Undergraduate research opportunities

Each spring term (May-August) the Department of Applied Mathematics organizes a very active undergraduate research program involving about twelve students, supported by NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) Undergraduate Research Awards. Participants work on a research project under the supervision of a faculty member, and have the opportunity to interact with other participants and with graduate students. At the end of the summer we organize a mini-conference at which time all participants give a short talk on their research project.

NSERC Undergraduate Research Awards (USRA)

  • The awards are intended to give undergraduates an opportunity to gain experience in doing research, with a view to subsequent enrolment in a graduate program.
  • The value of an award, including the University supplement, is $2,250.00 per month, for a maximum of four months.
  • Only a limited number of awards are available. Students should have an average of at least 80% in order to apply.
  • The research topics depend on the availability of supervisors, and typically involve differential equations and dynamical systems, computational math, control theory, fluid dynamics, cosmology and quantum mechanics. For most research areas it is necessary that students have completed at least their 3A term.
  • Students with an interest in Physics may pursue the possibility of working with members of the department who are affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Perimeter Institute.
  • Co-op students may apply for an award to be held during a work term. Regular students may apply for an award to be held during the spring term. Most awards are held during the spring term (May-August).
  • Students from other universities are encouraged to apply and to take part in our Undergraduate research opportunities.

Mathematics Undergraduate Research Award (MURA) Program

The Mathematics Undergraduate Research Award (MURA) Program is an undergraduate research award program sponsored by the Faculty of Mathematics.

This award provides research experience that nurtures an interest in research careers and mathematics experience for undergraduate students with financial support during a full-time, on-campus or remote position for 16 weeks.

Students should apply online using the MURA Program application form

Supervisor Eligibility:

  • Must be eligible to administer NSERC funds
  • Must be authorized to independently supervise students

Student Eligibility:

  • Open to Canadian citizens, permanent residents and international students
  • Must be registered in one of the University of Waterloo bachelor’s degree program
  • Must have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of your bachelor’s degree by the time you hold the award
  • Hold a cumulative average of at least 80%
  • May not hold more than 3 NSERC USRA or MURA throughout your university career

Why should you consider research as an undergraduate?

  • Work one-on-one with faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers
  • Contribute to the creation of new knowledge
  • Sharpen your critical and analytical thinking skills
  • Complement and extend your classroom learning
  • Enhance your confidence in your abilities
  • Prepare for graduate-level study
  • Explore your interests and clarify your career goals
  • What's more, you may be able to compete in one of the undergraduate research awards: NSERC USRA or MURA

How do you participate?

  1. These are full-time positions. If you are in a co-op program, you can do this during one of your co-op terms. Otherwise, you can do it in the spring. You are typically paid a stipend, like a co-op job.
  2. To do this, first find a professor who has a potential project for you to work on:
    • You can fill out your information in this supervisor-student matching platform. We will reach out to relevant faculty members to see if there is interest. A match is not guaranteed.
    • You can also reach out to individual professors (like someone you had a class with) on your own.
    • Individual departments may offer additional opportunities (see below).
  1. Then, apply for either an USRA or MURA. Discuss this with your supervisor. This is a competitive process.

Additional information for undergraduate research opportunities can be found at Internal Awards and opportunities for Undergraduate Students – Undergraduate Student Research Awards.


Please contact amug@uwaterloo.ca for any questions about Applied Mathematics USRA and MURA Competition.


See also

How to apply:

Applications for the spring term are made in the preceding December.

USRA Application procedure

MURA Application procedure