Award information 

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has created the Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) to provide undergraduate students with the opportunity to gain experience in research by working full time for a term with a faculty member in their area of interest. This award would be of particular interest to students who are considering a career in research and who may wish to continue their studies at the graduate level.

Award availability

Each year, the University of Waterloo is awarded a specific number of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Awards. These fellowships enable undergraduate students to spend a term (Summer, Fall, or Winter) doing research in world-class laboratories supervised by experts in their field. NSERC encourages qualified Aboriginal students and undergraduate students from other Canadian universities to apply to this program.

The awards will be held for 4 months either in the Spring (May to August), Fall (September to December) or Winter (January to April) terms.


  • Domestic students (Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents). International students are not eligible.
  • Registered full-time undergraduate student in a bachelor’s degree program having completed at least two academic terms with a cumulative average of 80% or above. The assistantships will be awarded based on grades, the availability of projects and funds.
  • Students may hold only one award per fiscal year and can hold only three awards throughout their undergraduate career. Students can hold the award in the term immediately after their 4B term.
  • Co-op Students:  Please note that it is your responsibility to inform Co-operative Education by the required deadline about your intention to hold a USRA rather than seeking employment through Co-op.
  • Students are not permitted to take courses during working hours (1 course is permitted after hours.) for the term.

Additional details regarding the USRA and eligibility requirements can be found NSERC USRA website

Application Process

  1. Contact research faculty members who may be potential supervisors. Once a student has confirmed a position and endorsement of a NSERC USRA application with a supervisor, they must submit the Form 202 on the NSERC website by the application date. Note: the faculty member must hold an active NSERC research grant (e.g. Discovery, CREATE, Strategic, Research Partnerships).
  2. Complete the NSERC USRA Application (Available in December). The student must login or register as a new user on the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) website. To create or access an application, select On-line System Login on the NSERC website. To view forms and instructions, select PDF Forms and Instructions on the NSERC website.  See the NSERC USRA website
  • University of Waterloo students will be required to submit an unofficial transcript from Quest for Part 1 of the application and will be issued a reference number by NSERC for their supervisor to complete Part 2 of the application.
  • External applicants will be required to provide an official transcript to the department by the deadline date. Once the student has completed and verified their Form 202 Part 1, they will be issued a reference number. The student must provide this reference number to their University of Waterloo supervisor.
  • The Waterloo supervisor will then go to the NSERC USRA website, and login or register as a new user. At this time, they will be prompted to enter the reference number which the student has provided for them. Once the supervisor has verified and submitted Form 202 Part 2, the application will appear to the Liaison Office Assistant (LO Assistant) in the online portal.
  • If you applied in a previous year you will have to change your previous application for this year's competition rather than completing a new application. Your supervisor will have to complete a new Form 202.
  • Information about the NSERC USRA program can be found on the University of Waterloo Office of Research website. 

Please noteThe email address on the USRA application form 202 part 1 must be the student’s institutional email ( 

Application deadlines


Spring Term

Fall Term

Winter Term

Co-op deadline

January 7, 2021

May 1, 2021

September 7, 2021

Final deadline

April 7, 2021

August 7, 2021

November 7, 2021