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NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) Competition

Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are meant to stimulate interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering. They are also meant to encourage students to undertake graduate studies and pursue a research career 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. For additional details, see the NSERC USRA Program website.

These awards provide $4,500 from NSERC plus an additional 25% (minimum) from VIU, for a period of 16 consecutive weeks on a full-time basis. NSERC encourages qualified Aboriginal students to apply to this program.

VIU's 2017/18 regular quota is five NSERC USRA awards which can be taken in the summer (May - August), fall (September-December) or winter (January-April) terms. There is also the potential for VIU to receive additional quotas for use in the fall or winter. NSERC releases these quotas close to the start of each term and students who did not receive an award from the regular quota, but who are on the alternate list, will be offered an award. An unlimited quota of USRA awards is available to eligible Aboriginal students.


Application Deadline

Eligible VIU USRA Supervisors

How to Apply


Duration of Awards

Vancouver Island University USRA Selection Criteria



Application Deadline

Applications must be submitted through NSERC's on-line system by: Spring 2018 deadline TBA.

Eligible VIU USRA Supervisors

Students may only apply to work with one of the eligible USRA supervisors listed below. Please contact the potential supervisor directly if you wish to be considered for a USRA. It may be helpful to submit for review in advance: your unofficial transcript, CV (résumé) and cover letter. If the supervisor agrees that you should be considered for a USRA, then follow the steps in How to Apply.

VIU USRA Supervisors and Projects

  • 2018/19 supervisors and projects TBD

How to Apply

Both applicants and their proposed academic supervisor must apply using NSERC’s On-line System.

  • Students must:

    • complete and submit Form 202-Part I and provide the reference number (generated by the online system) to the proposed Research Supervisor; and
    • provide a cover letter outlining their research and academic goals and expain how this award would benefit their future endeavours (to be emailed to Kelly Atkins by the deadline date).
  • Research Supervisors must complete Form 202-Part II.

See instructions for completing Form 202.

You can apply to more than one university, but you must apply directly to the university(ies) where you would like to hold the award. Each university, at its discretion, determines whether to accept applicants from other institutions. Vancouver Island University will consider applications from candidates attending other universities.

Hand-written applications will not be accepted.


To be eligible to apply for an award, you must:

  • 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 second class (a grade of "B" or "B-," if applicable) as defined by your university.

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 to March¬†31).
  • 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 in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of the award.

Duration of Awards

  • The duration of the award is 16 consecutive weeks on a full-time basis.
  • You may hold an award at any time during the year as permitted by your academic program.
  • Tenure may start on a date acceptable to both you and your host institution.


Vancouver Island University USRA Selection Criteria

All applications are reviewed by VIU's NSERC Awards Selection Committee. Awards will be granted based on:

    • Academic excellence
    • Research aptitude
    • Year of study (students completing the third and fourth years of their B.Sc. will be given preference over those in earlier years, with first year students given the lowest preference).
    • Priority will be given to VIU students.

Where students of similar merit (based on the criteria outlined above) are eligible for an award, the distribution of awards across faculty and departments will be a factor in the final decision. While students may hold up to three USRA awards during their B.Sc., the number of years a student has held an award may be a deciding factor where a student is applying for their third USRA award and are competing against one or more equally meritorious students who have received fewer past USRA awards.

For questions on eligibility or the application process, please contact Kelly Atkins, Student Research Engagement Coordinator.


Updated: September 28, 2017