NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA)

 NSERC USRA 2024 Updates:

Do you self-identify as a Black or Indigenous undergraduate student?

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) have allocated funds to help address the disproportionate underfunding of Black and Indigenous scholars at the undergraduate level; to contribute to making Canada’s research culture more equitable, diverse and inclusive; and to strengthen Canada’s innovation potential. Funding is made available through the Undergraduate Summer Research Award (USRA) program.

For students interested in research opportunities in natural sciences and engineering disciplines: Queen’s may recommend an unlimited number of applications from self-identified Black and Indigenous student researchers for NSERC funded USRAs. What that means is that as long as the proposed project is NSERC eligible (more information can be found in the eligibility section on the nserc-crsng.gc.ca website), and you have found a supervisor willing to take you on, you might be able to secure an NSERC USRA. Please contact the home department of your potential supervisor to request the application form and information about their internal deadline. Departments will need to forward the names of the successful applicants to the VPR office by March 4, 2024.
• For students interested in research opportunities in health sciences, social sciences, humanities or the arts: at the present time, CIHR and SSHRC funded USRAs are exclusively for Black student researchers and Queen’s will receive a limited allocation from each granting agency based on their average of the total sum of CIHR or SSHRC grant funding received over the three available fiscal years. CIHR and SSHRC students who identify as Black please direct your inquiries to Traci Allen via allent@queensu.ca

More information can be found here on the nserc-crsng.gc.ca website .


The Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) program supports more than 3,000 students annually and is administered jointly by Canada’s three research granting agencies: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). USRAs are meant to nurture interest and fully develop the potential for a research career in the health, natural sciences, engineering, social sciences or humanities fields. They are also meant to encourage graduate studies in these fields. These awards provide financial support through the host institution to gain research work experience that complements studies in an academic setting. 

Typically, USRA award recipients are expected to work full-time (35 hours per week) for 16 consecutive weeks (May 1 to August 31). Furthermore, provincial minimum wage requirements must be adhered to. The current minimum wage is $16.55 per hour which became effective October 1, 2023. The VPR will provide an additional top-up to each award to increase the salary rate to $18.55 per hour, or $1,120.00 per student. This will increase the total award to $10,388.00 per student (excluding vacation pay and mandatory employer payroll deductions).

Please note an additional 4% vacation pay will be applied to the base salary/hourly rate, plus mandatory employer payroll deductions such as CPP, EI, EHT and WSIB, calculated as follows:

$18.55/hour x 35 hours x 16 weeks = $10,388.00 + $415.52 = $10,803.52 + mandatory employer payroll deductions

As long as all criteria are met, departments will be reimbursed $7,120.00 ($6,000.00 Tri-Agency award + $1,120.00 VPR top-up) in September, per approved student. Departments are responsible for covering the remaining $3,683.52, plus all mandatory employer payroll deductions. Departments may choose to pay their NSERC USRA students more than the minimum requirement.

To be eligible to apply for an award:

  • you must be a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident of Canada or a Protected Person under subsection 95(2) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (Canada), as of the deadline date for applications at the institution
  • you must be registered, as of the deadline date for applications at the institution, in a bachelor’s degree program at an eligible institution
  • you must have obtained, over the previous years of study, a satisfactory cumulative average (normally at least B; check with your department)
  • you cannot be currently enrolled in an undergraduate professional degree program in the health sciences (e.g., MD, DDS, BScN) (does not apply for CIHR USRAs)
  • you cannot be currently registered or have been previously registered, at any time, in a graduate program in the same field of study
  • you cannot have completed all your degree requirements

Note: CIHR and SSHRC USRAs are, at the present time, exclusively for Black student researchers. To be considered, you must self-identify as Black (see the Black student researchers section for more details ).

Should local public health recommendations allow, the preference is for USRAs to be held in person, but remote supervision will be allowed without additional justification to NSERC. Should the project allow, students who prefer to work remotely should not be penalized.



Internal departmental deadlines are set by each department then forwarded to Research Services by Monday, March 4, 2024

Undergraduate Student Research Awards Website

View NSERC USRA Website



Research Services USRA FAQs

View Research Services USRA FAQs


Please contact your home department and/or the department of the faculty member you wish to work with for information regarding the process and internal application dates.

Traci Allen
Research Program Coordinator
​Research Services

Email:  allent@queensu.ca