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Summer Undergraduate Research Assistants

Summer Undergraduate Research projects for 2017 have now been posted. Please see below for details.

NSERC Undergraduate Summer Research Awards (USRA), and Work Learn Undergraduate Research Awards (WLURA) give promising undergraduate students the opportunity to spend a summer working on a project with a Statistics professor. These awards represent a chance to gain valuable experience in many aspects of research, including data analysis and coding.  You can enhance your resume for employment or for graduate school application, and find out what sort of career in statistics you want to pursue. 

Position Details:

Summer Undergraduate Research positions run for a minimum of 16 weeks, with the possibility of extension at the discretion of the supervisor. The positions are full time, so you must be willing to be on-campus every weekday for the duration of the summer, unless otherwise stated by your supervisor. Please do not apply if you are unable to commit to these time requirements.

Value of Award:

The stipend for these awards is a minimum of $6,000.00.

Aboriginal USRA Positions:

We strongly encourage Aboriginal students to apply for these opportunities. Please indicate your Aboriginal status in your application.


NSERC USRAs are available to Canadian citizens and permanent residents only.

WLURAs are available to international students only.

To be eligible for either of these awards you must:

  • be registered (at the time of application) in a bachelor’s degree in the term immediately before holding the award
  • Have a cumulative GPA of B- (68%) or greater
  • At the time of the award, have completed all course requirement of at least the first year of university
  • NOT have started a graduate program in science or engineering


  • You may still apply for the program if you already hold a bachelor’s degree, and are enrolled in a second bachelor’s degree
  • You may only hold one USRA per fiscal year (April 1-March 31)
  • You may hold a maximum of three USRAs during your university career
  • If you are a graduating student, you may hold the award in the term immediately following the completion of your degree requirements, regardless of your graduation date
  • You do NOT have to be a Statistics major to apply
  • Individual supervisors may require you to have taken certain courses, or have a specific skill set

You are NOT eligible if:

  • You are enrolled in an undergraduate professional degree program in the health sciences (e.g., MD, DDS, BScN, BScPharm)
  • You hold higher degrees in sciences or engineering

Application Procedures:

  • Check out and decide which projects you are interested in, making sure that you meet the required skill set/prerequisites that are mentioned. Competition for these positions is very keen, so it’s a good idea to apply as soon as possible.
  • Additional projects MAY be added, so check back periodically if none of the projects currently posted are applicable to you
  • Remember that you're not restricted to the projects on the list. If you have an idea for a project, you are encouraged to contact a faculty member with your idea to see if they are interested in supervising you.
  • Email your application package to the project supervisors with whom you are interested in working. Your package should include a copy of your unofficial transcripts, along with a cover letter explaining what interests you about their research, and what you think you can contribute to the project. Make sure you submit your application as soon as possible, as these positions go fast.
  • Project supervisors will contact students with whom they are interested in working, and may request an interview.
  • Should you be chosen to work as a summer research assistant, you will be asked by the research supervisor to fill out an NSERC online application form. Instructions will be given to you at that time.
  • Don't procrastinate. We receive a limited quota of positions, and they are filled very quickly!


Contact the Statistics USRA coordinator at gradinfo [at] (subject: Undergraduate%20Research%20Assistant%20opportunities)

Profiles of some previous Summer Undergraduate Research Assistants:

Jonathan Zhang graduated with a double major in Statistics and Economics, and is now a PhD student in the Department of Economics at Stanford University. Jonathan worked with Nancy Heckman. "As a fourth year Statistics and Economics student who has spent two summers under the NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Award, I would highly recommend the program to any statistics, applied math or related student. The program gave me a paid opportunity to work closely with a specific professor on a closely defined project suitable to our interests. In my first summer I worked under Professor Bouchard-­‐Côté on applying probabilistic models to phylogenetic trees, this past summer with Professor Nancy Heckman we applied principal component analysis to biological/evolutionary problems. The experience was quite diverse, ranging from reviewing literature, understanding theory, implementing code and writing statistical reports. Collaboration with other students (graduate and USRAs), researchers and professors is also a great learning experience. Whether you are interested in theory or applications, graduate school or industry, I would recommend you to apply for a USRA."

Joanna Zhao, graduated with a BSc. in Statistics, and is now a graduate student in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at SFU. Joanna worked with Jennifer Bryan. “My part in the project was to systematically work through“Creating more effective graphs” by Naomi Robbins and produce all the plots using the ggplot2 package in R language. The goal was to create a convenient and simple tool that can provide users with clear instructions on how to create each and every graph using ggplot2. Ultimately, a web application was put together to present an organized visual collection of all the graphs and the corresponding code. I have learned how to make a web application framework for R and improved by knowledge and usage of R functions to organize and manipulate data. I have also learned how to use knitr and Rmarkdown to generate documents/reports from R, and how to write a Makefile to compile source code."