Undergraduate Student Research Awards Program (USRA) – Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are meant to stimulate students interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering. They are also meant to encourage students to undertake graduate studies and pursue a research career 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. NSERC encourages qualified Aboriginal students to apply to this program.
- be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada
- be registered in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university at the time of application (undergraduate professional degree programs in the health sciences are not admissible, e.g., MD, DDS, BScN)
- have a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of at least 6.0
- must not hold a graduate degree in the natural sciences or engineering
- must not have previously received three USRAs
To hold an award, you must:
- have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study of your bachelor's degree
- have been registered in the term immediately before holding the award in a bachelor's degree program
- not have started a program of graduate studies in the natural sciences or engineering
- be engaged on a full-time basis in research and development activities during the tenure of the award
In addition, you cannot hold an NSERC USRA at the same time as the Undergraduate Research Scholarship from the Faculty of Science at the University of Ottawa.
- To supervise a USRA student, a professor must hold an active NSERC research grant, either at the time of the application or when the award is held.
- Professors whose research grants terminated on March 31, 2017, but who received an extension to use up the remaining funds from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, will be eligible to supervise a USRA student in the summer or fall of 2018 or the winter of 2019.
- A professor can submit a maximum of 2 applications per session. Exceptions can be granted based on a research team’s supervision resources. To request an exception, please contact the Office of Undergraduate Research.
Documents 1, 2 and 3 (Form parts I and II, transcripts) must be submitted using the NSERC’s On-line System.
Documents 4 and 5 (resume and statement of interest) must be sent electronically to email@example.com.
- Form 202, part I:
to be completed by the student, through his or her personal account on NSERC’s On-line System. Once Part I is completed, a reference number will be provided. This number must be forwarded to the professor. A student may only submit one application per year at the University of Ottawa. If the student has applied to NSERC in the past, he or she must update the existing form.
- Form 202, part II:
to be completed by the professor supervising the research, from his or her own account on NSERC’s On-line System. Parts I and II of the form are linked by the professor using the reference number provided to the student. The application can then be submitted on-line.
The transcripts must be combined into a single file. Please note that NSERC’s Online Presentation and Attachment Standards specify formatting for margins, spacing, font and page number. These do not apply to the transcript file.
- University of Ottawa students: the unofficial transcript in PDF format obtained from uOzone is accepted. An official transcript may be required at a later date if you are granted the award. If you have also attended another university, please include a scanned copy of the official transcript for that institution including the legend found on the back.
- Students from other universities: official transcripts must be scanned into a single PDF file, including the legend located on the back side of each transcript.
- Student’s resume:
the resume must include a section on education, awards and research experience. Maximum length: 2 pages. Please note that students do not need to have research experience to receive the award.
- Statement of interest:
The student must explain why he or she wants to participate in the proposed research project and the link between this and his or her professional goals. Maximum length: 250 words.
Applications are assessed on the basis of the student’s academic excellence and research aptitudes. In addition, the University of Ottawa will give priority to students in their 2nd and 3rd year of study at the time of application.
Find a professor
The students are responsible for finding a professor to supervise them. A list of professors and a description of their research interests are available on the Faculty’s and academic unit’s websites. It is important to confirm that the professor holds an NSERC research grant, as indicated by the professor’s eligibility criteria.
According to the guidelines of the USRA program, the NSERC USRA grant has a value of $4,500 for a full 16-week period ($281.25 per week). Supervisors are required to supplement the amount of the award by at least 25% of its value using other sources (a minimum of $1,125, or $70.31 per week), such as university funds, NSERC grants, or any other research funds. This results in a total award value of a minimum of $5,625.
Disbursement of Award
The contracts are prepared and processed in the academic unit or administrative assistant of the supervising professor. The total amount will need to be included on a single contract, taken from the supervisor’s research funds. The Office of Undergraduate Research will reimburse the NSERC award ($4,500) when the NSERC funds arrive (toward the end of the session of tenure).