NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards Program

Are you an undergraduate student enrolled in a bachelor's degree program with an interest in working on research and development projects at a university? If you answered yes, then you may be eligible to apply for an Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA). Through these awards, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) subsidizes eligible faculty members to hire students to work on a full-time basis on their research projects. These awards can be held in the summer term (May 1–August 31).

Specific award pathways have been established for Black and Indigenous students. Self-Identification on the application form is very critical. 

CIHR and SSHRC USRA Competition for Black Student Researchers 
The NSERC USRA competition includes a special SSHRC USRA and a CIHR USRA competition for Black students. This competition will be run alongside the NSERC USRA competition, and use the existing NSERC USRA online application portal. Students must self-identify as Black and confirm they understand that this information will be shared with the institution to which they apply by checking the relevant box within the application form.

Students who wish to compete for these awards will:

  • Be an undergraduate student who self-identifies as Black;
  • Plan to pursue a project that falls under either CIHR or SSHRC research areas;
  • Meet all the other eligibility criteria of a USRA award.

Faculty of Pharm Sci NSERC-USRA Application Deadline: February 28, 2024, 4:00 pm PST

Who Is Eligible?

  • In accordance with UBC HR hybrid work guidelines, NSERC USRA students are required to work in British Columbia, Canada. Remote and on-campus work are subject to the same regulatory and statutory obligations.
  • Please familiarize yourself with the award and the eligibility requirements through the information found on the UBC NSERC USRA webpage.
  • Students who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate professional degree program in the health sciences (e.g., MD, DDS, BScN, PharmD), or hold higher degrees in the natural sciences or engineering, are not eligible to apply.
  • Please note that eligible USRA supervisors in the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences are no longer required to hold an eligible and active NSERC grant.
  • Potential supervisors must ensure that their proposed project is eligible for NSERC funding by referring to NSERC’s eligibility guidelines.
  • Each supervisor can only be named as a primary supervisor on one NSERC USRA application with one student partner.
  • During the course of your undergraduate degree, you may hold a maximum of three NSERC USRAs, with only one being held per fiscal year (April 1–March 31).

How to Apply?

Step 1: Find a supervisor. Students are responsible for seeking out and identifying faculty supervisors by reaching out to them directly before filling in an application. Applications are submitted by supervisor-student teams.

Step 2: Complete and submit your application electronically through the NSERC online system. Once you and your potential supervisor have agreed to apply for the program as a team, the two of you will need to work together to complete and submit one application online through the NSERC portal.

Both Faculty supervisors and students must complete NSERC’s USRA Application Form 202 by clicking on “On-line System Login” or, if you are a first-time user, “Register”.

  • Form 202 Part I is completed by the student. The student must initiate Form 202 Part I and provide the reference number to the supervisor to complete Part II;
  • Form 202 Part I requires a PDF copy of the student’s official transcript to be uploaded;
  • Form 202 Part II is completed by the supervisor;
  • Please refer to the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards Checklist for Common Errors (PDF, 150 KB) to ensure you have completed the form correctly.

Step 3: Complete additional application documents. 

  1. Current curriculum vitae highlighting your education, awards/honours, skills, and science-related experience.
  2. Student statement of interest outlining research interests and goals. The student must submit a detailed letter describing (1-page maximum, double spaced, 12-point font):
    • Why you want to do this research project;
    • Previous research/work experience (can include co-op terms and previous research awards);
    • Relevance of work experience and academic training to the proposed field of research;
    • Enthusiasm for research, relevant community involvement and outreach;
    • How this research project relates to your plans following the completion of your undergraduate degree.
  3. To be completed by the supervisor: describe the mentoring plan and training environment to be provided to the student, including statements regarding student engagement (1-page maximum, double spaced, 12-point font).

Step 4: Assemble complete application package. Complete applications require the following components:

  1. Downloaded PDF copy of your application from the NSERC portal (Form 202 Part I and Part II, as well as the student’s transcripts).
  2. Curriculum vitae.
  3. Student statement of interest.
  4. Supervisor completed mentoring plan and training to be received.

Step 5: Submit your application. Create a single PDF file composed of the four documents outlined above (Step 4) and email it to Litsa Blanis at pharmsci.ssrp@ubc.ca. Name this file Student Last Name, First Name – NSERC USRA 2024 application. Signatures are not required as part of the Faculty of Pharm Sci application process.

Important Reference Documents and Resources

UBC Student Services Website
UBC Student Services Faculty and Staff Webpage
NSERC Website: Full details on this opportunity can be found here.
NSERC Online Application Portal for Faculty Supervisors and Student Applicants
NSERC – List of Research Subject Codes for Scholarships and Fellowships
Addendum to the Guidelines for the Eligibility of Applications Related to Health
NSERC USRA Instructions for Completing Form 202
NSERC USRA Program Application Tutorial

Have a Question?

Please email pharmsci.ssrp@ubc.ca if you have any questions.


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