NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards


The internal LFS deadline for NSERC undergraduate research award programs is 5 pm, Friday March 11, 2022.

***Please note the new LFS selection criteria and required documents below***

Eligible faculty members may apply for the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) program. Through these awards, you can receive a wage subsidy of $6,000 to hire an eligible student to work on research and development in your lab. Professors gain valuable help in furthering their research while supporting students in their learning.

The LFS quota for the NSERC USRA has been announced by the UBC Centre for Student Involvement and Careers (CSI&C). The Faculty of Land and Food Systems has 4 NSERC USRA 2022-23 awards. These awards can be held in the summer (May – August 2022), fall (September – December 2022) or winter (January – April 2023) terms.

Similar to last year, as suggested by UBC’s Associate Deans, Research and Vice President Research and Innovation, UBC will continue to have non-NSERC grant holders receive approval from the Associate Dean or appropriate designate as part of the application process. Here is the updated Eligible Grant Holders list for Land and Food Systems.

Continuation of accommodations due to COVID-19

As a reminder, NSERC will be making the following accommodations for the 2022-23 competition cycle; however should local public health recommendations allow, the preference is for USRAs to be held in person, but remote supervision will be allowed without additional justification to NSERC. Should the project allow, students who prefer to work remotely should not be penalized.

  • Remote supervision of projects will be permitted. Supervisors must hold regular meetings with USRA holders via phone or video calls.
  • Work terms do not need to be 16 weeks long, and can be less than 12 weeks.
  • Full value ($6,000) of the award will be honored once application is approved by NSERC.
  • For the student’s salary, Faculty Supervisors are no longer required to top-up 25% of the award value. However, NSERC requires that the supervisor pays a minimum salary of $6,000 regardless of the length of the award term and BC’s minimum wage requirements must be met. The minimum wage in BC is currently $15.20 per hour.
  • Students are allowed to take a maximum of two (2) courses during the tenure of award.
  • For faculty members who intend to apply to the NSERC USRA, please ensure that COVID-19 safety measures and considerations as well as contingency plans are included when submitting their application. Questions we would encourage faculty to consider: Will the USRA be feasible given the COVID-19 safety plans as per their Faculty/School/department? Can the USRA be done safely?

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)

UBC believes that sustained excellence in research, education and engagement depends on the integration of diverse perspectives and approaches and the inclusion of those who have been historically, persistently or systemically marginalized. UBC wants to ensure equitable access to these opportunities with NSERC, both for faculty members and students. Please ensure a thorough review of your recruitment and application processes to ensure equitable consideration is given to all applicants.

Here are some UBC-specific guidelines and resources you may want to review:

Application process

Students who are interested in hold a NSERC USRA at LFS will be required to contact eligible LFS NSERC grant holders (Non-NSERC grant holders need to receive approval from the Associate Dean as part of the application process) directly and apply with a confirmed supervisor.

Full details on how students can determine their eligibility can be found here.

Full details and procedures for potential project supervisors can be found here.

  1. Submit application online through NSERC by filling out NSERC Form 202 Part I (for student) and Part II (for supervisor).
  2. Send PDF copies of the completed form (Form 202 Part I and part II, as well as the student’s transcripts) to lfs.nserc-usra@ubc.ca.
  3. Besides Form 202, please send the following documents via email to lfs.nserc-usra@ubc.ca:
    • A two-page CV of the student
    • A one-page statement of research interests and career goals from the student

LFS selection criteria

  • 1/3 Academic Excellence – Based on student academic record: course transcripts and awards listed in NSERC Form 202 Part I.
  • 1/3 Research Potential – Based on:
    • Student’s two-page CV
    • Student’s one-page statement of interest, outlining research interests and career goals
    • Project description (NSERC Form 202 Part II)
  • 1/3 Expected quality of the training and mentorship to be received – Based on the supervisor’s description of the student role and the expected quality of the training to be received (NSERC Form 202 Part II)

LFS review process

  1. LFS (Associate Dean of Research in consultation with other faculty members) will review the NSERC USRA  applications and rank them using the above selection criteria. A list of chosen candidates (the ‘A’ list) will be forwarded to the UBC Centre for Student Involvement and Careers (CSI&C) by March 25, 2022. At the same time, a ‘B-list’ of candidates who meet the basic eligibility criteria will also be forwarded in the event that any of the A-list candidates are unable to take it up for whatever reason. CSI&C will then review the online NSERC applications and notify us if there are any problems prior to allowing final submission to NSERC to go ahead.
  2. LFS will notify student/supervisor pairs of their status on the A or B list at the time the lists are forwarded to CSI&C.
  3. Note that even if the student is approved by LFS and UBC, an official letter of notification of the award will not be sent from NSERC until July—i.e. the student will have been working on the USRA for at least two months before hearing from them.
  4. If a student is placed on the B-list, he/she may still have a chance to take up an NSERC USRA award in the fall or winter term, pending the announcement by NSERC of the availability of supplementary NSERC USRAs (typically in late-August). These supplemental awards are made available to the entire UBC campus and are first-come, first serve.

Important reference documents and resources

Have a question?

Please contact LFS Undergraduate Student Research Awards lfs.nserc-usra@ubc.ca if you have any questions.