Awards and Funding

You might associate being a leader with having a big budget and endless resources. We know that’s not always the case. We can connect you with awards, funding and valuable leadership development programming to help you connect the dots between your skills, goals and hopes for the world around you.

A new leadership college is coming to Mac

McMaster is launching Canada’s most comprehensive leadership college thanks to a $50M gift Chancellor Emeritus Lynton “Red” Wilson and the Wilson Foundation.

Read the Daily News Article

Wilson Leadership Scholar Award (WLSA)

Application deadline: January 30, 2023, 11:59 p.m. ET

This award’s not about already seeing yourself as a leader. It’s about becoming the leader you’d like to be through mentorship, interdisciplinary learning about national issues and the chance to develop and lead a community project. This is not an academic award, and it’s not limited to any one leadership style. If you demonstrate honesty and integrity, passion and compassion, courage and vision, a commitment to others and a love for learning, apply.

In the McMaster Daily News: Wilson Leadership Scholar Award recipients reflect on program’s lasting impact

Wilson Leaders make an impact during the eight-month program. They leave it with a better understanding of current issues outside their discipline, more confidence in their skills and more ambitious and varied career goals. The Wilson Leaders also form a tight-knit community, in which they share ideas, suggest new ways of thinking and support one another.

Award details

  • $12,000 in direct funding and up to $2,000 in experiential funding
  • Up to 10 awards available each year
  • Each cohort will include both undergraduate and graduate students

As a group, Wilson Leaders…

  • Lead problem-based learning (PBL) sessions and learn from visiting speakers on national issues related to democracy, the economy, education, healthcare, the impacts of technology and public policy
  • Discuss shared readings
  • Develop group coaching skills through community project sessions
  • Learn from one another’s approaches to problem solving

Individually, Wilson Leaders…

  • Work towards individual development goals
  • Meet with mentors
  • Develop and execute an applied community project that helps address a significant issue in Canada, and that has the potential to be scaled up.

Undergraduate and graduate McMaster students

The WLSA is open to permanent residents, international students and domestic students. Additionally, to be eligible for the award, you must…

  • Be in your second-last year of an undergraduate program or in any year of a graduate program.
  • Have a full-time or equivalent course load for both Fall 2023 and Winter 2024.
  • Have a 7.5 or higher cumulative GPA.
  • Be willing to spend 15 hours per month in the program, including time for synchronous group events between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET.
  • Have approval from your dissertation supervisor or graduate chair (applicants to the grad stream only).

External prospective graduate students

To be eligible for the award, you must…

  • Be a full-time or equivalent McMaster graduate student for both Fall 2023 and Winter 2024.
  • Be willing to spend 15 hours per month in the program, including time for synchronous group events between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET.
  • Have approval from your dissertation supervisor or graduate chair.

This award requires a time commitment — it’s part of what makes the experience so rewarding. So, applicants who move forward in the selection process must provide a letter of support from their supervisor or, if a supervisor is unavailable, their department’s graduate chair.

  • Past community projects do not provide a template for future projects; choose a project idea that is meaningful to you
  • Community projects should have the potential to make a positive impact (and can include entrepreneurial projects), be manageable within eight months, and have the potential to be scaled up
  • Projects are easier to launch when they build on pre-existing relationships and knowledge
  • Pick a project that’s meaningful to you
  • Stuck for ideas? Brainstorm the issues that distress you most, and the role models, developments and areas of potential that inspire you most. Which of those are you most drawn to? What are your options for taking a first step towards making a difference in that area?
  • Still stuck for ideas? Find direction with Digital Challenge Cards
  • Have multiple ideas? Consider which project aligns best with the themes of the Future of Canada Project or the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Deadline: January 30, 2023, 11:59 p.m. ET

Apply on AwardSpring, McMaster’s online award platform, if you’re a current McMaster student. Contact wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca if you have questions or need support.

Note: You don’t need to email your application if you’re a current McMaster student and you’ve applied on AwardSpring.

Preparing your application

Personal statement: Write a personal statement describing how this award will fit your career and education journey. Draw on your personal experiences and clearly demonstrate why it makes sense for you to devote your time and effort to participate in the award program.

  • Which parts of it will be of the most value to you?
  • How do you think you’ll use the experiences going forward?
  • How will you measure your success in the program?
  • If you have an idea for a community project, please briefly state what problem your project would address and how you plan to address it. If your project relates to a Future of Canada Project research theme, please state the theme.
  • Your statement should be 800 to 1,000 words.

Letters of reference

  1. You can include non-academic references. Choose writers who can comment on your strengths, leadership capacity, what you can gain from and contribute to the WLSA, and your character.
  2. Referees should not be relatives, close friends or peers.
  3. Letters submitted by the applicant for their referee will not be considered. Referees will automatically be invited to submit their letters once you have saved their name and contact information in your AwardSpring application.

Deadline: January 30, 2023, 11:59 p.m. ET

Review this section to find out if you’re eligible as an external applicant and learn how to prepare and submit an application. Contact wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca if you have questions or need support.

Preparing your application

  1. Candidate cover sheet
  2. Personal statement
  3. Letter of reference

Submitting a complete application

  • Email the candidate cover sheet, personal statement and letters of reference are submitted to wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca.
  • Submit the cover sheet and personal statement together as a single PDF or Word file saved as: “LAST NAME, FIRST NAME – WLSA GRAD.” The subject line of the email submission should be the same: “LAST NAME, FIRST NAME – WLSA GRAD.”
  • The letters of reference are submitted directly by their authors as PDF or Word files saved as: “APPLICANT LAST NAME, APPLICANT FIRST NAME – REFERENCE LAST NAME – WLSA GRAD.pdf.” The subject line of the email submission should be the same: “APPLICANT LAST NAME, APPLICANT FIRST NAME – REFERENCE LAST NAME – WLSA GRAD.pdf”

Completing the candidate cover sheet

The cover sheet is simply an administrative tool —it’s not weighted in the application review. It should state:

  1. Last name, given name (preferred name)
  2. Email (McMaster address if possible)
  3. Preferred phone number
  4. McMaster student number (if possible)
  5. Anticipated Faculty, program and degree for 2023–2024
  6. Date you started or will start your degree at McMaster University
  7. Expected completion date of your degree at McMaster University

Completing the personal statement

Write a personal statement describing how this award will fit your career and education journey. Draw on your personal experiences and clearly demonstrate why it makes sense for you to devote your time and effort to participate in the award program.

  • Which parts of it will be of the most value to you?
  • How do you think you’ll use the experiences going forward?
  • How will you measure your success in the program?
  • If you have an idea for a community project, please briefly state what problem your project would address and how you plan to address it. If your project relates to a Future of Canada Project research theme, please state the theme.
  • Your statement should be 800 to 1,000 words.

Letters of reference

  1. You can include non-academic references. Choose writers who can comment on your strengths, leadership capacity, what you can gain from and contribute to the WLSA, and your character.
  2. Referees should not be relatives, close friends or peers.
  3. Letters submitted by the applicant for their referee will not be considered. Referees must submit letters directly to wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca.

Renaissance Award

Application period: October 10, 2022, to January 15, 2023

There is no one path to leadership, and no one discipline that guarantees success and meaning. The Renaissance Award is designed to give you a chance to explore and lead an 8- to 12-month project that you propose, and that is outside of your degree program. The award emphasizes experiential learning and creates transformative experiences for students from all Faculties and programs, including undergraduate, graduate and professional programs.

The Renaissance Award provides up to $25,000 each year, and the award size depends on the project budget. Students in financial need may build a wage into their budget to help compensate for time spent on the project. Individuals and teams of two are welcome to apply. Full eligibility requirements are listed on on AwardSpring.

The Renaissance Award is really meant to promote inquiry and encourage people to do something different than they ever thought they might. This award is for students who want to go outside the box and bring some of the expertise from other specialities into their own area of study. It’s meant to encourage people to get away from a regimented stream and course of events into something that’s a little less planned, a little less obvious to most people, and to encourage exploration. We’d like students today to know that there are actually many pathways.”

— Drs. Jolie Ringash and Glen Bandiera, founders of the Renaissance Award

Project support

You will have two advisors for your project: one coach from the Student Success Centre and one faculty member from outside your program.

Start by contacting the Student Success Centre to be connected with a coach. If you don’t already have a connection to a potential Faculty advisor, your SSC coach can help you connect with one. Your Faculty advisor should be someone whose expertise is relevant to your project and who can help direct your research. Your SSC coach will be your main go-to person. They are who you’ll stay in touch with for project updates, deliverables and any challenges that you might encounter.

To be eligible for the Renaissance Award, you must…

  • Have completed the first year of your program
  • Be a current full-time School of Medicine, graduate or undergraduate student
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 10 or more
  • Want to engage in a 4- to 12- month, self-directed enrichment experience outside your chosen program of study

The full eligibility details are also posted on AwardSpring.

The Renaissance Award is highly personal. It’s a chance for you to work on a project that matters to you. Past projects are not templates, and we invite you to reflect on what would be a meaningful way to spend your time and energy in an 8- to 12-month project.

Here are just some past projects:

  • Study on post-civil war narratives in Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan-Canadian diaspora
  • Gender Blender podcast series
  • Consultation on sustainable food supply for an Ontario community
  • Book on A Spiritual Quest for Equanimity in Eastern Philosophy

Deadline: January 15, 2023, 11:59 p.m. ET

Apply on AwardSpring, McMaster’s online award platform. Contact wilsonleader@mcmaster.ca if you have questions or need support.