Part 4: This post will detail what the Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship is, who is eligible, the evaluation criteria, and how to put together a successful 2-page proposal (also referred to as the Program of Study) -- You may wish to skip this post if it doesn't apply to you!
The Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canadian Graduate Scholarship Master's Scholarship (that's a mouthful) funding opportunity offers one-time, non-renewable, 12-month awards, valued at $17,500 (this funding is tax-free).
If you win the SSHRC your university may automatically award you an internal scholarship. I was surprised to find out I'd get an additional $5000 at the beginning of my study and $6000 or $5500 upon completion of the scholarship.
To qualify for this funding, you must:
a) be a citizen or permanent resident of Canada
b) be applying for support to pursue your first graduate degree
c) have achieved a first-class average, as determined by your university (personal note: don't let this deter you from applying since the grades are only relative to the applicants at any given year.)
d) not have already received an award for master's-level study from SSHRC, NSERC or CIHR
Academic Excellence: weighting 60%
Research Potential: weighting 30%
Communication Skills: weighting 10%
You may find a more detailed description of the evaluation process at this source.
If you accept this award there are restrictions on the amount of hours you can work in the year you hold this scholarship. This makes sense since your new job is STUDENT. You are essentially getting paid to go to school.
HOW to apply (the process)
There are 2 ways you can apply for this scholarship: through the university or independently. If you are already currently enrolled in a university (even if you haven't taken classes) you MUST apply through your university.
The application package consists of 2 parts: first, you have to complete an on-line form. This online form is a little difficult to navigate so don't leave it to the last minute (like me!). Second, you have to submit a paper copy of the application that you filled out online. Included in this paper copy is 2 reference letters (signed and sealed) and your program of study. Your department head will also have to write a letter.
Once you've completed the application the university will evaluate applications. The applicants will be separated into 3 piles: A-list applicants (which are recommended for awards); B-list applicants (which are not recommended); and a list of alternative applicants. (note: the reason there is an alternative pile is b/c once your application is forwarded to Ottawa the panel there may not agree with the university's selection. Or sometimes someone will be offered the scholarship and have to turn it down due to not being able to follow the scholarship guidelines upon acceptance of this award)
Each university across Canada is allotted a certain number of applications they may forward to enter the National competition in Ottawa. Your university will know this number.
Before you start, familiarize yourself with this application process here!
HOW to write a successful 2 page Program of Study
1. Attend the SSHRC information session at your university
2. Watch these videos on youtube: Video 1, Video 2, Video 3 (I stumbled across these videos AFTER I submitted my application. They are really helpful.)
3. Follow the instructions for the Program of Study (including margin and font size -- applications have been thrown out if they guidelines are not adhered to)
4. In your program of study you need to convince the judges that you are the BEST person to be doing this research. Some good advice that I got was: WHY ME, WHY NOW, WHY THIS? In other words, why should I be chosen, why is this research important now and why is the proposed research important (what contribution will it make?). Keep this in mind when you're writing your program of study.
5. Talk with other SSHRC recipients to get their story. They will have a lot of suggestions. You can ask a lot of questions. Your university will have a record of previous SSHRC winners. Don't be shy to approach them (I wasn't!)
6. Make your language accessible to EVERYONE. It should be academic but not specialized (so only people in your field of study will understand).
7. After you write your first draft, edit it. Then, edit it again, and again, and again. THEN you can show it to others. Send a copy to your friends, family, co-workers, supervisor, writing center. Ask these people to be honest and give you constructive feedback. (personal note: don't let other people decide what should go in your 2-page program of study. This is your work, not theirs, so even though they offer suggestions it's up to you to decide if you want to take their advice. In my case, the advice from one professor to another was at times contradictory).
8. Make sure your references follow APA style to a T. If you are not sure ask someone in your department to double check it.
9. DON'T GIVE UP! You will receive feedback that may send you back to the drawing board. Any good researcher will take this into consideration and make the appropriate changes. This is a long personal process (it was for me anyways -- I'm kind of terrified to write my thesis).
10. If you've read this far congrats. If you are working on your Program of Study and want to ask me a specific question please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It will arrive in my junk mail and since I don't check it I just ask that you send me a heads up by commenting on this post. If you have any questions, no matter how small, I'd be happy to lend a hand.