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University Faculty Awards

The elimination of the University Faculty Awards program was announced some time ago, and the last new awards were made in 2008. There will be no further competitions.

Read the complete message from NSERC President, Dr. Suzanne Fortier, and the Honourable James Edwards, Vice-President and Chair of Council, about the Strategic Review and Budget 2009.

Please note: As NSERC is developing new programs aimed at addressing the under-representation of women and Aboriginals in the natural sciences and engineering, the 2008 UFA competition was the final one.
Value $40,000/year salary contribution for up to five years
Application Deadline Program is now closed. Applications will no longer be accepted.
Program Contact View Contact Information

What is the goal of the program?

The goal of the University Faculty Awards program is to enhance the recruitment, retention and early career progression of women and Aboriginal people in tenure-track faculty positions in the natural sciences and engineering, in Canadian universities, by providing opportunities for them to establish a strong research record.

Note: For the purposes of this competition, Aboriginal people are defined as Indians, Inuit, or Métis. Eligibility must be established either through official documentation (Indian card, Band/Treaty number, or enrolment as a beneficiary of a Land Claims Agreement), or by demonstration of involvement and acceptance as an individual of Aboriginal ancestry within the existing Aboriginal community.

Are you eligible for a faculty award?

Please note that successful UFA nominees must at all times hold an active Discovery Grant in order to hold a UFA award.

To be considered eligible for support, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada as of the nomination deadline date; and
  • be a woman or Aboriginal person who holds a doctorate in one of the fields of research that NSERC supports, or who expects to have completed all the requirements for such a degree, including the thesis defence, by the proposed date of appointment.

In addition, you must...

  • have relevant experience following receipt of your doctorate as required by the university for an appointment at the rank of at least assistant professor in your discipline;
  • be nominated by a Canadian university that is eligible for NSERC awards. Nominations submitted directly to NSERC by individuals will not be accepted (you must first contact the university of your choice); and
  • as of the nomination deadline date, have held for less than one year, or have been offered, a tenured or tenure-track appointment in the nominating Canadian university. An offered appointment may be conditional upon receipt of the award.

Who is not eligible?

You are not eligible if:

  • you have held a tenured or tenure-track position at a Canadian university for more than one year as of the nomination deadline date; or
  • you previously held a tenured or tenure-track position at a Canadian university.

Note: You may be eligible under exceptional circumstances, for instance, a desire to return to academia following a research career in industry or government, a career interruption for child care or nurturing reasons, or a change of employment due to relocation as a result of your spouse's career. A detailed justification addressing the circumstances surrounding your departure from a previously held tenured or tenure-track position at a Canadian university must be provided.

Where can you hold your award?

University Faculty Awards are tenable at eligible Canadian universities. The university must offer an appointment that will provide the award holder all the privileges extended to a regular faculty member.

What is the duration of the award?

If you are a successful applicant, NSERC will contribute to your salary for a maximum of 60 months. The duration of the UFA will equal that of the awarded Discovery Grant, up to a maximum of five years. If the duration of your Discovery Grant is less than five years, you will have to apply for and receive a Discovery Grant renewal in order to receive the subsequent UFA instalments (up to a total maximum of five years).

Terms and conditions

  • UFA holders must refer to the University Faculty Awards Program Guide for Award Holders and University Administrators.
  • For the duration of the award, UFA holders will be employees of the university where they hold the award. Their activities will be governed by the same terms and conditions of employment as regular faculty employees who are engaged in similar work, and by other conditions the university imposes. Note exception: UFA holders may teach no more than one full course per year and accept no more than a half service or administrative load.
  • UFA holders are responsible for negotiating such matters as research plans, salary, teaching, and administrative duties, provision of research facilities and fringe benefits with the university at the time of nomination.
  • At the end of year three, a progress report must be completed by the university and UFA holder and submitted to NSERC. Continued support will be subject to a satisfactory evaluation.
  • An award may be terminated by NSERC at any time if the university or award holder no longer meets the above criteria or if an award holder’s progress is considered unsatisfactory.

Nature of appointment

  • UFA holders are expected to devote the majority of their time to research and to participate in the supervision of both undergraduate and graduate student research.
  • During their appointment, UFA holders are encouraged to collaborate and interact with others in the university, government, and industrial sectors. However, receipt of the award means that they have been judged as being capable of performing research at least at the level achieved by a new assistant professor in their discipline; therefore, UFA holders may not conduct their research under the direction of a more senior colleague.

University obligations

  • The university is expected to give UFA holders a tenured or tenure-track position with status and privileges equivalent to those of a faculty member and to remunerate them at the level of a faculty member with equivalent qualifications, experience, and responsibilities. The university's normal probationary period should apply even though teaching and service load are reduced.
  • The university must provide assistance (teacher assistants) in circumstances where the award holder is required to teach a very large group of students (e.g., undergraduate courses).


  • The salary determined by the university should be comparable to that offered to other academic faculty with similar qualifications, experience, and responsibilities. Award holders should be paid in accordance with the university's normal practices.
  • Fringe benefits should be comparable to those of other university faculty.
  • Award holders should receive the salary increments and merit increases to which they are entitled as faculty members under the existing salary policy of the university.
  • NSERC will not approve the award if it determines the salary contribution from the university to be inadequate.

Payment of awards

Confirmation from the university of your appointment to a tenured or tenure-track position (i.e., letter of offer and contract), including the nature and duration of the appointment, the effective start date of the appointment, your annual salary, and your teaching and administrative load is required before payment can be made. NSERC's financial contribution to the salary will be sent to the university.

Discovery Grant support

You must be successful in the Discovery Grants competition in order to hold a UFA. You must submit your Discovery Grant proposal in full accordance with the instructions for that program. The Grant Selection Committee (GSC) in each discipline will determine the value and duration of the grant. The rules governing the use and administration of Discovery Grants are described in Financial Administration.

If your initial Discovery Grant is less than five years, you must apply for renewal of Discovery Grant support by November 1 of the last year of your grant. The normal duration of five years should be requested. Form 180, Notification of Intent to Apply for a Discovery Grant, should be submitted to NSERC by August 1.

NSERC Discovery Grants may not be used to pay fringe benefits or any part of your salary.

Candidates to the UFA program may also apply for Research Tools and Instruments Grants if needed.

For additional information, see Discovery Grants and Research Tools and Instruments Grants.

Nomination and appointment procedures

NSERC will accept nominations only from universities. The nomination must be endorsed by the president of the university or his/her representative. It should address, in particular, the need for female or Aboriginal representation in the discipline as well as the university's support of, and commitment to, the candidate. If you are interested in this award, you should contact the Canadian universities where you would like to hold the award and negotiate the details of a position. It must be noted that only one university can submit your nomination to NSERC. If more than one university is interested in nominating you for an award, you must choose which university you want to submit your nomination.

You are responsible for advising this university, and all the other universities you have contacted, of your decision. Note that you will not be permitted to transfer the award from one university to another.

The nomination must include the following:

University responsibility:

  • The Rationale for University Nomination (with original signatures). This free-form document is prepared by the university, and must address clearly and in detail the "Need for female or Aboriginal representation in the discipline" and the "University commitment" criteria described below.*
  • A summary sheet that will briefly outline the core information in the Rationale for University Nomination. The nominating university should contact the NSERC UFA Program Officer in order to obtain an electronic copy of this document.*
  • Where applicable, a justification by the university for the nomination of a candidate remaining at the university where the doctoral degree or postdoctoral experience was obtained (such justification may include family or scientific reasons). In particular, the university must address the ability of the candidate to function as an independent researcher while remaining at the same university.
  • Where applicable, a detailed justification by the university for the nomination of a candidate who has previously held a tenured or tenure-track position at a Canadian university.
  • If there is more than one nomination from a department or discipline at a university, the incremental value of each appointment should be addressed in the nomination document.

The university must directly inform candidates whose nominations are not forwarded to NSERC.

* This document must be placed in a separate envelope and labeled as follows:

University Faculty Awards Nomination Scholarships and Fellowships Division
350 Albert Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 1H5

Candidate’s responsibility:

  • Notification of Intent to Apply for a Discovery Grant (Form 180)
  • Application for a Grant (Form 101) and Personal Data Form (Form 100)
  • Samples of contributions such as reprints, preprints and/or manuscripts, excerpts from your thesis, technical reports, etc., to be used by reviewers to assess the quality of your work. These documents should be chosen to represent your most significant recent contributions, or those most relevant to the proposed work, in the last six years. (Please see the Summary of Requirements for Samples of Contributions in the instructions for completing Form 101 for a Discovery Grant.)
  • A list of the samples of contributions you are submitting with your application

There is no limit to the number of nominations that an individual university may make. However, the total number of awards that NSERC will make each year is limited. NSERC does not reserve a quota of awards for any university and there are no quotas for specific research disciplines. NSERC reserves the right to limit the number of awards held at a given university.

NSERC strongly encourages universities to follow their customary recruiting practices in order to identify potential nominees.

Application deadline

Program is now closed. Applications will no longer be accepted.

Review procedures and selection criteria

The NSERC UFA Selection Committee reviews all nominations for faculty awards. Any candidate that is not recommended for a Discovery Grant by the relevant GSC will not be considered further for a UFA. The Selection Committee evaluates and selects candidates for University Faculty Awards according to the following criteria and weightings: scientific or engineering excellence of the researcher plus merit of the research program (40 per cent), need for female or Aboriginal representation in the discipline (30 per cent), and university commitment (30 per cent).

  • Scientific or Engineering Excellence of the Researcher
    • Knowledge, expertise, and experience
    • Quality of past or potential contributions to, and impact on, the proposed and other areas of research
    • Importance of contributions to, and use by, other researchers and end-users
    • Complementarity of expertise of the members of the group and synergy (where applicable)
  • Merit of the Research Program
    • Originality and innovation
    • Significance and expected contributions to research
    • Clarity and scope of objectives
    • Clarity and appropriateness of methodology
    • Feasibility
    • Extent to which the scope of the proposal addresses all relevant issues, including the need for varied expertise within or across disciplines
  • Need for female or Aboriginal representation in the discipline
    • University's justification of how hiring a woman or Aboriginal person in a particular discipline or field will meet the goal of the UFA program in the context of the overall representation of women or Aboriginal peoples in the area;
    • Impact of the appointment of this candidate (and of prior UFA appointments) on the nominating department, the university and the discipline as a whole, in terms of the under-representation of women or Aboriginal people;
    • Global statistics on the proportion of women or Aboriginal people at the undergraduate, graduate and professorial levels within the discipline at the departmental, university and national levels; and
    • Evidence of the candidate’s dynamism, outreach activities or specific relevant activities.
  • University commitment
    • Nature and terms of appointment:
      • tenured or tenure-track
      • assistant, associate, full professor
      • conditional/unconditional on award of NSERC UFA
      • duration
    • Description of why the offer is conditional or unconditional. In the case of an unconditional award, or if a candidate has been in a tenured or tenure-track appointment at the nominating university for less than one year, a description of how the funds liberated by the award will be used to meet the goals of the UFA program
    • Description of the university's normal hiring procedures and the selection process used for the appointment of the nominee
    • Nominee's salary (e.g., amount, how it was determined and how it compares to that of a faculty member with equivalent qualifications/experience/responsibilities)
    • University's financial contribution towards the cost of the research program and start-up facilities, including provisions for graduate student and technical support
    • Provision by the university/department for appropriate mentoring of the nominee, throughout the five-year UFA, in order to facilitate her/his integration and progress in departmental, university and broader research community activities
    • Availability of the space and basic facilities needed to carry out the proposed work (e.g., office space, laboratory space, animal care facilities)
    • Availability and accessibility of research equipment needed to carry out the proposed work
    • Teaching load (e.g., hours/week, course level, anticipated course enrolment, how teaching load compares with standard load for new faculty and for the department as a whole) and provisions for teaching assistants
    • Adequacy of the nominee's proposed integration and participation in the department's and university's activities:
      • administrative load (e.g., number of hours, nature of duties, etc.)
      • supervision of graduate and senior undergraduate students
      • potential for collaboration of the candidate with other members within the faculty or department, industry, and/or government, as required to carry out the proposed work/research program

Notification of decision

NSERC will announce the results of the annual UFA competition in early April by notifying all nominees and universities of the results in writing. NSERC will not provide results by telephone. The university and the successful nominees will receive a copy of the Guide for Award Holders and University Administrators. This publication provides information concerning the regulations pertaining to the award.

NSERC may also publish the names of award recipients on this Web site. For more information, refer to the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (ATIP) [32 KB - 3 Pages]Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act (ATIP) [32 KB – 3 Pages].

Date of tenure for the award

You may take up your award at any time between April 1 and September 1 of the year of the award, subject to mutual agreement with the university making the appointment. Before you can take up your award, you must have completed all the requirements of your doctoral degree. This includes successful defence of your thesis and acceptance of any required revisions. The office of the Dean of Graduate Studies must submit a confirmation of completion of your doctoral degree to NSERC.

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