NSERC/SSHRC/CIHR Undergraduate Student Research Awards

The internal LFS deadline for the undergraduate research awards (USRA) program is 5 pm, Friday February 16, 2024.

The Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) program is administered jointly by Canada’s three research granting agencies: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). Applications for the USRA program must be completed and submitted through NSERC’s Online Portal.

Through these awards, professors can receive a wage subsidy of $6,000 to hire an eligible student to work on research and development in your lab. You gain valuable help in furthering students’ research while supporting them in their learning.

The LFS quota for the NSERC USRA has been announced by the UBC Career Centre. The Faculty of Land and Food Systems has 5 NSERC USRA 2024-25 awards. These awards can be held in the summer (May – August 2024), fall (September – December 2024) or winter (January – April 2025) terms.

NSERC encourages qualified Black and Indigenous students to apply for this award. Specific award pathways have been established for Black and Indigenous students. Please visit UBC Student Services website and NSERC website for more information.

Program Requirements

  • 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 their Associate Dean or appropriate designate as part of the application process.
  • Work terms are required to be 14 – 16 weeks long. Shortened award term (less than 14 weeks) will have to obtain exception pre-approval from NSERC prior to submission. Exceptions will be made for shortened work terms only in exceptional cases where the situation is beyond the control of the award recipient, and where the appropriately justified request is received before the beginning of the work term.
  • Remote supervision of projects will be permitted. Supervisors must hold regular meetings with USRA holders via phone or video calls.
  • Full value ($6,000) of the award will be honored once application is approved by NSERC.
  • For the student’s salary, BC’s minimum wage requirements must be met. (Based on BC’s current minimum wage of $16.75/hour, the minimum pay for the tenure of the award of 16 weeks is $9,755.20, inclusive of 4% vacation pay. In addition, supervisors are required to fund benefits (CPP, EI, WCB) amounting to approximately 7.48% of the monthly wage. Hence, the minimum top-up from the supervisor is $4,484.89. Note: BC minimum wage may increase in 2024.)
  • In accordance to UBC HR hybrid work guidelines, NSERC USRA students are required to work in British Columbia, Canada. Remote and on-campus work are subject to the same regulatory and statutory obligations.
  • The USRA research is a full time activity (35 hours paid hours/week plus a 1-hour/day unpaid lunch break). Students are allowed to take a maximum of two (2) courses during the tenure of award.


CIHR and SSHRC USRA are exclusively offered to Canadian Black students only through the Black student researchers pathway.

Application Process

Students who are interested in holding a NSERC USRA at LFS will be required to review the Eligible Grant Holders list for LFS (Non-NSERC grant holders need to receive approval from the Associate Dean as part of the application process), contact eligible faculty directly and arrange to apply with their confirmed supervisor.

Students who are interested in holding a CIHR or SSHRC USRA at LFS will be required to contact eligible faculty directly and arrange to apply with their confirmed supervisor.

All applications for the USRA program must be completed and submitted through NSERC’s online portal. Follow the instructions online on how to complete the forms. You can view a video tutorial for the NSERC application process. If you experience any technical issues with the NSERC online portal, please contact NSERC.

  1. Submit the 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. In addition to Form 202, NSERC USRA applicants should send the following documents via email to lfs.nserc-usra@ubc.ca:
    • A two-page CV from the student.
    • A one-page statement of research interests from the student that describes how the proposed USRA position will help advance them toward their career objectives.

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 for NSERC USRA

  1. A review panel consisting of the Associate Dean, Research, LFS Program Directors and other faculty members as necessary to form a diverse panel, 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 Career Centre by March 22, 2024. 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 accept the offer of a USRA for whatever reason. UBC Career Centre will then review the online NSERC applications and notify us if there are any problems prior to allowing final submission to NSERC.
  2. LFS will notify student/supervisor pairs of their status on the A or B list at the time the lists are forwarded to UBC Career Centre.
  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 receiving formal notice of the award from NSERC.
  4. If a student is placed on the B-list, they 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.

LFS Review Process for CIHR USRA and SSHRC USRA

  1. LFS will review the CIHR USRA and SSHRC USRA applications submitted to check that the research topics are eligible for CIHR or SSHRC funding, and that the faculty member is eligible to supervise the student.
  2. LFS will submit CIHR USRA and SSHRC USRA applications as A-List to UBC Career Centre by March 22, 2024.
  3. UBC Career Centre and VPRI will review the applications submitted for CIHR USRA and SSHRC USRA from all Faculties/Schools/Departments, and inform Faculty/School Coordinators which of them will be awarded and forwarded to NSERC.

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.