NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA)


This page was last updated on March 19, 2021.

The NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (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 university. NSERC encourages qualified Aboriginal students to apply for this award.

The NSERC USRA provides a stipend of $6,000 to the institution for the duration of sixteen consecutive weeks at 35 hours of work per week. The faculty supervisor provides a top-up to the NSERC portion.

Effective October 1, 2017, the Office of Research and Innovation Services requires that faculty members supplement the summer studentships to adhere to current Alberta minimum wage requirements. Because these awards are now considered employment income by the Canada Revenue Agency, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Employment Insurance (EI) costs also need to be included. Please see the Notice Board for more information on this decision. 


NSERC has revised their guidelines on eligibility of health based research. Please review the following link to ensure that your proposed project is eligible. Projects must be ground in the NSE disciplines in alignment with NSERC Policies.

At the time of application, the student must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident;
  • Be registered in a bachelor's program at an eligible university;
  • Have been registered in at least one of the two terms immediately before holding the award;
  • Have obtained a cumulative average of at least second class (a grade of "B" or "B-"; GPA 2.7 or
  • higher - GPA of 3.0 or higher is normally necessary to be competitive);
    • Note: Students with transfer credit from another institution must check eligibility with the Registrar's Office. The cumulative GPA shown on their Bridge account does not include transfer credit and thus, is not accurate for application purposes.
  • Not have held more than 2 previous USRA awards, as a student may hold a maximum of three
  • USRAs throughout their undergraduate university career; and
  • Hold only one USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31)

To hold an award, the student must:

  • Have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study (or two
  • academic terms) of their 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 university;
  • Not have started a program of graduate studies in the natural sciences or engineering at any
  • time; and
  • Be engaged on a full-time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences or
  • engineering during the tenure of the award.
  • Not take courses during the work hours of the USRA (the student may take up to 1 course if
  • special arrangements are made). For the purposes of the USRA program, the credits assigned to
  • co-op placements are not considered academic credits.
  • Not work on thesis research during the term of the award.

A student is not eligible for a USRA if they:

  • Are currently enrolled in an undergraduate professional degree program in the health sciences (e.g., MD, DDS, BScN); or
  • Hold higher degrees in the natural sciences or engineering.

Supervisor eligibility:

  • Supervisors no longer need to hold an active NSERC grant, however, must be authorized to independently supervise students by the institution (per the terms of their appointment within their relevant faculty). Normally, it is preferred that the proposed supervisor must hold an active research grant (as principal investigator or co-investigator) to meet the minimum 25% top-up ($1500 per student) required  by NSERC. If supervisors do not hold a current grant, they must be able to provide proof of additional sources of funding to ORIS to meet the minimum top-up requirement (e.g. startup funds, professional supplement etc.).
  • A Faculty member can be the proposed Supervisor for more than one applicant. However, a maximum of three USRA recipients will be eligible to be supervised by one Faculty member per summer.


  • December: Launch of current competition.
  • February 1, 2021 at 4.00pm: Application deadline.
  • February - March: Applications are sent to the NSERC Scholarship Selection Committee for review and ranking (see Evaluation Criteria and Process, below).
  • March: The NSERC Scholarship Selection Committee meets to rank applications and make funding decisions.
  • March: Notice of Decisions are distributed to applicants.
  • May-August (16 consecutive weeks): Term of the award.

See Full Award for Application Instructions

Agency Name: 
Contact Name: 
Sola Fasunwon
Grant Amount: 
$6,000 NSERC funding plus a minimum. Supervisor supplement of $1500.
Grant Location: 
External Deadline: 
Monday, February 1, 2021
Internal Deadline: 
Monday, February 1, 2021
Grant Type: 
Grant Area: 
Natural Science
Grant Eligibility: