NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award

This page contains information for Summer 2018.

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 (INCREASED!): Minimum $6500 in the Faculty of Science, consisting of $4500 from NSERC + minimum of $2000 from the supervisor
(This is an increase from minimum $5625 in 2017.)

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. To apply, you must be registered, at the time you apply, in a bachelor's degree program. To hold an award, you must have been registered in a Bachelor’s degree in at least one of the 2 terms immediately previous to the award. 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.

You cannot concurrently hold a SURA, Arts ARIA, McGill International Experience Award (formerly Schull Yang Award), or similar award. Exceptions to the above must be requested in advance. Consult the Office for Undergraduate Research in Science.

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. If you start at the webpages for Science departments, you can browse each unit's site to find professors' research websites. For Physics projects/professors, see also this page. See also details below regarding forms.

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 must hold their primary appointment at McGill University. If not, students should apply through the supervisor’s primary institution.
(Example: Your proposed supervisor is a Professor at Université de Montréal (UdeM) and an Adjunct Professor at McGill. With this professor, you could apply for an NSERC USRA at UdeM, not McGill.)

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

Forms, including transcripts

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

You must submit your form (Form 202, part 1) before your professor can do his or hers (Form 202, part 2).

Regarding transcripts:

  • As part of your form, you must upload a scan of official transcripts of all universities you attended, scanned into one document (PDF).
  • This includes separate official transcripts from each university you may have attended; for example, prior to McGill, on exchange, in the summer, etc.
  • NSERC will accept McGill's new e-Transcript.
  • If you have difficulty combining other transcripts with the e-Transcript, you may want to request paper copies of all official transcripts instead, and then physically scan them all yourself into one PDF.

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 graduateinfo.aos [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Manuela Franzo-Whitnell) Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Biology susan.gabe [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Susan Gabe) Wednesday, March 7, 2018
Chemistry samuel.sewall [at] mcgill.ca (Dr. Samuel Sewall) Friday, February 23, 2018
(NB: Submit applications to Otto Maass Chemistry Building, Room 322 — not to Dr. Sewall
Computer Science ann.jack [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Ann Jack) Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Earth and Planetary Sciences kristy.thornton [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Kristy Thornton) Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Geography undergrad.geog [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. June Connolly) Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Mathematics and Statistics angela.white [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Angela White) Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Physics Prof. Walter Reisner Friday, February 23, 2018
(Before you apply, please read these application instructions specific to Physics)
Psychology julia.marussi [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Julia Marussi) Wednesday, February 28, 2018, 12:00 noon
Redpath Museum susan.gabe [at] mcgill.ca (Ms. Susan Gabe) Wednesday, March 7, 2018
(Apply through Biology)

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’s Experience Awards (previously Industrial Undergraduate Student Research Awards [IUSRA]) offer organizations access to talented natural sciences and engineering undergraduate students for a work term —outside the university and in an industrial setting. This cost-shared program allows students to address organization-specific R&D challenges while gaining valuable industrial experience. Experience Awards also let organizations identify potential future full-time employees.

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

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

Further information