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Intro to NSERC Summer Student Program in Physics at Toronto

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The Department of Physics of the University of Toronto will be participating in the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) Program for the summer of 2014.

Program Description

The Department of Physics of the University of Toronto will be participating in the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) Program for the summer of 2014. If you are interested in pursuing graduate studies in physics at U of T, you should seriously consider making application. This program gives undergraduates the opportunity to work on a project with a clear research goal, under the supervision of a professor who is active at the forefront of his or her field of physics. It is an excellent introduction to research in physics, and gives undergraduates the opportunity to interact directly with professors, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows. This activity is supplemented by the summer student research seminar series, a weekly series of talks by faculty members about their latest research.

The Department of Physics will have 18 of these positions available; each must be held for at least 16 weeks. NSERC provides part of the funding, but the research supervisors will provide a considerable supplement. Including this supplement, the salary levels will be:

  • $2100 a month for students who have completed 4th year,
  • $2000 a month for students who have completed 3rd year,
  • $1900 a month for students who have completed 2nd year (1styear from Quebec),

of their university program. Some projects, of course, will only be open to students in their upper years.

Travel expenses to and from the home university will be refunded by NSERC up to a maximum of economy class air fare.  For students from outside Toronto, the University Housing Service provides up-to-date information on affordable accommodation.

In addition, the Chair of the Department of Physics will "top up" the awards to the top four students participating in the University of Toronto program by a total of $800 per student. These students will be designed "Chair's Scholars".

Application Procedures

Students interested in applying should fill out an NSERC Form 202 - Application for a USRA (Part I only) through on-line services on the NSERC web page. The completed  form (a hard copy) should be then submitted to:

Krystyna Biel
Graduate Administrator
Department of Physics
University of Toronto
60 St. George St.
Toronto, ON M5S 1A7


In addition to the form, please include a separate sheet giving a brief description of your interests and goals in physics and an official up-to-date (i.e. including Fall session grades) transcript of your university records. Please note that in order to be official, transcripts must arrive in a signed and sealed envelope Reference letters are not required.

Exception: University of Toronto students can provide a ROSI printout in lieu of an official transcript at the application stage. However, they should be prepared to submit an official academic record immediately after they receive an offer of award.

Students with offers of award will receive a pdf of their official transcript for uploading to the online NSERC system.

Application Deadline

The deadline for applications is February 11th.

Selection Process

Shortly after the application deadline,  we will be in touch with the successful candidates to determine their priorities for research and the supervisor(s) with whom they would like to work, as listed on the JOB DESCRIPTION website. Feel free to get in touch with individual professors to discuss their research in more detail! Once a supervisor is identified, the name of the student will be posted on the JOB DESCRIPTION website so that other students will know that a position has been filled. Since it takes a while to work through this process, which is ongoing, you may not hear from us again for some time until a vacancy occurs and you are next on the list for an offer. Keep checking the website for updates. If you do not hear from us and all of the 18 positions have been filled, your application has been declined for 2014. If you are unsuccessful, some professors may be interested in hiring summer (non-NSERC) students.  Students should follow up if they wish.

For general information on the physics department at Toronto students are encouraged to consult our main departmental webpage .