Governor General's Gold Medals

For more than 140 years, the Governor General's Gold Medals have recognized the outstanding scholastic achievements of students in Canada. They are awarded to Master's or doctoral students who have achieved the highest academic standing in their degree programs.

The purpose of this program is to:

  • Encourage scholarship across Canada and recognize outstanding students
  • Maintain a spirit of universality across the country, the Directives were designed to ensure that the medals are awarded based on academic criteria only
  • Present the medals on behalf of, and in the name of the Governor General at an appropriate ceremony where possible

The medal is accompanied by a certificate signed by the Governor General, but is not associated with any monetary award.

SGPS will accept one master’s (thesis) nomination and one PhD nomination per Faculty. 


To be eligible for nomination for a 2023 Gold Medal, a candidate:

  • Must complete all the requirements of the Master's degree (thesis only) program or the doctoral degree program between September 1, 2022 and August 31, 2023, inclusive.
  • Must graduate with high first-class honours and have maintained first-class honours throughout the degree program. Minimum first-class honours at Western is 80%. The assessment of highest academic standing includes an examination of such criteria as:
    • Academic excellence in courses, seminar performance.
    • Evaluation of the thesis/thesis defense.
    • Originality/significance of the research.
    • Evaluation of letters of support.
    • Appraisal of other degree requirements.
  • May be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or an international student.
  • May be considered if the degree was completed on a part-time basis.

Competition Overview

The number of Gold Medals awarded by each university is determined by its full-time equivalent (FTE) graduate enrolment:

  • 1 medal: under 2,500 students
  • 2 medals: 2,500 to 5,000 students
  • 3 medals: more than 5,000 students

Based on the above model, Western University annually awards three Governor General's Gold Medals, to outstanding graduate students who have completed their degree programs with the highest academic standing as determined by the university committee.

Overall academic excellence determines the selection of Western's three Gold Medal recipients each year, regardless of graduate degree level (Master's or doctoral).

How to Apply

Eligible students are nominated by their graduate programs.

A complete application consists of:

  • Letters:
    • One nomination support letter from the Graduate or Department Chair (max. two pages), signed on letterhead. The letter must illustrate the candidate's overall excellence (academic, research, engagement, leadership).
    • One nomination support letter from the thesis supervisor (max. two pages), signed on letterhead. The impact of the research should be made clear i.e. the 'knowledge to action' outcomes. Does it have understandable impacts to end users? i.e. industry, practitioners, policy makers, etc. SGPS, however, also welcomes nominations of candidates who undertook pure research.
  • Abstract of the thesis (one page).  Research must be made clear.
  • Current CV of nominee.
  • Western academic record.


  • Spring: Annual call for nominations sent to Associate Deans
  • August 15, 2023: Deadline to submit ranked nominations to SGPS
    • SGPS will accept nominations for August-completing candidates only up until September 9, 2023
  • Late September/early October: SGPS Selection Committee convenes to select the three (3) recipients
  • By early October: SGPS submits the names of the new Medalists to the Registrar


Two ceremonies of the annual Autumn Convocation program are dedicated to Master's and doctoral degree program graduates. Governor General's Gold Medal recipients are recognized at these ceremonies.

Administering the Gold Medal Competition

Graduate Program Responsibility

  • Nominate eligible candidate(s) to your Faculty Associate Dean. 
  • Prepare the nomination file. All letters should be addressed to the Vice-Provost, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
  • Create a single PDF file of the nomination documents in the order described above.
  • Submit the PDF nomination file to your Faculty Office by their deadline.
  • Notify your candidate of their result in the Faculty selection process before ranked submissions are made to SGPS.

Faculty Responsibility

  • Set internal deadline to receive graduate program nominations.
  • Communicate the deadline to graduate program staff/faculty.
  • Convene the Faculty Committee to review and rank the nominations.
  • If your programs will be submitting August-completing candidates to the Faculty competition, you may use the September 8th deadline to submit your Faculty’s two nominations to SGPS.
  • Submit the top-ranked master's (thesis) nomination and the top-ranked PhD nomination, each in PDF, to Paula Menzies Cameron by the annual deadline.
    • SGPS will only accept one nomination in each category. If you have no candidate in one category, you cannot submit two in the other category.

SGPS Responsibility

  • Convene the SGPS Selection Committee to select the three recipients.
  • Coordinate the publicity of the new Gold Medalists with Western Communications.
  • Add the honour award to each winner's academic record.
  • Relay the recipient details to the Registrar by the end of the first week of October.

Office of the Registrar Responsibility

  • Coordinate the inclusion of the recipients' names in the Autumn Convocation program.
  • Be responsible for the receipt of the medals from Rideau Hall and for their safe-keeping.
  • Coordinate the inscription of names on each recipient's certificate.