Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Common menu bar links

Experience Awards

Experience Awards are now closed.

NSERC will honour commitments for existing Experience Awards under their original terms and conditions.

For other sources of funding for hiring students, please consult the This link will take you to another Web site Innovation Canada Concierge Service or the Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) This link will take you to another Web site Student Work Placement (SWP) Program.

For the latest information, consult Alliance Grants.

Value $4,500 plus organization contribution
Application deadline Minimum of four weeks before start date of work term
How to apply See below
Application forms
  • Form 183B – Application (new or renewal) for Eligibility of Organizations to Participate in NSERC's Industrial R&D Fellowships Program, Industrial Postgraduate Scholarships Program and Experience Awards (completed by the organization within the last three years)
  • Form 202, Part I – Application for an Experience Award
  • Form 202, Part II – Application for an Experience Award (in industry)
To create or access an application, select On-line System Login. To view instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions.
For more information Contact the NSERC regional office in your area.

Important information

For more information on how to apply, consult the List for a complete application and the sections below.

Who should read this section?

Although this section is intended for potential applicants, it also provides important information for potential host organizations that want to nominate undergraduate students for Experience Awards.

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. Increasing diversity and gender equity in the research enterprise are key priorities in our current strategic plan, NSERC 2020, and are highlighted in the strategic goal of “Building a Diversified and Competitive Research Base.”

What are these awards for?

Experience Awards are meant to stimulate your interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering. They are also meant to encourage you to undertake graduate studies and to pursue a research career in these fields. If you would like to gain research work experience in an industrial setting that complements your studies, these awards can provide you with financial support through your host organization. NSERC encourages qualified Indigenous students to apply for an Experience Award.

Note: Experience Awards may be held during co-op placements. Your university co-op office may be able to assist you in finding a placement.

Are you eligible for an award?

To be eligible to apply for an award, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
  • be registered, at the time you apply, in a bachelor's degree program in the fields of natural sciences or engineering at an eligible Canadian university or college;
  • have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative average of at least second class (a grade of "B" or "B-," if applicable) as defined by your institution. This will be demonstrated by including a transcript with your application. The transcript should include the name of your institution, the program in which you are enrolled, your complete course of study, your marks and the legend explaining acronyms, etc.

In addition...

  • If you already hold a bachelor's degree and are studying toward a second bachelor's degree, you may still apply for an Experience Award.
  • You may hold only one Experience Award per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31). However, students who are enrolled in a co-op program may submit two applications in a fiscal year in order to hold two awards for a total of 24 to 32 weeks. At least one of these awards must be held during a co-op term.
  • You may hold a maximum of three Experience Awards throughout your postsecondary career.

To hold an award, you must:

  • have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of postsecondary study (or two academic terms) of your bachelor's degree;
  • have been registered in the term immediately before holding the award in a bachelor’s program at an eligible institution (either in classes or in a co-op);
  • be employed full-time in eligible research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during tenure of the award.

Who is not eligible?

You are not considered eligible for an Experience Award if:

  • you are currently enrolled in an undergraduate professional degree program in the health sciences (e.g., MD, DDS, BScN).

What are eligible R&D activities during the award?

Eligible research projects include a wide array of activities; however, applications are not accepted for an Experience Award if they include:

  • market research or sales promotion;
  • quality control;
  • routine data collection;
  • preparation of routine documentation or procedures (including questionnaires);
  • tech or helpdesk support;
  • research in non-natural sciences and engineering fields.

This is not a comprehensive list, and other activities proposed or evidence that the research challenge is not sufficient may result in the project being declared ineligible. Refer to the Form 202 instructions for guidance on preparing an outline of the research project to be undertaken during the award.

Value of awards

  • These awards have a maximum value of $4,500 for a full 16-week period.
  • Organizations are required to supplement the award by at least 25% of its value and should comply with their provincial employment standards. The organization will be responsible for supplements to the weekly value and fringe benefits (if applicable).
  • NSERC's contribution is paid directly to the host organization and is included in the salary you receive.
  • A travel allowance may also be granted (see Travel allowances for more information).

NSERC will not reimburse the organization for any period during which you worked part-time. No payment will be approved for any holidays you take during tenure of the award.

Additional support for the student may be possible in partnership with provincial funding agencies. Contact your NSERC regional office for more details.

Your status at your host organization

For the duration of the award, you will be an employee of the host organization. Your activities will be governed by the terms and conditions of employment of regular employees engaged in similar work.

Supervision of the student at the organization

Students must be supervised by full-time employees of the organization. Whenever possible, supervision should be done by research staff. The host organization must provide an adequate industrial environment, including support and supervision at a level suitable for the awardee as well as appropriate research facilities on the organization's premises. Host organizations must have a minimum of two full-time employees and be in operation for a minimum of two years to be eligible. Companies that are poised and equipped for exceptional growth but do not explicitly meet these above two requirements should contact NSERC to discuss eligibility before undertaking an application. For further information, see the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships.

Duration of awards

  • The normal duration of the award is 16 consecutive weeks.
  • NSERC will not grant an award for periods of less than 12 consecutive weeks.
  • You can hold an award at any time during the year as permitted by your academic program.
  • Tenure may start on a date acceptable to both you and your host organization.

Where can you hold your award?

Experience Awards can be held within the Canadian-based research facilities of any Canadian private-sector organization deemed suitable to host an Experience Award. These awards may not be held outside Canada. Host organizations must have a minimum of two full-time employees and be in operation for a minimum of two years to be eligible. Companies that are poised and equipped for exceptional growth but do not explicitly meet these above two requirements should contact NSERC to discuss eligibility before undertaking an application. For further information, see the Guidelines for Organizations Participating in Research Partnerships or contact your NSERC regional office for assistance.

Host organizations must have completed an Application (new or renewal) for Eligibility of Organizations to Participate in NSERC's Industrial R&D Fellowships Program, Industrial Postgraduate Scholarships Program and Experience Awards (Form 183B) within the past three years. A separate Form 183B must be completed for each individual subsidiary, branch, division or location of the organization wanting to host a student or fellow. This form can be completed and submitted through the On-line System.

How do you apply?

You may apply for these awards at one or more organizations. Contact organizations at which you might like to work. If they are interested, you must complete and submit your application using NSERC’s On-line System. Refer to the instructions for completing Form 202. Paper copies are not accepted.

How are students selected for awards?

Organizations will select their candidates on the basis of information that may be available from interviews and other sources. A limited number of awards are available. NSERC will support up to 15 students per eligible organization, per location, and per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31). Awards will be given on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to fulfillment of the eligibility conditions and subject to availability. Organizations will inform applicants whose applications they did not forward to NSERC.

Application deadlines

Experience Award applications may be submitted at any time. For administrative purposes, NSERC should receive applications from the organization at least four weeks before the scheduled start date of the work term. Applications received more than two months after the proposed start date of the work term will not be approved.

If you have already started your work term with an organization before NSERC has notified you of the decision, there is no guarantee that your application will be successful. NSERC may still reject your application based on eligibility criteria or availability of awards.

Award decisions

NSERC will inform students and organizations of its decision generally within one month of the day it receives the application. If the application is not successful, any subsequent application for the same term will not be considered. An application for the student to work with the same host organization will only be accepted for a future term.


NSERC is committed to maintaining the strict confidentiality of information submitted in the application form and of organization information, especially as it relates to proprietary information.

However, the student's name, the name of the organization, and the general field of research are considered public information and may be released by NSERC.

Title to research results

The host organization will retain all titles and rights to the results of your work. The organization's patent policies will apply to any patentable inventions and developments resulting from your work.

Intellectual Property Policy

NSERC’s Intellectual Property Policy does not apply to Experience Awards.

Payments to students

As a student, you will receive your award payments directly from your host organization. Organizations will issue payments to you for the total value of the award in accordance with their pay procedures. They will also issue a T4 or T4A slip (Statement of Income) to you at the end of the calendar year.

Student final report

Near the end of tenure of the award, you will be contacted by NSERC to comment on your experience. A message with instructions for completing the report will be sent to the email address indicated in your application. Notify if your contact information changes.

Payments to organizations

In order to be reimbursed by NSERC, organizations will be contacted by NSERC to confirm the payments made to the student and to obtain comments on the organization’s experience. Near the end of the tenure of the award, a message with instructions for completing the report and requesting reimbursement will be sent to the email address of the organization representative indicated in the application. Notify if this contact information changes.

Organizations will not be reimbursed if the response described above is received more than two months after the end of the Experience Award.

Travel allowances

NSERC may approve a travel allowance for the actual costs you incur to get to your host organization’s work location and back. The allowance is based on the economy air fare between the postsecondary institution at which you are registered and the organization. Note that travel allowances are taxable.

To apply for a travel allowance, contact to obtain the Travel Claim Form. The completed form must be sent, along with your original receipts, to the Finance and Awards Administration Division at NSERC.

In addition...

  • NSERC will pay your return travel costs only if the actual period of tenure is 12 weeks or more.
  • NSERC will not provide a travel allowance for your spouse or children.
  • This allowance is not intended to offset your daily commuting costs to and from the organization.
  • NSERC will provide an allowance (as deemed reasonable by NSERC’s Finance Division) for ground transportation costs to and from your residence and your point of departure (e.g., airport, train station, bus station).
  • NSERC will not provide an allowance for the cost of transporting excess baggage or removing household effects.
  • Travel claims must be submitted no more than one month after the completion of the Experience Award work term.

Note: Frequent flyer points will not be reimbursed.