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NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA)

Research Admin Offices:


Funding Type:



Value and duration of awards

·  These awards have a value of $6,000 (e.g. $6,000 from NSERC + $2,400 minimum top-up from the contributing department, based on minimum wage of $15/hour.)

·  The duration of the award is 14 to 16 weeks on a full-time basis.

·  Effective fiscal year 2022-2023, the following updates will be incorporated into the USRA program description:

    • Institutions are required to supplement the award and should comply with their provincial employment standards. The institution will be responsible for supplements to the weekly value and fringe benefits (if applicable)
    • For the duration of the award, USRA recipients will be employees of the host institution and employed full time in eligible research and development activities in the natural sciences and/or engineering. The activities will be governed by the terms and conditions of employment of employees engaged in similar work.

As minimum wages are regulated provincially, the minimum 25% top-up will become obsolete for the USRA program, therefore, references to a 25% minimum top-up will be deleted from the literature.

·  NSERC’s contribution is paid directly to the host institution and is included in the salary that you receive.

NSERC will not reimburse the institution for any period during which you worked part time. No payment will be approved for any vacation leave you take during tenure of the award


  • Health Sciences
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering
  • Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities



Internal Deadline:


Sponsor Deadline:

January 1, 2099


The NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are intended to stimulate 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. They help students to gain research work experience that complements studies in an academic setting; these awards can help provide students with financial support through their host university.

Please Note: If you are interested in a NSERC USRA position please contact the Administrators listed below directly.

If you are applying from the Faculty of Health Sciences, please visit NSERC USRA in the Faculty of Health Sciences for more information.


Additional Program Information:

  • The duration of the award is 16 consecutive weeks on a full-time basis.
  • You may hold an award at any time during the year as permitted by your academic program.
  • Tenure may start on a date acceptable to both you and your host institution.



Are you eligible for an award?

To be eligible to apply for an award, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or  permanent resident of Canada as  of the deadline date for applications at the university;
  • be registered, at the time you apply, in a bachelor’s degree program at an eligible university;
  • have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative average of at least second class (a grade of “B” or “B-,” if applicable) as defined by your university.

In addition…  

  • 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 university USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
  • You may hold a maximum of three university 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 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 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.

Who is not eligible?

You are not eligible for an Undergraduate Student Research Award if:

  • you are currently enrolled in an undergraduate professional degree program in the health sciences (e.g., MD, DDS, BScN); or
  • you hold higher degrees in the natural sciences or engineering.

Important Changes to Eligibility of Supervisors:

NSERC will no longer require professors to hold an active eligible grant when applying to supervise a USRA student. NSERC considers anyone who is authorized by their university to independently supervise students to be an eligible supervisor.


Application/Nomination Process:

The NSERC USRA Program is administered internally through each eligible faculty/department at McMaster in conjunction with the Research Office for Administration, Development & Support (ROADS). Interested undergraduate students should apply to the department in which their research supervisor is appointed, which may not be the student’s home department. Please keep in mind that each department sets its own application deadline. Specific questions regarding the internal application process/requirements should be directed to the specific department contact.

For more information about the NSERC-USRA Program, please visit the NSERC website to consult the program guidelines.

Internal Departmental Contact Information and Application Deadlines

Department Contact Person Extension Deadline
Faculty of Business Pina Del Monte 26045 March 20, 2022
Faculty of Engineering
Chemical Engineering 24957 February 4, 2022
Civil Engineering Olivia Pare 24315 February 4, 2022
Computing & Software Linda LeBlanc 22852 February 4, 2022
Electrical & Computer Engineering 24347 February 4, 2022
Engineering Physics 27925 February 4, 2022
Materials Science & Engineering 24295 February 4, 2022
Mechanical Engineering 24294 February 4, 2022
Bachelor of Technology Program Sarah Sullivan     20160  February 4, 2022 
Faculty of Health Sciences Julia Croskill 22135 February 18, 2022
Faculty of Humanities
24326 February 23, 2022
Faculty of Science
Biology Nicole Smith  23049 TBD
Chemistry & Chemical Biology 23490 February 18, 2022
School of Earth Environment and Society 24534 February 21, 2022
Kinesiology 24462 February 11, 2022
Mathematics & Statistics 24580 February 11, 2022
Physics & Astronomy 26098 February 7, 2022
Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour 23026 February 28, 2022
Faculty of Social Sciences Chris Hollins 24097

Application Instructions

To apply for these awards, you must complete and submit your application using NSERC’s On-line System; a printed copy of the application must be submitted directly to the department you are applying to. Refer to the instructions for completing Form 202 (video, award and eligibility details below provided by NSERC):




NSERC USRA FAQ – Refer to the Frequently Asked Questions for Applicants and Proposed Research Supervisors for more information.


Students that are interested in the McMaster USRA (not associated with the NSERC-USRA program) should contact:

Program Contact Extension Application Deadline
Arts & Science USRA 24655 February 18, 2022 at 4:00 pm
Humanities USRA Jennifer Richardson 24326 February 23, 2022 at 4:00 pm
Social Sciences USRA Julie Gouweloos 23560 March 31 & October 31         at 4:00 pm

This Non-NSERC USRA program is not administered through ROADS.