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.


This USRA award is derived from two sources; the NSERC 'award' portion and a Faculty supplement:

  • The NSERC award portion is $4,500 
  • The faculty supplement is valued at a minimum $1,856 + 8% (for statutory benefits)
  • Note that after June 1, 2018 the faculty supplement is valued at a minimum $2,584 + 8% (for statutory benefits)


Students must be engaged on a full time basis (35 hrs per week) in research and development activities in the natural sciences and engineering during the 16 week tenure of the award. The competitions are announced in January; awards can be held in the proceeding Summer, Fall or Spring terms.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to apply for an NSERC USRA, 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 holders can take one course, with permission from their supervisor, in their USRA term
  • Kwantlen Polytechnic University is not an eligible institution (we cannot recruit USRA students from KPU) 

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, department or program at Simon Fraser University in which they would like to hold a USRA (see contacts below).
  • Students must submit to the department, by that department's deadline, the documentation required. In some cases this may include the NSERC Form 202 (Part I) and current transcripts.
  • Departments proceed in adjudicating, ranking, matching and/or approving the student to continue with the application process. 
  • 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.
  • 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 applicant must have verified their NSERC USRA online application by February 3, 2018.
  • The supervisor starts their online Form 202 Part II; note that the supervisor does not have to submit their form online, but may wish to do so. 
  • Departments must submit a memo to GPS by deadline February 8, 2018. The memo must contain; a ranked A list equal to your NSERC USRA allocation and a ranked B list, containing NSERC USRA and VPR Sciences applicants. Projects making use of KEY Big Data Approaches should be identified; for each KEY Big Data USRA given, we will move down your B list.
  • GPS 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 list applicants will be considered for VPR USRA and KEY Big Data USRA awards. 
  • Students must return the Award Acceptance Form to GPS 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 2018 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 GPS 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 GPS regarding any leave or interruption to the USRA.

2018 Deadlines

  • By Departmental Deadline: Students must submit required documentation by the deadline published by the department.
  • February 3, 2018: Students who have been notified by the department to continue must verify applications online. Note that this includes uploading transcripts and having a supervisor start Form 202 Part II.
  • February 8, 2018: Departments must submit paper applications and a ranked A and B list to GPS.

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 dgsaward@sfu.ca for more information.

Dept Dept Contact Email Address Dept USRA Process
ARCH Merrill Farmer  arch-grad-secretary@sfu.ca PAF's by Merrill Farmer (gpcarch@sfu.ca)
BISC Debbie Sandher biscugra@sfu.ca
PAF's by biscfina@sfu.ca
BPK Darleen Bemister or Carmen Chin
bemister@sfu.ca or
PAF's by Maggie (myeung@sfu.ca)
CHEM   chemugin@sfu.ca PAF's by chemfin@sfu.ca
CMPT   csgrada@sfu.ca PAF's by csfinc@sfu.ca
EASC Tarja Vaisanen tvaisane@sfu.ca  
ECON Mike Perry mjp6@sfu.ca  
ENSC Julie Beauvez and Alex Tzingounakis  ensccrd@sfu.ca 
ENSC USRA webpage
GEOG Anke Baker geogmgr@sfu.ca  
HSCI Arlette Stewart  fhs_advising@sfu.ca
LING Rita Parmar lingmgr@sfu.ca  
MATH JoAnne Hennessey mcs@sfu.ca PAF's by casey_bell@sfu.ca
MBB Mimi Fourie mbb@sfu.ca PAF's by mbbmas@sfu.ca
MSE Carol Jang mseupa@sfu.ca PAF's by msefin@sfu.ca
PHIL   philsec@sfu.ca  
PHYS David Broun dbroun@sfu.ca PHYS USRA webpage
PSYC Tara Smith or Dr. Ralph Mistlberger tds11@sfu.ca or mistlber@sfu.ca  
REM Iris Schischmanow gradasst@sfu.ca  
SIAT   siatgrad-office@sfu.ca PAF's by ldasilva@sfu.ca

Kelly Jay 

Jinko Graham



PAF's by sjungic@sfu.ca