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Eligibility Criteria for Students and Fellows

Are you eligible to apply for an award?

To be eligible for support for the majority of NSERC’s Scholarships and Fellowships programs (except for Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships and Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships), you must be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada, as of the deadline date for application. NSERC may ask for proof of citizenship or residency status before and while it provides funding.

You must not be currently declared ineligible to apply for and hold funding from NSERC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) or any other Canadian research funding organization for reasons of breach of standards of ethics or integrity (including financial or scientific misconduct).

You must have accounts in good standing with NSERC, including having paid and/or returned any money owed to NSERC. The determination of whether or not an account is in good standing shall be at the sole and absolute discretion of NSERC.

Note: To determine if you are eligible for a particular award, consult the information about eligibility criteria of each program description found in the NSERC Program Guide for Students and Fellows. For eligibility criteria specific to the This link will take you to another Web site Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships or the This link will take you to another Web site Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships, consult their respective website.

Keep in mind…

NSERC uses the date of degree completion to determine the eligibility of applicants. This is the date on which all the requirements of your degree have been met, including successful defence and submission of the corrected copy of your thesis (in accordance with your institution's regulations). It is not the conferred or convocation date.

Are you eligible to hold an award?

To hold an award, you must accept the terms and conditions of the award, as set out in this document, the appropriate program description found in the NSERC Program Guide for Students and Fellows, the Notice of Award, and the Policies and Requirements section of the appropriate Award Holder’s Guide.

Note: Awards may be cancelled without notice if the conditions under which they are granted are violated.

Selecting the appropriate federal granting agency

There are two other federal granting agencies that offer support for which you may be eligible:

You may submit only one application per academic year to NSERC, CIHR or SSHRC.

Some research proposals will necessarily overlap the individual jurisdictions, priorities and interests of the three agencies. Applicants should consult the guidelines of each agency to select the one best suited to consider their application.

Eligibility criteria for proposed research and programs of study

If you receive an award from NSERC but then change your research to a field that NSERC does not support, you will no longer be eligible. As a result, NSERC will cancel the award.

Proposed research

Your research must be part of an overall research program in a field that NSERC supports. NSERC supports research whose major challenges lie in the natural sciences and engineering (NSE), other than the health sciences. Research primarily in the NSE that advances NSE knowledge is eligible for NSERC support, even if it may have potential future applications in human health—such as diagnosis or treatment. Proposals that include the use of methodologies, tools, techniques and knowledge from the NSE are not automatically considered eligible. Additionally, research involving clinical trials or research related to human health or nutrition that focuses on collecting data to support regulatory requirements or marketing needs is not eligible. Research in animal health and veterinary medicine is eligible. In cases where the proposed research is deemed to fall within the mandate of either CIHR or SSHRC, NSERC will not accept the application.

Note: If you have received previous funding from NSERC, this does not mean that you are automatically deemed eligible for continued NSERC funding. As you advance in your studies, if the focus of your research changes from fundamental research to more applied research in the health or social sciences and humanities areas, you may no longer be eligible for NSERC support.

Is your proposed research related to health?

If your proposed research is related to health, consult the This link will take you to another Web site Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications Related to Health for guidance on the eligibility of research in health according to respective agency mandates.

Is your proposed research in psychology?

The field of psychology is supported by the three granting agencies. Consult the This link will take you to another Web site Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications in Psychology for guidance on the eligibility of research in psychology according to respective agency mandates.

Is your proposed research in anthropology?

Within the field of anthropology, NSERC considers applications that relate to:

  • non-human primate biology and behaviour;
  • palaeoanthropology (pre-Homo sapiens sapiens).

If your research relates to prehistory (Homo sapiens sapiens) or human population biology (contemporary populations), consult with SSHRC or NSERC prior to any applicable deadline in order to determine within which agency mandate your research lies.

Is your proposed research interdisciplinary?

If you are seeking support for interdisciplinary research that bridges the areas covered by more than one of the three agencies (NSERC, CIHR and SSHRC) and are not certain about the eligibility of your proposed research, consult with one of the granting agencies well before any applicable deadlines.

Program of study

An eligible graduate program must have a significant research component. A significant research component is considered to be original, autonomous research that leads to the completion of a thesis, major research project, dissertation and/or scholarly publication that is merit/expert-reviewed at the institutional level as a requirement for completion of the program.

Joint programs with a professional degree (e.g., MD/PhD, DVM/PhD) are eligible if they have a significant research component, as described above.

Clinically-oriented programs of study, including clinical psychology, are also eligible programs if they have a significant research component, as described above.

For the Canada Graduate Scholarships-Master’s (CGS M) Program, consult the Program of study eligibility section of the CGS M Program description.

Where can you hold these awards?

Scholarships and fellowships are generally tenable at institutions whose standing is recognized by NSERC. Refer to the specific program descriptions for details on the eligible locations of tenure.

When you select a location for tenure, you should remember the importance of obtaining a diverse educational background and varied experience by studying at more than one institution.