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Eligibility Criteria for Faculty

Definitions – types of participation

Eligible to apply for and hold funds:

  • Applicant: Principal investigator on an application (i.e., university faculty). For applications to the College and Community Innovation (CCI) Program, the applicant is a designated institutional administrator.
  • Co-applicant: Member of a research group applying for a team grant (i.e., university faculty or college faculty).

Eligible to participate in a research team:

  • Collaborator: A research scientist or engineer from any sector, e.g., government scientist, academic researcher, company staff member, can be  formally associated with a research team that is applying for a team grant, but will not have access to grant funds. A collaborator must be qualified to undertake research independently and will be expected to contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project, or program of research, and bring his/her own resources to the collaboration.
  • Participant: Faculty or professional/technical staff involved with the CCI Program. A participant must be qualified to undertake research independently and will be expected to contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project, or program of research. A participant will not have access to grant funds.

Note: To participate in a grant or grant application in any of the roles described above:

  • you must not be currently ineligible to hold and/or apply for funding, as an applicant or co-applicant; or to participate on a grant application or grant as a collaborator, partner or in any other capacity, from NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR or any other research funding organization worldwide, for reasons of breach of responsible conduct of research policies, such as ethics, integrity or financial management policies; and
  • you must have accounts in good standing with NSERC, including having paid or returned all money owing to NSERC. The determination of whether or not an account is in good standing shall be at the sole and absolute discretion of NSERC.

Eligibility Criteria for Applicants and Co-Applicants

Certain programs may have specific requirements or restrictions in addition to these criteria:

  • University faculty: You must hold or have a firm offer of an academic appointment at an eligible Canadian university at the time of application. For the duration of the award, you must hold such a position. The appointment can be:

    • a tenured, tenure-track or lifetime professor emeritus position; or
    • a term or contract position of no less than three years.

    The position must require you to engage in research that is not under the direction of another individual and must authorize you to supervise or co-supervise the research of students registered in an undergraduate or graduate degree program, or postdoctoral fellows (e.g., thesis supervision and not supervision of regular course or laboratory assignments).

    Note on Adjunct professors: Adjunct professors who meet NSERC’s eligibility criteria and whose primary place of employment is at an eligible Canadian university may apply to NSERC grants programs. Those whose primary place of employment is outside the university sector (e.g., government, industry or colleges) are eligible to apply for a Discovery Grant as principal applicant, as well as to other NSERC grants as co-applicants. NSERC awards funds to adjunct professors working outside the university sector only for the direct support of students (salaries or stipends and student travel costs); all other costs must be covered through other sources of funding.

  • College faculty: To be eligible as an applicant or co-applicant, you must hold or have a firm offer of a faculty appointment at an eligible Canadian college at the time of application. For the duration of the award, you must hold such a position. The appointment can be:

    • a permanent position; or
    • a term or contract position of no less than three years.

    The position must permit you to engage in research-related activities that are not under the direction of another individual.

    Colleges can participate in various types of grants in the CCI Program. For all CCI grants, the applicant is a designated college administrator. In addition, college faculty members who meet the eligibility criteria described herein can participate in a number of other NSERC programs.

  • All Faculty (University and College)

    • Your appointment must be ratified by the person(s) or body responsible for approving appointments or their delegate(s), and must be in accordance with university or college statutes.
    • You must engage in research in the natural sciences or engineering (relevant exceptions are noted in certain program descriptions).
    • Your salary must not be paid out of NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) grant funds, except for salary support programs, and scientific directors of Networks Centres of Excellence (NCE).
    • The source of salary funding for your appointment must be guaranteed for at least three continuous years within the period of the contract.
    • Your faculty appointment must not be conditional on obtaining NSERC grants or other sources of support.
    • If your offer of a position is still pending approval at the time of application, it must be finalized and confirmed in writing to NSERC within six weeks following the application deadline.
    • If your primary position is outside of Canada, you are only eligible if you work full-time in an eligible Canadian institution. A part-time position is not eligible when your primary position is outside of Canada.
    • You may not simultaneously hold an award and be enrolled in a graduate program in the natural sciences or engineering, or hold a postdoctoral fellow position in any discipline.  
    • Before any funds can be released on an NSERC grant, the applicant(s) must take up their faculty position and complete all degree requirements. For Discovery Grants, this can be no later than September 1 of the year of the award.

Important Notes

Each time you submit an application for funding, you must ensure that you are eligible to apply for and hold NSERC funds. If the information provided in the application is insufficient to confirm your eligibility, NSERC will work with your institutional representatives to obtain additional details as required. If you are deemed ineligible, NSERC will reject your participation in the funding application and/or the application itself. If you are uncertain as to whether you meet all of the eligibility criteria, it is recommended that you contact your Research Grants Office or NSERC.

You must accept and comply with the terms and conditions of both your application and any resulting grant or award, including consenting to the public disclosure of personal information in the case of a serious breach of agency policy. The Terms and Conditions of Award include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • During tenure of the award, you must meet all of the eligibility requirements stipulated above.
  • During tenure of the award, you must notify NSERC immediately if your eligibility status changes (see Continuing Eligibility in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide).
  • As a team member, you cannot be paid a salary or consulting fee from the grant funds if your status makes you eligible to apply for funding independently (see Use of Grant Funds, Non-Eligible Expenses in the Tri-Agency Financial Administration Guide).

Contact your institution’s Research Grants Office or consult NSERC's Contact list if you have questions regarding your eligibility.

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