The Department of Geography & Planning provides a base funding package to all PhD students for 4 years and all students in a Geography Master’s program for 1 year – students who are eligible to receive this package are in the “funded cohort”. Both domestic and international students are included in the funded cohort. (Professional program students, such as MSc Planning, are not eligible for inclusion in the funded cohort.)
In 2021-22, the annual base financial support package is $18,500 plus tuition and fees (varies depending on program and legal status). This represents the base support provided; students have opportunities to secure funding in addition to the base amount. See the Arts & Science Graduate page for further information.
|Program||Base||Tuition & Fees|
|MA/MSc Domestic||$18,500||$7,980||$26,480||1 year|
|PhD Domestic||$18,500||$7,980||$26,480||Each of 4 years|
|MA/MSc International||$18,500||$28,736||$47,236||1 year|
|PhD International||$18,500||$8,736||$27,236||Each of 4 years|
Tuition & Fees amounts include all incidental fees, and UHIP fees for international students. Students who affiliate with UTM will have any additional campus fees added to the tuition amounts above.
Base Funding Sources
The base funding package typically consists of a combination of external scholarships, teaching assistant positions (at any of our tri-campus locations), a research assistant position with the student’s supervisor, and University of Toronto Fellowships (UTF) or other internal awards. Students in the funded cohort will receive a funding letter at the start of the academic year which outlines the specific components of their funding package as well as payment details.
Students are expected to pursue their degree program as their full-time occupation (limit of employment to 10 hrs/week on average, including RA and TA) and must maintain good academic standing and make satisfactory progress toward completion of degree requirements to remain eligible for funding.
External scholarships (such as SSHRC, NSERC, OGS, etc.) are an important source of financial support for graduate students. Our students have been highly successful in obtaining these competitive and prestigious awards.
External scholarships are counted towards the base funding amount. If the scholarship is less than the base funding amount, the department will provide funds to bring total funding up to the base amount. For example, for a domestic student receiving an OGS award receives $15,000 from the scholarship, the department provides $11,480 to bring the package to the total base amount of $26,480.
Students with an external scholarship are not expected to hold teaching assistant or research assistant positions as part of their funding package. However, such students can apply for TA positions as a source of extra income.
Most students who hold an external scholarship will receive a ‘top-up’ in addition to the base package. This top-up amount varies from year to year depending on available funds.
Teaching Assistant Positions
Students holding teaching assistant (TA) positions provide a variety of services to undergraduate courses including marking assignments and running tutorials and laboratory sessions. These positions are considered both a source of funding and a form of professional training. Students may be expected to TA at any of our three campus locations (St. George/downtown, UTM/Mississauga and UTSC/Scarborough).
The department may include up to $8,043 of TA work (up to 166 hours, paid at $48.57, including vacation pay) over the fall and/or winter sessions towards the base funding package.
PhD students are guaranteed five subsequent appointments, one each year for the same number of hours as their first or second appointment (whichever is greater). The department assigns students to their subsequent appointments in May/June for the following academic year.
Once subsequent appointments are assigned, the department will circulate remaining available TA positions and application instructions to incoming and current students in July. Students who do not apply for TA positions, or who decline positions they are offered, are considered to have forfeited this funding and will have their total funding reduced accordingly. Students may apply for TA positions in addition to the hours assigned for their base package, however additional appointments are not guaranteed. Positions may be posted throughout the year and are circulated to students as they become available.
Research Assistant Positions
Research assistant (RA) positions allow students to work on an externally funded research project. This provides an important opportunity for students to acquire first-hand experience that will be helpful in their academic careers. These positions make a positive contribution to graduate education and the graduate student experience. Sometimes the subject of their own research may differ from that of the project they are working on as an RA, but students will nevertheless benefit by having the opportunity to learn about new methods and literatures in geography.
The department typically includes a maximum of $1,500 in RA work toward the base funding package. These positions are funded through a supervisor’s research grants and the specific tasks and terms/conditions (including hourly rate of pay, if applicable) for the position will be determined by the supervisor in September.
Different components of the funding package are paid via different methods according to varying schedules. Payment details are outlined in the annual funding letter to students.
Students must be registered and maintain a current mailing address in the ACORN for award payments to be issued. Students are encouraged to also record their banking information in ACORN – otherwise cheques will be issued by mail or for pick-up.
Students must also provide their hiring unit with signed contracts/payroll forms/banking information for TA and RA for payroll to be set up.
Most external scholarships are paid through ACORN by the School of Graduate Studies (SGS), in equal instalments at the start of each session. E.g. a $15,000 OGS award is paid in $5,000 instalments at the start of September, January and May. September payments are issued directly to the student; January and May instalments are usually directed toward outstanding tuition and fees. See the SGS Managing Your Award page for further details.
U of T Fellowship
Students without major scholarships normally receive U of T Fellowship (UTF) Tuition Awards which are paid directly to their fees in two equal instalments at the start of the fall (September) and winter (January) sessions.
Students without major scholarship (and some with major scholarships that do not cover the full base package) receive UTF Stipend Awards which are paid through Acorn in equal instalments at the start of each session. E.g. a $6,000 UTF Stipend award is paid in $2,000 instalments at the start of the fall (September), winter (January) and summer (May) sessions.
Teaching Assistant Positions
Teaching assistant salary is paid in equal instalments monthly for the duration of the position through the HRIS/payroll system on the 28th of the month (or the preceding Friday if the 28th falls on a weekend). E.g. a student who has a 100 hour TA position ($4,857) from September – December will be paid for 25 hours ($1,214.25) at the end of September, October, November, and December. Students will receive a contract for each position they are assigned and can access payroll statements using the Employee Self-Service (ESS).
Students may be assigned to TA in the fall or winter session only, or over both sessions.
Research Assistant Positions
Research assistant positions can be paid as lump sum, monthly in equal instalments, or monthly based on the hours worked during each pay period. Payments are paid through the HRIS/payroll system on the 28th of the month. The student should request a contract from their supervisor in September specifying the work required and payment details.
Some students are successful in securing additional TA work, Course Instructor positions (usually after achieving PhD candidacy), and extra RA work to supplement their income, though additional funding is not guaranteed. Students can also apply for internal awards and scholarships through the department, Arts & Science and SGS (information on such opportunities will forwarded to students as they are announced throughout the year).
Funding for travel and conference attendance and some research expenses is also available through the department and from SGS (information and application instructions are forwarded to students in the fall or spring of each year). This funding varies depending on the number of applications and the pool of funds available each year. In some cases, a supervisor may also be able to provide funding for such expenses.
Program Level Fellowships
The Faculty of Arts & Science provides graduate units with a pool of funds, known as Program Level Fellowships (PLF) to address funding priorities identified in consultation with their graduate students. Each unit’s allocation is equivalent to $1,000 per student in the funded cohort.
The department consults annually with GGAPSS on the priorities and formula for disbursing funds. GGAPSS has recommended the following priorities for disbursement of these funds:
The Program-level fellowship pool for Geography and Planning shall be granted as lump-sum payments in the spring to first-year Geography MA or MSc students and fourth-year Geography or Planning PhD students who have not secured major awards /scholarships. Using historical data on tuition fees and access to fee reduction supports, average time to completion, and living costs over said time to completion as guides, the value of these PLFs shall be scaled between program streams (Masters versus PhD) and enrollment statuses (domestic versus international students) to reflect and alleviate real differences in expenses incurred when students leave the funding package. If a student’s award for the unfunded portion of their degree is equivalent to or below the amount of the minimum funding package for that academic year, such students would qualify for PLF.
In short, in order to be eligible for a payment, a student must be:
- A current year 1 MA/MSc Geography or year 4 PhD student (about to leave the funded cohort)
- Not receiving a major scholarship valued at over $18,500 for the following academic year
Funding Beyond the Funded Cohort
Students who are beyond the funded cohort (Masters students year 2+ and PhD students years 5+) are expected to pay full tuition fees.
Master’s students who are expecting to register beyond 1 year are strongly encouraged to apply for external scholarships such as CGS-Masters and OGS scholarships to fund their second year in the program.
PhD students who do not hold major scholarships are eligible to receive the Doctoral Completion Award (DCA) in years 5 and 6. The value of the DCA varies each year.
PhD students are also guaranteed TA positions in years 5 and 6 at the same number of hours as their 1st or 2nd appointment (subsequent appointments).
All students beyond the funded cohort are encouraged to apply for and accept TA positions in geography (at all three campuses) and in cognate units (School for the Environment, City Studies, etc.). In some cases, RA positions may also be available either with their supervisor or with other faculty members. RA positions are not normally posted; students are generally able to find such positions through word-of-mouth from their supervisor, committee members or course instructors.
Average Income and Time to Completion
SGS publishes information on the average income for PhD students.
As of 2020, the average time to completion for each program was as follows:
PhD programs = 6.2 years
Master’s programs = 1.9 years
Please contact the Graduate Advisor for further information or specific questions about the information on this page.