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Postdoctoral Fellowships program

Overview
Value $45,000 per year for two years.
Application deadline October 17
How to apply To create or access an application, log in to the online system. Read the Instructions for completing an application – form 201 before completing and submitting your application.
  • Form 201 – Application for a Postgraduate Scholarship or Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • Application process resource videos
For more information Consult the contact list.

Refer to the Selection committee guide for Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships programs.

Description

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 intended to secure a supply of highly qualified Canadians with leading-edge scientific and research skills for Canadian industry, government and academic institutions.

Eligibility

To be considered eligible for support, as of the application deadline date of the year in which you apply, 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)
  • hold or expect to hold a doctorate in one of the fields of research that NSERC supports

In addition:

  • You can submit a maximum of one scholarship (master’s or doctoral) or fellowship application per academic year to either NSERC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Applications to the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships program do not count toward this limit (other exceptions may apply to CIHR internships).
  • You must not have already received a postdoctoral award (including a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship) from NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC.
  • You must have completed all requirements of your doctoral degree no more than two years before September 1 of the year in which you apply.

    Note: This is not the conferred or convocation date indicated on your transcript, but rather the date on which all the requirements of your degree were met, including the successful defense and submission of the corrected copy of your thesis. If you have more than one doctoral degree, the completion date of your most recent doctoral degree will be used to determine your eligibility.  

    Exceptions to the doctoral degree completion eligibility period are granted only if you meet one or more of the following criteria:
  • 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 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.

  • Refer to the Eligibility criteria for students and fellows web page for additional information.

Proposed location(s) of tenure

You can hold your PDF at

  • academic research institutions in Canada or abroad
  • provincial research institutions in Canada
  • other research institutions with a strong training mandate in Canada or abroad

You cannot hold a PDF in Canadian federal government institutions.

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. 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.
  • If you are a permanent resident of Canada and will be taking up your award outside of Canada, you should contact the relevant Canadian immigration authorities to determine how doing so may affect your Canadian residency status.

Subject matter eligibility

NSERC supports research whose major challenges lie in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), other than the health sciences. The intended objective(s) of your research must primarily be to advance knowledge in one or more NSE disciplines.

It is strongly recommended that you refer to the Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency web page for more information about the agencies’ mandates and to the Addendum to the guidelines for the eligibility of applications related to health web page for examples of eligible and ineligible research subject matter related to NSERC’s mandate.

If your proposed research falls outside of NSERC’s mandate, your application may be deemed ineligible for the PDF program.

NSERC staff may consult, as required, with outside experts or officials at CIHR or SSHRC for input before reaching a decision on subject matter eligibility.

If you have questions or concerns regarding the eligibility of your subject matter, email schol@nserc-crsng.gc.ca.

Application procedures

You can apply for a PDF by completing and submitting form 201 – Application for a Postgraduate Scholarship or Postdoctoral Fellowship and attaching supporting documents. It is imperative that you read the Instructions for completing an application - form 201 web page before completing and submitting your application. To create or access form 201, log in to the online system.

Application deadline

NSERC must receive your application electronically before 8:00 p.m. (ET) on October 17. If the deadline falls on a weekend, your application must be submitted the following business day before 8:00 p.m. (ET). Incomplete applications may 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 process and selection criteria

NSERC scholarships and fellowships selection committees review all eligible PDF applications. Each application is evaluated according to the selection criteria described below. The Selection committee guide for Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships programs provides additional details on the review process.

The research subject code (refer to the List of research subject codes for scholarships and fellowships web page) entered in your application determines its assigned selection committee. NSERC may assign your application to a different selection committee if it determines that the subject matter is more appropriate for another selection committee. Should this occur, you will be contacted by email.

The selection committees are organized into broad discipline categories:

  • cellular and molecular biology
  • chemical, biomedical and materials science engineering
  • chemistry
  • civil and industrial engineering
  • computing sciences
  • electrical engineering
  • evolution and ecology
  • geosciences
  • mathematical sciences
  • mechanical engineering
  • physics and astronomy
  • plant and animal biology
  • psychology

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.

In preparing your application, you should consult the Selection criteria and indicators section and appendix B of the Selection committee guide for Postgraduate Scholarships – Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowships programs, which provide useful information on what selection committee members look for in assessing applications. You should also read the Instructions for completing an application – form 201 web page.

Applications are evaluated and selected according to how well you demonstrate the following:

Selection criteria Description Weight
Research ability and potential
  • Significance, feasibility, clarity and merit of research proposal
  • Contributions to research and development (publications, conference presentations and/or proceedings, poster presentations, technical reports or patents)
  • Academic training and relevant work experience (complementarity of experience/expertise and proposed research)
  • Scholarships and awards
  • Researcher attributes (critical thinking, application of knowledge, judgment, originality, initiative, autonomy and enthusiasm for research)
  • Justification for location of tenure (appropriateness, access to resources and equipment)
  • Ability to complete projects within an appropriate time period (if applicable, special circumstances explained in the application must be taken into consideration)
70%
Communication, interpersonal and leadership abilities
  • Professional, academic and extracurricular interactions and collaborations with supervisors, colleagues, peers, students and members of the community (teaching, mentoring, supervising and/or coaching; managing projects; participating in science promotion, science/community outreach, volunteer work and/or civic engagement; chairing committees and/or organizing conferences and meetings; participating in departmental or institutional organizations, associations, societies and/or clubs; industrial work experience; showing leadership in environmental health & safety, like laboratory safety)
  • Awards for papers, reports, posters, oral presentations, teaching and/or volunteer/outreach work
  • Participation in publication writing
  • Quality of presentation of application (adherence to NSERC’s standards, grantsmanship, spelling and grammar)
30%

San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment

NSERC is a signatory to the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). To promote NSERC’s support of research excellence in Canada and incorporate the principles of DORA, NSERC has developed Guidelines on the assessment of contributions to research, training and mentoring. The guidelines highlight NSERC’s commitment to excellence in research funding and aim to ensure that a wide range of research results and outcomes are considered and valued as part of the assessment process.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

In order to address systemic barriers that limit the full participation of all talented individuals, NSERC aims for the proportion of short-listed and funded applications from those who self-identify as members of underrepresented groups to be at least similar to the proportion of applications received from these groups.

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) and is aligned with the objectives of the Tri-agency EDI Action Plan.

For more information consult the Equity, diversity and inclusion considerations at each stage of the research process section of the NSERC guide on integrating equity, diversity and inclusion considerations in research web page.

Black postdoctoral researchers

The Government of Canada has deployed additional funds to increase direct support for Black postdoctoral researchers. PDF applicants who self-identify as Black and provide consent in their application to be considered for funds designated for specific groups may be able to receive this funding through a fellowship as part of this initiative. NSERC has a limited number of additional awards reserved for this initiative.

For more information, consult the Frequently asked questions about the new Black scholars funding web page.

Notification of results

NSERC will notify you of the results by the end of February. 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.