Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Eligibility Criteria for Students and Fellows

Are you eligible to apply for an award?

To be eligible for support for the majority of NSERC’s Scholarships and Fellowships programs (except for Industrial Postgraduate Scholarships, Visiting Fellowships in Canadian Government Laboratories, Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships), you must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, as of the deadline date for application. Please note that NSERC may ask for proof of citizenship or residency status before and while it provides funding.

You must be undertaking both research and a program of study in one of the fields that NSERC supports (program of study not applicable to PDF applicants). Consult the Eligibility criteria for proposed research and programs of study section for details.

You must not have been declared ineligible to apply for and hold funding from NSERC, SSHRC, CIHR or any other research funding organization, for reasons of breach of standards of ethics or integrity (including financial or scientific misconduct).

You must have accounts in good standing with NSERC, including having paid and/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.

Note: To determine if you are eligible for a particular award, consult the information about eligibility criteria of each program description found in the NSERC Program Guide for Students and Fellows. For eligibility criteria specific to the This link will take you to another Web site Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships Program or the This link will take you to another Web site Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships Program, consult each program’s respective Web sites.

Keep in mind…

NSERC uses the date of degree completion to determine the eligibility of applicants. This is the date on which all the requirements of your degree have been met, including successful defence and submission of the corrected copy of your thesis (in accordance with your university's regulations).

Are you eligible to hold an award?

To hold an award, you must accept the terms and conditions of the award, as set out in this document, the appropriate program description found in the NSERC Program Guide for Students and Fellows, the Notice of Award, and the Policies and Requirements section of the appropriate Award Holder’s Guide.

Note: Awards may be cancelled without notice if the conditions under which they are granted are violated.

Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency

There are two other federal granting agencies that offer support for which you may be eligible:

You may submit only one application per academic year to NSERC or CIHR or SSHRC.

The agencies will collaborate and cooperate to prevent unnecessary duplication of effort. However, mutually exclusive guidelines are difficult to define, and some research proposals will necessarily overlap the individual jurisdictions, priorities and interests of the three agencies. Applicants should consult the guidelines of each agency to select the one best suited to consider their application.

Eligibility criteria for proposed research and programs of study

To be eligible for NSERC support, you must be undertaking both research and a program of study in one of the fields that NSERC supports (program of study not applicable to PDF applicants).

If you receive an award from NSERC, but then change your field of study or research to a field that NSERC does not support, or to a program of study that NSERC does not support, you will no longer be eligible. As a result, NSERC will cancel the award.

Proposed research

Your research must be part of an overall research program in a field that NSERC supports. For awards held at universities, your research must be supervised by a faculty member whose own research program is in a field that NSERC supports.

The proposed research must clearly be intended to advance knowledge in the natural sciences or in engineering (NSE). The research challenge must lie within the NSE. NSERC does not support clinically-oriented research. Proposals that include the use of methodologies, tools, techniques and knowledge from the NSE are not automatically considered eligible by NSERC. In cases where the proposed research is deemed to fall within the mandate of either CIHR or SSHRC, NSERC will not accept the application.

Note: If you have received previous funding from NSERC, this does not mean that you are automatically deemed eligible for continued NSERC funding. As you advance in your studies, if the focus of your research changes from fundamental research to more applied research in the health or social sciences and humanities areas, you may no longer be eligible for NSERC support.

Is your proposed research related to health?

If your proposed research is related to health, consult the This link will take you to another Web site Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications Related to Health for guidance on the eligibility of research in health according to respective agency mandates.

Is your proposed research in psychology?

The field of psychology is supported by the three granting agencies. Consult the This link will take you to another Web site Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications in Psychology section for guidance on the eligibility of research in psychology according to respective agency mandates.

Is your proposed research in anthropology?

Within the field of anthropology, NSERC considers applications that relate to:

  • non-human primate biology and behaviour; and
  • palaeoanthropology (pre-Homo sapiens sapiens).

If your research relates to prehistory (Homo sapiens sapiens) or human population biology (contemporary populations), consult with SSHRC or NSERC prior to any applicable deadline in order to determine within which agency mandate your research lies.

Is your proposed research interdisciplinary?

If you are seeking support for interdisciplinary research that bridges the areas covered by more than one of the three agencies (NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC) and are not certain about the eligibility of your proposed research, consult with one of the granting agencies well before any applicable deadlines.

Program of study

If you are registered, or intend to register, in a clinically-oriented program of study (e.g., clinical psychology or clinical neuropsychology), you will be eligible to apply and to hold NSERC funding only if:

  • you propose a research project deemed eligible to be funded by NSERC; and
  • your proposed supervisor is a researcher holding an active NSERC Discovery Grant.

If you do not meet these two criteria at the time of application, you will not be eligible to hold NSERC funding in a clinically-oriented program of study.

Should you intend on pursuing a joint graduate program which includes a professional degree, you will not be eligible for support from NSERC. For example, NSERC does not support joint programs with an MD component (e.g., MD/PhD). Contact CIHR for more information about funding opportunities for these programs of study.

Where can you hold these awards?

Scholarships and fellowships are generally tenable at institutions whose standing is recognized by NSERC. Refer to the specific program descriptions for details on the eligible location of tenure.

When you select a location for tenure, you should remember the importance of obtaining a diverse educational background and varied experience by studying at more than one institution.

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