NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award

This page contains information for Summer 2017.

The NSERC logo.The NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) in Universities program is meant to stimulate interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering, and the pursuit of research careers in these fields. Recipients engage in a research and development activity under the supervision of a professor holding an NSERC grant. It is an opportunity to gain research experience in an academic setting, while receiving financial support. Note that this program is offered at McGill as well as other universities across Canada.

Value and tenure

When: The Faculty of Science offers NSERC USRAs in the Summer term (May through August).

Duration: 16 consecutive weeks on a full-time basis.

Value: $4,500 from NSERC + minimum of $1,125 from the supervisor.

Travel allowance: may be granted if you take up the award at a university other than the one at which you are currently registered (see the NSERC website and the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) webpage).

Student eligibility

You must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada. You must be registered at the time you apply in a bachelor's degree program. You may hold a maximum of three USRAs throughout your university career. There are other requirements too: please consult the USRA information on NSERC's website. Individual departments may set higher application cutoffs than NSERC's minimum requirements, and this award application process is competitive.

How to apply

To submit a complete application, you need to identify an eligible professor to serve as your proposed supervisor and to submit a project proposal for you. For Physics projects/professors, see also this page. See also the webpages for Science departments (you can browse each unit's site to find professors' research websites).

Apply through the academic unit where you wish to hold your award (i.e., your proposed supervisor's school or department, not necessarily your own unit). You will find the departmental contacts and deadlines further below.

Students from other universities may also apply.

Proposed supervisors should hold their primary appointment at McGill University. If not, students should apply through the supervisor’s primary institution.

Each Faculty of Science unit has a quota of available awards, and has its own selection process and deadlines.


The checklist (required), forms, and instructions are available via the Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies webpage for NSERC USRA.

Contacts and deadlines

Where you apply depends on your supervisor's department, not your own department.

If your proposed supervisor is from the Faculty of Science:

Department or School Contact person Deadline
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences paula [dot] domingues [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Paula Domingues) Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Biology susan [dot] gabe [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Susan Gabe) Friday, March 3, 2017
Chemistry samuel [dot] sewall [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Dr. Samuel Sewall) Friday, February 17, 2017
(NB: Submit applications to Otto Maass Chemistry Building, Room 322 — not to Dr. Sewall
Computer Science ann [dot] jack [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Ann Jack) Friday, March 10, 2017
Earth and Planetary Sciences mariel [dot] edwards-carreau [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Mariel Edwards-Carreau) Thursday, March 9, 2017
Geography undergrad [dot] geog [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. June Connolly) Friday, March 10, 2017
Mathematics and Statistics angela [dot] white [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Angela White) Friday, February 24, 2017
Physics Prof. Walter Reisner Friday, February 24, 2017
(Before you apply, please read these application instructions specific to Physics)
Psychology julia [dot] marussi [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Julia Marussi) Wednesday, February 22, 2017, by noon
Redpath Museum: Apply through Biology susan [dot] gabe [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Susan Gabe) Friday, March 3, 2017

If your proposed supervisor is from the Faculty of Medicine:

If your proposed supervisor is from another Faculty:

  • Deadlines and procedures may vary if you are interested in an NSERC USRA with a supervisor from another faculty, i.e., the Faculties of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Arts, Dentistry, Education [includes the Department of Kinesiology & Physical Education], Engineering, Management, Medicine, Music.
  • You can find their websites via the University-wide NSERC USRA webpage.

Related / supplemental programs

Science Undergraduate Research Awards are a similar program for McGill science students, without citizenship restrictions and without restrictions on the supervisor's grant source.

NSERC Industrial Undergraduate Student Research Awards: If you would like to gain research work experience that complements your studies, outside the university and in an industrial setting, these awards can provide you with financial support through your host organization. NSERC IUSRAs can be held within the Canadian-based research facilities of Canadian private-sector organizations.

NSERC Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) Programs train highly qualified students and postdoctoral fellows from Canada and abroad, to better prepare them for future careers in industry, government or academia. NSERC CREATE Programs consist of a group of accomplished researchers who work collaboratively to offer a defined research training program to a group of trainees. NSERC CREATE programs are offered at McGill and at other Canadian institutions. Find out more about the NSERC CREATE program or search for existing CREATE programs

The Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates (DREU) is a program for groups underrepresented in graduate studies in computer science and engineering, whom they define as "women, Hispanics, African Americans, and American Indians".

The Environment Canada Atmospheric Science and Technology Supplement - for USRA holders.

Aboriginal Ambassadors in the Natural Sciences and Engineering Supplement Program

NSERC - CMS Math in Moscow scholarships - was offered in the past but is not offered in 2016. For 2017 and beyond, students may wish to check their website. Usual deadlines: March 31 for the fall semester, September 30 for the winter semester.

The former FRSQ/FRQS Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) program was for students registered in an undergraduate program offering specialization in health sciences, including social sciences, natural sciences and engineering. It was cancelled in summer 2013 due to lack of funding, and it does not appear to be offered for summer 2015. Check the FRQS website for possible developments. (The McEntyre USRA was a similar program, but is no longer open to bachelor's-level students.)

Other opportunities - A listing of other research opportunities, generally outside McGill University.

Further information