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Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants and Proposed Research Supervisors

This document is related only to the Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA).

General Questions

  1. How can I apply for a USRA?
  2. Whom should I contact if I have questions about the program?
  3. I am registered part-time at the institution. Am I eligible to apply for a USRA?
  4. I am graduating from my undergraduate degree. Am I eligible to hold a USRA after the completion of my degree requirements?
  5. I have completed my undergraduate degree but have not yet begun graduate studies. Am I eligible to apply for a USRA?
  6. I am a student at a foreign institution. Am I eligible to apply for a USRA?
  7. Is it possible to apply for a USRA with more than one department or institution?
  8. During the tenure of the award, what is the maximum number of courses that I can be enrolled in?
  9. Am I allowed to hold a USRA while I am completing my fourth-year thesis?
  10. Am I eligible to hold an award for less than 16 weeks?
  11. Can USRA recipients take sick leave or vacation during the work term?
  12. Is my research project eligible for a USRA?

Completing Form 202 – Part I (to be completed by the applicant)

  1. I applied for a USRA last year and would like to re-apply this year. Can I re-use the same application form (Form 202 – Part I)?
  2. Where can I find guidance regarding transcripts?

Completing Form 202 – Part II (to be completed by the proposed research supervisor)

  1. Am I eligible to supervise a USRA holder?
  2. Is there a limit to the number of students one person can supervise?
  3. Is co‐supervision allowed?
  4. Do research supervisors need to be on site while their students hold a USRA award?
  5. Can I send a USRA holder to work with my colleagues at a different institution during the tenure of their award?
  6. Where do I enter information about the expected quality of the training to be received?

General Questions

1. How can I apply for a USRA?
You must complete Form 202 using the On-line Services. Read the instructions carefully to ensure that the form is completed properly. Refer to the program description in the Program Guide for Students and Fellows before you complete the application.

2. Whom should I contact if I have questions about the program?
Your first point of contact must be the Liaison Officer (LO) at the institution where you intend to apply. This will ensure that all requirements set by the institution are met. The institution conducts an internal selection process, has its own internal deadlines and may have additional eligibility requirements.

3. I am registered part-time at the institution. Am I eligible to apply for a USRA?
Yes, part-time and full-time students are eligible to apply to the USRA program as long as they are registered in a bachelor’s degree program and meet all other eligibility criteria.

4. I am graduating from my undergraduate degree. Am I eligible to hold a USRA after the completion of my degree requirements?
Yes, you can hold a USRA following the completion of your degree, provided you have not yet started your graduate studies and you meet all other eligibility criteria. You must be registered at the time of application.

5. I have completed my undergraduate degree but have not yet begun graduate studies. Am I eligible to apply for a USRA?
No, you must be registered, as of the deadline date for applications at the university, in a bachelor’s degree program at an eligible university.

6. I am a student at a foreign institution. Am I eligible to apply for a USRA?
If you are Canadian or a permanent resident registered at a recognized institution outside of Canada, you may apply to a Canadian institution for a USRA.

7. Is it possible to apply for a USRA with more than one department or institution?
Yes, you can apply with more than one department or institution, but you can hold only one USRA per competition year (May 1 – April 30).

8. During the tenure of the award, what is the maximum number of courses that I can be enrolled in?
You may take a maximum of one course during the tenure of the award, if you have your research supervisor’s approval and arrange to make up any missing time.

9. Am I allowed to hold a USRA while I am completing my fourth-year thesis?
Award holders are not permitted to do thesis research during the term of their award. It is permitted to use data generated during a USRA as the basis of a thesis, so long as registration in the thesis course starts after the USRA is held.

10. Am I eligible to hold an award for less than 16 weeks?
Only under exceptional circumstances outside the student’s control will shorter work terms be considered. NSERC will not grant an award for periods of less than 12 consecutive weeks and the award value will be prorated to the number of weeks. The request must be made directly to the LO at the institution where you wish to hold the USRA and a justification must be provided.

11. Can USRA recipients take sick leave or vacation during the work term?
The USRA program makes no provision for sick leave or other interruptions of awards. Contact your LO if there are special circumstances that prevent you from completing your work term.

12. Is my research project eligible for a USRA?
To be considered eligible for the USRA program, your proposed research must clearly lie within the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), rather than the social sciences or health sciences. Refer to NSERC’s Eligibility Criteria for Students and Fellows for additional information. It is not necessary for all of your proposed supervisor’s research activities to completely and exclusively fall within the NSE.

Completing Form 202 – Part I (to be completed by the applicant)

13. I applied for a USRA last year and would like to re-apply this year. Can I re-use the same application form (Form 202 – Part I)?
Yes, if you have already applied using Form 202 – Part I, you need to use the same form for your next application. Update the form to re-apply and don’t forget to update your transcripts.

14. Where can I find guidance regarding transcripts?
Refer to the instructions for details on the Transcripts section. If you require further information contact the LO at the institution where you wish to hold your award.

Completing Form 202 – Part II (to be completed by the proposed research supervisor)

15. Am I eligible to supervise a USRA holder?
Provided you are authorized by your university to independently supervise students, NSERC considers you eligible to supervise USRA holders. You must be approved by your university in order to supervise a USRA student.

16. Is there a limit to the number of students one person can supervise?
There is no limit imposed by NSERC; however, we support the institution’s decision to have a reasonable number of USRA students working under one person at the same time.

17. Is cosupervision allowed?
Yes; however, only one person can complete Form 202 Part II. Co-supervision of a student can be mentioned in the Research Proposal section of the application. There is no other place in the application where it can be indicated.

18. Do research supervisors need to be on site while their students hold a USRA award?
NSERC expects the research supervisor to be physically present for the majority of the period of the award (i.e. at least eight weeks). It is acceptable for the research supervisor to delegate supervision for short periods to other faculty members, experienced technicians, postdoctoral fellows, or doctoral students. It is not acceptable for the research supervisor to be present only through virtual, online or telecommunications means.

19. Can I send a USRA holder to work with my colleagues at a different institution during the tenure of their award?
NSERC permits USRA holders to spend a portion of time away from their host university, including outside of Canada. Students are not permitted to spend the entire period of their award away from their host university if not in the company of their supervisor, typically this means you must be physically co-located with the student for at least 50% of the duration of the award.

20. Where do I enter information about the expected quality of the training to be received?
Details of the supervision the student will receive can be given in the Outline of student’s role section of the application.