Tri-Council Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRAs)

The Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) program is jointly administered by Canada’s three Tri-Council funding 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 (SSHRC).

The Undergraduate Research Initiative is the designated Liaison Officer for the USRA program at the U of A. Please contact if you have questions about the USRA program.

Awards Details

  • Award Value: $6000 for 16 weeks + department/supervisor top-up (minimum of $2,400). The total minimum value of a USRA (award + top up) is $8400 for 16 weeks.
    • In cases where the USRA must be classified as employment (e.g. non-UofA students, co-op placements), the supervisor/department top-up must also cover all mandatory employment-related costs (e.g. EI, CPP, etc.).
  • Award Term: Awards are normally held for 16 weeks, and are tenable in Summer, Fall or Winter terms. However, there is normally only one application cycle each year, so all applicants must apply for the same deadline, regardless of the term in which they intend to hold the award.

Student + Supervisor Eligibility

  • Please see the detailed eligibility criteria on the NSERC website.
  • At present, CIHR and SSHRC USRAs are exclusively for Black student researchers.
  • You must have a confirmed faculty supervisor who is eligible to apply for a USRA in their faculty/department. Students must apply through their proposed supervisor’s faculty/department.
  • Supervisors must be authorized by the institution to independently supervise students and they must be eligible to hold research funding in accordance with the U of A’s Eligibility to Apply for and Hold Research Funds Policy.

Application Process

Application deadlines are set by each eligible faculty/department. Most internal deadlines for the USRA fall in January-February of each year. Students should consult with the faculty/department they are applying through to inquire about the application deadline, as well as any department-specific application/selection processes.

The application consists of two parts, which must be completed by the student and supervisor, respectively. As part of the online application, you will be required to upload current, official transcripts for all of your post-secondary studies.

Applications must be completed electronically via the NSERC Online System. See the NSERC USRA Application Information for instructions on how to complete the application. Applications for CIHR and SSHRC USRAs are processed by NSERC and must also be submitted through the NSERC Online System.

The application process is as follows:

  • Students must complete Part 1 of Form 202 on the NSERC website and provide the reference number to the supervisor, who will use it to link Part 1 to their Part 2.
  • Supervisors must complete Part 2 of Form 202 on the NSERC website.
  • The supervisor submits the application into the NSERC system
  • The supervisor submits a copy to their faculty/department (in the manner specified by the faculty/department) for the faculty/department internal review process.

Important note: If the student has self-identified in their application as Black or Indigenous, and provided consent to share this information with the institution, this must be indicated on the copy of the application provided to the faculty/department for adjudication. 

If the student makes a change to their application after the supervisor has submitted it in the online system, the change will not be reflected in the version received. If you need to make changes to your application after it has been submitted in the online system, please consult URI at

The URI is unable to edit the student/supervisor application forms and therefore cannot assist applicants with submission of their applications. If you experience technical difficulties with the online system, please submit a support request directly to NSERC.

The following video from NSERC provides step-by-step instructions for submitting Form 202

Internal U of A Application Deadlines

USRA applications are managed by each eligible faculty, and internal deadlines vary by department/faculty.

All USRA application deadlines for the 2024 award cycle have now passed. If you have questions about your application status, please contact the faculty/department you applied through.

Applications for the 2025 cycle are expected to be announced in early Winter term.

Selection Process

The selection process for USRA applications is based on an internal review by the faculty/department.

Once adjudication is completed, faculties/departments will notify applicants of the outcome (typically in ~late March; however, timelines vary by department). URI is unable to provide information about your application status - please consult with your faculty/department.

Faculties/departments are responsible for submitting a list of recommended (approved) applications to URI by the deadline provided in the NSERC communication (typically early April).

Supplements for USRA recipients

NSERC offers the following supplements to USRA awards. These supplements are only available to students who have received a USRA, and they are paid directly to the student.