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Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA)

Research Admin Offices:

  • HRS

Funding Type:


Opportunity Type:

  • Grant


  1. These awards have a value of $6,000 (e.g. $6,000 from NSERC + $2,680 minimum top-up from the contributing department, based on minimum wage of $15.50/hour.)
  2. The duration of the award is 14 to 16 weeks on a full-time basis.
  3. 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:

April 1, 2023

Sponsor Deadline:

May 1, 2023


The Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) program supports more than 3,000 students annually and is administered jointly by Canada’s three research granting agencies: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Applications for the USRA program must be completed and submitted to the Canadian institution where you wish to hold the award through NSERC’s online system. Selected applications are submitted to NSERC by institutions. No USRA applications may be submitted directly to the agencies.

At the present time, CIHR and SSHRC USRAs are exclusively for Black student researchers. Institutions are assigned a specific allocation for these awards, as outlined in the Undergraduate Student Research Awards allocations web page.

The 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 USRA position please contact the Administrators listed below directly.

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

Please note the following key changes to the USRA program (effective Summer 2023 competition):

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) are pleased to implement the new USRA Black student researchers starting competition 2023-2024. These funds will help address the disproportionate underfunding of Black scholars at the undergraduate level; will contribute to making Canada’s research culture more equitable, diverse and inclusive; and will strengthen Canada’s innovation potential.

Starting competition 2023-24:

  • For NSERC USRAs: Institutions may recommend applications from self-identified Black student researchers for USRAs beyond their allocations of awards (the current process already in place for Indigenous students).
  • For CIHR and SSHRC USRAs: at the present time, USRAs are exclusively for Black student researchers and eligible institutions will receive an allocation from each granting agency based on their average of the total sum of CIHR or SSHRC grant funding received over the three available fiscal years.
  • CIHR and SSHRC students will apply to the program using NSERC online system and hereby disclose that they self-identify as Black and understand that this information will be shared with the institution to which they apply.
  • Regardless of the granting agency, students must create their application using the NSERC online system and must select the agency whose mandate (NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC) aligns best with their field of research (health, natural sciences and engineering, social sciences and humanities).
  • The eligibility criteria are the same across the agencies for the Black student researchers funding. One exception is that at the present time, CIHR and SSHRC USRAs are exclusively for Black student researchers

Additional Program Information:

  • The duration of the award is 14-16 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 (effective Summer 2020):

NSERC no longer requires 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.

Canadian Forest Sector Workforce Diversity undergraduate supplements

If you meet the eligibility criteria, you are automatically considered for this supplement when you apply to the Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) program. At the time of your application to the USRA, your proposed research project must fall within the research areas of relevance to Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service. NSERC will supplement, on behalf of Natural Resources Canada – Canadian Forest Service, your USRA by $5,000.

McMaster University policy is to issue the full value of the supplement to the student, in addition to the USRA award. You will receive your payment from the institution at which you are holding your USRA. The institution will also issue a T4 or T4A slip (statement of income) to you at the end of the calendar year.

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.

PLEASE NOTE: NSERC form 202 part I (students) and part II (supervisor) will be closed from January 16, 2023 to January 19, 2023 to allow for required updates to the NSERC online system.

Internal Departmental Contact Information and Application Deadlines

Department Contact Person Extension Deadline
Faculty of Business Pina Del Monte 26045 March 20, 2023
Faculty of Engineering
Chemical Engineering Michelle Whalen 24292 February 3, 2023
Civil Engineering Olivia Pare 24315 February 3, 2023
Computing & Software Aquisha Lewis 22852 February 3, 2023
Electrical & Computer Engineering Tracy Coop 24347 February 3, 2023
Engineering Physics Linda Ellis 27925 February 3, 2023
Materials Science & Engineering Samantha Kandilas 24295 February 3, 2023
Mechanical Engineering Lily Sazz-Fayter 24294 February 3, 2023
Bachelor of Technology Program Jim Morrison  23635  February 3, 2023
Faculty of Health Sciences Catherine Gill 22057 February 15, 2023
Faculty of Humanities Jennifer Richardson 24326 February 22, 2023
Faculty of Science
Biology Tyler Charlebois 23557 February 18, 2023
Chemistry & Chemical Biology Sarra Saiyed 23490 February 24, 2023
School of Earth Environment and Society Frances Jones 24534 February 24, 2023
Kinesiology Sonia Rai 24462 February 10, 2023
Mathematics & Statistics Julie Fogarty 24580 February 17, 2023
Physics & Astronomy Sara Cormier or James Smithson 26098 February 14, 2023
Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour Taylor Bowker 23026 February 28, 2023
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 Shelley Anderson 24655 February 17, 2023 at 4:00 pm
Humanities USRA Jennifer Richardson 24326 February 23, 2023 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.