NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards


The internal LFS deadline for NSERC undergraduate research award programs is 5 pm, Friday March 12, 2021.


Eligible faculty members may now apply for the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) program. Through these awards, you can receive a wage subsidy 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 (CIS&C). The Faculty of Land and Food Systems has FOUR (4) NSERC USRA 2021-22 awards. These awards can be held in the summer (May – August 2021), fall (September – December 2021) or winter (January – April 2022) terms.

New for 2021-22 Competition Cycle

Increase in program subsidy: NSERC has announced that effective for the summer 2021 competition, the value of the NSERC portion of the USRA will be increased from $4,500 to $6,000.

Faculty Eligibility: USRA supervisors are no longer required to hold an eligible and active NSERC grant. UBC will continue to have non-NSERC grant holders receive approval from their Associate Dean or appropriate designate as part of the application process.

Faculty members who intend to apply to the NSERC USRA must ensure that COVID-19 safety measures and considerations as well as contingency plans are included when submitting their applications.

Continuation of accommodations due to COVID-19

In light of the continuing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, NSERC will be continuing the following accommodations for the 2021-22 competition cycle:

  • 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.
  • NSERC will honour the full value of the award regardless of the length of the work term. For the student’s salary, the minimum Faculty Supervisor top-up of 25% the award value ($1500) is in effect and BC’s minimum wage requirements must be met.
  • 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?

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.

Application process

Students who are interested in hold a NSERC USRA at LFS will be required to contact eligible LFS NSERC grant holders directly and apply with a confirmed supervisor.

Applications for this program must be made online through NSERC, but PDF copies of the completed forms (Form 202 Part I and part II, as well as the student’s transcripts) must be sent to lfs.nserc-usra@ubc.ca.

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.

LFS selection criteria

  • 50% student marks/GPA
  • 25% project description (NSERC Form 202 – Part II)
  • 25% 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 (CIS&C) by March 26, 2021. 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. CIS&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 CIS&C.
  3. If all is in order with the applications and student/supervisor eligibility, the appointment of the chosen A-list NSERC  candidates will proceed by Tuesday, April 16th, 2021 (summer term) at the latest.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.