Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA)




Updated on December 2023 - Further updates may follow once NSERC publishes their full guidelines. Keep checking in for any updates.

Please note these recent changes: 

1. The USRA application process is now entirely online. Please read the following guidelines carefully. Full eligibility and application details are available at the bottom of this page. 

2. Awardees are now encouraged to give a poster presentation of their research activities over the summer at the UG Research Symposium (an outreach initiative organized by the Faculty of Arts and Science) during the last week of August. Please stay tuned for details!

3. Self-identification is very critical. The online system has been updated -- returning applicants should also ensure their information is updated.

4.  CIHR and SSHRC USRAs are exclusively for Black students. Although the application is through the NSERC online system, CIHR and SSHRC will send their notifications of results.

5. For NSERC, USRA applications from self-identified Indigenous and Black student researchers may be submitted beyond the institutions’ allocations. However, for Indigenous and Black student researchers to be recommended for awards above the institution quota, they must self-identify and provide consent within the application form for this information to be shared with their institution and NSERC.       

The USRAs will nurture your interest and develop your potential for a research career in the health, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences, or humanities. They also 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. The agencies encourage qualified indigenous and black students to apply for this award.

Each agency provides a stipend of $6,000 for sixteen consecutive weeks at 35 hours per week. The supervisor provides a top-up of a minimum of $2,730 to the agencies’ portion.

NOTE: 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 (El) costs must also be included. Please see the Notice Board for more information on this decision.


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 two 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;
  • 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 two courses if special arrangements are made). For the URSA program, the credits assigned to co-op placements are not considered academic credits;
  • Not be working on thesis research during the term of the award.

* NOTE: NSERC's guidelines on eligibility for health-based research. Please review this addendum to ensure that your proposed project is eligible.

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), but this not does not apply to CIHR USRAs;
  • Hold higher degrees in the natural sciences or engineering.

Supervisor eligibility:

  • Supervisors must be authorized to independently supervise students by the institution (per terms of their appointment within their relevant Faculty). Typically, it is preferred that the proposed supervisor hold an active research grant (as principal investigator or co-investigator) to provide the top-up ($2730 per student) required by the Tri-council. In the absence of a current grant, supervisors must provide proof of additional funding sources to ORIS to meet the top-up requirement (e.g. startup funds, professional supplements, etc.).
  • A faculty member can be the proposed supervisor for more than one applicant. However, a maximum of two USRA recipients will be eligible to be supervised by one faculty member per summer - with the exemption of indigenous and black students who choose to self-identify.
  • December 2023: Launch of current competition.
  • January 31, 2024, at 4.00 pm: Application deadline.
  • February - March 2024: Applications are sent to the NSERC Scholarship Selection Committee for review and ranking.
  • March 2024: Notice of Decisions are distributed to applicants.
  • May-August 2024 (16 consecutive weeks): Term of the award.


Agency Name: 
Contact Name: 
Esther Ekpe Adewuyi
Grant Amount: 
$6,000 NSERC funding plus supervisor supplement of $2730.
Grant Location: 
External Deadline: 
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Internal Deadline: 
Wednesday, January 31, 2024
Grant Type: 
Grant Area: 
Natural Science
Grant Eligibility: