NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA)

 NSERC USRA 2023 Updates:

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) are pleased to implement the new USRA Black student researchers starting competition 2023-2024. These funds will help address the disproportionate underfunding of Black scholars at the undergraduate level; will contribute to making Canada’s research culture more equitable, diverse and inclusive; and will strengthen Canada’s innovation potential. 

  • For NSERC USRAs: Institutions may recommend applications from self-identified Black student researchers for USRAs beyond their allocations of awards (the current process already in place for Indigenous students).
  • For CIHR and SSHRC USRAs: at the present time, USRAs are exclusively for Black student researchers and eligible institutions 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 contact your department and or supervisor.

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. 

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 ).

Temporary change remaining in effect for 2023–24: Because of the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, no awards will be prorated. Anyone awarded a USRA will receive the full $6,000 from the agencies. Institutions will decide how they adjust their contribution, if necessary. Institutions do not need to submit requests for shortened work terms.

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 27, 2023

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