NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards

Overview

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.

The information on this page applies to both UBC Okanagan and Vancouver students.

Eligibility

For more details on Student Eligibility, please review the Information for Students Handout (pdf) and FAQ (pdf)

Application requirements

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

  • You must have obtained, over the previous years of study, a minimum cumulative B- (68%) average.

  • You can not be currently enrolled in an undergraduate professional degree program in the health sciences (e.g., MD, DDS, BScN, PharmD).

  • You have not started a program of graduate studies in the natural sciences or engineering at any time.

Requirements for holding 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

  • You must 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 August 31), Fall (September 1 to December 31), Winter (January 1 to April 30). Registration in either one of the two summer sessions will count as registration in that term.

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

  • You cannot have held a previous USRA in this fiscal year (April 1 to March 31), or more than 2 previous USRA awards in total.

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

Additional considerations

  • 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 cannot 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.

Review the government's website for more information.

Award 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 and school application details

Applied Science (UBC Vancouver)

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

UBC Vancouver:

Cherrie Kwok

apsc.pd@ubc.ca

Sat, March 15, 2022

Please see our APSC website for application instructions.

See the eligible Grant Holder list (pdf) in Applied Science at UBC Vancouver.

Applied Science (UBC Okanagan)

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Samantha Luckow

samantha.luckow@ubc.ca

Mon, February 28, 2022

Please review the details of the award and confirm your eligibility. If eligible and interested, 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). Review the list of School of Engineering faculty with research foci. Your application and all supporting documents must be downloaded and submitted online to soe.advising@ubc.ca by the application deadline. Use the subject line "NSERC USRA Application". If approved to move forward, you will be formally nominated to NSERC on the school's behalf. 

Contact soe.advising@ubc.ca if you have questions. 

See the eligible Grant Holder list (pdf) for the School of Engineering at UBC Okanagan. 

Arts

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Marcy Caouette

arts.awards@ubc.ca

Fri, February 18, 2022

You can contact the USRA Coordinator or the professors directly.

See the eligible Grant Holder list (pdf) for Arts at UBC Vancouver.

Arts: Geography

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Suzanne Lawrence

undergraduate.program@geog.ubc.ca

Fri, February 18, 2022

You can contact the USRA Coordinator or professors directly.

See the eligible Grant Holder list (pdf) for Arts at UBC Vancouver.

Arts: Psychology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Jennifer Janicki

undergrad@psych.ubc.ca 

Fri, February 18, 2022


If you are interested in the NSERC USRA award, you must first contact a UBC Psychology faculty member.

If that individual agrees to nominate you for this award, both of you will have to complete and submit Form 202-part 1 and part 2 (USRA - Undergraduate Student Research Awards) and email it to undergrad@psych.ubc.ca along with an official copy of your transcript. The form and more information about NSERC can be found on the NSERC website. Only complete applications will be accepted. 

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Arts at UBC Vancouver.

Dentistry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Ingrid Ellis

iellis@dentistry.ubc.ca

Tues, March 1, 2022

Contact the professors directly.

See eligible Grant Holder lists (pdf) for Dentistry at UBC Vancouver.

Education

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Robert Olaj

robert.olaj@ubc.ca

Not applicable

The Faculty of Education is not accepting NSERC-USRA applications for the 2022/2023 cycle.

Forestry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Chiara Longhi

chiara.longhi@ubc.ca

Mon, March 14, 2022

A copy of your application must also be submitted to chiara.longhi@ubc.ca. Please make sure to include your student number and the professor you are applying within the body of the email.

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Forestry at UBC Vancouver.

Kinesiology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Prof. Mark Beauchamp

mark.beauchamp@ubc.ca

Deadline for LOI from Faculty members: Fri, February 11, 2022

Full Application deadline: Fri, March 4, 2022

Contact potential supervisors early, submit your LOI, and then send your full application directly to the USRA Coordinator.

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Kinesiology at UBC Vancouver.

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

Fri, March 11, 2022

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

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for LFS at UBC Vancouver.

Medicine

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Debbie Giaschi

fom.nserc.usra@ubc.ca

Thu, March 10, 2022

Find more information on the Faculty of Medicine's NSERC USRA page or contact eligible supervisors directly

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Medicine at UBC Vancouver.

Pharmaceutical Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Ricky Turgeon

ricky.turgeon@ubc.ca

Thu, March 3, 2022

Please visit the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences NSERC USRA webpage for additional information on how to apply to the program.  

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC Vancouver.

Sauder School of Business

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Jessie Lam

Jessie.lam@sauder.ubc.ca

Fri, March 11, 2021 (date by which supervisor and student pairs must have their application complete and verified online)

1. Look for in-class announcements by professors

2. Interested students should contact Jessie Lam, Sauder NSERC USRA Coordinator at jessie.lam@sauder.ubc.ca as soon as possible to facilitate finding a supervisor. 

3. Contact professors directly to set up meeting

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Sauder at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Botany

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Alice Liou

alice.liou@botany.ubc.ca

Tues, February 22, 2022

Contact professors directly.

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Chemistry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Wayne Mah

ugrad@chem.ubc.ca

Fri, January 28, 2021

Go to the Chemistry NSERC USRA website for application instructions.

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Computer Science

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Celine Francis

undergrad-admin@cs.ubc.ca

Mon, February 21, 2022

For more information, please visit Undergraduate Student Research Awards.

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Emma Liu

eliu@eoas.ubc.ca

Mon, March 14, 2022

  1. Complete the online application Form 202 - Part I on the NSERC website. You will need to upload a copy of your official transcript, both front and back.
  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. Email a completed copy of both Part I and Part II to Emma Liu, the Administrative & Office Assistant, at eliu@eoas.ubc.ca.

     See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Institute for the Oceans & Fisheries

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Eden Raines

e.raines@oceans.ubc.ca

Mon, February 28, 2022 

Contact professors directly. Students should apply directlly online via the NSERC website. Save one combined PDF document of all the application forms (Part I and Part II) and transcripts that were submitted to the NSERC Online Application Portal. Send the document via email to e.raines@oceans.ubc.ca with "NSERC USRA 2022-23 Application (Your last name)" in the subject line. 

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

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

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Kendra Yu

kendra.yu@ires.ubc.ca

Thu, March 3, 2022

You can contact professors directly (see eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver). Apply directly online via the NSERC website. Please save one PDF copy of Part I and Part II of the application form and send it to ires.applications@ubc.ca with the subject line "NSERC USRA 2022/23 (Your last name)".

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Mathematics

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Allen Yang

resource@math.ubc.ca

Prof. Sven Bachmann

sbach@math.ubc.ca

Sat, February 5, 2022

Find instructions to apply on the Mathematics Department's NSERC USRA page

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Microbiology and Immunology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. David (Dave) Oliver

dcoliver@mail.ubc.ca

Mon, February 28, 2022

Find application instructions for students.

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Physics & Astronomy

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Kirsty Dickson

ugcoord@phas.ubc.ca

Mon, January 31, 2022 

Find application instructions online.

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Statistics

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Mairead Roche

gradinfo@stat.ubc.ca

Mon, February 21, 2022

All applicants are required to apply with a confirmed supervisor. The list of projects and supervisors will be posted on the Summer Undergraduate Research Assistants webpage

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Zoology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Mimi Yu

coordinator@zoology.ubc.ca

Mon, February 21, 2022

Contact professors directly.

When applying online via the NSERC website, save a PDF copy of both parts of the application form and send it to the Zoology graduate program at coordinator@zoology.ubc.ca.

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Science at UBC Vancouver.

UBC-O Health & Exercise Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Tanya Forneris

tanya.forneris@ubc.ca

Fri, February 25, 2022

Please visit the URSA award page for instructions on how to apply for the award.

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for Health and Exercise Sciences at UBC Okanagan.

UBC-O Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Trudy Kavanaugh

fosawards.ubco@ubc.ca

Thu, January 27, 2022

Please see the IKB Faculty of Science website with instructions.

See eligible Grant Holders (pdf) for the IKB Faculty of Science at UBC Okanagan.

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 to 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. Follow the instructions on how to complete the forms. can be found on the NSERC USRA website. See additional resources:

    1. Online Application Portal for Faculty Supervisors and Student Applicants

    2. NSERC USRA Instructions for Completing Form 202

    3. NSERC USRA Program Application Tutorial

  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 of awards

These awards have a value of $6,000 CAD. This amount will be reimbursed to your faculty supervisor's account at the end of your work tenure.

The minimum pay for the tenure of your award of 16 weeks is $8,512.00 to meet BC’s minimum wage requirements of $15.20/hr. If the award is longer than 16 weeks, your pay should increase by a minimum of $532.00/week for each additional week or $106.40/day for each additional day.

Payment of awards

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 to 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.

Important dates

NSERC USRA Application Period

Students and supervisors must register or log onto the NSERC online system to complete Form 202 Part 1 (student application) and Form 202 Part II (supervisor application) starting January 2022. See the Faculty and school application details section above for internal application deadlines.

UBC holds one annual completion a year for Summer 2022, Fall 2022 and Winter 2023 terms. Applications for all terms (from May 2022 to April 2023) must be submitted during this period.

USRA Placements

  • Summer Term: May 1 to  August 31, 2022
    The latest you can start working on your award for the Summer Term is May 12, 2022.
  • Fall Term: September 1 to December 31, 2022
    The latest you can start working on your award for the Fall Term is September 6, 2022.
  • Winter Term: January 1 to April 30, 2023
    The latest you can start working on your award for the Winter Term is January 9, 2023.

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.

If you have questions

For application process and general questions, contact your faculty, school, or department USRA Coordinator. You can see the faculty or school application details section above for deadlines and contacts. 

As a second resource, you can also contact NSERC USRA Liaison Officer UBC Centre for Student Involvement and Careers by emailing nserc.usra@ubc.ca.