Skilled People Make the Agricultural Sector Successful

 images of students side by side: woman using a piece of technical equipment and a man holding handful of soil

The Alliance funds the Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) program to support the development of highly skilled graduates who can meet the changing demands of the agri-food and rural sector. The health of these sectors depends on a vibrant talent pool of skilled, forward-thinking learners. The Alliance is dedicated to supporting advanced skill development and learning to enhance the intellectual capacity of our citizens to solve current and future problems.

HQP Scholarships

The Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance is committed to reaping social, economic, environmental and public health benefits through its programs. Through the Alliance, HQP scholarships are awarded to support future generations of researchers, policy-makers and innovators in agri-food.

Masters and PhD students complete research that meets OMAFRA’s research priorities and learn firsthand how forward-thinking research can be mobilized to have a positive impact on society.

The program has provided specialized agri-business and workplace experience for over 157 graduates to-date. 

The Highly Qualified Personnel Program, supported by OMAFRA and the Food from Thought program, thanks in part to funding from the Canada Research Excellence Fund, provides scholarships for Masters and Doctoral students working in program areas that relate to OMAFRA research priority areas. HQP students participate in specialized workplace-readiness training about business, commercialization and societal interactions with the agri-food system and will also gain practical workplace experience with a government, industry or community partner that connects with the student's research interests and future career goals. 

Industry partners are integral to the success of the HQP Scholarship Program. We value the role of our industry, government and community partners, who provide valuable experience for the students during work semesters. Some partners who have hosted students include: Chicken Farmers of Ontario, OMAFRA, DRDC-CRTI, Martin Mills, BIOMIN Canada, Nutreco, Wallenstein Feed and Supply, C&M Seeds, Pioneer Hi-bred, Rural Ontario Institute, Monsanto, Aqua-Cage Fisheries, Alltech Inc. and Kraft. 

Call Status

The Call is now closed. The 2019/20 Call is expected to open on November 20, 2019. The due date of applications is still to be determined. 


The HQP Scholarship Program provides financial support for students entering or within their first year of an established graduate program at the University of Guelph. Academic studies will be governed by the guidelines and regulations of the student’s home department.

To be eligible for the HQP Scholarship Program you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen, landed immigrant, or *studying under an international visa;
  • Have an A- (80%) average or better;
  • be entering your first semester of a Masters (thesis-based) or PhD program at the University of Guelph OR **be in semesters 1, 2, or 3 of your graduate studies;
  • not be an OMAFRA employee;
  • not concurrently hold other major awards such as NSERC, OGS, SSHRC, or CIHR.

*International students must have at least applied to a graduate program at the University of Guelph at the time of the scholarship application or be enrolled in a graduate program at the time of receiving the award. The student must have a study visa when holding the award.

**In-course applicants are eligible for up to three semesters of M.Sc. funding or six semesters for Ph.D.

Applying to the Program

Note: The Application form is only available when a program Call is open.

The student and their Faculty Advisor jointly complete an application form. Our web-based software does not allow the submission of an application that has not been completed by both student and Faculty Advisor.

To obtain a Faculty Advisor, you need to contact a graduate program offered at the University of Guelph or contact a faculty member directly in the department of the discipline which best represents your desired area of study.

View the list of graduate programs. Click on the link for your desired program to see the graduate student contact.

International applicants please read the information about applying to the University of Guelph. You’ll need to apply about 9 months in advanced of your proposed semester start date.

NEW Online Application System

The Alliance will use a NEW online application system called Next Generation Research Management System (NG-RMS) for receiving and adjudicating HQP Scholarship applications. 

NG-RMS is a web-based program currently under development. NG-RMS will launch the week of October 7th, 2019. Check back for more information.


General Inquiries:

About the  Program:
Keith Warriner
Professor and HQP Program Director
519.824.4120 ext. 56072