NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards

If you are an undergraduate student who'd like to get research experience in an academic setting, you should consider applying for an Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA). Through these awards, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) subsidizes eligible professors to hire students to work on interesting research-related jobs and projects.

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for an award, you must:

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada as of the deadline date for applications at the university
  • Be registered, as of the deadline date for applications at the university, in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university 

  • Have obtained, over the previous years of study, a minimum cumulative B- (68%) average

To hold an award, you must:

  • Have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study (or two academic terms) of your bachelor's degree

  • Have been registered in at least one of the two terms immediately previous to holding the award in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university. The terms of an academic year are: Summer (May 1 to Aug 31), Fall (Sep 1 to Dec 31), Winter (Jan 1 to Apr 30). Registration in either one of the two summer sessions will count as registration in that term.

  • Not have started a graduate studies program in the natural sciences or engineering at any time

  • Not have held a previous USRA in this fiscal year (Apr 1 to Mar 31), or more than 2 previous USRA awards in total

  • Be engaged on a full-time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of the award

In addition:

  • If you already hold a bachelor's degree and are studying toward a second bachelor's degree, you may still apply to this program.
  • You may hold only one university USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).

  • You may hold a maximum of three university USRAs throughout your undergraduate university career.

  • You should not receive academic credits for the work done during the term of a USRA.  Students may take a maximum of one course if special arrangements to make up the time under supervision have been made with the supervisor.

Who is not eligible?

You are not eligible for an Undergraduate Student Research Award if:

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

Duration

  • The minimum normal duration of the award is 16 consecutive weeks of full-time work. The USRA makes no provision for sick leave or other interruption of awards.
  • Under exceptional circumstances, NSERC may approve awards for periods of less than 16 weeks

Faculty/school contacts

Applied Science (UBC-V)

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

UBC-V:

Gayatri Thakor

gayatri.thakor@ubc.ca

March 12, 2020

Contact professors directly

Refer to your Department-Specific Information

Arts

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Marcy Caouette

arts.awards@ubc.ca

February 21, 2020

1. Contact the USRA Coordinator
2. Contact professors directly

Arts: Geography

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Undergraduate Program

undergraduate.program@geog.ubc.ca

February 21, 2020

1. Contact the USRA Coordinator
2. Contact professors directly

Arts: Psychology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Psychology Undergraduate Program

undergrad@psych.ubc.ca 

February 21, 2020

1. Contact the USRA Coordinator
2. Contact professors directly

 Dentistry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Ingrid Ellis

iellis@dentistry.ubc.ca

February 24, 2020

Contact professors directly

Education

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Robert Olaj

robert.olaj@ubc.ca

March 6, 2020

Submit application directly to USRA Coordiantors

Forestry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Chiara Longhi

chiara.longhi@ubc.ca

March 9, 2020

Apply online and ensure that a copy of all non-UBC transcripts are sent to the USRA Coordinator

Kinesiology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Jean-Sebastien Blouin

jean-sebastien.blouin@ubc.ca

Fran Harrison

fran.harrison@ubc.ca

March 6, 2020

Submit application directly to USRA Coordinators

Land & Food Systems

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

David Kitts

david.kitts@ubc.ca

Baohua Wang

baohua.wang@ubc.ca

lfs.nserc-usra@ubc.ca

March 6, 2020

Instructions for students in terms of how to apply for the award will be posted on the faculty website

Medicine

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Debbie Giaschi

fom.nserc.usra@ubc.ca

February 27, 2020

1. Find more information on the Faculty of Medicine's NSERC USRA page

2. Contact eligible supervisors directly

Pharmaceutical Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Sarah Hedtrich

sarah.hedtrich@ubc.ca

February 17, 2020

1. Contact eligible supervisors directly before filling out the NSERC USRA application.

2. Submit a paper copy of your NSERC USRA application (signatures not needed) with your SSRP application by the SSRP deadline - visit our website for information on how to apply to the program.

Sauder School of Business

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Stuart Donald

info@coe.ubc.ca

March 6, 2020

1. Look for in-class announcements by professors

2. Contact the Sauder Coordinator to find a supervisor

3. Contact professors directly

Science: Botany

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Alice Liou

alice.liou@botany.ubc.ca

February 20, 2020

Contact professors directly

Science: Chemistry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Wayne Mah

undergrad@chem.ubc.ca

January 30, 2020

Go to the Chemistry NSERC USRA website for application instructions

Science: Computer Science

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Ana K. Drole

undergrad-admin@cs.ubc.ca

February 11, 2020 at 4 PM

Applications for students can be found here.

Science: Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

inquiries@eos.ubc.ca

March 6, 2020 at 9 AM

1. Complete the online application Form 202 - Part I on the NSERC website. You will need to upload a copy (front and back) of your official transcript.

2. Have your proposed faculty supervisor complete Form 202 - Part II on the NSERC website. You are responsible for seeking out a faculty supervisor. 

3. Print a copy of your completed Form 202 - Part I, including submitted transcripts. Have your faculty supervisor print a copy of the completed Form 202 - Part II. Submit both to ESB 2020. 

Science: Institute for the Oceans & Fisheries

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Eden Fellner

e.fellner@oceans.ubc.ca

February 26, 2020

Contact professors directly

Science: Institute for Resources, Environment & Sustainability (IRES)

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Stefanie Ickert

stefanie.ickert@ubc.ca

Kelsey Robertson

kelsey.robertson@ubc.ca

February 24, 2020

Contact professors directly

Science: Mathematics

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Jenny Liddie

ugrad-coord@math.ubc.ca

February 7, 2020

Find out more information, look for available projects and how to apply for a research position on the Mathematics Department's NSERC USA page

Science: Microbiology and Immunology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. David (Dave) Oliver

dcoliver@mail.ubc.ca

February 15, 2020

Find more information on the Department of Microbiology and Immunology’s summer studentship information page

Science: Physics & Astronomy

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Kirsty Dickson

ugcoord@phas.ubc.ca

January 31, 2020

Refer to the Physics and Astronomy NSERC USRA page for specific departmental procedures and postings

Science: Statistics

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Nicholas Geers

gradinfo@stat.ubc.ca

February 14, 2020

1. Check the Statistics Summer Research Assistant webpage for a list of available projects and further details.
2. As soon as you see a project your like, submit unofficial transcripts and a cover letter to the professor with whom you are interested in working. Make sure you submit your application right away, or the project you're interested in might be gone! Students from other programs with a background and interest in Statistics are welcome to apply.
3. After the deadline, professors will interview candidates and will make a decision.

Science: Zoology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Shandra Stephenson

coordinator@zoology.ubc.ca

February 20, 2020

Contact professors directly

UBC-O Health & Exercise Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Tanya Forneris

tanya.forneris@ubc.ca

February 28, 2020

Please visit our URSA award page for instructions and links to the NSERC website

UBC-O Irving K. Barber School of Arts & Social Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. John Klironomos

john.klironomos@ubc.ca

Julie Martin

julie.martin@ubc.ca 

January 27, 2020 at 4 PM

Please see our IKBSAS website with instructions

UBC-O School of School of Engineering

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Samantha Luckow

samantha.luckow@ubc.ca

February 28, 2020

Contact professors directly

Refer to your Department-Specific Information

How to contact professors

Try to create your own research opportunity by contacting eligible professors you would like to work with and tell them about this program. Many professors will be happy to talk to you about the opportunity to hire you at a subsidized wage. If you find a professor who is interested, ask them to contact their USRA Coordinator for more information.

Here are some tips:

  • Know what you are going to say: be prepared to talk about your interests, knowledge areas, and lab or volunteer experience. Familiarize yourself with the professor's research subject so you can ask informed questions about it. This will show that you are genuinely interested in helping with the research.
  • Bring a copy of your resume.
  • Read the NSERC program rules for supervisors. Make sure you understand these rules and application procedures. 
  • Regardless of whether you get the position or not, thank the professor for their time with a thank-you email.

How do you apply?

  1. Review the information for students handout to better understand the application process. 

  2. The NSERC USRA program is administered and coordinated through the Faculty/School USRA Coordinators. Each faculty establishes procedures for identifying and ranking applicants and setting deadlines.

  3. Once you have found an eligible professor, both faculty supervisors and students must complete and submit an online NSERC USRA application Form 202 part I (student) and Part II (supervisor), by clicking on “System Login” or, if you are a first time user, “Register”.  Forward your reference number to the supervisor so they can include it in their part of the application.

  4. Instructions on how to complete the forms can be found on the NSERC USRA website. Additional resources can be found here:

  5. You must also upload, with your application form, a copy of your official transcripts, including one copy of the back page legend.

  6. Once completed online, a copy of the forms (Part I and Part II, as well as the student’s transcripts) have to be submitted to your Faculty/School/Department USRA Coordinator for review.

  7. Your Faculty/School/Department USRA Coordinator will be in touch with your proposed project supervisor about the outcome of the application.

  8. NSERC will not accept hardcopy forms so the official application must be completed and submitted electronically. The copies sent to the Faculty/School/Department USRA Coordinator are only necessary for the internal review process.

Value and payment of awards

  • These awards have a value of $4,500. This amount will be reimbursed to your faculty supervisor's account at the end of your work tenure.
  • Universities are required to supplement the amount of the award by at least 25% of its value using other sources such as university funds, NSERC grants, or any other research funds. The minimum pay for the tenure of your award of 16 weeks is $7968.80 (assuming May 1, 2020 start date) based on the June 1, 2020 BC minimum wage increase from $13.85/hr to $14.60/hr. If the award is longer than 16 weeks, your pay should increase by a minimum of $511.00 for each additional week or $102.20 for each additional day.

  • You will receive your payment from the university in accordance with its pay procedures. You will also receive a T4 or T4A slip (Statement of Income) for tax purposes from UBC Payroll.

  • NSERC will not reimburse the University for any period during which you worked part-time. No payment will be approved for any vacation leave you take during the tenure of the award.

Where can you hold your award?

An Undergraduate Student Research Award is tenable at any eligible Canadian university and can allow you to expand your background training at other universities. You must apply at the institution where you would like to hold the URSA and must comply with the internal selection criteria of that institution and be selected by that university to hold one of their quotas of awards. Once NSERC has approved your award for tenure at one particular institution, you may not transfer to another institution.

Travel allowances

As of the 2020 - 2021 competition cycle, NSERC will no longer be providing travel allowance for visiting (non-UBC) students. Please refer to the NSERC USRA webpage for more details. 

Important dates

NSERC USRA Application Period

Students and supervisors must register or log onto the NSERC on-line system to complete Form 202 Part 1 (student application) and Form 202 Part II (supervisor application) starting January 2020. See above for internal application deadlines.

*UBC holds one annual completion a year for Summer 2020, Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 terms. Applications for ALL terms must be submitted during this period.

USRA Placements

Summer Term - May 1 - August 31, 2020 *(May 12, 2020)

Fall Term - September 1 - December 31, 2020 *(September 4, 2020)

Winter Term - January 1 - April 30, 2021 *(January 11, 2021)

*latest a student can start working on their award

NSERC Award Notification

Award letters for the summer term will be issued directly to students in July for the Summer term, November for the Fall term, and February for the Winter term.

Questions?

Application process and general questions:

Contact your Faculty/School/Department USRA Coordinator (see list above)

As a second resource, you can also contact:

NSERC USRA Liaison Officer
UBC Centre for Student Involvement & Careers
nserc.usra@ubc.ca