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Postdoctoral Fellowships Program

Value $45,000 per year for two years
Application Deadline October 15
How to Apply See below
Application Form

Form 201 – Application for a Postgraduate Scholarship or Postdoctoral Fellowship

To create Form 201, select On-line System Login. To view instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions.
For More Information Consult the Contact List.

Refer to the Selection Committee Guide for Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships Programs

What kind of support does the Postdoctoral Fellowships Program provide?

The Postdoctoral Fellowships (PDF) Program provides support to a core of the most promising researchers at a pivotal time in their careers. The fellowships are also intended to secure a supply of highly qualified Canadians with leading edge scientific and research skills for Canadian industry, government and universities.

Are you eligible for a PDF?

To be considered eligible for support, as of the deadline date of the year in which you apply, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada;
  • hold or expect to hold a doctorate in one of the fields of research that NSERC supports.

In addition:

  • You must have completed all requirements of your first doctoral degree no more than two years before the deadline date of the year in which you apply.
  • If you have acquired at least six months of full-time relevant employment in industry or government (experience in a university or its affiliated hospitals, research institutions and other laboratories will not be considered) after you received your doctorate, NSERC will extend this eligibility period to three years.
  • If, within two years following the date of completion of your PhD, you withdraw from the workforce and from active research for parental leave or to raise a child for at least one year, NSERC will extend this eligibility period to six years.

If you anticipate taking less than a full year of parental leave, you are expected to submit your application during the two year eligibility window. If you are successful in obtaining an award, you can defer it for parental or medical reasons and/or because of family-related responsibilities. Refer to Tri-Agency Research Training Award Holder’s Guide for more information.

For degree programs you have completed, provide the date on which all the requirements of your degree were met, including the 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. The Faculty of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent) may be asked to confirm the date the degree requirements were met.

You can apply only once to the PDF Program; however, applicants whose first PDF application was submitted prior to the 2013 competition may submit a second application provided they are within the eligibility window.

Note: You may submit only one application per year to one granting agency (NSERC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council).

Where can you hold your fellowship?

You can hold your PDF at:

  • Canadian universities;
  • provincial research institutions in Canada;
  • other appropriate research laboratories in Canada;
  • universities and research institutions abroad.

You cannot hold a PDF in Canadian government laboratories or in industrial laboratories across Canada. For information about tenure in Canadian government laboratories, see the Visiting Fellowships in Canadian Government Laboratories Program.

NSERC encourages you to undertake research that involves collaboration with other Canadian organizations. The nature of the proposed collaboration must be acceptable to the host institution.

In addition:

  • You may hold a PDF abroad only if you have received your doctorate from a Canadian university.
  • 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 institutions, 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 medical reasons (e.g., proximity to required health care facilities), family reasons (e.g., a spouse's career) or scientific reasons (e.g., availability of specialized equipment), which make it extremely difficult for you to leave a particular institution. Even if your exception is granted, you may not be supervised by your PhD supervisor. You are encouraged to include an alternate location for your PDF in the event that your request for an exception is not approved.
  • You may not hold the PDF with your PhD supervisor, even if your supervisor changes research institutions.

How do you apply?

You can apply for a PDF by completing and submitting Form 201, and attaching supporting documents if necessary. Read the instructions on how to complete Form 201.

Application deadline

NSERC must receive your application electronically before 8:00 p.m. (ET) on October 15. Incomplete applications will be rejected.

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

Review procedures and selection criteria

NSERC scholarships and fellowships selection committees review all PDF applications. The selection committees are organized according to the broad discipline categories:

  • Civil, industrial and systems engineering
  • Chemical, biomedical and materials science engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Computing sciences
  • Mathematical sciences
  • Physics and astronomy
  • Chemistry
  • Earth sciences
  • Evolution and ecology
  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Plant and animal biology
  • Psychology

The research subject code (see List of Research Subject Codes for Scholarships and Fellowships) 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.

NSERC asks members to consistently guard against the possibility of unconscious bias influencing the decision-making process, whether these biases are based on a school of thought, fundamental versus applied research, certain sub-disciplines, areas of research or approaches (including emerging ones), size or reputation of an institution, age, gender and/or other personal factors of the applicant.

In preparing their application, applicants should consult the Selection criteria and indicators section and Appendix A of the Selection Committee Guide for Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships Programs which provides useful information on what committee members should look for in assessing applications.

Applicants are evaluated and selected according to the following selection criteria:

  • Research ability or potential (70%)
  • Communication, interpersonal, and leadership abilities (30%)

Notification of decision

NSERC will notify all applicants of the results by email by the end of January. NSERC will not provide results by telephone.

NSERC will publish the names (and other basic award information) of fellowship recipients on its website. For more information, see the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act.

Conditions of the award

Refer to the Tri-Agency Research Training Award Holder’s Guide for policies and requirements about holding the award, such as acceptance, start date, deferment, paid parental leave, holding the award on a part-time basis, etc.