NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) 

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Overview and Application Guidelines


The purpose of the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) is to provide research work experience that complements the degree program which will encourage students to consider graduate studies and pursue careers in the natural sciences and engineering.

Award Value & Duration

$7500 CAD:

    • $6000 CAD + $1500 CAD (a minimum of 25% supplement provided by the Supervisor)

The duration of the award is 16 consecutive weeks on a full-time basis.

NOTE: The USRA program has no provision for sick leave or other interruptions of awards.

How to Apply

Application Procedures for Faculty of Information Undergraduate Students

Students and supervisors without an existing NSERC account will need to register for an account.

STEP 1. Creating/completing an application in NSERC’s Research Portal

  1. Student completes the application form (Form 202, Part I) online. They must select the agency to which the application relates (NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC). The student also attaches a PDF copy of their transcript (e-transcripts or the most recent academic history report from ACORN) to the application form.
    • If a student self-identifies as Indigenous or Black for NSERC USRA, they need to select the appropriate field in form 202-Part I.
    • Instructions on completing the application are available here: Instructions for USRA applications
  2. Once Form 202–Part I has been completed, student provides their prospective supervisor with the reference number generated by the system so that they may complete Part II of the form.
  3. Supervisors use the reference number to complete Part II of Form 202.
  4. Once all the modules of Form 202 have been completed, supervisors must go back to the ‘My Portfolio’ page and select Verify, which will assess whether all required information has been entered. Once verification is complete, the status of the application will change to “Completed“.
  5. Supervisor downloads the PDF copy of the full application and sends to student. PLEASE DON’T PRESS SUBMIT IN THE NSERC SYSTEM. Only successful applicants will need to go through the full submission step.

STEP 2: Sending application to FOI

Student completes the FOI Intake Form and uploads the application PDF from the NSERC system. The deadline to complete this is 9AM on Tuesday, March 28, 2023.

STEP 3: FOI Eligibility Checks and Selection (if applicable).

  1. Depending on the number of applications received, NSERC USRAs may need to be adjudicated/pre-selected at the faculty level.

STEP 4: MRA SUBMISSION (for successful supervisors only)

Successful supervisors will be asked to complete an MRA. A special process has been created for USRA. Instructions will be provided to supervisors at that time.


Step 1: Student Eligibility

Base Requirements:

    • Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada.
    • Registered either full-time or part-time at the time of USRA application.
    • Must have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative average of at least second class (a grade of “B” or “B-“, if applicable).

Limitations / Restrictions:

    • If you already hold a Bachelor’s degree and are studying toward a second bachelor’s degree, you may still apply for this award.
    • You may hold only one USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
    • You may hold a maximum of three USRAs throughout your undergraduate university career.

To HOLD 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.
    • Have been registered at the time of application and in at least one of the two terms immediately before holding the award in a bachelor’s degree program at an eligible institution.
    • Not have started a program of graduate studies in the natural sciences or engineering at any time.
    • Be engaged on a full-time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of the award and not be enrolled in courses.
    • The research experience will be 16 consecutive weeks – it’ll be between May 2nd and September 2nd of each year.
    • Students are only eligible to hold ONE USRA at one time. While students could apply to multiple departments (dependent on the primary department the supervisor is under), the student can only hold ONE award at one time.

Step 2: Supervisor Eligibility

    • NSERC considers anyone that meets eligibility to apply for, and hold, grant funds according to NSERC’s Eligibility Criteria for Faculty
    • Hold, or have a firm offer of, an academic appointment at a Canadian Institution (minimum three-year position or tenure track) as of September 1, 2021.
    • Be in a position that requires independent research and allows supervision of HQP.
    • Postdoctoral fellows, graduate or Ph.D. students are NOT eligible supervisors.
    • Quotas are not transferrable between departments. Therefore, researchers should supervise students at the department where they hold their primary appointment and/or where their grants are held.

Completing Application Forms

Form 202 Part I (Completed by Students)

NSERC PDF Forms and Instructions

Complete the Form with the following details:

    • Name of Discipline: Bachelor of Information
    • Institution: Students from the University of Toronto should indicate “Toronto”
    • Department: Bachelor of Information
    • Expected Degree Completion:
      • Please follow the YYYY/MM format.
      • The month should either be June (06) or November (11).
    • Please use your University of Toronto email address when completing this form.
    • Attach a PDF copy of your transcripts (or the university e-transcripts or the most recent academic history report from ACORN) to the application form (Part I).

Once Form 202 Part I has been completed, provide your prospective supervisor with the reference number generated by the system so that they may complete Part II of the form.

NOTE: The research grant application (RGPIN) number is no longer used by NSERC. Please enter 999999 or any six-digit number.

Form 202 Part II (Completed by Potential Supervisor)

Once your student has completed Step 3b above, and sent you their Form 202 Part I and reference number generated by the NSERC system, please log into the NSERC online system to complete your portion of the application.

    • NOTE: The research grant application (RGPIN) number is no longer used by NSERC. Please enter 999999 or any six-digit number.
    • Please let your student know once you’ve completed/submitted Form 202 Part II.

Selection Process

At the University of Toronto, the selection is undertaken at the departmental level (against their quota) using NSERC assessment criteria.

    1. Academic record
    2. Research aptitude
    3. Expected quality of the training to be received (suitability of the supervisor)

As with all internal research competitions, it is expected that principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) will be incorporated into the selection process.