Million Dollar PhD

How to make more than minimum wage with graduate scholarships in Canada

Most students make less than minimum wage in graduate school and take a decade to pay off their debt.

Throughout my years in grad school, I went from earning less than minimum wage to being awarded over a million dollars from 30 scholarships and grants. I accepted most of these, which made it possible to support four other graduate students, hire a dozen research assistants, present my research at conferences around the world, and graduate debt-free.

This book contains everything I learned about graduate funding, focusing on research-based Master’s and PhD programs in Canada. It may not make you rich, but it will help you live a more financially comfortable graduate life.

Inside, you’ll learn:

— Jay Olson, PhD

Read the book

This book is available for free online to help grad students on a budget.

If you’re short on time, the first three chapters (This book in one minute, Introduction, and Finding funding) contain the most important information.


Applying the guidelines in this book, I’ve gone from a poor student living in a shared apartment with paper-thin walls to owning a chalet in the mountains where I’ll spend the next few years writing my thesis.

As a new grad student making below minimum wage, this book showed me that I’m not doomed to live as a stereotypically broke student and that I don’t need to wait until I graduate to start living my life.

— Master of Arts student, Psychology, Concordia University

I started grad school with $40,000 in student loan debt. Without a 4.0 GPA or a heavily padded CV, within a few years I was making nearly $58,000 per year through provincial scholarships and Mitacs internships.

About the author

I’m Jay Olson (), an interdisciplinary researcher studying placebo effects, knowledge translation, circadian rhythms, magic, and creativity. During my Master of Science and PhD at McGill University, I was offered 30 awards from Mitacs, SSHRC, NSERC, IRRST, SCEH, FRQSC, and other unpronounceable acronyms. My university then hired me to run workshops on effective graduate funding. During a postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, the workshop notes grew into Million Dollar PhD, the missing guide to graduate funding in Canada.