NSERC USRA General Information

What is an NSERC USRA?

A Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) is meant to stimulate a student’s interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering.  It is also meant to encourage graduate studies education and the pursuit of a research career in these fields.  The NSERC USRA allows a student to gain research work experience that complements their studies in an academic setting; it can provide a student with financial support through Brandon University.  NSERC encourages qualified Aboriginal students to apply for this award.

Please note that the complete NSERC USRA program description, along with application and instructions can be found on the NSERC website.


To Apply for an Award an Applicant Must:
1. Be a Canadian Citizen or permanent resident of Canada;
2. Be registered, at time of application, in a bachelor’s degree program at an eligible university; and
3. Have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of at least second class (2.7).

To Hold an Award an Applicant Must:
4. Have completed all the course requirements of at least the first year of university study (or two academic terms) of bachelor’s degree (30 credit hours).  Please note that first year students are eligible to apply for this award and must fulfill the aforementioned course requirements prior to award uptake;
5. Have been registered in at least one of the two terms immediately before holding the award in a bachelor’s degree program at an eligible university;
6. Not have started a graduate program in the natural sciences or engineering at any time; and
7. Be engaged on a full-time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of the USRA.


The NSERC portion of the award is $4,500 and the University is required to contribute an additional 25% of the NSERC award.


An NSERC USRA is for 16 consecutive weeks.  The start date is to be decided on between student and supervisor.

NSERC Grant Holders at Brandon University

In order for a student to undertake an Undergraduate Student Research Award, they must work under the supervision of a faculty member who holds an active NSERC research grant.  The supervisor must agree to work with the student and, therefore, students are encouraged to contact potential supervisors as early as possible with their request.

NOTE ON SUPERVISOR ELIGIBILITY:  Eligible NSERC supervisors are faculty members who have an active grant at the time of USRA application (February 1) and faculty members whose grant will start after USRA application but by the time the student starts the award in the spring/summer.  A supervisor who has an active and eligible NSERC grant as of March 31 of any given calendar year is eligible to supervise USRA students for that entire competition year.  For example, a faculty member who has an active grant as of March 31, 2018 will be eligible to supervise USRA students for the entire 2018 competition year.  For supervisors who do not hold an active NSERC grant at the time of USRA application and who are waiting for the current year’s Discretionary Grant application (or other eligible NSERC grant) results, their grant must be active when the student starts the award in order to host the USRA student.  Supervisors who do not hold an active NSERC grant at the time of USRA application are responsible for identifying an alternate supervisor who agrees to take on the role should their NSERC grant application not be successful.

Current Brandon University NSERC Grant Holders:

Biology:  Dr. Bernadette Ardelli, Dr. Bryan Cassone, Dr. David Greenwood, Dr. Chris LeMoine, Dr. Mousumi Majumder, Dr. Wendy Untereiner;

Chemistry:  Dr. Eric Bushnell, Dr. Vince Chen; Dr. Michael Charette

Math & Computer Science:  Dr. Chenkuan LiDr. Sarah Plosker

Physics & Astronomy:  Dr. Margaret Carrington

Note for Supervisors:  All applicants that you agree to supervise could potentially receive an award and therefore it is important that you are aware of this possibility and prepared to support them all.

A Complete Application

A complete NSERC USRA application package includes the following:
1. Form 202 Part I – to be completed by student
2. Form 202 Part II – to be completed by supervisor
3. University Transcripts
4. Letter of Support from Supervisor

Submission Process

1. Form 202 Part I and Part II
NSERC USRA applications are completed and submitted via the NSERC On-line System Users.

Please see the NSERC Instructions for Completing an Application – Form 202 for complete details.

2. University Transcripts
An electronic version of your transcripts may be requested from the Registrar’s Office (Val Rodgers, McKenzie Building, Room 119).  Requests for official BU transcripts can be made through Financial & Registration Services.

3. Letter of Support from Supervisor
A letter of support must be provided by the intended supervisor.  The letter should speak to the student’s research aptitude and other abilities. Specifically, the letter should address:

  • Why the supervisor wants to work with the student;
  • Fit of the student with the supervisor’s research program;
  • Student’s preparation and skill to conduct research, their theoretical and applied skills; and
  • What the student will learn and how they will benefit from the research experience.

The Office of Research Services must receive the letters of support from the supervisor by the internal deadline.

Where an applicant is external to Brandon University, the letter of support should come from someone at their home institution who can speak to their research aptitude and other abilities.


The internal deadline for NSERC USRA application submission is February 1.  Where the 1st falls on a weekend, the deadline is the following business day.  Students are encouraged to consult with their supervisors, as supervisors may set an earlier deadline for the student portion of the submission.

Selection Process and Award Notification

USRA applications are reviewed internally by Brandon University and results are normally known by the end of February via formal written notification from the Vice-President (Academic and Provost).

Payment of Award

Payments are made by Brandon University on a bi-weekly basis over the 16 week term of the award.


If you have any questions, please contact Kerry Murkin, Manager, Research Services and USRA Liaison Officer, at:

Office of Research Services:  113 Clark Hall
Email:  murkink@brandonu.ca
Phone:  204-727-7445