Eligibility criteria for students and fellows

To be eligible for support from the majority of NSERC’s scholarships and fellowships programs (except for Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships), you must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada or a protected person under subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada), as of the application deadline date. NSERC may ask for proof of citizenship, residency or protected person status before and while providing funding.

You must not be currently declared ineligible to apply for and hold funding from NSERC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), or any other Canadian research funding organization for reasons of breach of standards of ethics or integrity (including financial or scientific misconduct).

You must have accounts in good standing with NSERC, including having paid and/or returned any money owed to NSERC. The determination of whether or not an account is in good standing shall be at the sole and absolute discretion of NSERC.

NSERC uses the date of degree completion to determine your eligibility for some NSERC programs. This is the date on which all the requirements of your degree have been met, including the successful defence and submission of the corrected copy of your thesis (in accordance with your institution's regulations). It is not the conferred or convocation date.

Note: To determine if you are eligible for a particular award, consult the information about eligibility criteria of each program description found in the program guide for students and fellows. For eligibility criteria specific to the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships or the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships, consult their respective websites.

Eligibility to hold an award

To hold an award, you must accept the terms and conditions of the award, as set out in this document, in the appropriate program description, in the General requirements or General regulations sections of the appropriate award holder’s guides.

Note: Awards may be cancelled without notice if the conditions under which they are granted are violated.

Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency

There are two other federal granting agencies that offer support for which you may be eligible:

You may submit a maximum of one scholarship (master’s or doctoral) or fellowship application per academic year to either NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC.

Some research proposals overlap the individual jurisdictions, priorities and interests of the three agencies. You should consult the guidelines of each agency on the  Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency web page to select the one best suited to consider your application. You should also consult the Addendum to the guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health web page for examples of eligible and ineligible research subject matters related to NSERC’s mandate.

Eligibility criteria for proposed research and programs of study

If you receive an award, other than a Canada Graduate Scholarship (master’s or doctoral), from NSERC, but then change your research to a field that NSERC does not support, you will no longer be eligible. As a result, NSERC will cancel the award.

Proposed research

NSERC supports research whose major challenges lie in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), other than the health sciences. Research primarily in the NSE that advances NSE knowledge is eligible for NSERC support, even if it may have potential future applications in human health—such as diagnosis or treatment. Proposals that include the use of methodologies, tools, techniques and knowledge from the NSE are not automatically considered eligible. Additionally, research involving clinical trials or research related to human health or nutrition that focuses on collecting data to support regulatory requirements or marketing needs is not eligible. Research in animal health and veterinary medicine is normally eligible. In cases where the proposed research is deemed to fall within the mandate of either CIHR or SSHRC, NSERC may reject the application.

Note: If you or your proposed supervisor have peviously received 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 fundamental research to more applied research in the health or social sciences and humanities areas, you may no longer be eligible for NSERC support.

Proposed research related to health

If your proposed research is related to health, consult the   Guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health section of the Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency website and the Addendum to the guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health web page for guidance on the eligibility of research in health according to respective agency mandates.

Proposed research in psychology

The field of psychology is supported by the three granting agencies. Consult the Guidelines for the eligibility of applications in psychology section of the Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency web page for guidance on the eligibility of research in psychology according to respective agency mandates.

Proposed research in anthropology

Within the field of anthropology, NSERC considers applications that relate to

  • non-human primate biology and behaviour
  • palaeoanthropology (pre-Homo sapiens sapiens)

If your research relates to prehistory (Homo sapiens sapiens) or human population biology (contemporary populations), consult with SSHRC or NSERC prior to any applicable deadline in order to determine within which agency mandate your research lies.

Interdisciplinary proposed research

If you are seeking support for interdisciplinary research that bridges the areas covered by more than one of the three agencies (NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC) and are not certain about the eligibility of your proposed research, consult with one of the granting agencies well before any applicable deadlines. NSERC staff can be contacted by email at schol@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

Program of study

An eligible graduate program must include a significant research component that leads to the completion of a thesis, major research project, dissertation,  scholarly publication, performance, recital and/or exhibit that is merit/expert-reviewed at the institutional level as a requirement for completion of the program.

Joint programs with a professional degree (for example, MD/PhD, DVM/PhD, JD/PhD, MBA/PhD) as well as clinically oriented programs of study, including clinical psychology are eligible if they have a significant autonomous research component, as described above.

For the Canada Graduate Scholarships – Master’s (CGS M) program, consult the Program of study eligibility section of the CGS M program web page.

Location(s) of tenure

Scholarships and fellowships are generally tenable at an institution whose standing is recognized by NSERC. Refer to the specific program descriptions for details on the eligible locations of tenure.

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