NSERC undergraduate programs summary
August 25, 2011
This video provides an overview of NSERC funding available to undergraduate students.
Please note that the Industrial Undergraduate Student Research Awards (IUSRA) are now known as the Experience Awards.
The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council supports students at all stages of their post-secondary education. This video will provide information about NSERC's programs for undergraduate students. Keep in mind that this is intended as an overview only. For more details, you should read the complete program description and instructions for completing an application.
Before taking up an award, NSERC may require that you provide proof of your Canadian citizenship or status as a permanent resident. Acceptable documents include a Canadian birth certificate or citizenship card, an official document indicating your landing date in Canada, or a Permanent Resident card.
NSERC's primary program for supporting undergraduate students and stimulating their interest in research is the Undergraduate Student Research Awards. The USRA program has two components, offering support for research conducted either at a Canadian university or in an industrial setting with an eligible organization. Approximately 2,700 university-based awards are available, which are allocated based on a quota system. About 750 awards are available through the Industrial Undergraduate Student Research Awards program. They are available to students who are working on, or have just completed, their undergraduate degree.
Each USRA recipient gets $4,500 from NSERC and at least $1,125 from the host university or host organization. As an award holder, you will receive your payment through your host university or your host organization. Students who have to travel to their host organization may be able to request travel funds. To be eligible to apply, you must have a cumulative average of at least B or B-. You must also be registered at the time of application at an eligible university in a bachelor's degree program and have completed your first year or two academic terms. Students can hold a maximum of three USRA awards during their undergraduate studies. They can be a combination of university or industry awards. Each award consists of a 16-week term in a university lab or in an industrial lab.
To apply for a USRA, you must first choose where you would like to hold the award. Applications must be submitted to the university where you would like to hold the award. This can be at a different university from the one where you are registered. You may apply to more than one university. Each university runs its own competition and sets its own deadlines, so it is important to contact the university before you apply to find out if there are any other regulations you need to follow. Awards can be held throughout the year, but some universities hold only one competition during the year. The application process includes two parts, one which you complete and another completed by the university. More details about completing the application form are provided in a separate video. Once the university makes its selection, applications are submitted to NSERC. NSERC will send the results back to the universities, and successful applicants will be informed by their universities.
Applying for a USRA in Industry also begins by deciding where you would like to hold the award. You will have to contact potential host organizations to see if they have any openings. The NSERC Web site has a partial list of organizations that are already eligible to submit USRA applications. New organizations can apply for eligibility at the same time as they submit your application. Again, you can submit applications for more than one host organization. The student and the organization each complete part of the application form, then the organization submits the full application to NSERC. This should be done at least four weeks before the beginning of your work term. You must be supervised by a researcher at the host organization during your term. NSERC will inform you by letter of the award decision, generally within one month of the day it receives the complete application.
Students who hold a USRA are eligible to apply for two supplementary funding programs.
The Aboriginal Ambassadors in the Natural Sciences and Engineering Supplements program seeks to help Aboriginal students promote interest and participation in science and engineering in Canada's Aboriginal communities.
The Environment Canada Atmospheric and Meteorological Undergraduate Supplement program offers supplements of $1,000 for students studying, or planning to study, atmospheric science or meteorology.
For deadlines and application information for these supplements, check the NSERC Web site.
In addition to receiving direct support through scholarships, students may have an opportunity to receive indirect support from NSERC through research grants held by university faculty. A significant part of most NSERC grants is devoted to supporting students who help conduct the grantee's research. The grant programs available to university professors also include the Collaborative Research and Training Experience program. CREATE is designed specifically to provide students with training opportunities that complement their academic training by developing their professional skills, interacting with different universities and sectors, and increasing their exposure to interdisciplinary research. To find out more about these opportunities, contact your university.