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NSERC prizes – Arthur B. McDonald Fellowships

About the award

Who? Early-stage academic researchers in the natural sciences and engineering
How much? $250,000 total
How long? Two years
Application deadline   December 14, before 8:00 p.m. (ET). If the deadline falls on a weekend or federal holiday, your nomination must reach NSERC before 8:00 p.m. (ET) the following working day.


Who can apply?

If you are an early-stage academic researcher, meaning that you have held an independent academic position for 10 years or less as of June 1 of the competition year and currently hold a grant from NSERC, you can prepare a nomination for this award. Note: For 2023, NSERC will use June 1 as the eligibility cut-off date for the current competition. NSERC will change the eligibility cut-off date to December 14, 2024, for the following competition.

An independent academic position is a position that

  • is a university faculty appointment (adjunct, non-tenured or tenured)
  • requires that the researcher engage in research that is not under the direction of another individual
  • authorizes the researcher to supervise or co-supervise the research of students registered in an undergraduate or graduate degree program, or postdoctoral fellows

For example, to be eligible, a candidate submitting a nomination in December 2023 would need to have started their appointment on or after June 1, 2013.

The ten-year eligibility window is adjusted to consider instances where a researcher has had an eligible delay in research. For all eligible leaves of absence (e.g., maternity and parental leave, personal illness, chronic illness, mental illness, or disability associated with reduced research activity, leave taken for family-related illness, bereavement, extraordinary administrative duties, delays related to COVID-19), NSERC will credit eligible delays double their total duration. For example, a candidate who took a 7-month parental leave after starting their appointment would have their eligibility window extended by 14 months. Professional leaves (e.g., training, sabbatical, administrative) are not credited.

NSERC reserves the right to rule on the eligibility of nominees.

Research topics

Your research must be primarily in the fields of the natural sciences and/or engineering.

Funding for McDonald fellows

If your nomination is successful, you will receive a research grant of $250,000 over two years, held at a Canadian university or affiliated research institution. You will also be relieved from teaching and administrative duties so that you can devote your time and energy to research.

In addition, NSERC normally contributes up to $90,000 per year to the university toward your salary. NSERC expects the university to fund a replacement for the McDonald fellow’s teaching and administrative responsibilities, as part of the McDonald Fellowship agreement. NSERC reduces the contribution to the university if the McDonald fellow already holds another federal award that has a salary component, such as a Canada Research Chair or an Industrial Research Chair.

The start date of the McDonald Fellowship should be between April 1, 2024, and March 31, 2025.