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Undergraduate Student Research Awards

Important Travel Notice

The federal government is advising against all non-essential travel outside Canada. To monitor, check the Government of Canada’s latest travel advisories.

Supporting undergraduate research opportunities

The McMaster Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA) are intended to cultivate and support research partnerships between undergraduate students and faculty members. The award provides you with an opportunity to receive funds to cover research-based activity during the Fall/Winter or Summer Term.

Two USRA Awards Periods Available

Fall/Winter USRA (part-time):
There are 3 awards of *$3500 available to cover part-time, research-based activity over the Fall/Winter Terms (November - March). The Fall USRA will take place over 20 weeks where students will complete 12 hours per week.

Fall/Winter USRA Application deadline: October 6, 2020 before 4:00pm

Summer USRA (full-time):
There are 12 awards of *$7500 available to cover full-time, research-based activity over the Summer Term (May - August). The Summer USRA will take place over 15 weeks where students will complete 35 hours per week.

Application deadline: January 21, 2021 before 4:00pm

*USRAs are distributed to students in bi-weekly installments over the duration of the award.

USRA Information Sessions via Zoom (Optional):

To join, please use your McMaster Zoom account, which can be authenticated at

USRA Student Information

Find the documents and information you need to get started!

Key Materials:

Tips and Resources:

Accessible versions of these documents are available upon request: Request Accessible USRA Documents

How to Apply

Application Details


In order to be eligible for the Social Sciences USRA, you must:

  1. Be registered in the Faculty of Social Sciences in a degree program*, and be enrolled in a minimum of 18 units during the current Fall/Winter term**
  2. Be in good academic standing with the university (not on academic probation), and normally with a cumulative GPA of at least 8.0 to be competitive;
  3. Be in good financial standing with the university (no outstanding financial accounts on the student record); 
  4. Be eligible to work in Canada; and,
  5. Have received fewer than two (2) USRAs to this point in your studies at McMaster;

*Degree Program Notes:

Level 1 Students: Level 1 students are not eligible for the Fall/Winter USRA because of the GPA requirement, but are eligible to apply for the Summer USRA.

Students in Graduating Year: Students are eligible to apply for a USRA in their graduating year. For graduating students applying to the Summer USRA, preference will be given to students who have applied for graduate studies commencing in September.

Humanities Students in Combined Honours with Social Sciences: Students registered in the Faculty of Humanities in a Combined Honours degree program with a Social Sciences discipline are eligible to apply for the Social Sciences USRA if their proposed faculty supervisor resides in the Social Sciences).

Arts & Science Students in Combined Honours with Social Sciences: Students registered in the Arts and Science program in a Combined Honours degree program with a Social Sciences discipline are not eligible to apply for the Social Sciences USRA. These students should apply for the Arts & Science USRA even if their proposed faculty supervisor resides in the Social Sciences).

**Course Load Notes:

Students with a reduced course load as a part of a registered accommodation are encouraged to contact the coordinators to inquire about eligibility.


All USRA applications must be submitted electronically.  Please see the Student Information Document and/or the Application Form (Fall Application or Summer Application) for further details.

You can propose a research project which:

  • conducts your own independent research under the supervision of a faculty member; or
  • takes on a defined and specific role within a research project currently being conducted by a faculty member.

For tips on ensuring that your project learning outcomes, please see the EE Guide to Learning Plans and Objectives.

Please note: The McMaster USRA is separate and distinct from the external program NSERC-USRA.

(Future applicants are encouraged to watch for the Poster Session where last year's award recipients will be showcasing their projects, in Fall 2019.  Award recipients will be on hand to answer questions. This is a good way for you to get started in planning your own research proposal. The next USRA Poster Session will be held on Tuesday, November 5th 2019 in CIBC Hall, in the McMaster Student Centre, 3rd floor.  This is a drop-in event for guests and visitors.)

photo of Grace Martin

Grace Martin

Health, Aging and Society

“Prior to undertaking my USRA project, the research process seemed inaccessible and intimidating. This USRA gave me the opportunity to experience the research process for the first time in the most supportive environment possible. Now, I have confidence in my ability and I am eager to conduct more research in the future.”

USRA Travel

USRA project proposals may involve travel.  However, McMaster University cannot fund an activity if travel warnings issued by Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advise Canadians to avoid travel to the location of the student experience for any reason including civil unrest.  It is also the responsibility of the student to determine if any inoculation/medical intervention or insurance is required for travel related to their experience and to ensure that these requirements are completed appropriately before departure.

Complete information about the USRA, including application information:

For more information about USRA, please contact:

photo of Mark Busser

Mark Busser

Ph.D International Relations, McMaster University2014

Academic and Experiential Learning Coordinator