Pure Math undergraduate research opportunities

Natural Science and Engineering Research Council Undergraduate Student Research Award Program (NSERC USRA) & Mathematics Undergrad Research Award (MURA)

What is an NSERC USRA?

NSERC USRA recipients take part in a research project in an area of pure mathematics, under the direction and guidance of a supervisor. The type of work will vary depending on the supervisor, the project, and the student's background. Some projects have culminated in research publications. Some have won significant awards.

Am I eligible to apply for an NSERC USRA?

To apply for an NSERC USRA you must:

•    be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
•    be registered as a student in a bachelor's degree program at an eligible university; time of application and the term following the award working term (not graduating).
•    have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative average of 80% 

What is a MURA?

The Mathematics Undergraduate Research Award (MURA) is a research award sponsored by the Faculty of Mathematics. It is an opportunity for undergraduate students to gain experience and develop potential for a research career in an area of mathematics.

Am I eligible to apply for a MURA?

To apply for an MURA you must:

Please see website for criteria:

If you are an international student applying, you must have a Social Insurance Number which is valid for the duration of the working term, and have a Canadian bank account.

Please note that award recipients can only hold one NSERC USRA or MURA per fiscal year (May 1 – April 30).  

What is the value of the award?

The awards have a value of $6,000 for the term (16 weeks). In addition, the University and your supervisor will supplement the amount of the award, for a total of $10,000 for the four-month period. You will be expected to work a 35-hour work week.

How are award recipients selected?

The Department of Pure Mathematics, the Faculty of Mathematics, and the University Graduate Studies Office evaluate all complete NSERC USRA and MURA applications. Evaluations are based on your academic record and research aptitude.

If your application for either award is successful, you will be notified with further instructions.

How do I apply?

To apply for either an NSERC USRA or MURA you are required to:

  1. Approach a faculty member as a potential supervisor. Try to choose someone whose area of research is of interest to you. If the faculty member agrees to act as your supervisor, they will propose a research problem which will form part of your application. If you need advice, please contact Professor Stephen New (snew@uwaterloo.ca), the Pure Mathematics Associate Chair for Undergraduate Affairs.

2.    Applications:

  1. NSERC application - Complete "Form 202 - Application for a USRA, Part I". This form should be completed online on the NSERC website. Email a pdf file of the completed form, a pdf file of your transcript (*un-official transcript is sufficient if you are a UW student)and have the faculty member send a confirmation to Pavlina Penk at pjpenk@uwaterloo.ca.
  2. MURA application - Complete the application form, then email a pdf file of your unofficial transcript and have the faculty member send a confirmation to Pavlina Penk at pjpenk@uwaterloo.ca.

When is the competition deadline?

Competitions for NSERC USRA's are held three times each year. Deadlines are as follows:

  • Fall term – beginning of May
  • Winter term – beginning of September
  • Spring term – beginning of January

Pure Math Department Contact

For any questions relating to NSERC USRA or MURA awards in Pure Math, please contact:

Pavlina Penk
Administrative Coordinator - Undergraduate Studies
Department of Pure Mathematics
Phone: 519-888-4567 ext 43931
Office: MC 5312