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Postgraduate Scholarship-Doctoral or Postdoctoral Fellowship

Instructions for Completing an Application – Form 201

General Information

About the Program

Important: Form 201 must be submitted electronically.

Read the program description in the Program Guide for Students and Fellows before you complete the application.

Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants for more information.

Who Completes the Application?

Use Form 201 if you are applying for:

  • Postgraduate Scholarships-Doctoral (PGS D)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowships (PDF)

If you are interested in an Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship-Doctoral (CGS D), apply for a PGS D. There is no separate application form or process for the CGS D Program. The highest-ranked PGS D applicants will automatically be considered by NSERC for a CGS D.

Application Deadlines

PGS D applicants

How you apply depends on your status as of the application deadline date and/or your registration status in the year of application. You must apply either through a Canadian university or directly to NSERC. Application deadline dates are different in each scenario. See the Program Guide for Students and Fellows for details.

PDF applicants

Applicants must apply directly to NSERC before 8:00 p.m. (ET) on October 15.

If you are contacting your current and/or former institutions to obtain official transcripts and supporting documents, including the Reports on the Applicant, remember that it may take time for them to provide you with the information requested. It is advisable to plan ahead and have your application completed in advance of the application deadline.

Note: If you submit your application directly to NSERC, NSERC will acknowledge receipt of your application by email. If your application is submitted through the university, the status of your application will be reflected on the Portfolio page of your application.

Presentation Standards

In each page of the online application you will find instructions and tips on how to complete your application. Some of the sections require “free form” text and must be converted to Portable Document Format (PDF) and appended electronically to the application.

You are responsible for submitting a complete application that conforms to the presentation standards established by NSERC. Incomplete applications will be rejected. Applications that do not meet presentation standards may be rejected, or be at a disadvantage, in comparison with those that respect the presentation standards.

With the exception of personal contact information, NSERC will not accept any changes or updates to your application once it has been submitted. Personal contact information may be updated by sending an email to

For more information, read the NSERC On-line Presentation and Attachment Standards.

Personal Information

The collection, use and disclosure of personal information provided to NSERC is outlined in the following policy statements:

The information you provide in your application is collected under the authority of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Act. NSERC is subject to the This link will take you to another Web site Access to Information Act and the This link will take you to another Web site Privacy Act. The information you provide is stored in a series of NSERC data banks described in This link will take you to another Web site Info Source Publications.

Help with Program Information

  • Contact the staff responsible for the program to which you are applying.

Help with the NSERC On-line System

  • Consult the Frequently Asked Questions on how to use the On-line System.
  • Review the instructions available in the application.
  • Contact the Online Services Helpdesk. Send an email to: or call 613-995-4273. Include your email address and telephone number.

Completing the Application

Application Profile

Title of proposal

The title will be used for publication purposes. It should describe the subject of the research for which you are seeking support. It should not contain a company or trade name. Spell out scientific symbols and acronyms.

Proposed start date of award

Indicate the date on which you plan to take up the award if your application is successful. See the Program Guide for Students and Fellows and relevant Award Holder’s Guide for details.

Person Profile

Personal Identification Number (PIN)

All NSERC applicants have received, or will receive, an NSERC PIN. Refer to your PIN each time you apply for an award and in future correspondence with NSERC. If you have not previously applied to NSERC leave the field blank and a PIN will automatically be assigned by the On-line System. If you have previously applied to NSERC and do not remember your PIN, contact the On-line Services Helpdesk. Return to the eConsole page, select Maintain User Profile and enter your PIN. It will then appear on the Person Profile page of the application.

NSERC asks applicants to provide data on their gender and linguistic capability on a purely voluntary basis. This data is not seen or used in NSERC peer review processes. It is used for statistical purposes, and may be used to identify prospective NSERC peer reviewers.

Applicants to some NSERC programs are invited to indicate, on a voluntary basis, whether they are disabled, or belong to a visible minority group. This data is only used by NSERC for statistical purposes.

Applicants to most NSERC scholarship and fellowship programs are invited to indicate, on a voluntary basis, whether they are Aboriginal. Although this data is not seen by NSERC award selection committees, universities are permitted to recommend self-identified Aboriginal applicants above their application quota.


If your current mailing address is temporary, indicate the leaving date. If there is no leaving date indicated, this is the address to which NSERC will send all correspondence.

If your address changes after submitting your application, inform NSERC by sending an email to no later than January 1 (for PDF applicants) and March 1 (for PGS D applicants).

Academic Background

Include only current and past programs. If you are currently registered in a program that began in the fall session of the year of application, it must be included here. Do not include programs that you have not yet started. For degree programs you have completed, provide the date on which all requirements of the degree were met, including successful defence and submission of the corrected copy of your thesis (in accordance with your university's regulations). It is not the conferred or convocation date indicated on your transcript. Your Faculty of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent) may be asked to confirm the date the degree requirements were met.

If you began a master’s degree and transferred to a doctoral degree without completing the master’s, indicate this by selecting the appropriate field. For your doctorate, the start date will be the date on which you were first officially registered in a PhD program.

If you have more than one bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree, indicate the natural sciences and engineering degree in the area of research for which you are applying for funding in the appropriate Type of degree section, specifying “Bachelor’s”, “Master’s” or “Doctorate,” and indicate the other degree in the Other degree section.

Under “Name of discipline,” indicate the complete, exact title of your Program of study (e.g. PhD in Psychology – Cognitive Psychology).

For those applying through a Canadian university: This page of the application must be completed before you invite the individual designated by the Faculty of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent) to scan and upload your transcripts.

Academic, Research and Other Relevant Work Experience

Indicate if you gained the experience during the course of a program of study.


Scholarships and other awards offered

List only competitive awards based on academic or research excellence and/or leadership or communication abilities. Include NSERC awards and declined awards. You may list up to 10 awards, starting with the most recent.

Proposed Location(s) of Tenure

PGS D applicants

Specify a maximum of three proposed locations of tenure. You may take up your PGS D at any eligible Canadian university. You may also take it up at any eligible foreign university, provided you have received a previous degree in the natural sciences or engineering from a Canadian university.

Note: Under Program of study, indicate the complete, exact title of the proposed program (for example, PhD in Psychology – Cognitive Psychology). Consult the Eligibility Criteria for Students and Fellows for information on eligibility of the proposed program. If you are registered, or intend to register, in a joint program that includes a professional degree (e.g., MD/PhD), your application will be ineligible.

PDF applicants

Specify a maximum of three proposed locations of tenure. If your PhD was granted by an institution outside of Canada, only locations of tenure within Canada will be considered.

Justification for Location of Tenure

PDF applicants only

  • All PDF applicants must complete this section.
  • Provide a detailed rationale for your choice(s) for location of tenure.
  • Describe the steps you have taken to date to communicate with the proposed supervisor(s).
  • NSERC encourages PDF award holders to broaden their research experience by gaining exposure to different research environments. You are not permitted to hold your fellowship at the same university (or its affiliated hospitals, research centres and other laboratories) where you received your doctorate. However, you may request an exception that will be considered by the selection committee. The request must be based on family reasons (e.g., a spouse's career) or scientific reasons (e.g., availability of specialized equipment) that make it extremely difficult for you to leave a particular university. Even if your exception is granted, you may not be supervised by your PhD supervisor. Given that NSERC may not approve your request for an exception, you are encouraged to include an alternate location for your PDF.
  • You may not hold a PDF with your PhD supervisor, even if your supervisor changes research institutions.

Scholarship/Fellowship Information

In the Scholarship/Fellowship Information page of your application, indicate your choice by selecting the appropriate field.

PGS D applicants

Detailed information on completing this section is found on the Information page of the application.

Theses Completed or in Progress

In the Thesis Information page of your application, provide the full title and summary of your most recent thesis completed or in progress.

If you are applying for a PDF, describe your doctoral thesis in this section.

If you are applying for a PGS D, describe your master’s thesis in this section. If you did not complete a master’s thesis, describe your honours thesis in this section. If you completed neither a master’s nor an honours thesis, you may describe one of your major research projects or papers in this section, or you may describe the work done to date on your doctoral degree. Do not repeat the information provided in the Outline of Proposed Research section.

Key Words/Research Subject Code

In the Key Words/Research Subject Code page of your application, choose up to 10 key words and the research subject code that most closely corresponds to your proposed research. Consult the List of Research Subject Codes for Scholarships and Fellowships.

NSERC Scholarships and Fellowships selection committees cover a number of Research Subject Codes within a research discipline. The Research Subject Code entered on the application will determine the selection committee in which the application will be evaluated. NSERC may assign the application to a different committee if it determines that the subject matter is more appropriate for another committee.

Note for Animal Biology and Psychology applicants:

  • For neurophysiology related to Biological Sciences, select code 5501.
  • For neurophysiology related to Behavioural Sciences, select code 6308.

Outline of Proposed Research Research (Attachment – One Page Maximum)

In the Outline of Proposed Research page of your application, provide the requested information according to the guidelines and format standards outlined in the NSERC On-line Presentation and Attachment Standards.

Applicants must complete this section themselves.

Provide a detailed description of your proposed research project for the period during which you are to hold the award. Be as specific as possible. Provide background information to position your proposed research within the context of the current knowledge in the field. State the objectives and hypothesis, and outline the experimental or theoretical approach to be taken (citing literature pertinent to the proposal), and the methods and procedures to be used. State the significance of the proposed research to a field or fields in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE).

Your research must be part of an overall research program which lies in a field that NSERC supports. For awards held at universities, your research must be supervised by a faculty member whose own research program lies in a field that NSERC supports. In cases where the proposed research is deemed to fall within the mandate of either the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), NSERC will not accept the application. 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 the natural sciences and engineering to the health or social sciences and humanities areas, you may no longer be eligible for NSERC support. For important information about the eligible fields of research, refer to the Eligibility Criteria for Students and Fellows.

Note: Proposals that include the use of methodologies, tools, techniques and knowledge from the NSE are not automatically considered eligible for NSERC support. The proposed research must clearly be intended to advance knowledge in the NSE.

In addition:

  • You should not repeat the information found in the “Theses completed or in progress” section, but may refer to it.
  • NSERC expects applicants to write their own research project independently, and that ideas and/or text belonging to others are properly referenced.
  • Include all relevant information in the outline. Do not refer members to URLs or other publications for supplemental information. Such additional information will not be reviewed by members.
  • If the proposed research is a continuation of your thesis, clearly state the differences between work done for your thesis and the research activities outlined in this proposal.
  • Write your proposal in clear, plain language and avoid jargon. Your application will be reviewed by a selection committee covering a broad discipline category.

Justification for Eligibility of Proposed Research (Attachment One Page Maximum)

Complete this section if your research is in a discipline that falls under the mandate of more than one federal granting agency (e.g., psychology, management studies, geography, physical education, bio-medical engineering, health sciences, bioinformatics, biostatistics, etc.).

Describe the NSE research challenges of the project on which you propose to work during the tenure of your scholarship or fellowship. Clearly explain what you will be doing and why it should be considered research that is predominantly NSE. Note that this section will be used only by NSERC staff to review eligibility. It will not be shared with committee members.

Points to consider

Consult NSERC's Eligibility Criteria for Students and Fellows, including the Eligibility Criteria for proposed research and programs of study, and carefully read the Government of Canada’s guidelines on This link will take you to another Web site Selecting the Appropriate Federal Granting Agency. Particular attention should be given to the Government’s Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications Related to Health and its Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications in Psychology, if they are applicable to your research.

Contributions and Statements (Attachment)

In the Contributions/Statements page of your application, provide the requested information according to the guidelines and format standards outlined in the NSERC On-line Presentation and Attachment Standards.

Given the page limits, be selective and summarize information where appropriate. You must provide information in the three sections listed below. The maximum number of pages that you are permitted to use in total, for all three sections, is:

  • PGS D - two pages
  • PDF - four pages

Provide the required information using the specified headings below in the order indicated.

Part I – Contributions to research and development

Begin with your most recent contributions and list each entry on a new line. Do not include any articles that are currently in preparation or those on which you do not appear as an author. Use the following headings in the order indicated:

  1. Articles published or accepted in refereed journals.
  2. Articles submitted to refereed journals (provide submission number).
  3. Other refereed contributions (e.g., communications, papers in refereed conference proceedings, posters). Do not repeatedly list the same proceeding from multiple conferences, proceedings for future conferences, or your thesis here.
  4. Non-refereed contributions (e.g., specialized publications, technical reports, conference presentations, posters).
  5. Technology transfer.
  6. Contributions resulting from your participation in industrially relevant R&D activities.
  7. Patents and copyrights awarded (e.g., software, but excluding publications).
  8. Patents and copyrights submitted.

Use the following format:

  • Full authorship as it appears/will appear in the original publication (with the applicant's name in bold)
  • Year
  • Title
  • Publication name and volume
  • First and last page numbers


I. Contributions to research and development
a. Articles published or accepted in refereed journals

Li, H., Applicant, X.X., and Kay, M. (1994) Protein-structure interactions in cell membranes. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 269: 1120-1124 (PhD work).


  • Publications submitted, accepted or in press: Indicate the date of submission/acceptance and the number of pages submitted.
  • Patents: Include the title and names of joint inventors.
  • Posters: Indicate the presenting author with an asterisk (*). Example: Applicant, X.X.*.
  • Conferences: Indicate whether institutional, regional, provincial, national or international. Make a distinction between oral and poster presentations.
  • In all cases, indicate whether the publication resulted from work done in the process of completing your undergraduate, master’s or doctoral degree, or from other relevant work experience.
  • Many contributions to industry or other end-users take the form of technical or internal reports that are confidential to protect proprietary information, or are subject to patent or copyright protection. If your record includes contributions of this kind, a letter from a university or company researcher involved with technology transfer should accompany your application, and this letter should attest to the nature and significance of the contribution in as specific terms as possible. The letter will be forwarded to the selection committee for consideration only if it clearly addresses and demonstrates the confidential or protected nature of the contribution. If you are applying directly to NSERC, you can send the letter separately from your application to If you are applying through a Canadian university, you can send the letter to your Faculty of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent).
  • Updates to your publication record will not be accepted after the application has been submitted.

Part II – Most significant contributions to research and development

From the contributions listed in Part I, choose up to three that you judge to be your most significant contributions to research and development. Comment on the importance of these contributions to the research area.

For each contribution:

  • describe your role in the research. Clarify your contribution to collaborative research and to the actual writing of joint publications;
  • discuss the reasons for publishing in certain journals (e.g., target audiences, review procedures);
  • provide details, as appropriate, on the significance of technical reports and original research reported in books or technical reports;
  • indicate any collaboration with other researchers; and
  • discuss the relevance of your work to engineering practice or industrial processes if appropriate.

Part III – Applicant's statement

In this section, group your comments under the following headings:

  • Research experience

    Describe the scientific or engineering abilities that you have gained through your past research experience, including special projects, honours thesis and co-op reports. If you have relevant work experience, discuss the relevance of that experience to your proposed field of study/research and any benefits you gained from it. Do not repeat any information you provided in Part II.

  • Relevant activities

    Describe your professional and extracurricular activities that most demonstrate your communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills. Examples of these include:
    • oral presentations
    • mentoring
    • teaching
    • project management
    • chairing committees
    • organizing conferences or meetings
    • supervisory experience
    • elected positions held and volunteer work

  • Special circumstances

    In this section, describe any special considerations that have had an effect on your performance or productivity. Include any considerations that may have resulted in delays in disseminating your research results, such as health problems, family responsibilities, disabilities or other circumstances (e.g., the time necessary to complete a monograph, file a patent, or commercialize an industrial process or product). Explain any gaps in the chronology of your experience. The selection committee will take these circumstances into consideration when evaluating your application. If your supervisor is unable to provide you with a Report on the Applicant, you may use this section to provide an explanation.

For uploading purposes, all the documents in this section must be saved into a single PDF file.

Transcripts (Attachment)

A complete application includes a copy of all up-to-date official transcripts (or other proof of registration in certain circumstances), as described below The inclusion and completeness of these documents are essential for NSERC staff to determine your eligibility and are an integral part of the evaluation material reviewed by Scholarship and Fellowship selection committees. NSERC will not accept transcripts submitted under separate cover. 

Important guidelines for all applicants

  • Up-to-date transcripts are defined as official transcripts dated or issued in the fall session of the year of application (if currently registered) or after the last term completed (if not currently registered). As new studies may not have been completed, up-to-date transcripts may be missing new entries or grades.
  • If you are registered in a degree program that does not have any course work, you must still provide an up-to-date transcript to demonstrate registration in your program.
  • If your university does not provide transcripts, you must submit, in lieu of a transcript, a letter bearing the official university seal/stamp or a letter signed by the Dean of Graduate Studies confirming i) your program of study, ii) your registration status and iii) the fact that the university does not provide transcripts.
  • Official transcripts are defined as transcripts issued by the Registrar’s Office. Transcripts from other sources, such as those printed from the student’s account on the institution’s website, are not official. Transcripts must be scanned (black and white recommended) and saved as a single PDF file. Transcript text orientation should be upright (if possible) and must be readable on a computer monitor without any adjustment by the viewer. Opening the transcript envelope and scanning the transcript will not render the transcript unofficial.
  • One copy of the legend (reverse of each transcript) must be included. Do not scan the legend multiple times.
  • If you have transcripts written in a language other than English or French, you must provide a certified translation.

Note: Retain the paper copy(ies) of any uploaded transcripts, as you may be asked to provide these for verification purposes at any point in the process.

It is your responsibility to ensure that your transcripts are complete and legible once uploaded, even if you apply through a university where a university official is responsible for uploading the transcripts. This is particularly relevant for transcripts with security features in place to prevent duplication. In all cases, the applicant is responsible for ensuring that the application is complete by reviewing the final version of the online application before it is submitted to NSERC.

Applications with transcripts that do not respect these requirements and those listed in the relevant section below will be rejected.

PGS D applicants

If you are already registered in your program of study at the time of application, you must submit a transcript for this program, regardless of the number of months completed, to demonstrate registration in the program. This requirement also applies to programs of study started in the fall session of the year of application.

All programs of study listed in the application, even if not completed, must be accompanied by an up-to-date transcript.

PGS D applicants applying through the university

Up-to-date transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate studies must be scanned and uploaded, in the Transcripts - University page of your application, by the individual designated by the Faculty of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent) at your institution, as follows. First, ensure the Academic Background page of the application has been completed. Second, enter the name and email address of the individual designated by the Faculty of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent) in the Transcripts - University page of your application. Once the information is saved, an email containing the appropriate links will be forwarded to this individual. Finally, ensure that the designated individual at the university has an up-to-date transcript for each of the degree programs listed under Academic Background. The status of the request can be verified on this page.

PGS D applicants applying directly to NSERC

Up-to-date transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate studies must be scanned and uploaded by the applicant in the Transcripts - Direct page of the application.

PDF applicants

Up-to-date transcripts of doctoral studies only must be scanned and uploaded to the application by the applicant in the Transcripts - Direct page of the application.

Reports on the Applicant

Each application submitted to NSERC must be accompanied by two Reports on the Applicant.

The reports must be completed by persons capable of making an informed assessment.

  • One report should be from a person very familiar with your research and other abilities, e.g., current academic research supervisor or industrial supervisor (in the case of co-op students); previous academic research, industrial or USRA supervisor.
  • The second report should be from a person sufficiently familiar with your research and other abilities to provide a meaningful commentary.

Note: A Report on the Applicant cannot be completed by a proposed supervisor unless that person is currently your supervisor or has been your supervisor in the past.

What you should do:

  • Contact your proposed referees to ensure they are willing to complete a report for you.
  • In the Report on the Applicant page of your application, enter the name and email address of each of the referees who will be completing a report, as well as the deadline on which you would like the report to be completed, which you select from a pop-up calendar. Note that this date must be well before the application deadline to allow you to successfully submit your completed application on time.
  • Once the information is saved, the system will generate an email to each referee inviting him or her to complete a Report on the Applicant. Referees will have access to your “in progress” or completed application.
  • Contact your referees to inform them that you have sent them a report to complete.
  • The status of the request can be verified on this page.
  • Your application will remain incomplete until both reports have been submitted.

This page offers three functionalities:

  1. Delete: Allows you to delete a report.
  2. Resend: Allows you to send a reminder to your referees.
  3. Unlock: Allows you to unlock the report once it has been completed so changes can be made by the referee. Unlocking the reports do not allow you to view the report. Once unlocked, you must select the Resend function to resubmit the invitation to the referee. Inform your referee that the report has been unlocked to allow him or her to make the required modifications and resubmit the report.


NSERC does not require original signatures on applications or other documents submitted electronically through its On-line System. The electronic submission of applications through this system represents approval and replaces the traditional “physical” or “wet” signatures.

What do the electronic or original signatures on the application mean?

For applicants

Before you, as an applicant, can submit your application to NSERC, you must read and agree to the Terms and Conditions of Applying that appear in a pop-up window during the submission process. It is your responsibility to retain a copy of the agreed Terms and Conditions for your records.

The signatures of the institutional authorities (if applicable) certify that:

List for a Complete Application

Use the following list to make sure your application is complete.

  • Application for a Postgraduate Scholarship or Postdoctoral Fellowship (Form 201)
    • Application Profile
    • Personal Profile
    • Addresses
    • Academic Background
    • Work Experience
    • Scholarships and other Awards Offered
    • Location of Tenure
    • Justification for Location of Tenure (PDF applicants only)
    • Scholarship/Fellowship Information
    • Thesis Information
    • Key Words/Research Subject Code
    • Outline of Proposed Research (Attachment)
    • Justification for Eligibility of Proposed Research (Attachment)
    • Contributions/Statements (Attachment)
    • Transcripts (Attachment)
    • Reports on the Applicant
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