Nitica-Sakharwade working at a blackboard
Nitica-Sakharwade working at a blackboard

PhD Students

Perimeter Institute offers a rich environment for PhD students with unparalleled opportunities to interact with research leaders from around the world while laying the foundation for a future career in physics. Perimeter’s Resident PhD students are expected to make the Institute their main base of research and become an integral, full time member of the PI research community. 

PhD students are supervised by a Faculty, Associate Faculty, or Senior Researcher located at Perimeter Institute but receive their degree from a partnering university where their supervisor has a full or adjunct appointment. These universities include Dalhousie University, McMaster University, University of Guelph, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, Western University, and York University. Past graduates have obtained competitive postdoctoral fellowships at international institutions, including Berkeley, Harvard, IAS, The Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, MIT, NASA, and Princeton .

PhD students at Perimeter are financially supported through their home university (typically for 4 years / 12 academic terms) and are eligible for the following benefits of the PhD Residency Program Award.

This award includes:

  • A dedicated desk in a shared workspace at Perimeter Institute
  • Access to Perimeter Institute facilities, resources and scientific activities
  • 50% discount at the on-site Black Hole Bistro
  • Access to a Technology Grant of up to $2000 for technology that directly supports their research
  • Mentorship program with other PhDs and Postdocs plus opportunity to mentor a MSc Student
  • Top-up funding to $30,000 per year (after fees and tuition) until Term 12. This is based on a September – August academic year and builds on the university department's standard funding package. 

Interested students must submit an Expression of Interest to Perimeter Institute for the award in addition to a separate PhD application submitted to the partner university. Students will receive a response to their Expression of Interest AFTER an acceptance offer has been made by a partnering university (see Step 4 below).

How to apply

STEP 1. Search for the faculty or senior researcher you wish to supervise your PhD.

STEP 2. Follow the link under the "Apply to" column to begin your university application. Be sure to fully review your preferred university's application requirements and deadlines.

STEP 3. Once you have submitted your application to the partner university, submit your Expression of Interest to the PhD Residency Program Award. NOTE: The Expression of Interest deadline is based on the application deadline of the university you are applying to. Your Expression of Interest must be submitted within one week of submitting your university application (for multiple university applications, use the earliest application date).

STEP 4. When you receive an offer letter from the partner university, upload your university offer letter to your Expression of Interest application.

Current PhD students who would like to be considered for Residency should complete and submit the Expression of Interest - clearing indicating in the application their current university, term, and supervisor. The Residency start date is generally tied to the Fall intake cycle but exceptions may be made mid-year.

For more information, review the FAQ section below. If your question is not addressed, please contact [email protected].

Perimeter Institute is committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from racialized persons, women, Indigenous/Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ2+ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas. Perimeter Institute provides support throughout the application process for applicants with disabilities. We work with you to understand the impact of your disability to appropriately accommodate you during the application/interview process. Please contact [email protected] for assistance.

Students also have access to senior student and postdoc mentors, as well as wellness initiatives and mental health support.


Q: I’ve emailed a researcher to ask if they will supervise my PhD - why haven’t I heard back?

Researchers receive many emails from students and potential collaborators and sometimes it is not possible to read and respond to all of them. 

Q: I can only pursue my PhD in Canada if I receive the PhD Residency Program Award. Can I find out if I will receive it before I apply to a partner university?

A formal offer of residency cannot be made until after the university offer is made. You may wish to reach out to a potential supervisor in advance to gauge their availability and interest in working with you during your PhD. 

Q. Do I need to submit an Expression of Interest for each different university I apply to?

No, you only need to submit one Expression of Interest, on which you can indicate up to 5 Faculty or Senior Researchers you wish to work with regardless of which partner university they are affiliated with.

Q: Is there any other way to conduct research at Perimeter Institute with a supervisor

We have several programs available:

  • Undergraduate students may wish to apply to PSI Start
  • Students who are considering a MSc can apply to Perimeter Scholars International (PSI) Master's Program
  • Graduate students enrolled at other universities who have an invitation from a Perimeter Institute Researcher may visit through our Visiting Student program
  • Graduate students (MSc and PhD) at regional universities with a supervisor at Perimeter may ask their supervisor to recommend them for the Associate Graduate Student program.

Q: What is the overall timeline for requests?

The Residency start date is generally tied to the Fall intake cycle but exceptions may be made mid-year.

  • November-January - Students submit PhD application to partner university and Expression of Interest to Perimeter Institute
  • February-March - Universities issue offer letters for September start. Students to upload offer letter(s) to their Expression of Interest application.
  • April-May - Perimeter Institute will contact selected students with further details of the Residency program; Students commit to university program and start date
  • August-September - Arrival in Waterloo; beginning of PhD studies