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.

Eligibility

For more details on Student Eligibility, please review the Information for Students Handout

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-V:

Gayatri Thakor

apsc.pd@ubc.ca

March 18, 2021

Contact professors directly

Refer to important information about the NSERC USRAs. 

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

Applied Science (UBC Okanagan)

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Samantha Luckow

samantha.luckow@ubc.ca

February 28, 2021

You can contact professors directly.

Refer to the Faculty Directory to find a potential supervisor.

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

Arts

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Marcy Caouette

arts.awards@ubc.ca

February 19, 2021

You can contact the USRA Coordinator or contact the professors directly.

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

Arts: Geography

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Suzanne Lawrence

undergraduate.program@geog.ubc.ca

February 19, 2021

You can contact the USRA Coordinator or professors directly.

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

Arts: Psychology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Jennifer Janicki

undergrad@psych.ubc.ca 

February 19, 2021

Contact the USRA Coordinator or professors directly.

See eligible Grant Holders for Arts at UBC Vancouver.

Dentistry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Ingrid Ellis

iellis@dentistry.ubc.ca

February 26, 2021

Contact professors directly.

See eligible Grant Holder lists 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 2021/2022 cycle.

Forestry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Chiara Longhi

chiara.longhi@ubc.ca

March 15, 2021

Apply online and ensure that the USRA Faculty coordinator has been made aware that you have applied and should you have any non-UBC transcript be sure to include those in your email notification to the USRA Coordinator (Chiara Longhi).

See eligible Grant Holders for Forestry at UBC Vancouver.

Kinesiology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Jean-Sebastien Blouin

jean-sebastien.blouin@ubc.ca

1) LOI from Faculty members: February 12, 2021

2) Full Application due on March 5, 2021

Contact potential supervisors early, submit LOI, then full application directly to USRA Coordinator.

See eligible Grant Holders 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

March 12, 2021

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

See eligible Grant Holders for LFS at UBC Vancouver.

Medicine

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Debbie Giaschi

fom.nserc.usra@ubc.ca

March 4, 2021

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

See eligible Grant Holders for Medicine at UBC Vancouver.

Pharmaceutical Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Sarah Hedtrich

sarah.hedtrich@ubc.ca

March 5, 2021

Visit the faculty SSRP webpage for additional information on how to apply to the program.  

See eligible Grant Holders for Pharmaceutical Sciences at UBC Vancouver.

Sauder School of Business

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Jessie Lam

Jessie.lam@sauder.ubc.ca

March 12, 2021 (date by which supervisorand 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 for Sauder at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Botany

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Alice Liou

alice.liou@botany.ubc.ca

February 22, 2021

Contact professors directly

See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Chemistry

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Wayne Mah

ugrad@chem.ubc.ca

January 28, 2021

Go to the Chemistry NSERC USRA website for application instructions.

See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Computer Science

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Ana K. Drole

undergrad-admin@cs.ubc.ca

February 20, 2021 at 4:00 PM

  1. Determine which awards you are eligible for.
  2. Contact potential supervisors/faculty members you would like to work with.
  3. Once you have a confirmed supervisor, submit the online application webform by the stated deadline. Before submitting, please ensure that you have read over the online guidelines, eligibility requirements, and webform instructions carefully.

For more information, please visit Undergraduate Student Research Awards.

See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Kimberly Tietjen

ktietjen@eoas.ubc.ca

March 12, 2021

  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. Email a completed copy of both Part I and Part II to Kimberly Tietjen, Administrative & Office Assistant, ktietjen@eoas.ubc.ca.

     See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Institute for the Oceans & Fisheries

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Eden Fellner

e.fellner@oceans.ubc.ca

March 5, 2021

Send one PDF version (combined) of all application forms (Part I and Part II) and transcripts that were submitted to the NSERC Online Application Portal via email to e.fellner@oceans.ubc.ca with “NSERC USRA 2021/22 Application Last Name” in subject line.

See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

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

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Bonnie Leung

bonnie.leung@ubc.ca

March 1, 2021

You can contact professors directly.

Students should apply directly online via the NSERC website, they should save one PDF copy of Part I and Part II of the application form and send it to: IRES Applications ires.applications@ubc.ca, Subject: NSERC USRA 2021/22 Last Name

See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Mathematics

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Allen Yang

resource@math.ubc.ca

February 5, 2021

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

See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Microbiology and Immunology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. David (Dave) Oliver

dcoliver@mail.ubc.ca

February 20, 2021

Find more information at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology’s page

See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Physics & Astronomy

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Kirsty Dickson

ugcoord@phas.ubc.ca

January 31, 2021 

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

See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Statistics

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Mairead Roche

gradinfo@stat.ubc.ca

February 20, 2021 at 4:00 PM

All applicants are required to apply with a confirmed supervisor. The list of projects and supervisors will be posted on our webpage.

See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

Science: Zoology

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Síle Maguire Conneely

coordinator@zoology.ubc.ca

February 22, 2021

Contact professors directly.

When students apply online via the NSERC website, they should save a PDF copy of both parts of the application form and send it to the Zoology graduate program (coordinator@zoology.ubc.ca).

See eligible Grant Holders for Science at UBC Vancouver.

UBC-O Health & Exercise Sciences

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Dr. Tanya Forneris

tanya.forneris@ubc.ca

February 26, 2021 at 4:00 PM

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

See eligible Grant Holders for Health and Exercise Sciences at UBCO.

UBC-O Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science

USRA Coordinator Application Deadline Finding USRA Positions

Lael Parrott

lael.parrott@ubc.ca

Julie Martin

julie.martin@ubc.ca 

January 28, 2021

Please see our IKB Faculty of Science website with instructions.

See eligible Grant Holders for the IKB Faculty of Science at UBCO.

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. 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 $8,321.60 (assuming award duration of May 3 - August 20, 2021) based on the June 1, 2021 BC minimum wage increase from $14.60/hr to $15.20/hr. If the award is longer than 16 weeks, your pay should increase by a minimum of $532.00 for each additional week or $106.40 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 2021. See the Faculty and school application details section above for internal application deadlines.

UBC holds one annual completion a year for Summer 2021, Fall 2021 and Winter 2022 terms. Applications for all terms must be submitted during this period.

USRA Placements

Summer Term: May 1 - August 31, 2021
The latest you can start working on your award for the Summer Term is May 12, 2021.

Fall Term: September 1 - December 31, 2021
The latest you can start working on your award for the Fall Term is September 6, 2021.

Winter Term: January 1 - April 30, 2022
The latest you can start working on your award for the Winter Term is January 10, 2022.

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.