NSERC Black Student and Indigenous Student Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRAs)

As part of the efforts to make research culture more inclusive and address systemic barriers to participation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering and Research Council (NSERC) of Canada is providing increased opportunities for Black and Indigenous undergraduate students to apply for Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRAs).

The goal of the USRA program is to provide research experience that complements the degree program undergraduate students are pursuing, which may lead them to consider graduate studies careers in the field of natural sciences and engineering.

While each department allocates a limited number of NSERC USRA nominations, there is no limit to the number of Black and Indigenous undergraduate student applicants a department can put forward.

Award Value

$7,500 in total value, with $6,000 from NSERC and a mandatory top-up of a minimum of $1,500 from the faculty supervisor’s research funds. Any supplement above this level may be set at the discretion of the department or the USRA supervisor.

Award Duration

The duration is 16 full consecutive weeks during the Summer Term between May to September.

Award Eligibility

  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
  • Self-identify as Black or Indigenous on the online application form.
  • Is registered full-time or part-time (at the time of application) in a bachelor's degree program in at least one of the two terms immediately before holding the award.
  • Obtained a cumulative average of at least a B or B-.
  • At the time of application, have completed a minimum of two academic terms/semesters. First-year students are not eligible.
  • Graduating students may apply if they have not graduated by the application deadline or started graduate school during the award tenure period. U of T students can hold a USRA in the summer immediately following their final spring term.
  • Must work on a full-time basis on research and development activities during the award tenure.

Notes to Consider

  • Award holders should not receive academic credits for research work completed during the USRA work term. Thesis research during the award term is not permitted.
  • Award holders may be enrolled in a maximum of two courses (1.0 FCE) during the summer with their supervisor’s permission.
  • A student may hold only one USRA per fiscal year (April 1 to March 31) and a maximum of three USRAs throughout their university career.
  • USRAs do not include provisions for paid vacation days.
  • Travel allowances are not permitted under the USRA program. Any costs of fieldwork and related expenses (including travel) are ineligible.
  • The award cannot be deferred.
  • Both the USRA award holder and their faculty supervisor must be located at the same university during the tenure of the award. USRAs cannot be transferred to another university.

Application Process

For 2024: Information on how to apply for the NSERC Black and Indigenous USRAs will be announced in Winter 2024. Please check back for more details.