Postdoctoral Fellowships Program, Canada

Publish Date: Aug 23, 2016

Deadline: Oct 15, 2016

The Program

The $5,000 increase per year applies to all fellows holding a Postdoctoral Fellowship as of the 2014 competition.

NSERC will provide up to 10 supplements valued at $10,000 per year for two years to successful applicants to its postdoctoral fellowships competition who have specified a location of tenure for the award in the People’s Republic of China.

What kind of support does the Postdoctoral Fellowships Program provide?

The Postdoctoral Fellowships (PDF) Program provides support to a core of the most promising researchers at a pivotal time in their careers. The fellowships are also intended to secure a supply of highly qualified Canadians with leading edge scientific and research skills for Canadian industry, government and universities. NSERC encourages interested and qualified Aboriginal students or fellows to apply.

Are you eligible for a PDF?

To be considered eligible for support, as of the deadline date of the year in which you apply, you must:

  • be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident of Canada; and
  • hold or expect to hold a doctorate in one of the fields of research that NSERC supports.

In addition:

  • You must have completed all requirements of your first doctoral degree no more than two years before the deadline date of the year in which you apply, or by September 1 of the year of the award announcement.
  • If you have acquired at least six months of full-time relevant employment in industry or government (experience in a university or its affiliated hospitals, research institutions and other laboratories will not be considered) after you received your doctorate, NSERC will extend this eligibility period to three years.
  • If, within two years following the date of completion of your PhD, you withdraw from the workforce and from active research for maternity leave or to raise a child for at least one year, NSERC will extend this eligibility period to six years.

If you anticipate taking less than a full year of maternity leave, you are expected to submit your application during the two year eligibility window. If you are successful in obtaining an award, you can defer it for reasons of maternity or child-rearing. 

For degree programs you have completed, provide the date on which all the requirements of your degree were met, including the successful defence and submission of the corrected copy of your thesis (in accordance with your university's regulations). It is not the conferred or convocation date indicated on your transcript. The Faculty of Graduate Studies (or its equivalent) may be asked to confirm the date the degree requirements were met.

You can apply only once to the PDF Program; however, applicants whose first PDF application was submitted prior to the 2013 competition may submit a second application provided they are within the eligibility window.

Note: You may submit only one application per year to one granting agency (NSERC or the Canadian Institutes of Health Research or the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council).

Where can you hold your fellowship?

You can hold your PDF at:

  • Canadian universities;
  • provincial research institutions in Canada;
  • other appropriate research laboratories in Canada; and
  • universities and research institutions abroad.

You cannot hold a PDF in Canadian government laboratories or in industrial laboratories across Canada. For information about tenure in Canadian government laboratories.

NSERC encourages you to undertake research that involves collaboration with other Canadian organizations. The nature of the proposed collaboration must be acceptable to the host institution.

In addition:

  • You may hold a PDF abroad only if you have received your doctorate from a Canadian university.
  • NSERC encourages PDF award holders to broaden their research experience by gaining exposure to different research environments. You are not permitted to hold your fellowship at the same university (or its affiliated hospitals, research institutions and other laboratories) where you received your doctorate. However, you may request an exception that will be considered by the selection committee. The request must be based on family reasons (e.g., a spouse's career) or scientific reasons (e.g., availability of specialized equipment), which make it extremely difficult for you to leave a particular university. Even if your exception is granted, you may not be supervised by your PhD supervisor. Given that NSERC may not approve your request for an exception, you are encouraged to include an alternate location for your PDF.
  • You may not hold the PDF with your PhD supervisor, even if your supervisor changes research institutions.

Value - $45,000 per year for two years

How do you apply?

You can apply for a PDF by completing and submitting Form 201, and attaching supporting documents if necessary. Read the instructions on how to complete Form 201 in further official information.

Application deadline

NSERC must receive your application electronically before 8:00 p.m. (ET) on October 15. Incomplete applications will be rejected.

With the exception of personal contact information, NSERC will not accept any changes or updates to your application after it has been submitted. Personal contact information may be updated by sending an email to

Review procedures and selection criteria

NSERC scholarships and fellowships selection committees review all applications for PDFs. The committees are organized according to the broad discipline categories:

  • Civil, industrial and systems engineering
  • Chemical, biomedical and materials science engineering
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Computing sciences
  • Mathematical sciences
  • Physics and astronomy
  • Chemistry
  • Earth sciences
  • Evolution and ecology
  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Plant and animal biology
  • Psychology

The Research Subject Code entered on the application will determine the selection committee in which the application will be evaluated. NSERC may assign the application to a different committee if it determines that the subject matter is more appropriate for another committee.

Applicants are evaluated and selected according to the criteria in the following categories:

  • Research ability or potential (70%)
    • Quality of contributions to research and development
    • Relevance of work experience and academic training to field of proposed research
    • Significance, feasibility and merit of proposed research and justification for location of tenure
    • Scholarships and awards held
    • Duration of graduate studies
    • Ability to think critically
    • Ability to apply skills and knowledge
    • Judgment
    • Originality
    • Initiative and autonomy
    • Enthusiasm for research
    • Determination and ability to complete projects within an appropriate period of time
  • Communication, interpersonal, and leadership abilities (30%)
    • The ability or potential to communicate scientific concepts clearly and logically in written and oral formats. For example, this could include:
      • the quality of the application's presentation;
      • participation in preparing publications; and
      • awards for oral presentations or papers.
    • Professional and relevant extracurricular interactions and collaborations. For example, this could include:
      • mentoring;
      • teaching;
      • supervisory experience;
      • project management;
      • chairing committees;
      • organizing conferences and meetings; and
      • elected positions held.

Notification of decision

NSERC will notify all applicants of the results by mail by the end of January. NSERC will not provide results by telephone or email.

NSERC will publish the names (and other basic award information) of fellowship recipients on its website. For more information.

Conditions of the award

Refer to the Award Holder’s Guide for Postdoctoral Fellowship for policies and requirements about holding the award, such as acceptance, start date, deferment, paid parental leave, holding the award on a part-time basis, etc.

For more information click "Further official information" below.

Similar Opportunities




Computer Sciences

Earth Sciences






Study Levels


Opportunity Types



Eligible Countries


Host Countries