A planned outage affecting this website and several other NSERC and SSHRC (including TIPS) websites and granting portals will take place from Friday, June 28, 2024, at 4 p.m., until Tuesday, July 2, 2024, at 8 a.m. (ET). For more details, visit NSERC or SSHRC/TIPS dedicated webpages.

Eligibility requirements for faculty to apply for or hold grant funds

The College and Community Innovation (CCI) program and its roles and eligibility requirements were recently redesigned to simplify, streamline and address the changing dynamics of applied research in colleges and communities across Canada.

Please consult the Roles and eligibility requirements to apply for or hold College and Community Innovation program grant funds page for all relevant information.

The eligibility requirements for university and college faculty1 to apply for or hold grant funds from NSERC university-based programs are detailed below and are approved by NSERC Council. Contact your institution’s research grants office or NSERC if you have questions regarding your eligibility.

On this page

Definitions of roles

Your role determines your level of access to apply for or hold funds.

As a university or college2 faculty you may apply for and hold grant funds as either an applicant or a co-applicant.


The principal investigator on an application. Leads the direction of the proposed research/activities, as well as coordinates the financial and administrative aspects of the application and grant.


Member of a research group applying for a team grant. May lead some of the proposed research/activities.

Collaborators or participants may take part in a research team but will not have access to grant funds. Must be qualified to undertake research independently and will be expected to contribute to the overall intellectual direction of the research project or program of research. Refer to specific funding opportunities for detailed eligibility requirements.

To take on any of the roles described above:

  • You must not be currently deemed ineligible* to hold and/or apply for funding, in any role, for reasons of breach of responsible conduct of research policies, such as ethics, integrity or financial management policies.
  • You must have accounts in good standing with NSERC, including having paid or returned all money owing to NSERC. The determination of whether an account is in good standing shall be at the sole and absolute discretion of NSERC.

* By NSERC, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) or any other research funding organization worldwide.

Eligibility requirements for applicants and co-applicants

As a university or college faculty in an applicant or co-applicant role, you must comply with the eligibility requirements listed below at the time of application and during the tenure of the grant. Certain funding opportunities may outline additional requirements to align with specific objectives.

Appointment and faculty position3

1. You must hold or have a firm offer4 of an academic appointment at an eligible post-secondary institution. The appointment can be:

1.1. For university faculty

  1. a tenured, tenure-track or professor emeritus position, or
  2. a term or contract position of no less than three continuous years

1.2. For college faculty

  1. a permanent position, or
  2. a term or contract position of no less than three continuous years

When your primary position is outside of Canada, you are only eligible if you work full-time in an eligible Canadian post-secondary institution. A part-time position is not eligible when your primary position is outside of Canada.

Research and student supervision

2. Your position at the eligible post-secondary institution must:

2.1. For university faculty

  1. require you to engage in natural sciences and engineering research5 that is not under the direction of another individual, and
  2. permit you to supervise or co-supervise the research* of postdoctoral fellows or students registered in an undergraduate or graduate degree program

* E.g., thesis supervision, and not supervision of regular course or laboratory assignments.

2.2. For college faculty

  1. permit you to engage in research-related activities that are not under the direction of another individual

Sources of salary/support

3. Your faculty appointment must not be conditional on obtaining NSERC grants or other non-NSERC sources of support, including salary support.

4. Your salary must not be paid by NSERC, SSHRC, or CIHR grant funds. Exceptions include: scientific directors of Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) and those under the agencies’ salary support programs.

Note on adjunct professors

As an adjunct professor, you must meet the above NSERC’s eligibility requirements. Your primary place of employment will determine your level of access to apply for or hold funds. If your primary place of employment is:

  • at an eligible Canadian university, you may apply as applicant or co-applicant to NSERC grants funding opportunities.
  • outside the Canadian university sector (e.g., government, industry or colleges), you may apply for a Discovery Grant as principal applicant and to other NSERC grants as co-applicants. In this case, NSERC grants funds only for the direct support of students (salaries or stipends and student travel costs); all other costs must be covered through other sources of funding.

During the tenure of the grant

  • You must take up your faculty position and complete all degree requirements (if you were previously enrolled in a graduate program) before any funds can be released for an NSERC grant you are the applicant or co-applicant on. For Discovery Grants, this can be no later than September 1 of the year of the grant.
  • You must notify NSERC if your eligibility status changes during your tenure of the grant (refer to Continuing eligibility in the Tri-agency guide on financial administration). NSERC will conduct a review to determine your continued eligibility and will work with your institutional representatives to obtain additional details as required.
  • You must not simultaneously hold a grant and be enrolled in a research intensive graduate program, hold a postdoctoral fellow position or any similar research position under the direction of another individual in any discipline.

Terms and conditions

As an applicant you must accept and comply with the terms and conditions of both the application and any resulting grant. By accepting these terms and conditions, you confirm that:

Contact Newsletter

Get highlights of things happening at NSERC delivered to your email inbox. View all Newsletters

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Youtube
  • Instagram