Undergraduate Student Research Award 

The NSERC USRA program provides support for research work experience in the natural sciences and engineering. Undergraduate students work full-time on a research project for 16 consecutive weeks on a full-time basis in a term (Fall, Winter or Summer) with a faculty member.

The NSERC USRA program is quota based with limited number of awards available.

To be eligible, supervisors must be authorized to independently supervise students. The suitability of the supervision will be evaluated as part of the selection process.

Questions regarding selection of a supervisor should be directed to the departments. For Cumming School of Medicine, direct questions to the Bachelor of Health Sciences Office.

Subject matter for the USRA research project must fall in one or more natural sciences or engineering disciplines and cannot be health sciences related.

Applications will be assessed on the following three criteria:

  • Academic record
  • Research aptitude
  • Expected quality of the training to be received

Students and supervisors apply for a USRA by completing Form 202 – USRA in the NSERC On-line System:

  • Students fill out Part I - Student and attach official transcripts issued by the Registrar's Office to the Part I.
  • Supervisors fill out Part II - Supervisor and submit both Parts I and II of Form 202 - USRA.

A student may submit one (1) application with one (1) supervisor only per competition.

Due to the limited number of awards, supervisors will be limited to two awards during the competition.

Students are required to upload an official transcripts issued by Student and Enrolment Services (Registrar's Office) to the USRA application (Form 202 - USRA):

  • After the official transcripts have been received from the Registrar's Office, break the seal (disregard the watermark) and upload this version of the official transcripts to the USRA application.
  • Students whose home institution is not the University of Calgary are also required to upload a copy of the grading scale (grading legend) from the official transcripts to the USRA application.

IMPORTANT:  NSERC will not accept unofficial transcripts (web/digital) printed off the student center.

Discontinuation of travel allowances:  NSERC no longer provides travel allowances. Travel expenses will not be reimbursed.

  • Student Deadline: 4:00 pm MST Friday, February 4, 2022

  • Supervisor Deadline: 4:00 pm MST Friday, February 11, 2022

The Research Services Office conducts the administrative review of the applications to ensure compliance with NSERC Terms of Reference and guidelines.  Departments conduct the internal ranking of applications. Contact the supervisor’s department for details on the internal ranking process. For Departments in Cumming School of Medicine, direct inquiries to the Bachelor of Health Sciences Office.

Part I (student) and Part II (supervisor) of Form 202 are required to be submitted in the NSERC on-line system .

To be eligible to apply, a student must be currently registered in a bachelor's program. To be eligible to hold the award, a student must have been registered in at least one of the two preceding terms. Students who have graduated may hold a USRA in one of the two terms immediately following their graduation. Students who have already graduated by the application deadline are not eligible to apply. (This is understood to mean that a student who has received their degree by the application deadline is not eligible to apply). 

To be eligible to apply for an award, a student must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada as of the deadline date for applications at the university;
  • be registered, as of the deadline date for applications at the university, in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university;
  • have obtained, over the entire period of undergraduate studies, a minimum cumulative B average (3.0 gpa, 2nd class).
  1. In addition:

    • A student who holds a bachelor's degree and is studying toward a second bachelor's degree may still apply for this award.
    • A student may hold only one university USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
    • A student may hold a maximum of three university USRAs throughout his/her undergraduate university career.
    • USRAs may be held during co-op placements.
    • Students studying at a foreign institution who are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada may be eligible for USRA provided they meet all other eligibility requirements.
  2. To hold an award, a student must:

    • have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study (or two academic terms) of the student's bachelor's degree;
    • have been registered in at least one of the two terms immediately before holding the award in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university;
    • not have started a program of graduate studies 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
  • he/she is currently enrolled in an undergraduate professional degree program in the health sciences (e.g. MD, DDS, BScN);
  • he/she holds higher degrees in the natural sciences or engineering (i.e. Master's or PhD).


  • The students’ application must indicate that they were registered full-time throughout their program, except for the final session during which they were only required to register part-time in order to complete their degree.  The award must be held in the session immediately following the students' final session.
  • Students registered at an eligible university on a full-time basis in a bachelor’s degree program in fields other than the natural sciences or engineering are eligible to apply provided they meet all the other eligibility criteria and that they are engaged on a full-time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during tenure of the award.


Value:  $7,500 total: 

  • NSERC contributes $6,000 towards the student stipend once the application is approved by NSERC.
  • Institutions are required to supplement the award and should comply
    with their provincial employment standards. A mandatory supplement (top-up) of $1,500 at minimum is required.

Duration:  16-weeks (4 months) on a full-time basis

NSERC, in partnership with Natural Resources Canada Canadian Forest Service, has announced a new supplement to the Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) program: Canadian Forest Sector Workforce Diversity Undergraduate Supplement. Up to thirty (30) awards per year will be offered in each of the 2020-21, 2021-22, and 2022-23 competitions. The supplement has a value of $5,000, in addition to the USRA.

Remote work is acceptable with supervision expected on a frequent basis.

A maximum of two (2) courses are allowed during the tenure of award. Exceptions to the course limit can be reviewed by NSERC on a case-by-case basis.


Research Grants Officer