May 29, 2016

Six months in length

The Fields Institute solicits proposals for a variety of programs in areas of current research interest in the mathematical sciences. Major Thematic Programs are the Institute's flagship activities.

The following elements are important to the success of Major Thematic Programs:
Short- and long-term visitors, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, lecture series, seminars, workshops and conferences. Programs should include a significant training component, including graduate courses.



Deadlines for submission of proposals or letters of intent are March 15 and September 15 of each year, to allow for external reviews before consideration by our Scientific Advisory Panel which meets in May and November. Please send an electronic copy of your proposal or letter of intent to proposals(PUT_AT_SIGN_HERE) .


Program organizing committees should include Canadian and international members. We encourage the inclusion of members of our partner universities. If a program is accepted, the program committee (with the assistance of the Institute's Directorate) will carry primary responsibility of the operation of the program.

Organizers of Major Thematic Programs are advised that a lead time of several years is required, and are encouraged to submit of Letter of Intent (3-4 pages) prior to preparing a complete proposal. The purpose of a Letter of Intent is to allow us to provide feedback before organizers do the considerable work needed to prepare a detailed proposal. Letters of Intent should include program title, names of organizers with contact information, description of the topic and key activities, proposed participants, justification for the program, preferred dates and some suggestions of reviewers.


Proposals for Major Thematic Programs should include the following items:

  • Names and affiliations of the organizing committee members, with full contact information
  • Preferred dates
  • Executive summary or description of the topic, presented in lay terms, including scientific background/history, recent important developments and possible future directions
  • Outline of the proposed program, including related scientific activity. (See #2 in guidelines at right.)
  • Names and affiliations of proposed short- and long-term participants (including tentative agreement to participate, if available) .
  • Coxeter and/or Distinguished Lecture Series (see below), and the names of least two alternative suggestions for each, with names, affiliations and brief biographies.
  • At least three workshops.
  • Role of students and postdoctoral fellows in the program.
  • Graduate Courses with the names and affiliations of instructors. Summer or Winter School.
  • Proposed budget and its use. (See #3 in guidelines at right.)
  • Curriculum vitae for each organizing committee member.
  • Part of the mandate of the Institute is to broaden and enlarge the community. We encourage the participation of women and members of visible minorities. Proposals should include details of their involvement as participants and organizers.
  • Names, affiliation and email addresses of five or more suggested reviewers.


Coxeter and/or Distinguished Lecture Series are usually organized in concert with Major Thematic Programs. A Major Thematic Program normally has one CLS/DLS. An additional CLS/DLS can be considered by our Scientific Advisory Panel if the proposed lecturers are of a very high scientific level, excellent speakers, and contribute to the Institute's goal of diversity (for example, gender, ethnic, geographic, or the crossing of discipline bountaries). The budget for any CLS/DLS is in addition to the program budget.


See also the Guidelines for Major Thematic Programs at right. Sample budgets and consultations are available to assist in preparing proposals. Contact the Institute's Directorate Office for assistance.


Organizers are encouraged to seek additional sources of funding for their Program. Please contact the Institute's Directorate Office for assistance with funding applications. Suggested sources include:

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Guidelines for Major Thematic Programs

1) Duration
2) Program Structure
3) Budget
4) Postdoctoral Fellows
5) Research Immersion Fellowship
6) Fields Facilities

7) Retrospective Workshop

Note that these guidelines allow for some flexibility; major deviations should be detailed in the program proposal.

1. Duration
Winter programs run from January to June, Fall programs from July to December. July and August are ideal for Summer Schools and Seminars for postdoctoral fellows (whose term starts in July).
Organizers aware of plans for international conferences to take place concurrently in the general area of a program might look into arranging to hold them at Fields.

2. Program Structure
A typical program includes at least three week-long workshops, but variations are common. Organizers should ensure a healthy level of activity between workshops, through a balance between long- and short-term, as well as junior and senior participants, and students. We encourage weekly seminars, mini-courses, and mini-symposia.

Graduate courses taught by inspiring instructors form an integral part of the program. There are typically three graduate courses offered during the university teaching term, available for university credit to participating students.

Program organizers are strongly encouraged to hold an introductory summer or winter school to help bring graduate students to a level where they can participate fully in program activities.

Notes for courses may be a good start for a monograph which instructors are encouraged to publish in the Fields-AMS Monograph series.

If required, teaching buyouts for program organizers and key participants should be negotiated with the Director.

3. Budget
The base budget is currently $350,000 depending on the amount of scientific activity, with the expectation that the organizers will secure at least an additonal $50,000 from other sources. In particular, we expect organizers to apply for NSF support, which is generally targeted for junior US based participants.

Budgets are generally divided as follows: 30% for postdoctoral fellowships and graduate student support, 30% for long- and short-term participants, 30% for workshops, seminars, and other program participant costs, 10% for teaching buyouts and organizers' participation costs.

Typical participant costs are a maximum of $55 per diem, plus a maximum of $170/day up to $2400/mth for accommodation. Estimates of travel costs should be based on economy travel.

4. Postdoctoral Fellows
Participation of young researchers is a crucial component of any program. Usually each PDF is awarded $20,000 for the six-month term.

Organizers are encouraged to try to find positions for these PDF's at universities during the semester complementary to the program in a given academic year. Fields advertises for and solicits postdoctoral applicants 12-18 months in advance of the program, with a December 15 application deadline. Organizers are asked to review the applications and recommend candidates to the Fields Director.

One PDF is designated as a Marsden Postdoctoral Fellow on the organizers recommendation, and is awarded $25,000 plus a $1,000 research fund (both from the program budget).

In addition, we typically award two Fields-Ontario Postdoctoral Fellowships associated to a program. These are two-year fellowships worth $50,000 per year (funded separately from the program budget). The successful candidates are chosen by the Fields Directorate. They are expected to spend the program semester at the Institute and the remaining time, before or after the program, at one of our Principal Sponsoring Universities.

For details see PDF at Fields.

5. Research Immersion Fellowship (RIF)
This Fellowship (funded separately from the program budget) supports individuals with high potential to re-enter an active research career after an interruption for family responsibilities or other reasons. Organizers should encourage suitable candidates in their general area to apply. The successful candidate is expected to participate fully in the program. For details see RIF Program.

6. Fields Facilities
Fields has a videoconferencing room with a Smart Board for off-site participation in a Fields event and for individual collaboration.
Organizers should learn about the capabilities of this equipment from the Computing Support Staff and consider using it to enhance their program. For details see Fields Facilities.

7. Retrospective Workshop
Organizers will be asked to hold a one-week retrospective workshop at Fields about two years after the conclusion of their program to highlight progress in the field since then.
Retrospective workshops should include an overview session to help organizers produce a report on advances, collaborations and career developments that can be attributed to the program's activities. Fields staff take minutes and help with other clerical tasks associated with producing reports. These play a crucial part in documenting the Institute's impact on research to our sponsors. Funding for the retrospective workshop should be applied for through our General Scientific Activity Program.

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