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 their research projects. The program creates interesting research-related jobs and gives you the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.

Are you eligible for an award?

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

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
  • Be registered in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university (full-time or part-time) in at least one of the two terms immediately previous to holding the award. The terms of an academic year are: Summer (May 1 to August 31), Fall (September 1 to December 31), Winter (January 1 to April 31). Registration in either one of the two summer sessions will count as registration in that term.
  • Have obtained, over the previous years of study, a minimum cumulative B- (68%) average
  • At the time of your award, have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study (or two academic terms) of your bachelor's degree
  • Not have started a graduate studies program in the natural sciences or engineerin

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 and only one industrial USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
  • You may hold a maximum of three university USRAs and a maximum of three industrial 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 one course if special arrangements to make up the time under supervision have been made with the supervisor. In particular, USRA holders are not permitted to do thesis research during the term of the award.
  • If you are a graduating student, you are eligible to hold a USRA as long as you were registered in at least one of the two previous terms before holding the award, have not started a program of graduate studies, and have met all other eligibility requirements of the program.
  • Once you start working, you must be engaged, on a full-time basis for a minimum of 16 consecutive weeks, in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of the award.
  • Students who are registered at an eligible Canadian university but have studied abroad for one semester during an exchange program may be eligible for a USRA award, provided they were registered at the Canadian university during the exchange and their studies abroad are credited towards their Canadian degree program.

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, B.Sc.Pharm.);or
  • You hold higher degrees in the natural sciences or engineering.

Faculty/school contacts

Applied Science (UBC-V and UBC-O)

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Jenny Reilly

jenny.reilly@ubc.ca 

Maki Sumitani

apsc.pd@ubc.ca

Mary Murphy

murphy@apsc.ubc.ca

UBC-V: March 6, 2017

UBC-O: TBD

Contact Professors directly

Eligible grant holders in UBC - Vancouver Applied Science

Eligible grant holders in UBC - Okanagan Applied Science

Arts

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Marcy Caouette

Stefania Burk

arts.awards@ubc.ca

February 27, 2017

1. Contact your department office

2. Contact professors directly

Dentistry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Ingrid Ellis

iellis@dentistry.ubc.ca

March 1, 2017

Contact professors directly

Eligible grant holders in UBC - Vancouver Dentistry

Education

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Heather Frost

heather.frost@ubc.ca

Contact the Education Coordinator directly for more information

Forestry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Chiara Longhi

chiara.longhi@ubc.ca

Tony Loring

tony.loring@ubc.ca

March 13, 2017

Contact professors directly

Eligible grant holders in UBC - Vancouver Forestry

Kinesiology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Contact Dr. Mark Carpenter

mark.carpenter@ubc.ca

Fran Harrison

fran.harrison@ubc.ca

March 6, 2017

Contact Dr. Mark Carpenter with all enquiries for Summer 2017 competition, CC: Fran on all communications.

Eligible grant holders in UBC - Vancouver Kinesiology

Land & Food Systems

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

David Kitts

Mona Lee

Nicholas Grant

lfs.nserc-usra@ubc.ca

March 10, 2017

LFS application Instructions can be accessed via the LFS NSERC website.

Eligible grant holders in UBC - Vancouver Land & Food Systems

Medicine

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Debbie Giaschi

giaschi@mail.ubc.ca

March 6, 2017 at 4:00pm

1. Look for in-class announcements by professors

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

3. Contact professors directly

Eligible grant holders in UBC - Vancouver Medicine

Pharmaceutical Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Barb Conway

barb.conway@ubc.ca

February 15, 2017

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.

Eligible grant holders in UBC - Vancouver Pharmaceutical Science

Sauder School of Business

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Emily Noton

emily.noton@coe.ubc.ca

March 17, 2017

1. Look for in-class announcements by professors

2. Contact the Sauder Coordinator

3. Contact professors directly

Science: Botany

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Alice Liou

alice.liou@botany.ubc.ca

February 20, 2017

1. Contact the Botany Department Coordinator

2. Contact professors directly

Science: Chemistry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Wayne Mah

undergrad@chem.ubc.ca

January 31, 2017

Go to the Chemistry NSERC USRA website for application instructions

Science: Computer Science

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Carrie Schroeder

ugrad-admin@cs.ubc.ca

February 10, 2017

1. Go to the Computer Science NSERC USRA website for departmental procedures and postings

Science: Earth & Ocean Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Grace Tong

inquiries@eos.ubc.ca

March 2, 2017 @ 9am

1. Watch for email announcements by the department office

2. Check out the student club posting boards in EOS Main

3. Contact the EOSC Department Coordinator

4. Contact professors directly

Science: Fisheries

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Marina Skinner

m.skinner@oceans.ubc.ca

TBA

Contact faculty directly

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

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Stefanie Ickert

stefanie.ickert@ubc.ca

February 24, 2017 

Contact professors directly

Science: Math

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Darren Rogers

ugradsec@math.ubc.ca

February 1, 2017

1. Find more information on the Mathematics Department's NSERC USRA page

2. Contact the Math Department Coordinator

3. Contact professors directly

Science: Microbiology and Immunology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

David Oliver

dcoliver@mail.ubc.ca

February 15, 2017

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

2. Look for in-class announcements by professors in MICB 202, MICB 323, or MICB 324

3. Check out the bulletin boards in the Wesbrook Building

4. Contact the Microbiology and Immunology Department Coordinator

Science: Physics and Astronomy

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Salena Li

ug-coord@phas.ubc.ca

January 23, 2017

1. Go to the Physics and Astronomy NSERC USRA page for specific departmental procedures and postings

2. Look for in-class announcements by professors

3. Watch for email announcements by the department

4. Contact the Physics and Astronomy Department Coordinator

5. Look for postings on bulletin boards in the Physics Building

6. Contact professors directly

Science: Statistics

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Andrea Sollberger

gradinfo@stat.ubc.ca

March 3, 2017

1. Watch for an announcement from the Department

2. Check the Statistics Summer Research Assistant webpage for a list of available projects and further details

3. Submit unofficial transcripts and a cover letter to the professor with whom you are interested in working

4. After the deadline, professors will interview candidates and will make a decision

Science: Zoology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Gerard Cowan

coordinator@zoology.ubc.ca

February 20, 2017 @ 4pm

Contact professors directly

UBC-O Health & Social Development

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Jennifer Jakobi

jennifer.jakobi@ubc.ca

February 24, 2017

Eligible grant holders in UBC - Okanagan Health & Social Development

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

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Mike Evans

mike.evans@ubc.ca 

Julie Martin

julie.martin@ubc.ca 

January 30, 2017

Please see our IKBSAS website with instructions

Eligible grant holders in UBC - Okanagan Irving K. Barber School of Arts & Social Sciences

How do you contact eligible 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. You must work under the supervision of a faculty member who holds an eligible active NSERC research grant either at the time you submit the application or when you hold the award.
  • Regardless of whether you get the position or not, thank the professor for their time. A thank you email would be a nice touch.

How do you apply?

  1. 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.

  2. Once you have found an eligible professor, both Project 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.

  3. Instructions on how to complete the forms can be found on the NSERC USRA website.

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

  5. 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 USRA Coordinator for review.

  6. Your USRA Coordinator will be in touch with your proposed project supervisor about the outcome of the application.

  7. NSERC will not accept hardcopy forms so the official application must be completed and submitted electronically. The copies sent to the 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 project 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 $6,076. If the award is longer than 16 weeks, your pay should increase by a minimum of $379.75/week for each additional week.
  • 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.
  • A travel allowance may also be granted if you take up the award at a university other than the one at which you are currently registered (see the section on Travel Allowances below for more information).
  • 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.

How long is the award?

  • 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.
  • You can hold an award at any time during the year as permitted by your academic program (e.g., an award may be held concurrently with a co-op placement). Most USRAs are held in the summer term from May 1 to  August 31, however, you can also hold a USRA in the fall term (September 1 to December 31), or in the winter term (January 1 to April 30).

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 USRA and must comply with the internal selection criteria of that institution and be selected by that university to hold one of their quota of awards. Once NSERC has approved your award for tenure at one particular institution, you may not transfer it to another institution

Awards in industry

NSERC encourages you to diversify your research experience using the USRA program. The program provides the opportunity for you to work at your own university, other universities across Canada, or in a Canadian industry (Industrial USRA). You may hold up to three of each award (university USRA and industrial USRA) in the course of your undergraduate career. This program offers you the opportunity to work on a challenging research project in an industrial environment.

Travel allowances

NSERC may approve a travel allowance for the actual costs you incur to get to your host university if it is different from the one you are attending at the time of the award. The maximum allowance is an amount equivalent to economy airfare between the cities where the universities are located.

In addition...

  • NSERC will pay the return travel costs only if the actual period of tenure is 12 weeks or more.
  • NSERC will not provide a travel allowance for your spouse or children.
  • This allowance is not designed to offset your daily commuting costs to and from the host university.
  • NSERC will provide an allowance (as deemed reasonable by NSERC's Finance Division) for ground transportation costs to and from your residence and your point of departure (e.g., airport, train station, bus station). Receipts must be provided.
  • NSERC will not provide an allowance for the cost of transporting excess baggage or removing household effects.
  • Frequent flyer points will not be reimbursed.
  • NSERC will not reimburse travel expenses to and from field research locations and the UBC campus. Any additional cost related to fieldwork (e.g., travel expenses) must be covered by the supervisor.
  • Please contact your faculty school coordinator about how to submit a travel claim form.

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 2017. See above for internal application deadlines.

USRA Placements

Summer Term - May 1 - August 31, 2017 *(May 12, 2017)

Fall Term - September 1 - December 31, 2017 *(September 6, 2017)

Winter Term - January 1 - April 30, 2018*(January 9, 2018) *latest a student can start working on their award.

NSERC Award Notification

Award letters will be issued to students no later than the month of July for the summer term, October for the fall term, and February for the winter term.

Travel Claim Forms (visiting students)

Faculty/Department to forward copies of travel receipts, travel requisition form, and proof of reimbursement to the student of the CSI&C Office (1036 Brock Hall, Attn: NSERC USRA Liaison Officer) by Monday, September 11, 2017.

Questions about NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards?

Application process and general questions:

Contact your 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