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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 online system. Selected applications are submitted to NSERC by institutions. No USRA applications may be submitted directly to NSERC.

Value $6,000 plus host institution 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 Online system login. To view the instructions, select PDF forms and instructions.
For more information Refer to the Guidelines for Undergraduate Student Research Awards liaison officers.

Important information


USRAs are meant to nurture your interest and fully develop your potential for a research career in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE). They are also meant to encourage you to undertake graduate studies in these fields by providing research work experience that complements your studies in an academic setting. NSERC encourages qualified Indigenous students to apply for this award. See the Indigenous applicants section below for more details.

Incorporating diversity considerations, including but not limited to sex (biological), gender (socio-cultural), race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, geographic location, among other factors in your research design can make it more ethically sound, rigorous and useful.

NSERC is acting on the evidence that achieving a more equitable, diverse and inclusive Canadian research enterprise is essential to creating the excellent, innovative and impactful research necessary to advance knowledge and understanding, and to respond to local, national and global challenges. This principle informs the commitments described in the Tri-agency statement on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). For more information consult the document: Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations at each stage of the research process.

Note: USRAs may be held during co-op placements. Your institution’s 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.


To be eligible to apply for an award, 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 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 career

To hold an award, you must

  • have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of study (or two academic terms) of your bachelor’s degree
  • have been registered at the time of application and in at least one of the two terms immediately before holding the award in a bachelor’s degree program
  • not have started a program of graduate studies in the NSE at any time
  • be employed full time in eligible research and development activities in the NSE during tenure of award


  • 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.

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 have started a program of graduate studies in the NSE at any time
  • you have completed all your degree requirements and are no longer registered in a bachelor’s degree program at an institution

Value and duration of awards

  • These awards have a value of $6,000.
  • The duration of the award is 14 to 16 weeks on a full-time basis.
  • Institutions are required to supplement the award and should comply with their provincial and/or federal employment standards. The institution will be responsible for supplements to the weekly value and fringe benefits (if applicable).
    • In addition to the terms and conditions of your award, the activities are governed by the agreements, including employment agreements (if applicable), you have with the host institution.
  • NSERC’s contribution is paid directly to the host institution and is included in the salary that you receive.

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.

Location of tenure

Without exception, USRA awards are tenable only at eligible Canadian institutions with an assigned allocation.

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 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.

Application procedures

To apply for these awards, you must complete and submit your application using NSERC’s online 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.

Selection process

Eligible Canadian institutions are assigned an allocation of awards to offer each year. Refer to the Undergraduate Student Research Awards allocations web page for a list of allocations by institution.

The selection process is done by the institution based on the following three criteria:

  • academic excellence
  • research potential
  • expected quality of the training and mentorship 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 program beyond their quota allocation.


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.

Notification of results

Each institution will inform applicants of its award decisions after it has completed its selection process. To find out if your application was recommended to NSERC, contact the USRA LO at your institution. Candidates approved by NSERC will receive an award letter on SharePoint 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.