Please review the below tips to avoid the most common errors we find each year that affect eligibility or competitiveness of a student’s application. These tips should be used in conjunction with the following resources:

Application Section

Specific Field (if applicable)


Application profile

Proposed starting date of award

  • Ensure your proposed start date is either May 1, 2023, Sept 1, 2023, Jan 1, 2024 (this can be changed at a later date should you be offered an award).

Academic background


  • List all current and previous degrees. Even if you have just started this fall, ensure your current program is listed.
  • You should not list any programs you have not yet started.
  • Whatever institution (s) are listed on this page must also have a corresponding transcript from that institution included in your application.
  • For each degree entered ensure that all the department/discipline fields are completed, or it will cause an error when you try to submit.

Month and year started and awarded/expected

  • Watch the ‘month started’ and ‘month awarded /expected’ as this assists NSERC with determining eligibility. For example, Waterloo start months can only be September, January or May. Waterloo awarded /expected months are typically December, April, or August. Do not list your convocation date.)

Work experience


  • This is where you should include Research Assistantship (RA) and Teaching Assistantship (TA) positions, as well as any other relevant work experience – NOT AWARDS.



  • Ensure you only list competitive awards here. (Competitive based on academic/research/leadership/communication abilities/excellence.)
  • You are able to include declined awards.
  • Do not list RA’s or TA’s here (they can be listed these under work experience).
  • Bursaries based on financial need should not be listed.
  • Entrance awards are competitive and can be included.
  • You are able to list Graduate Research Studentship and Graduate Experience Awards here if you have room. But it is recommended to list your most prestigious/competitive awards and only if you have room include these.

Location of tenure

Proposed Location of Tenure

  • The proposed degree program should be the degree you will be in when holding the award (this may differ from your current degree and can be changed at a later date should you be offered an award as long as your research/program still fall under NSERC’s mandate).
  • Be sure to enter an institution/organization, department, program of study and a proposed supervisor (even if this is not confirmed yet).

Scholarship/fellowship information

Number of months of graduate studies (master’s and doctoral) you have completed as of Dec 31

  • Ensure you have entered in the correct number of months of graduate studies, which includes BOTH Master’s and Doctoral, as of December 31, 2022.
  • Note each UW term is 4 months.

Number of months of studies you have completed, as of Dec 31 of the year of application, in the program for which you are requesting funding

  • Ensure you have entered in the correct number of months in the program for which you are requesting funding (Doctorate), as of December 31, 2022. This is extremely important as it determines eligibility.
  • Note each UW term is 4 months.

Equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) considerations in the research design

Are diversity considerations taken into account in the research design, methods, analysis and interpretation, and/or dissemination of findings?

  • If you answer “No” – you need to complete the text box to explain why equity, diversity and inclusion considerations have not been taken into account.

Free form attachments

Outline of Proposed Research

(max 2 pages)

  • Watch the “Insider Academic Advice”(to be posted in early Sept) presentation which gives pointers for this section.
  • Use most of the two pages available.

Justification for eligibility of proposed research (optional 1 page attachment)

  • Not all students will have to include this section in their application.
  • This section is for students whose research is in a discipline that falls under the mandate of more than one federal granting agency (e.g., psychology, management studies, geography, physical education, bio-medical engineering, health sciences, bioinformatics, biostatistics, etc.)
  • In this section, you must clearly explain the Natural Science and Engineering challenges of the project, what you will be doing and why it should be considered research that is predominantly Natural Sciences and Engineering.

Special Circumstances (optional 1 page attachment)

  • This section is for you to describe (if applicable) any special circumstances that have had an effect on your performance or productivity.
  • This section can also be used to describe the impact of COVID-19 on any aspect of your application.

Return to Waterloo's NSERC Scholarships web page

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August 10, 2022