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Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants and Proposed Research Supervisors

This document is related only to the Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA).

General Questions

  1. How can I apply for a USRA?
  2. Whom should I contact if I have questions about the program?
  3. I am registered part-time at the institution. Am I eligible to apply for a USRA?
  4. Can I hold an Experience Award (formerly IUSRA) and a USRA in a given fiscal year?
  5. I am graduating from my undergraduate degree. Am I eligible to hold a USRA in the term following the completion of my degree requirements?
  6. I am a student at a foreign institution. Am I eligible to apply for a USRA?
  7. Is it possible to apply for a USRA with more than one department or institution?
  8. During the tenure of the award, what is the maximum number of courses that I can be enrolled in?
  9. Am I eligible to hold an award for less than 16 weeks?
  10. Can USRA recipients take sick leave or vacation during the work term?

Completing Form 202 – Part I (to be completed by the applicant)

  1. I applied for a USRA last year and would like to re-apply this year. Can I re-use the same application form (Form 202 – Part I)?
  2. Where can I find guidance regarding transcripts?

Completing Form 202 – Part II (to be completed by the proposed research supervisor)

  1. The results of the current Discovery Grants competition have not been announced yet and the internal deadline of the institution is fast approaching. Do I have to wait for the results before completing Form 202 – Part II?
  2. Is there a limit to the number of students one faculty member can supervise?
  3. Is co‐supervision allowed?
  4. Do research supervisors need to be on site while their students hold a USRA award?

General Questions

1. How can I apply for a USRA?
You must complete Form 202 using the On-line Services. Read the instructions carefully to ensure that the form is completed properly. Refer to the program description in the Program Guide for Students and Fellows before you complete the application.

2. Whom should I contact if I have questions about the program?
Your first point of contact must be the Liaison Officer (LO) at the institution where you intend to apply. This will ensure that all requirements set by the institution are met. The institution conducts an internal selection process, has its own internal deadlines and may have additional eligibility requirements.

3. I am registered part-time at the institution. Am I eligible to apply for a USRA?
Yes, part-time and full-time students are eligible to apply to the USRA program as long as they are registered in a bachelor’s degree program and meet all other eligibility criteria.

4. Can I hold an Experience Award (formerly IUSRA) and a USRA in a given fiscal year?
Yes, you can hold one of each per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).

5. I am graduating from my undergraduate degree. Am I eligible to hold a USRA in the term following the completion of my degree requirements?
Yes, you can hold a USRA, provided you have not yet started your graduate studies and you meet all other eligibility criteria.

6. I am a student at a foreign institution. Am I eligible to apply for a USRA?
If you are Canadian or a permanent resident registered at a recognized institution outside of Canada, you may apply to a Canadian institution for a USRA.

7. Is it possible to apply for a USRA with more than one department or institution?
Yes, you can apply with more than one department or institution, but you can hold only one USRA.

8. During the tenure of the award, what is the maximum number of courses that I can be enrolled in?
You may take a maximum of one course during the tenure of the award, if you have your research supervisor’s approval and arrange to make up any missing time.

9. Am I eligible to hold an award for less than 16 weeks?
Only under exceptional circumstances outside the student’s control will shorter work terms be considered. NSERC will not grant an award for periods of less than 12 consecutive weeks and the award value will be prorated to the number of weeks. The request must be made directly to the LO at the institution where you wish to hold the USRA and a justification must be provided.

10. Can USRA recipients take sick leave or vacation during the work term?
The USRA program makes no provision for sick leave or other interruptions of awards. Contact your LO if there are special circumstances that prevent you from completing your work term.

Completing Form 202 – Part I (to be completed by the applicant)

11. I applied for a USRA last year and would like to re-apply this year. Can I re-use the same application form (Form 202 – Part I)?
Yes, if you have already applied using Form 202 – Part I, you need to use the same form for your next application. Update the form to re-apply and don’t forget to update your transcripts.

12. Where can I find guidance regarding transcripts?
Refer to the instructions for details on the Transcripts section. If you require further information contact the LO at the institution where you wish to hold your award.

Completing Form 202 – Part II (to be completed by the proposed research supervisor)

13. The results of the current Discovery Grants competition have not been announced yet and the internal deadline of the institution is fast approaching. Do I have to wait for the results before completing Form 202 – Part II?
We suggest that you complete Part II and submit the USRA application even if you have not heard about your Discovery Grant. As long as you hold an active Discovery Grant at the time when the student starts the award, you are eligible to supervise a USRA student. If your DG application is not funded, the institution can propose an alternate eligible research supervisor.

14. Is there a limit to the number of students one faculty member can supervise?
There is no limit imposed by NSERC; however, we support the institution’s decision to have a reasonable number of USRA students working under a given faculty member at the same time.

15. Is cosupervision allowed?
Yes; however, one NSERC grantee must be designated as the student’s official research supervisor. Co-supervision of a student can be mentioned in the Research Proposal section of the application. There is no other place in the application where it can be indicated.

16. Do research supervisors need to be on site while their students hold a USRA award?
NSERC expects the research supervisor to be physically present for the majority of the period of the award. It is acceptable for the research supervisor to delegate supervision for short periods to other faculty members, experienced technicians, postdoctoral fellows, or doctoral students. It is not acceptable for the research supervisor to be present only through virtual, online or telecommunications means.