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 and encourage students to do graduate studies and pursue a research career in these fields. If you would like to gain research experience in an academic setting that complements your studies, these awards can provide you with financial support through your host university. NSERC encourages qualified Indigenous students to apply to this program.
- Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
- Registered in a non-professional bachelor's degree program at an eligible university at the time of application (students in undergraduate professional degree programs in the health sciences are not admissible, e.g., MD, DDS, BScN);
- NOTE: The University of Ottawa will give priority to students in their 3rd and 4th year of study at the time of application.
- Minimum cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 7.5;
- NOTE: Since this is a competitive program, priority will be given to students with academic excellence as demonstrated by their CGPA.
- Does not hold a graduate degree in the natural sciences or engineering; and
- Has not previously received any more than three USRAs.
To hold an award, students must:
- Have completed all the course requirements of at least the 1st year of their bachelor’s program;
- Have been registered in a bachelor's degree program in the term immediately before holding the award;
- Not be in a graduate program in the natural sciences or engineering;
- Not take daytime courses during the term of the award in order to dedicate themselves to award activities on a full-time basis; and
- Not do thesis research during the term of the award.
In addition, students cannot hold an NSERC USRA at the same time as they are in receipt of a Faculty of Science’s Undergraduate Research Scholarship.
- To supervise a USRA student, professors must hold an active NSERC research grant, either at the time of the application or during the period the award is held.
- NOTE: Professors must have sufficient research funds to be able to pay upfront the full amount of the award of a minimum of $5,625 ($4,500 from NSERC + minimum $1,125 from the supervisor).
- Professors whose research grants terminated on March 31, 2017, but who received an extension to use remaining funds between April 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018, are eligible to supervise a USRA student in the Fall 2018 or Winter 2019 term.
- Professors can submit a maximum of two applications per term. Exceptions may be granted based on a research team’s supervisory resources. Requests for an exception are to be directed to the Centre for Research Opportunities.
Steps for finding a University of Ottawa faculty supervisor
It is the responsibility of the student to identify, contact and obtain approval from a University of Ottawa faculty member to supervise their academic research.
Students are invited to consult the lists of faculty members on the websites of academic units in order to find a supervisor. Most professors also have a personal web page that provides details about their research.
NOTE: Be sure to confirm that the professor holds an NSERC research grant, as required by the eligibility criteria for professors.
STEP 1 - Submit the following documents via NSERC’s online application system:
- Form 202, part I:
To be completed by the student, through their personal account on NSERC’s online application system. Once Part I is completed, the student will receive a reference number, which must be forwarded to the professor. A student may submit only one application per year while at the University of Ottawa. If the student has previously applied to NSERC using Form 202, the student must use the same form for this application. Prior to doing so, the student must be sure to first update the form (including updated transcripts).
- Form 202, part II:
To be completed by the professor supervising the research, from his or her own account on NSERC’s online application system. Parts I and II of the form are linked by the professor using the reference number provided by the student and are submitted online.
All transcripts must be combined into a single PDF file. Formatting for margins, spacing, font and page numbers are outlined in NSERC’s online presentation and attachment standards (do not apply to the transcript file).
- University of Ottawa students: Transcripts in PDF format from uoZone are 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 your official transcripts from that institution, including the legend on the back.
- Students from other universities: Official transcripts scanned into a single PDF file, including the legend on the back of each transcript.
STEP 2 - Submit the following documents via email to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Student’s resumé:
The resume must include sections on education, awards and research experience. Maximum two pages in length. Please note that students do not need to have research experience to receive the award.
- Statement of interest:
The student must explain why they want to participate in the proposed research project and the link to their professional goals. Maximum 250 words.
NOTE: Your application will be processed once the complete admission package and all required documents are received.
Applications are assessed on the basis of the student’s academic excellence as demonstrated by their cumulative grade point average (CGPA). In addition, the University of Ottawa will give priority to students in their 3rd and 4th year of study at the time of application.
Disbursement of awards
The academic or administrative unit of the supervising professor prepares and processes the award contracts. The total amount must be included on one single contract and is paid from the supervisor’s research funds. The Centre for Research Opportunities will reimburse the professor the amount of the NSERC award ($4,500) once the NSERC funds arrive towards the end of the term of the scholarship.