The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) provides undergraduate student research awards (USRAs) to stimulate interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering, providing funding for 16 weeks of research-related employment. (Photo: David Stobbe)

The 2023 NSERC USRA adjudication is complete, and letters have been emailed to all students and supervisors. Please check your email/spam folders for letters from undergraduate.research@usask.ca . Letter were emailed the week of February break, February 21-24th 2023. 

Students on the B list MAY be contacted and awarded an NSERC USRA if students on the A list (with offers) decline their awards. This process will happen throughout March. 

Results: USask has been allocated 60 NSERC USRAs. In addition, there are 3 students of Black ancestry who have been awarded NSERC USRA, and 4 students of Indigenous ancestry who have been awarded NSERC USRA. These will all be funded. There is also 1 CIHR USRA for a student of Black ancestry that has been awarded, and 1 SSHRC USRA for a student of Black ancestry that has been awarded. 

NEWS! Both CIHR and SSHRC are participating in a limited USRA program in 2023, to support students of black heritage.


Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are meant to stimulate your interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering. They are also meant to encourage you 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.

**Students must identify a faculty member to work with; NSERC USRA applications are made by students and faculty submitting together.**


Videos: How to Approach a Professor (For a Research Position) AND The NSERC USRA 2023 program at USask 

NSERC encourages qualified Indigenous and Black students to apply to this program. The Indigenous and Black student USRA awards are adjudicated alongside the NSERC USRA awards and extend the NSERC USRA allocation for the University of Saskatchewan. Note: NSERC announced additional support for students of black heritage in fall 2022 for the 2023 award cycle. For the 2023 NSERC USRA award cycle, it will be administered similar to the Indigenous NSERC USRA. All applications from students of Indigenous and/or Black heritage whose application otherwise meets all qualifications will be put forward to NSERC for funding.  

If awarded, NSERC provides $6,000 for a full-time 16-week period of research-related experience for students. Faculty supervisors must supplement the USRA award to comply with Saskatchewan’s provincial employment standards (minimum wage minimum).

The NSERC USRAs at USask are held as paid summer job positions (May through August), not as stipends, in compliance with Canada Revenue Agency decision on summer assistantships.

Note: All departments should know which professors/students are applying for the NSERC USRAs. On or before MONDAY JANUARY 23rd at NOON, please email a memo signed by the Department Head with an alphabetical list of RECOMMENDED applicant names plus names of NSERC USRA applications for students of Indigenous and/or Black heritage to undergraduate.research@usask.ca

ANNOUNCEMENT: NSERC, SSHRC, and CIHR have announced 95 CIHR USRA awards and 95 SSHRC USRA awards for students of Black heritage for the 2023-2024 USRA cycle. These awards will be allocated to universities across Canada. It is expected that USask will be able to put forward no fewer than 1 SSHRC USRA and 1 CIHR USRA. These applications must be put forward using the NSERC USRA portal, Forms 202 I and II, and will require a student letter of interest to undergraduate.research@usask.ca. These will be adjudicated by a special commitee from OVPR. More information on this initiative will be forthcoming. 

The Undergraduate Research Initiative, Research Acceleration and Strategic Initiatives, is the USask point unit on NSERC USRAs. They hosted information sessions for the 2023 NSERC USRA year: 

NSERC Overview at USask: a review of the guidelines, processes, and timelines for the 2023 NSERC USRA competition. NOTE: NEW DEADLINE IS Monday January 23rd at NOON! 


NSERC USRA Student Statement of Interest: an explanation of the NEW FOR 2023 one page Student Statement of Interest. 

Elements of an Excellent NSERC USRA Application: proposed research project and student role. THIS SESSION WAS DESIGNED FOR FACULTY.



All NSERC USRA applications need to be filled out using the online application system PLUS: new for 2023: All students must also submit a (maximum one-page) Statement of Interest. Statement should outline research interests, previous research and/or work experience, gaps or adversities faced, and relevance of a research experience to future goals. This statement must include your USask student number and be submitted to the Undergraduate Research Initiative by MONDAY JANUARY 23rd at NOON via email: undergraduate.research@usask.ca

Students and faculty are encouraged to read the NSERC USRA guidelines before writing their application.

Some students may have come across the NSERC USRA awards in the USask Student awards for continuing students or in the graduate awards; however, it is not a regular award or scholarship where students apply on their own. A student must FIRST have a supervisor who will work with the student on the application. 

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

  • be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada, or a Protected Person under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;
  • be registered, at the time you apply, in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university or have completed a Bachelor's degree but not yet started a Master's degree (must have been registered in the Bachelor's degree in January of 2023); 
  • have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative average of at least second class (75% equivalent at the University of Saskatchewan).
  • In addition:
    • You may hold only one USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31).
    • You may hold a maximum of three USRAs throughout your university career.
    • Once NSERC has approved your USRA for tenure at one particular institution, you may not transfer it to another institution.

If you already hold a bachelor's degree and are studying toward a second bachelor's degree, you may still apply to this program.

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;
  • will, at the time of holding the award, have been registered in at least one of the two immediately
    preceding terms in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible institution;
  • not have 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
  • Award recipients may take a maximum of two courses during the tenure of the award if special
    arrangements to make up the time have been made with the supervisor. 

You are not eligible for an Undergraduate Student Research Award if:

  • you are currently enrolled in an undergraduate professional degree program in the health sciences (e.g., MD, DDS, BScN); or
  • you hold higher degrees in the natural sciences or engineering.


Research Acceleration and Strategic Initiatives will be running the 2023 NSERC USRA competition and the associated limited CIHR and SSHRC USRA competition. 

2023 NSERC USRA instructions:

1. To apply for these awards, you must complete and submit your application using NSERC’s On-line System. Refer to the instructions for completing  Form 202 Part IDeadline: Monday January 23rd at Noon. All applicants should read the NSERC USRA guidelines.

2. You must include a scanned copy of your transcripts from all universities you have attended (including transfer credits). The scanned copy must meet the following specifications:
  • PDF format
  • Maximum file size of 3 Mb
  • 8 ½” x 11” (216mm x 279mm)
  • Must be clear and legible
  • Must include the transcript key

Note: we are working with USask and the new USask transcript company MyCreds found in PAWS. Your transcript will be ready in January. Follow the instructions in this video to email yourself a PDF copy of your transcripts for upload to the NSERC portal. (NOTE: some of you (especially Mac users) may experience trouble uploading your transcript to NSERC. You may get an error message saying that the file is protected. To convert, open the PDF and click Print (not re-save). You should be able to Print to File or Print to PDF. Make sure the file size is small (less than 3Mb) and save. This removes the protected status and makes the PDF ready to upload to NSERC. If needed, do this on a PC computer.)

3. After you have completed the first two steps, you must inform your supervisor of the reference number of your application and ask him/her to fill out Form 202 Part II. Refer to the instructions for completing Form 202 Part II. Both Form 202 Part I and Form 202 Part II must be submitted by Monday January 23rd 2023 at NOON to the NSERC Portal. 

Note: You can apply to more than one university. You must apply directly to the university where you would like to hold the award, and have a faculty supervisor identified, as every university runs their NSERC USRA competition differently. However, please note that it is the university's choice whether to accept candidates from other institutions.

4. NEW FOR 2023: Students must write and submit a (maximum one page) Statement of Interest. This statement should outline research interests, previous research and/or work experience, address any gaps or adversities in your path, and explain the relevance of a research experience to your future goals. Submit your Statement of Interest and USask student number to undergraduate.research@usask.ca by the deadline. 

Adjudication 2023

USask adjudicators developed a new rubric for the 2023 NSERC USRA adjudication. The new rubric is in line with NSERC request to consider research aptitude, previous experience, training and mentorship, and project goals in addition to marks, as well as to consider issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion. You may view the rubric by clicking on the link below. 

Each application was read by two adjudicators, and the adjudicators met to confirm and discuss their scores and reasoning on Friday, February 17th. Following adjudication, RASI is supporting the NSERC USRA letter, approval, and hiring process, in conjunction with ConnectionPoint and other campus partners. 

All of the adjudicators are USask faculty. RASI is grateful for their thoughtful consideration and time to help adjudicate the applications. The 2023 NSERC USRA adjudicators are:

Asmahan AbuArish      Angelica Lang      George Katselis      Ed Krol      Antonio Ruzzini      Bishnu Aychara      Kristen Conn      Robert LaPrairie      Jenny-Lee Thomassin      Zadia Codabux

CIHR and SSHRC USRA competition 2023

For students of Black heritage

NSERC, SSHRC, and CIHR announced in November 2022 that the 2023 NSERC USRA competition will include a special SSHRC USRA competition and a CIHR USRA competition. A total of 95 CIHR and 95 SSHRC USRAs will be awarded across Canada. USask will have 1 CIHR USRA and 1 SSHRC USRA at our institution. 

This competition is to support underserved undergraduate students of black heritage

This extraordinary pilot competition will be run alongside the NSERC USRA competition, and use the existing NSERC USRA portal infrastructure. 

Students who wish to compete for these awards will: 

  • Be an undergraduate student who identifies as Black;
  • Have a supervisor in place who agrees to be a co-applicant on this award and has the funds to provide the supervisor portion of the award, same as the NSERC rules above;
  • Plan to pursue a project that falls under either CIHR or SSHRC research areas;
  • Register on the NSERC USRA portal, including the self-identification procedures;
  • Meet all the other criteria of a USRA award (citizenship status, academic standing, enrolled in a bachelor's program, etc.);
  • Work with their supervisor to fill out and upload all of the required documents (Form 202 I, Form 202 II, transcripts to the NSERC USRA portal AND Student Statement of Interest to undergraduate.research@usask.ca by the deadline).
The University of Saskatchewan Office of the Vice President Research will organize the USask adjudication process for these applications. Students and supervisors will be notified as soon as the adjudication process is complete.

Other opportunities

There are more types of research opportunities, funding and assistantships available to USask students. See the link below.