Undergraduate Research Award



The NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Award (USRA) provides support to undergraduate students who are conducting summer research under the supervision of an BME faculty member.

Students are expected to reach out to BME faculty members (Your supervisor must be selected from our department or cross-appointed to our department) to secure a research position. To look up supervisor emails, please see our Core Faculty  & Cross Appointed pages.

Note: faculty members no longer need to hold an active NSERC grant to be able to supervise students.


Work terms are 16 consecutive weeks from May 1st to September 30th.

Exact start and end dates are determined when the undergraduate research award results are announced in conjunction with arrangements with individual supervisors.


Student Eligibility 

  • You must have completed at least one year (i.e. two academic terms) of an undergraduate program by the start if this research experience. 1st year students are not eligible to apply.
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident of Canada.
  • Be registered either 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
  • A student applicant must have obtained, over the previous years of study, a cumulative average of at least a " "B- (70% or 2.7 GPA)" grade
  • Be able to work for all 16 weeks
  • Be engaged on a full-time basis in research and development activities in the natural sciences or engineering during the tenure of the award. There is no provision for vacation time.

Please remember:

  • The USRA program is intended to be over and above the academic credits needed for a degree. Award holders should not receive academic credits for work done during the USRA workterm, i.e., they are not permitted to take courses or do thesis research during work hours throughout the work term. It may be held concurrently with a co-op placement.
  • A student may hold only one USRA per fiscal year.
  • A student may hold a maximum of three (3) USRAs throughout his/her university career.
  • Your supervisor must be cross-appointed to BME or be a core faculty member at BME. Postdoctoral fellows, graduate or Ph.D. students are NOT eligible supervisors.
    • Note: faculty members no longer need to hold an active NSERC grant to be able to supervise students.

Please visit the NSERC USRA website for more details.


NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA)


Provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRAs) are meant to stimulate an undergraduate student’s interest in research in the natural sciences and engineering.

The USRA provides support of $4,500, plus a minimum 25% supplement ($1,125) by the student’s research supervisor. Students must participate full time in the research lab for a complete 16-week period.

Selection Criteria

Candidates are selected for this award on the basis of academic achievement, answers to the application questions, and their motivation for undertaking biomedical engineering research. Priority will be given to U of T students in Engineering Science. NSERC also encourages qualified Indigenous students to apply. Applications from eligible Indigenous applicants are submitted over and above the quota.


2020 NSERC USRA Application & General application Deadline

Deadline: March 16th, 2020 @ 5:00pm EST (Eastern Standard Time)

1. NSERC On-Line: The application form (Form 202 Parts I and II) is to be completed on-line.  Note: handwritten applications will not be accepted.

    • Students must complete Form 202 part I
      • Name of discipline – The name of your program (i.e. Biomedical Engineering)
      • Institution: UofT Students should indicate “Toronto”
      • Department: If you are from BME, you should indicate “Institute of Biomedical Engineering”. Engineering Science students should indicate “Engineering Science, Division of”.
    • Attach a PDF copy of your transcripts to form 202, Part I.
        • UofT Students: A PDF copy of your transcripts or the university e-transcripts or the most recent academic history report from ACORN will suffice
        • Non-UofT students: may attach their university’s e-transcript, but they must also order official transcripts from all previous and current programs of study in a sealed, institutional envelop and mail to the address below:

Institute of Biomedical Engineering (BME)
c/o Undergraduate Programs
University of Toronto
Rosebrugh Building, 164 College Street, Room 407
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G9 Canada

    •  Once Form 202–Part I has been completed, provide your prospective supervisor with the reference number generated by the system so that they may complete Part II of the form.


2. Complete the BME application form below.


Resources & relevant links below:

This form has now closed.



  • Active and inactive NSERC grant holders are able to supervise students as long they meet the following Eligibility Criteria for Faculty
  • Core Faculty and Cross-Appointed members from BME may supervise  students who are applying for an NSERC USRA.
  • Core Faculty and Cross-Appointed members do NOT need to hold their NSERC grant with BME; they just need to be associate with the Institute


  • Once the student has completed Form 202 – Part I online, they must provide you with the reference number provided by the system. Supervisors will not be able to complete Part II of Form 202 on-line if they do not have the reference number.
  • Log on to the Online System using the same account you use when applying for NSERC grants. Complete Part II of Form 202.
    • NOTE: The research grant application number is no longer used by NSERC. Enter 999999 or any six-digit number.
  • Once all the modules have been completed, the supervisor must go back to the My Portfolio page and select Verify, which will assess whether all required information has been entered. Once verification is complete, the status of the application will be changed to "Completed".
    • No changes should be made to the form after it has been labelled as “Completed.” If you need to update any information, contact the NSERC On-Line Services Helpdesk.
  • A Student/Supervisor Certification form must be completed and must bear your and your students’ signatures. The Student/Supervisor Certification form can be found here (see apply tab).

Please also refer to the 2020 USRA Program Guidelines available for download above as well as the 2020 USRA Application Checklist


If you have more questions about the Undergraduate Research Award, please contact:

MB332 | 416-978-4841 | undergrad.bme@utoronto.ca

COVID-19 updates

We would like to inform you that NSERC recently provided an update to the USRA program due to COVID -19, below are the USRA Core Program Updates:

In case University is not open in May due to the pandemic: USRA work terms can begin when the university re-opens later in the summer. NSERC will honour the full value of the award, and encourages universities to do the same. The minimum university top-up of 25% will still be in effect. Work terms will not have to be 12 weeks long if the university re-opening does not allow it.

Possibility for virtual work projects: If student and supervisor want to pursue a remote work project, NSERC will support this.  Supervision is expected to occur via video chats, telecons, and e-mail. NSERC should be informed before the start of the project.

USRA 2020 awards cannot be deferred: Unfortunately, it is not possible to transfer an award from one fiscal year to another.

© 2020 Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering