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Funding Opportunities: Tri-Council Funding

What is Tri-Council Funding?

Tri-council logos - CIHR / IRSC, NSERC / CRSNG, SSHRC / CRSH

The Tri-Council refers to the three national funding agencies in Canada: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). These are the funding bodies through which the Government of Canada supports research across various disciplines and various levels of researchers.

This page provides a summary of each funding agency in order to help researchers determine the type of grant that is right for them.

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)

SSHRC Logo - 40 Years

Image from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Website

SSHRC is the research funding agency that is responsible for supporting research projects in the social sciences and humanities fields. SSHRC focuses on funding research that contributes to the understanding and knowledge of individuals, groups, and societies and their interactions with each other.

SSHRC holds four main grant competitions annually that include various funding opportunities that researchers can apply for:

  • Talent Program: supports students and researchers in developing the next generation of researchers in both academia and across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. The program promotes the acquisition of research skills and training of researchers in the social sciences and humanities;
  • Insight Program: supports the building of knowledge and understanding about people, societies, and the world by encouraging research excellence;
  • Connection Program: aims to support knowledge mobilization activities - such as networking, disseminating, exchanging and co-creating research-based knowledge - in research projects; and
  • New Frontiers in Research Fund: NFRF is housed within SSHRC but is administered on behalf of all three research funding agencies to support interdisciplinary research that is divided into three streams:
    • Exploration - provides opportunities for Canadians to strengthen high-risk, high-reward, and interdisciplinary research;
    • Transformation - provides large-scale support to strengthen leadership in interdisciplinary and transformative research;
    • International - enhances opportunities for Canadian researchers to participate in research with international partners.

In 2018, SSHRC released sixteen future challenges to help guide researchers applying to SSHRC grants which can be found here.

For more information regarding eligibility criteria, please visit the SSHRC website.

Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR)

CIHR / IRSC logo

Image from Canadian Institutes of Health Research website

CIHR is the federal research agency that supports all four pillars of health research: biomedical, clinical, health systems services and population health. CIHR's mandate focuses on the creation of new knowledge and its translation into improved health for Canadians through more effective health services and a more effective health care system.

CIHR has four main grant programs that provide funding opportunities for health researchers:

  • Training Award Programs: aims to support students and researchers in all health disciplines including health professionals in order to encourage the continued supply of high-quality research personnel;
  • Project Grant Program: supports researchers at all career levels and seeks to support projects in all areas of health research;
  • Foundation Grant Program: designed to contribute to an established foundation of leaders in health research and provide long-term support for the pursuit of innovative and high-impact research projects; and
  • New Frontiers in Research Fund: NFRF is housed within SSHRC but is administered on behalf of all three research funding agencies to support interdisciplinary research that is divided into three streams:
    • Exploration - provides opportunities for Canadians to strengthen high-risk, high-reward, and interdisciplinary research;
    • Transformation - provides large-scale support to strengthen leadership in interdisciplinary and transformative research;
    • International - enhances opportunities for Canadian researchers to participate in research with international partners.

CIHR posts current funding opportunities to ResearchNet, which can be accessed here.

For more information about the application process, policies and guidelines, please visit the CIHR website.

Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

NSERC / CRSNG Logo

Image from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada website

NSERC is the research funding agency that is responsible for the support of research projects in the fields of science and engineering. Their aim is to:

  • foster a science and engineering culture; 
  • train the next generation; 
  • build a diversified and competitive research base; 
  • strengthen discovery and innovation; and
  • encourage global partnerships.

NSERC supports researchers at various levels of academia as well as individual researchers throughout their careers. More information regarding eligibility, policies, and guidelines can be found here.

NSERC also seeks to foster partnerships between university researchers and private-sector, public-sector, and not-for-profit sector organizations through their Alliance Grants Program. The program seeks to support collaborative research projects to encourage the acceleration of new knowledge for the application of results to create better benefits for Canada.

Looking for NSERC funding opportunities? Visit the NSERC Awards Database!

Additional Resources

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
Michener Institute of Education at UHN, 2018.