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Postdoctoral Fellowships Program

Overview
Value $45,000 per year for two years
Application deadline October 17
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 institutions.

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 can apply only once to the PDF program.
  • You may submit only one application per year to one granting agency (NSERC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research [CIHR] or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council [SSHRC]). You must not have already received a postdoctoral award (including a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship) from SSHRC, NSERC or CIHR.
  • You must have completed all requirements of your doctoral degree no more than two years before the deadline date of the year in which you apply.

    Note: This is not the conferred or convocation date indicated on your transcript, but instead 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. For applicants with more than one doctoral degree, the completion date of your most recent doctoral degree will be used to determine your eligibility.  
  • If you have acquired at least six months of full-time relevant employment in industry or government (experience in an academic institution or its affiliated hospitals, research institutions and other laboratories will not be considered) after you received your doctorate, NSERC will extend the eligibility period to three years.
  • If, within two years following the date of completion of your PhD, you had your career significantly interrupted due to illness or health-related family responsibilities, NSERC will extend this eligibility period to three years.
  • If you have completed a non-research based clinical residency program after you received your doctorate, NSERC will extend the eligibility period to three years.
  • If, within two years following the date of completion of your PhD, you had your career significantly interrupted due to parental, medical and/or family-related responsibilities, NSERC will extend the eligibility period to three years.
  • If, within two years before or after the date of completion of your PhD, you become the primary caregiver following the birth or adoption of a child, NSERC will extend the eligibility period to six years.
  • If you are subject to an extended eligibility period, then you may be asked by NSERC to provide additional information and/or supporting documentation. Any such submission to NSERC will only be used by staff to assess your eligibility to the program. If you wish to inform the review committee of delays and/or circumstances that may have affected your performance and/or productivity, then you may do so in the Special Circumstances section of the application.

Where can you hold your fellowship?

You can hold your PDF at:

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

You cannot hold a PDF in Canadian federal government laboratories or in industrial laboratories across Canada.

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 institution.
  • 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 institution (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 (for example, proximity to required health care facilities), family reasons (for example, a spouse's career) or scientific reasons (for example, availability of specialized equipment), which make it extremely difficult for you to leave a particular institution. Even if your exception is granted, you are not permitted to 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.
  • Holding a PDF abroad may affect your residency status in Canada. You may wish to contact the relevant Canadian authorities or an appropriate expert for advice.  

How do you apply?

You can apply for a PDF by completing and submitting Form 201, 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 17. 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 schol@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

Review procedures and selection criteria

NSERC scholarships and fellowships selection committees review all PDF applications. The selection committees evaluate each application according to the selection criteria described in the Selection Committee Guide for Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships Programs. Note that NSERC may increase equity and diversity among qualified applicants by giving award priority to meritorious applicants who self-identify as Indigenous and/or as a woman, if sufficient funds become available. The selection committees are organized according to the following broad discipline categories:

  • Civil and industrial 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 expects selection committee 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.

NSERC is acting on the evidence that equity, diversity and inclusion strengthen the scientific and engineering communities and the quality, social relevance and impact of research. Applicants should refer to questions 5 to 7 in the Guide for Applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application for more information.

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 look for in assessing applications. Applicants should also read the Instructions for completing an application – Form 201.

Applicants are evaluated and selected according to:

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

Notification of decision

NSERC will notify all applicants of the results 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.