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Undergraduate Student Research Awards

Applications for Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) must be completed and submitted to the Canadian institution where you wish to hold an award through NSERC's On-line System. Selected applications are submitted to NSERC by institutions. No USRA applications may be submitted directly to NSERC.

Overview
Value $4,500 plus organization contribution
Application deadline

Set by institution

How to apply See below
Application forms
  • Form 202, Part I – Application for an Undergraduate Student Research Award
  • Form 202, Part II – Application for an Undergraduate Student Research Award in University
To create or access an application, select On-line System Login. To view the instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions.

Important information

What are these awards for?

USRA are meant to nurture your interest and fully develop your potential for a research career in the natural sciences and engineering. They are also meant to encourage you to undertake graduate studies in these fields. If you would like to gain research work experience that complements your studies in an academic setting, these awards can provide you with financial support through your host institution. NSERC encourages qualified Indigenous students to apply for this award. See the Indigenous applicants section below for more details.

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 NSERC priorities. NSERC is in the process of integrating sex, gender and diversity considerations into its evaluation criteria. Our community will be informed of changes and effective dates in advance of application deadlines. Applicants should refer to pages 5 to 7 in the Guide for Applicants: Considering equity, diversity and inclusion in your application for more information.

Note: USRAs may be held during co-op placements. Your institution co-op office or USRA Liaison Officer (LO) may be able to assist you in finding a placement. The LOs are institution administrators and usually work in your institution’s scholarship office.

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 as of the deadline date for applications at the institution;
  • be registered, as of the deadline date for applications at the institution, in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible institution;
  • have obtained, over the previous years of study, a second class cumulative average (normally a B-; check with your institution).

In addition...

  • If you already hold a bachelor's degree and are studying toward a second bachelor's degree, you may still apply for this award.
  • You may hold only one USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
  • You may hold a maximum of three USRAs throughout your undergraduate university career.

To hold an award, you must:

  • have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study (or two academic terms) of your bachelor's degree;
  • have been registered in at least one of the two terms immediately before holding the award in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible institution;
  • not have started a program of graduate studies in the natural sciences or engineering at any time;
  • be engaged on a full-time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of the award.

Who is not eligible?

You are not eligible to apply for a USRA if:

  • you are currently enrolled in an undergraduate professional degree program in the health sciences (e.g., MD, DDS, BScN);
  • you hold higher degrees in the natural sciences or engineering;
  • you have graduated and are no longer registered in a bachelor’s degree program at an institution.

Value of awards

  • These awards have a value of $4,500 for a full 16-week period.
  • Institutions are required to supplement the amount of the award by at least 25% of its value using other sources, such as university funds, NSERC grants or any other research funds; institutions may also provide fringe benefits.
  • NSERC’s contribution is paid directly to the host institution.

NSERC will not reimburse the institution for any period during which you worked part time. No payment will be approved for any vacation leave you take during tenure of the award.

Duration of awards

  • The duration of the award is 16 consecutive weeks on a full-time basis.
  • You may 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 institution.

Where can you hold your award?

These awards are tenable at any eligible Canadian institution. Most institutions in Canada are eligible; check with your institution’s scholarship office.

Supervision of the student at the institution

An eligible supervisor is a person authorized by the institution to independently supervise students. Your institution will decide if your proposed supervisor is eligible. You must work under the supervision of a person who has been approved by the institution.

Subject matter eligibility

To be considered eligible for the USRA program, your proposed research project must clearly lie within the natural sciences and engineering (NSE). Refer to NSERC’s Eligibility Criteria for Students and Fellows for additional information. It is not necessary for your proposed supervisor’s research program to be exclusively within the NSE.

How do you apply?

To apply for these awards, you must complete and submit your application using NSERC’s On-line System. Refer to the instructions for completing Form 202.

You can apply to more than one institution. You must apply directly to the institution where you would like to hold the award. However, please note that it is the institution's choice whether to accept candidates from other institutions.

How are students selected for awards?

NSERC allocates a quota of awards to each eligible institution, and the selection process is done by the institution based on the following three criteria:

  • academic record;
  • research aptitude;
  • expected quality of the training to be received.

All application and review processes are internal to the institution. It is the institution's responsibility to establish its own selection criteria within the broad guidelines that NSERC provides, and it may choose to apply stricter criteria. When selecting students for awards, the institution will take into account the objectives of the USRA program. For details on the institution selection procedures, refer to the USRA LO at the institution where you would like to hold the award.

Indigenous applicants

Institutions may recommend applications from self-identified Indigenous applicants to the USRA competition beyond their academic quota.

Application deadlines

Each eligible institution sets its own deadline dates for receiving applications. For information about these dates, contact the USRA LO at the institution where you intend to apply for an award.

Although awards may be held in the summer, fall or winter term, each institution will determine the number of selection processes it holds each year.

Award decisions

Each institution will inform applicants of its award decisions after it has completed its selection process. To find out if you have received an award, contact the USRA LO at your institution. Candidates approved by NSERC will receive an award letter by email from NSERC midway through their award. Award letters should be read carefully and kept for future reference.

Once NSERC has approved your USRA for tenure at one particular institution, you may not transfer it to another institution.

Payment of awards

You will receive your payment from the institution. The institution will issue payments to you for the total value of the award in accordance with its pay procedures. It will also issue a T4 or T4A slip (Statement of Income) to you at the end of the calendar year.

NSERC will pay its contribution directly to the institution.

Travel allowances

Travel allowances are not provided by NSERC.

For more information

The first point of contact regarding the USRA program should be the USRA LO at the institution where you intend to apply for an award or where you are currently registered in an eligible program of study.

For general information about this program, consult the Contact List.