks to achieve based on our Affirmative Action targets.

Award Details:

*Up to $10K/yr up to 2 years

As per CFREF rules, these funds cannot be used to replace any existing university funding mechanism, they must be used as top-up.

* $3,333.33/term (FA/WI/SR) that the student is actively registered in.

Application Deadline:

March 22, 2024

To be eligible to apply:

  • We are only accepting applicants who plan to start their program within 12 months of the deadline or who have started their Master's program at either York or Queen's no earlier than September 1, 2023.
  • All applications must include a letter of support:
    • If the relevant graduate program requires you to identify a supervisor prior to applying, the letter of support must come from your identified supervisor who must also be a Connected Minds member.
    • If the relevant graduate program **does not require you to identify a supervisor prior to applying, the letter of support may come from the Graduate Program Director, or any Connected Minds member from the associated graduate program.
  • The proposed project must be aligned with the Connected Minds mandate (see intro).
  • Total funding cannot exceed 2-years and is only available to students registered full-time in an academic Master's program.
  • Students cannot hold multiple CFREF funded graduate scholarships at the same time.

*Not including career interruptions. An opportunity to describe any career interruptions will be provided in the application portal.

**If the graduate program requires you to arrange a supervisor after admission, then the supervisor must be a Connected Minds member in order to continue holding the award.

**If the student is unable to find a Connected Minds member as a supervisor, then the Training Committee will ensure that the student has adequate Connected Minds mentorship.

All Connected Minds funded Master's scholars are:

  • Required to complete the program’s on-line progress report at the end of each fiscal year (starting with the fiscal year that funding was received).
  • Expected to present their progress/results at Connected Minds annual retreats.
  • Expected to participate in Connected Minds biennial academic conferences, alternating with our Technology and Innovation Symposia, as well as Connected Minds hosted workshops on technical, academic, and applied themes.
  • Encouraged to work with Innovation York or Queen's Office of Partnership and Innovation to consider any commercialization or entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Strongly encouraged to apply for external scholarships.
  • Required to submit yearly progress reports.
  • Required to acknowledge Connected Minds/CFREF funding in publications, presentations, conference materials, and professional communications as follows: “this work was undertaken thanks in part to funding from the Connected Minds program, supported by Canada First Research Excellence Fund, grant #CFREF-2022-00010.”
  • Encouraged to join the Connected Minds alumni group upon departure from the program, and keep connected to the program for career development, networking opportunities, knowledge mobilization, and community engagement.

Accountability of Supervisory Team (if applicable):

  • All Connected Minds members involved in the supervisory team for funded trainees are required complete the program’s on-line progress report at the end of each fiscal year (starting with the fiscal year that funding was received) as well as provide baseline data for the 5 years leading up to joining Connected Minds.
  • The supervisory team must provide the resources and support required to enable their trainee to complete the proposed project successfully.
  • The primary supervisor must ensure that their trainee meets all requirements for holding a Connected Minds scholarship and remains accountable during the tenure of their award.

  1. The application deadline posted on the Connected Minds website will be strictly enforced.
  2. The full application must be submitted through the MachForm link posted on the Connected Minds website.
  3. Provide a summary of the proposed project (objectives, approach, relationship to the goals of Connected Minds, community engagement, and expected outcomes/impact). (1,000 words max)
  4. Statement on how EDI principles and best practices will be applied in the development of the proposal’s design, implementation, and impact (see EDI considerations below).
  5. Provide one letter of recommendation using the form provided on the Connected Minds website. Note that the letter of recommendation should come from a referee that is NOT the Connected Minds member who is providing the letter of support and should be emailed directly from the referee to
  6. Upload a letter of support from your supervisor, Graduate Program Director, or a Connected Minds member from your associated graduate program. The letter should detail:
    1. the appropriateness of the proposed project to the Connected Minds mandate;
    2. a description of the trainee's skills and abilities to successfully execute the project;
    3. a description of the resources provided by the supervisor and/or program to support the project.
  7. Upload a copy of transcript(s) and most recent CV.
  8. Complete the voluntary self-identification survey.

Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Considerations:

EDI are embedded as foundational principles in the CFREF objectives, expected outcomes, and reporting requirements. The Tri-Agency Institutional Program Secretariat expects that CFREF-funded initiatives will demonstrate exceptional leadership in contributing to transforming their research disciplines and Canada’s research ecosystem to help it become equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

Explain how EDI principles and best practices were applied in the development of the proposal’s project design, implementation, and impact by answering the following:

  1. Are sex (biological) considerations taken into account in this study proposal? Please explain how or why not. (150 words max)
  2. Are gender (socio-cultural) considerations taken into account in this study proposal? Please explain how or why not. (150 words max)
  3. Are diversity considerations (e.g., Racialization, Indigeneity, 2SLGBTQIA+, Poverty, Disabilities) taken into account in this study proposal? Please explain how or why not. (150 words max)
  4. Please explain how this research impacts underrepresented (Indigenous Peoples; African, Caribbean and Black individuals; racialized individuals; persons with disabilities; women and 2SLGBTQIA+) groups. (150 words max)

Appendices (any uploaded form should have a font of Arial 11, or equivalent):

  1. Tables, Figures, Project Timeline, References (optional, 3 pages max) – Please note that any additional pages beyond three may be deleted prior to review.

Click here to apply

Click here to complete the Self-Identification survey

Letter of Recommendation form

  • Any project addressing Indigeneity will be reviewed further by the Indigenous Advisory Circle. In keeping with principles of self-determination, the Circle has the right to veto projects related to Indigenous research.
  • Conflicts of interests (COIs) will be declared at the beginning of any evaluation meeting. Committee members will not evaluate or discuss applications in which they appear as a supervisor, or is the Connected Minds member who provided the letter of support. If necessary, guest evaluators will be recruited to replace their expertise.
  • The Connected Minds Training Committee will evaluate each application and provide a score out of 100. Scores will be weighted based on the criteria below.
  • Once all applications are scored, the average for each application will be calculated and assigned an initial rank by the Connected Minds admin team.
  • The Training Committee will meet to discuss the scores and associated rankings (including incorporating the comments of the Indigenous Advisory Circle) and decide on the final ranking of the applications.
  • A brief summary of the discussion of each application will be recorded and used for feedback when communicating the result to the applicant.
  • The Training Committee will provide recommendations on which applications to fund to the Connected Minds Leadership Committee for review and final approval (see below for details).
  • Results will be communicated approximately 8-weeks after the submission deadline.

Triage Stage:

The following will be discussed for each application at the evaluation meeting:

  • Basic Requirements: The application must meet the basic requirements described above.
  • Scholarly Focus: Does the proposal fall within the Connected Minds themes and mandate?
  • Supporting Letter: This must clearly outline that necessary commitments, expertise, and resources have been allocated to support the project (taking the nature of the graduate program into account).
  • EDI Statement: Have the principles of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion described above been satisfied in the EDI section?

If these criteria are not met, the proposal will be rejected outright. If they are met, the following criteria will be judged:

Weighted Criteria for Full Evaluation:

  1. Scholarly Ability or Potential of the Candidate (50%)
    • Quality of any contributions to scholarly activity.
    • Relevance of academic training and/or work/lived experience to the program and project.
    • Scholarships and awards held.
    • Ability to think critically.
    • Ability to apply skills and knowledge.
    • Initiative and autonomy.
    • Determination and ability to complete projects within an appropriate period of time.
  1. Excellence of Proposal (30%)
    • Is sufficient background provided to understand the project?
    • Is the idea and/or approach novel and innovative?
    • Is the general methodological approach appropriate?
    • Are the expected outcomes clearly defined and realistic?
  1. Overall Program Evaluation (20%)
    1. Interdisciplinarity: The degree to which the proposed project incorporates methods and/or outputs across the three CM expertise pillars (neuroscience, AI/technology, society).
    2. Co-creation focus: In the case of community-based or applied projects, were end-users/communities consulted (or a plan for how such engagement and consultation will take place)?
    3. Potential impact on knowledge mobilization and translation; for new research approaches, technologies, health, policy or commercial application.
    4. Overall contribution to the Connected Minds mandate and training goals.

Reporting And Leadership Approval:

The Training Committee will submit 2 ranked lists, for York and Queen’s separately, of suggested cut-off of the candidates who were evaluated fully, followed by a list of candidates who were triaged. This list will identify the names of candidates, their programs, supervisory team, and their Faculties/departments. The Chair of the committee will present this at the next Leadership Committee meeting for discussion. The Leadership Committee will consider the distribution of recommended candidates across institutions, Faculties, programs, and individuals before making their final approval of the recommendations.

Last updated: 03/06/2024