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NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award

This page contains information for Summer 2015.

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 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.

NEW FOR SUMMER 2015: You must "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".  (The former rule required you to be registered in the term immediately previous, not one of the two terms previous.) This change may be of interest to students who finish their undergraduate coursework in the Fall term, have not started graduate studies as of the following Winter or Summer terms, and wish to hold a USRA in the following Summer term.

How to apply; forms; student deadlines

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

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).

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.

Here is NSERC USRA contact information.

Department or School Contact person Deadline
Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences paula [dot] domingues [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Paula Domingues) Monday, March 9, 2015
Biology susan [dot] gabe [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Susan Gabe) Monday, March 2, 2015
Chemistry samuel [dot] sewall [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Dr. Samuel Sewall) Friday, February 20, 2015
(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) Monday, March 9, 2015
Earth and Planetary Sciences kristy [dot] thornton [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Kristy Thornton) Friday, February 27, 2015
Geography undergrad [dot] geog [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. June Connolly) Friday, February 27, 2015
Mathematics and Statistics angela [dot] white [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Angela White) Friday, February 27, 2015
Physics Prof. Ken Ragan (Friday, February 20, 2015.) Extended to Friday, February 27, 2015
(Before you apply, please read these application instructions specific to Physics)
Psychology julia [dot] marussi [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Julia Marussi) Friday, February 20, 2015, at noon
Redpath Museum: Apply through Biology susan [dot] gabe [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Ms. Susan Gabe) Monday, March 2, 2015

Other Faculties

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

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.

Special note for the Faculty of Medicine

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. Find out more about the NSERC CREATE program. Many NSERC CREATE Programs support undergraduate students. At McGill, these include NSERC CREATE Training programs in: Astrobiology, Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience, Bionanomachines, Competitive Manufacturing for the Aerospace Industry, Environmental Innovation, Integrated Sensor Systems, Medical Image Analysis, Neuroengineering, Medical Physics. NSERC CREATE programs are also offered at other Canadian institutions.

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 - 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

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, "NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award" - for students

Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, "USRA" - for administrative staff


Office for Undergraduate Research in Science, victor [dot] chisholm [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Victor Chisholm), Undergraduate Research Officer, tel.: 514-398-5964