Undergraduate Student Research Awards

NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards

Are you an undergraduate student who would like to obtain research experience in an academic setting?

Students holding these Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) USRA awards work on research projects with eligible academic professors. The program creates interesting research-related jobs and gives you the opportunity to gain valuable work experience.

Students must be engaged on a full time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences and engineering during the minimum 16 week tenure of the award. Students are not permitted to take any class or course in the term when they are holding this award. 

These awards can be held in Summer, Fall or Spring in a competition year.

Value & Duration

This USRA award is derived from two sources; the NSERC portion and a Faculty supplement. The NSERC portion of a USRA is $4,500 over a minimum 16-week period. Simon Fraser University requires that all students holding USRAs receive an additional minimum supplement at the departmental level of at least $1,576 (over the 16-week period). We emphasize that this mandatory supplement is a minimum value; any supplement above this level may be set at the department’s discretion. 

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to apply for an award, a student must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
  • be registered at the time they 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 2.67 or a B- average.

To be eligible to hold an award, the student must:

  • have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study (or two academic terms) of their bachelor's degree;
  • have been registered in at least one of the two terms immediately previous to holding the award in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university;
  • have not started a program of graduate studies in the natural sciences or engineering; and 
  • be engaged on a full-time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of the award.


NSERC USRA Process (for Students, Supervisors, and Departments)*

*Please note that this is a general overview and that there may be some department-specific steps (such as interviews) not mentioned in this list.

  • Interested eligible students should contact the proposed supervisor or department at Simon Fraser University in which they would like to hold the award.
  • For NSERC USRA's, students must create an NSERC Online Account and complete the application for an Undergraduate Student Research Award Form 202 Part I, using NSERC's Online system.
  • Students must submit to the department, the following:  printed NSERC Form 202 (Part I), photocopies of current official transcript (advising transcripts are not acceptable), their NSERC Online Reference # and other departmental requirements as posted by the department's deadline date.
  • Departments proceed in adjudicating, ranking, matching and/or approving the student to continue with the application process. The department must contact the student with the results of this initial adjudication/match up.
  • The department and/or student must email the selected supervisor to complete Form 202 Part II; the supervisor will need to know the applicant’s reference number to do so.
  • The proposed supervisor must complete Form 202 Part II online. Some departments may require that the supervisor provide a paper copy of Form 202 Part II.
  • The applicant verifies their application online by deadline February 3, 2017.
  • The supervisor submits their form online; this will also submit the student's Form 202 Part I. Note that the student does not 'submit' their form,  but their form must be 'verified' before the supervisor can submit.
  • Departments must submit a memo and the paper application forms to DGS c/o SFU Graduate Awards by deadline February 9, 2017. The memo should contain a ranked A list equal to the department’s NSERC USRA quota and a ranked B list, containing NSERC USRA and VPR Sciences applicants. The ranked B list must start with B1.  
  • DGS will review the eligibility of all A listed applicants and start offering NSERC USRA awards according to department rankings. Award Offer Letters and Award Acceptance Forms are typically sent via email in early March with a two week acceptance deadline.
  • Top ranked B listed applicants will be considered for VPR USRA Science awards. Offers will be sent via email once funding for this program has been confirmed throughout March and April with a two week acceptance deadline.  
  • Students must return the completed and signed Award Acceptance Form to DGS within the two week acceptance period. Signed, scanned acceptances can be returned via email to dgsaward@sfu.ca
  • Students who have accepted a USRA for Summer 2016 must complete the Personal Data Form and submit the completed form to their USRA department prior to their USRA start date.
  • The department manager must send the personal data form (from Human Resources/Payroll) and completed payroll appointment form (PAF), for the faculty portion of the award, to Payroll approximately one month before the USRA start date. A copy of the department’s PAF must be sent to Graduate Studies or the student will not receive the award portion of their USRA. (See also: Guide to completing the PAF )
  • Once DGS receives a copy of the PAF, we will approve the file and process the NSERC portion of the award via the student's SIMS account.
  • The department and/or supervisor must contact DGS regarding any leave or interruption to the USRA.

2017 Deadlines

  • By Departmental Deadline: Students must submit required documentation by the deadline published by the department.
  • February 3, 2017: Students who have been notified by the department to continue must verify applications online. Note that this includes uploading transcripts and having a supervisor complete Form 202 Part II.
  • February 9, 2017: Departments must submit paper applications and a ranked A and B list to DGS.

Here are some of the departmental contacts for these awards. Please note that there may be additional depts where a VPR USRA Sciences can be held; contact dgsawards@sfu.ca for more information.

Dept Dept Contact Email Address Dept USRA Process
ARCH Merrill Farmer / Chris Papainni  arch-grad-secretary@sfu.ca or papaiann@sfu.ca PAF's by Merrill Farmer (gpcarch@sfu.ca) or Chris Papainni (papaiann@sfu.ca)
BISC Debbie Sandher biscugra@sfu.ca
PAF's by biscfina@sfu.ca
BPK Darleen Bemister/ Tyler Schwartz
bemister@sfu.ca or
PAF's by Maggie (myeung@sfu.ca)
CHEM   spurdon@sfu.ca PAF's by chemmgr@sfu.ca
CMPT   csgrada@sfu.ca PAF's by csfinc@sfu.ca
EASC Tarja Vaisanen tvaisane@sfu.ca  
ECON   econ-grad-sec@sfu.ca  
ENSC Julie Beauvez enscugra@sfu.ca http://www.sfu.ca/engineering/current-students/undergraduate-students/student-research-and-design/student-research-awards.html
GEOG Anke Baker geogmgr@sfu.ca  
HSCI Arlette Stewart  fhs_advising@sfu.ca
LING Rita Parmar parmar@sfu.ca  
MATH JoAnne Hennessey mcs@sfu.ca  
MBB Mimi Fourie mbb@sfu.ca PAF's by mbbmas@sfu.ca
MSE Carol Jang mseupa@sfu.ca  
PHIL   philsec@sfu.ca  
PHYS Andrei Frolov
frolov@sfu.ca http://www.sfu.ca/physics/ugrad/usra/projects.html
PSYC Beverley Davino / Dr. Ralph Mistlberger davino@sfu.ca / mistlber@sfu.ca  
REM Elissa Cyr no placement service: students are to contact potential supervisors  
SIAT   siatgrad-office@sfu.ca PAF's by ldasilva@sfu.ca
STAT Tim Swartz stat-grad-chair@sfu.ca