Guaranteed Minimum Stipend for Doctoral Students
Policy and Operating Procedures
FINAL - Board of Graduate Studies March 15, 2005
In Fall 2004, the University of Guelph introduced a guaranteed minimum stipend for
doctoral students. This document describes the policy and operating procedures
governing the administration of the guaranteed minimum stipend.
Effective for Fall 2004 admissions, every new domestic or international doctoral student
must be offered a minimum of $17,500 per year (including benefits), for a minimum of
three years. This amount may come from GRAs, GTAs, GSAs, internal scholarships,
external scholarships (e.g., SSRHC, NSERC, CIHR, OGS, OGS-ST) or other similar
sources. OSAP support must not form part of the guaranteed stipend. Students may
continue to receive the guaranteed stipend for the period of the guarantee, provided that
they maintain satisfactory progress, as defined by their academic unit.
This policy does not apply to in-course doctoral students
, nor to master’s students,
although the University strongly encourages the establishment of guaranteed stipend
levels for all graduate programs.
Operating Procedures
1. Annual Planning for Graduate Enrolment
OCGS requires that graduate programs conduct regular planning for graduate
enrolments and report past and projected enrolments on a seven year cycle. In the
context of the minimum stipend policy, it will likely be necessary for programs to
estimate in advance of admission each year’s proposed graduate intake and associated
expenditures, so that any funding shortfalls can be identified before offers of admission
are made. Ideally, this planning should occur late in the fall semester, with a report to
the College dean at the beginning of each winter semester. The report should include
each program’s proposed enrolment/expenditure plans, the expected recruitment pool,
and the academic criteria used in admissions decisions. Normally this planning would
be coordinated by the Department Chair or (in the case of interdisciplinary programs)
the Program Director.
2. Funding of Program Growth
If a program wishes to increase the number of its graduate students, and requires
additional funding to achieve that growth, the Department Chair or Program Director
should make that case in the annual enrolment planning submission to the College
All but a handful of in-course doctoral students are currently funded at or above $17,500. The deans and Provost will address the needs of the
most seriously under-funded in-program students on a case-by-base basis, in consultation with departmental chairs and graduate coordinators. It
may however require several years to bring all in-program students up to the target minimum stipend level, especially in programs where there
are many under-funded or unfunded doctoral students.
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Dean. The Dean, in consultation with the Dean of Graduate Studies and the Provost,
will determine whether or not to support proposed growth with additional funding.
3. The Need for Consistent Funding Practice within a
Although individual programs may vary in their approach to funding doctoral students,
for instance in the particular mix of GTA vs. GRA funding, it is desirable for all students
within a given program to be funded in a comparable manner. Programs may therefore
wish to develop guidelines for doctoral funding, to avoid confusion among faculty and
students. Typical issues on which programs should provide clear guidance include:
Standard funding duration and amount if the program has a policy to fund
students for a longer time or at a higher rate than the minimum guarantee
Whether the winners of major external awards (e.g., SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR,
OGS, OGS-ST, etc.) must be “topped up” above the award level, and if so to
what amount
Any funding guarantee at the master’s or diploma level
4. Admission of Doctoral Students Without Funding
In rare cases, a program may wish to admit a student who does not require funding, for
instance because of employer sponsorship. In such cases, the program should
complete the attached waiver request, explaining the reasons for the recommendation
and attaching any available documentation of the student’s circumstances. The request
must be signed by the applicant, the department chair, and the college dean, and must
accompany any recommendation for admission.
5. Funding Offer is Binding
The funding offer that accompanies an offer of admission constitutes a binding contract
between the University and the student. If funds from a particular source are promised
in the funding offer, they may not later be revoked if the student is successful in winning
a major external award. For example, if a student is promised “One University Graduate
Scholarship ($2000), two GTAs (approx. $9,000), and a GRA sufficient to bring the total
to $17,500 per year”, that student is entitled to all of that amount, each year, regardless
of whether s/he is successful in winning a major external award. In other words, if a
source of funding has been promised explicitly in the funding offer, the program may not
retract it, even though the student has external funding greater than the minimum
stipend. If the departmental or program policy is to cap all doctoral student funding at
$17,500, then the funding offer should say that explicitly, indicating that students who
hold major external
Generally speaking, the University encourages programs to reward the winners of major external awards with funding that is higher than the
minimum guarantee; however this is not always feasible for a given program or discipline. In any case, it is important for faculty and students to
have clear guidance as to what minimum level of funding a particular type of award recipient should receive, based on the type of award and any
selection criteria established by the department or program. Such funding decisions should be consistent across a department or program, and
should not be left solely to the discretion of the student’s advisor.
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awards will not be guaranteed a GTA, a GRA, or an internal scholarship. All eligible
students are of course free to apply for GTA and GSA positions and may hold them if
they have the requisite seniority and expertise.
6. Funding Must be Increased to Reflect Any Change in TA
If the value of a teaching assistantship increases during the period of a student’s
funding guarantee, the total value of the funding offer must be increased to reflect the
change in TA rate. Letter of Understanding #5 of the current Collective Agreement
between the University and CUPE 3913 Unit #1 (dated March 5, 2003) states that:
Further to the Collective Agreement between the Canadian Union of Public Employees 3913 Unit
#1 and the University of Guelph, it is agreed that should there be a negotiated increase in the full
term graduate teaching assistantship wage rate and should an employee be receiving a student
stipend (i.e., the financial package arranged for the student), that any negotiated increase in the
GTA rate will result in an equal amount increase in the student stipend. However, the University
and the Union agree that the Union does not have any jurisdiction over the determination of a
student stipend.
7. Funding Guarantee Applies to Students Transferring to
Doctoral Programs from Master’s Programs
Students who transfer from master’s to doctoral programs are considered “new” doctoral
students, and must therefore be guaranteed the minimum stipend as outlined in the foregoing
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Applicant's Surname Applicant's Given Name
Student Number
Request to Waive Guaranteed Minimum Stipend
The above-named doctoral program has requested that the guaranteed minimum stipend of $17,500 be waived for the
above-named applicant. The reasons for this request are as follows (please attach documentation as appropriate):
I understand that by agreeing to this w
aiver that I waive all rights to future financial support from the University of
Guelph for the duration of my doctoral program
Student Signature
_________________________________________ __________________
Department Chair or Program Dire
_________________________________________ __________________
Approved: College Dean
Received for AVP Graduate Studies ________________________ Date:______________
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