NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards April 2020 to March 2021

Updated Information

NSERC has provided UPDATED FAQ's (attached) for changes to the 2020-2021 USRA program in response to COVID-19.  


Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

For More Information

For additional information, please visit the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards website, University of Guelph Student Financial Services - USRA website and the NSERC On-line Services website for


Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are meant to nurture your interest and fully develop your potential for a research career in the natural sciences and engineering. They are also meant to encourage you to undertake graduate studies in these fields. If you would like to gain research work experience that complements your studies in an academic setting, these awards can provide you with financial support through your host university. NSERC encourages qualified Aboriginal students to apply for this award.

USRA applicants are required to submit a scanned copy of their Official Transcript with their application. More detailed information on eligibility, how to apply and operational principles for researchers and department administrator can be found on the University of Guelph Student Financial Services - USRA Eligibility website.

NSERC has provided FAQ's (attached) for changes to the 2020-2021 USRA program in response to COVID-19.  Don't hesitate to get in touch with questions or comments.


  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada as of the deadline date for applications at the university;
  • be registered, at the time you apply, in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university; and
  • have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative average of at least  B standing (70% average) or greater.
  • USRAs may be held during co-op placements. Co-op students are eligible to concurrently hold a co-op placement and a USRA provided that the co-op credit does not count towards the academic requirements of the Bachelor Degree program.
  • Please note: The USRA is a full-time activity. Award holders may take a maximum of one course in addition to their USRA with the agreement of their supervisor. If the course is during normal working hours, special arrangements with the supervisor must be made for the student to make up the time spent on the course. Students should not receive academic credits for the work done during the term of a USRA. In particular, USRA holders are not permitted to do thesis research during the term of the award.

In addition...

  • If you already hold a bachelor's degree and are studying toward a second bachelor's degree, you may still apply for this award.
  • You may hold only one university USRA per fiscal year (April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021) for this competition.
  • You may hold a maximum of three university USRAs throughout your undergraduate university career.

To hold an award, you must:

  • have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study (or two academic terms) of your bachelor's degree;
  • 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;
  • not have started a program of graduate studies in the natural sciences or engineering at any time; and
  • be engaged on a full-time basis (35 hours week) in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of the award.
  • have a project start date after April 1, 2020

Maximum Project Value

  • The minimum value of the award paid to the student by the supervisor based on the required minimum wage must be $8,888.00 (based on $14.00/hr. plus 4% vacation pay) + 9.00% mandatory benefits.  The rate of pay can be higher if supplemented by the supervisor/department.

  • The award amount paid to the student must be at least $8,888.00 which is made up of:

    $14.00/hr x 35 hrs/wk x 16 wks = $7,840
    $7,840 x 4.0% vacation pay = $314
    ($7,840 + $314) x 9.0% benefits = $734
  • Accounting for the NSERC reimbursement of $4,500, the minimum contribution paid by the supervisor per USRA student is $4,388 ($8,888 – $4,500)

Project Duration

Full 16 week period (35 hours/week) beginning after April 1, 2020.

Special Notes

NSERC could be announcing a small number of supplementary awards for the Fall 2020 addition to the regular quota. Please note that these may not be carried over to the Winter 2021 semester, as unused quotas will have to be returned to NSERC. There may be further additional supplementary awards announced for the Winter 2021 semester. Departments may wish to keep a “B” list of eligible USRA applicants if they qualify for either the Fall 2020 or Winter 2021 semesters, in the event they are allocated any supplementary awards. The Office of Research Services will announce the availability of supplementary awards to colleges as we become aware of them.

Please refer to the Office of Research COVID 19 web-page for directives related to research activities at the University of Guelph.

How to Apply

Student: University of Guelph Student Financial Services - URSA How to Apply

Supervisor: University of Guelph Student Financial Services - URSA Operational Principles

Once the job is offered and accepted, the supervisor then completes Form 202 Part II (obtains reference number from student on Part I) and verifies, saves and “submits to LO” on NSERC website. 

For the Summer Competition:  The start date for the USRA must be after April 1, 2020 and must be 16 weeks in duration.  Please ensure that the correct start date is entered on Form 202 Part II

For Supervisor Form 2 Part II: Grant application number comes from your NSERC Notice of Decision form or.contact Ornella McCarron (omccarro@uoguelph.ca). Please do not use the grant account number.

NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards
NSERC On-line Services
University of Guelph Student Financial Services – USRA


PDF icon USRA-BRPC FAQ for COVID19 v2.pdf108.7 KB
For Questions, please contact

NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA)

Office of Research

Ornella McCarron, Grants Officer
Research Services Office
519-824-4120 x52832

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