Chances of Admission for Fall 2019

Every year, prospective students frequently ask about their chances of admission to Waterloo Engineering.  As you can probably imagine, admission to Waterloo Engineering is highly competitive.  As one of Canada’s premier engineering schools for undergraduate education and as a worldwide leader in co-operative education, our programs are quite popular among prospective students.

Since 2014, Bill Anderson has posted on his blog an easy-to-read graphical version of the information that appears on the Waterloo Engineering website and in our promotional brochures.  Here is a link to last year’s version of the blog post.  Bill bases this information on the previous year’s experience and shows the overall probability of getting an offer of admission given an applicant’s admission average.  This admission average is based on the required courses, usually mathematics, physics, chemistry, and English (depending upon the school, the location, and the curriculum).

Thanks to Bill Anderson, I now have an updated version of his blog post for 2019, based on experience with the 2018 admission cycle.  New this year, some changes have been made to more accurately display the information.  The biggest change is in the assumption that an admission average of 100% should result in a 100% probability of an offer.  When Bill first started constructing these graphs, this was a fair assumption but recent years have illustrated that it can now be misleading for the most competitive programs where there are many applicants with averages between 95% and 100% who unfortunately, did not receive offers of admission.  Now, the assumption (for graphical curve fitting purposes) is that the probability stays constant for 95% and higher and does not approach 100% probability.  With this change, the graph looks somewhat different than those previously posted.


For example, this graph would suggest that of all the Canadian applicants to Mechatronics Engineering with an admission average of 94%, about 60% of these students will receive an offer of admission to their program of choice.  For the purposes of this graph, the admission average does not include any other factors such as work experience, extra-curricular activities, or other distinguishing factors.

This graph is based on the data shown on the Waterloo Engineering website.  As in previous years, programs with similar probabilities are lumped together for simplicity and clearer presentation.  This is based on the actual admission results for all 13,000+ applicants to Engineering in the 2018 cycle.  The apparent decrease in probability fro averages from 98% to 100% is an artifact of the mathematical technique used to fit the curves and does not represent any real reduction in probability of admission.

In past years, Bill Anderson used Mathcad to fit cubic splines to the data shown on our website.  This year’s graph was produced by Bill Anderson using Maple, a home-grown Waterloo product that has been in existence for over thirty years.  I recall first using Maple in 1988 while visiting Brock University on a school trip.  I recall being amazed by what the tool was capable of solving on a Macintosh computer that at the time seemed better suited for drawing pictures than solving complex mathematical problems.  I am sure that the modern version of Maple is both faster, more reliable, and more powerful than the version I used so many years ago.

For those interested in the details of how the graph was produced, Bill used the “ArrayInterpolation” function with “method=spline” to get a cubic spline interpolation between the points.  As expected with a cubic spline method, there are some artifacts in the graph that are not actually meaningful.  There may be a better way to represent the data but this approach seems reasonable.

152 thoughts on “Chances of Admission for Fall 2019”

  1. Dear Mr. Bishop,
    Thanks for all the answers (so glad to find this page).
    I am a Canadian citizen attending a US high school – currently in 11th grade and planning to seek admission into Waterloo Computer Engg. I took the most challenging courses and will complete all Math and Physics AP courses offered by the school by the end of 11th grade (AP Calculus, AP Stats, AP Physics 1 and 2). Senior year I am taking AP Bio, AP Computer Science, AP Economics, AP English Lit and a class in Multi-Variable Calculus as an online course from an univ. My school transcript will note the online course in MVC but will not add the grade towards final GPA. So my official transcript grades (in sciences) for 12th will only be in Biology, Computer Science. Will I be penalized for not having core math, physics, chemistry courses in 12th – the reason they are not there is that I took them all earlier (in 10th and 11th grades). Does Waterloo accept my earlier courses grades and/or AP scores to assess – in addition to just 12th-grade average?
    Thanks in advance.


    1. You will not be penalized given the situation you describe. When we calculate your admission average, we will combine the AP courses you took in Grade 11 with those taken in your senior year. It is quite common to take one or more required courses early so that you can fit the courses into your schedule.


  2. Hello Mr bishop, thanks for this information. I am a permanent resident of Canada, I completed my high school 5 years ago from India. I am interested in getting into Mechatronics Engineering at waterloo and in order to provide strong application i repeated all the major courses like SPH4UC,SCH4UC,MHF4UC and MCV4UC and got my midterm grades with average of 95s, Also, in this 5 years i completed my undergraduate diploma in mechanical engineering tech. with honors _ 3.9/4 GPA and gained skill work experience. Will this gap years effort help me to boost my average in application? also i took English in the high school so i dint repeated the course. However, i have grades in mid 70’s in English from high school. Can I be penalized for not repeating English. Can my application be rejected due to average English grades? Thankful for your assistance.


    1. Gap years do not negatively affect the assessment of an applicant but repeating courses does affect the assessment of an applicant. Repeating courses may help you get into non-engineering programs at the University of Waterloo. Repeating courses may also help you get offers of admission to other institutions for both engineering and non-engineering programs. However, repeating courses is not recommended for students applying to Waterloo Engineering. For each repeated course, a penalty of 5% is applied to your average.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Mr. Bishop,

    I had scheduling issues where I could not fit all my desired courses into one school year. Therefore, I had to complete English outside of my regular day school. I needed to take other courses to be eligible for my Business SHSM certificate upon graduation and so I can explore other post-secondary opportunities. However, I completed the course with a full course load in regular day school. In fact, I didn’t take English in Summer School because I thought if I had 5 courses in one semester I can better prepare myself for University.

    Will I be penalized for having to take a required course in private school due to scheduling issues?



    1. In general, we penalize students for taking required courses outside of regular day school. This penalty can be reduced if a suitable explanation is provided on your Admission Information Form.


  4. Hey Sir,
    I put Civil engineering as my alternative program for engineering. Are students supposed to talk about this on the AIF, or is the AIF given a score based on your initial engineering program choice?


    1. We fully understand that your AIF should focus on your first choice program. We can read between the lines of your AIF to determine if you are suitable for your second choice program. Hopefully, this won’t be necessary in your case. Our goal, as always, is to try to put as many applicants as possible in their first choice program.


  5. Hello Mr. Bishop,

    I have received the admission offer in mid-March in the electrical engineering program as I had the only program choices on AIF. I had the grade about 95% until Mar’ 2019. I was much more interested in software engineering but didn’t apply as I felt 95% is not enough to receive an offer for software engineering. Now I made a little improvement on my grade to 96.6%, would like to reject the electrical engineering offer and compete for software engineering and like to keep Electrical engineering as a backup program.

    My question is to you is it possible to make the change? and if yes then is there any risk not to receive an offer from either program?


    1. An applicant may not ask to be considered for another program without giving up their current offer. In other words, you cannot elect to compete for an offer to SE without giving up your offer to EE. Applicants run the risk of not receiving an offer if they elect to give up an early offer to compete for a space in another program.

      The SE applicant pool is arguably the most competitive applicant pool. If your AIF was tailored for the EE program, the odds of being selected for SE would be slim, even with your higher grades. The AIF continues to play a very significant role in the selection of students for the SE program. High grades are necessary, but not sufficient for being accepted into SE. Having reviewed many SE applicants for admission, the applicants being given offers of admission often have programming experience beyond just taking CS courses in high school. Some have started companies, some have won national and international competitions, and some have interned at companies such as Microsoft.

      This being said, you should never apply for a program unless you have a strong interest in it. If you are much more interested in software engineering, it is probably in your best interest to contact our admission team to ask to be considered for software engineering. You can start the process by contacting


  6. Hey sir,
    Do you know how many students who put civil engineering as their alternate program are accepted. Also, has there been an increase or decrease in competition for this program. I put it as my alternate, and with my 91.2% average i dont think ill be getting into Electrical engineering, I hope you could help me out with this.


    1. I do know the number of applicants who put Civil Engineering as their alternate choice. I will not disclose the number as it is not very useful. The number of applicants selecting a program as an alternate choice does not have any significant effect upon whether an applicant will be deflected to the program. You would also need to know the averages of those in the deflection pool as well as their adjustment factors, AIF scores, and interview scores to make any educated guess on your success rate. I will say that the 91.2% average is quite reasonable for admission to Electrical Engineering or Civil Engineering.


    1. We only round our data at the limits of our representations. For average calculations, the average is stored as a double-precision floating point number. Using this representation, rounding has a negligible effect upon the success of an applicant.


  7. Hello Mr. Bishop,

    Thank you so much for creating this blog! The information provided is very helpful!

    The deadline to accept my offers of other universities is before May 1st, but most of the admission decisions from the UWaterloo will be released in May. If I accept an offer from another university in OUAC, is it going to negatively impact my admission at the UWaterloo?

    Thank you for your help!


    1. We have no way of knowing that an applicant has already accepted an offer to another university. Admissions decisions are based on information that we have available through OUAC and the application process.


  8. Hello Mr. Bishop

    I am currently a grade 12 student in an Ontario HS, and I applied to software eng at Waterloo (my second choice being computer eng). I am currently taking grade 12 English and I am aware of the fact that you would then use the midterm mark for the second-semester classes to determine who you send offers to. My grade 12 English midterm mark is significantly higher than that of my final grade 11 English mark (an increase of 12 percent).

    Even though I am taking grade 12 English in day school, will I get penalized for the massive increase in my English mark? Will I also get penalized by the fact that this is only the midterm mark and not the final one? (As in my grade 11 English mark will carry more weight)


    1. We use Grade 12 marks if they exist. Depending upon the exact scenario, we may discount the Grade 12 mark slightly if there is a reason for doing so. For example, we have some students who took Grade 11 English in regular school and Grade 12 English in summer school. If there is a large discrepancy in the grades, a summer school adjustment is applied in this case.


  9. Hello Mr. Bishop,
    I am an 105 D applicant applying for mechanical engineering with 96 average. I am still waiting for a response from Waterloo. Does Waterloo send out most of their offers in May? My second question is that will the university consider for my second choice even if I get in for my first choice?


    1. We send out approximately 70% of our offers in May. Only about 30% of our offers are given out in early rounds. We wait for 2nd semester midterm grades before making our final decisions.

      We only consider students for their second choice program if they are unsuccessful in obtaining their first choice. We only give out one offer at a time. You will not have multiple engineering offers from Waterloo Engineering to consider.


  10. Hello Mr. Bishop,
    What is the early acceptance process for non semestered students? Also, would students get penalized for taking a non required course online (Data Management in my case) if our school doesn’t offer it for IB students?


    1. We automatically consider all applicants that meet our minimum requirements (completed Admission Information Form, required courses completed or in progress, proof of English language proficiency, etc.) for early admission. Students in programs that do not use the semester system are not at a disadvantage. In most cases, we will have midterm grades for courses being taken and this will allow us to make an informed assessment.

      With respect to taking non-required courses online or through a non-traditional study, this is generally acceptable. We discourage students from taking required courses outside of normal day school.


  11. Hi Mr. Bishop,
    I am planning to apply for the Architectural Engineering Program for Fall 2020. I will be finishing an architecture and building technology diploma at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Spring of 2020. I was wondering if both my grades for high school and post-secondary are considered? Also, does work experience within the field of study help my application? Lastly, I did not meet the Calculus requirement in high school, would it be the correct decision to take the course online or at a post-secondary institution? Thanks for the post.


    1. If you have completed a post-secondary program, we use your post-secondary grades to determine your admission average. Your secondary school grades would likely not be current enough to count towards admission. The good news is that the adjustment factor for a student from a post-secondary school is lower than the adjustment factor from a secondary school program so an average of 85% in post-secondary school is roughly equivalent to an average of 95% in high school.

      Relevant work experience is always helpful. The diploma program you have taken would also likely be good preparation for our Architectural Engineering program. When applying, I recommend that you spend quite a bit of time on your Admission Information Form discussing your relevant skills and activities as well as discussing your motivation for pursuing the degree program. The Admission Information Form is read very carefully for students applying from other post-secondary institutions.

      If you have not taken Calculus in university, you will need to complete a Calculus course. The most convenient path might be taking an online MCV4U course from a school accredited in Ontario. The preferred path would likely be to complete a first year Calculus course at BCIT or any other post-secondary institution near you. This would allow us to use a single adjustment factor for all of your courses.

      Based on what you have indicated in your post, I suspect Architectural Engineering would be a good fit for you. I would say there is a good likelihood that you would be accepted if your grades meet our requirements since you likely have some relevant experience in the proposed field of study.


  12. Hi Mr. Bishop,
    I am a student who immigrated to Canada for just three years, which means English was an extremely hard course that I encountered in grade12 as I studied in Alberta. I had a 66 on that class, but my other requested courses were 90 and above. I am planning to apply for civil engineering in Spring 2020. I will attend the University of Alberta for my fall/winter term for fall 2019. Is it recommended to retake English in the institution, or should I repeat the high school courses online? Also, I heard that the University of Waterloo does not do winter term for transfer students anymore, is it true?


    1. We have a requirement that all required course grades must be above 70% so you will definitely need to take another English course to be eligible to transfer. Our preference would likely be an English course taken at the University of Alberta since you are planning to attend a program there in Fall 2019. Waterloo Engineering only offers the first term (1A) in the Fall so we do not allow transfers in the Winter or Spring terms. All transfers are currently into the 1A term for reasons related to our co-op program and our discipline-specific programs.

      We do have an average requirement as well. You should maintain an 85% average to be eligible to transfer into Waterloo Engineering. If you maintain this average at the University of Alberta, your odds of being able to transfer into Waterloo Engineering for Civil Engineering will be very good.


  13. Hello Mr. Bishop,
    I am a Grade 11 student currently attending North Park Secondary School in Ontario. Due to the recent cuts to education in Ontario, I may not be able to take Grade 12 Calculus and Vectors at my high school during the day because of class limits being reached for each section. A total of 30 people are on the waiting list as of now for that course including me. My counselors believe that there is a possibility of the course being available as the 2019-20 year progresses due to a history of numerous students dropping the course. Although, there is no guarantee that I will attain the course as the year progresses. Due to that reason, my guidance counselors have advised me to take the course in Night School or E-Learning. My primary concern is whether I will be penalized for taking the course in night school or e-learning. I may have to take the course in night school or e-learning due to no other alternative. I have inquired in other high schools nearby and all of them have a waiting list for at least one of the 6 mandatory courses. My hope is that I am not penalized for taking night school or put at a disadvantage over other applicants since I have no control over the cuts to education. Also, I would also like to know which alternative would be preferred by the Admission Committee, night school or e-learning. I really hope I am not penalized if I have to take the course in night school or e-learning. Alongside, my parents have taken this matter to our MPP and also discussed it with the Superintendent of Education as well as one of the Peel Board Trustees. They are currently investigating the issue as of now.


    1. We prefer applicants take required courses during regular day school, if the possibility exists. Applicants who are unable to take required courses during regular day school will be required to explain their special circumstances on their Admission Information Form when they apply to Waterloo Engineering. We will look at each situation and make an assessment of whether an adjustment is necessary to the grade in the required course.

      Adjustments are most typically applied when we see a significant improvement in a course grade. For example, if a student takes SPH3U during regular day school and receives a grade of 85% but then takes SPH4U via e-learning and receives a grade of 98%, an adjustment would typically be applied unless there is other evidence that suggests an adjustment is not necessary. Such evidence would normally take the form of a detailed explanation provided on the Admission Information Form.

      We do anticipate a sharp increase in the number of applicants that will take one or more required courses outside of regular day school. We recognize that some school boards face very difficult choices in the upcoming school year. The Province of Ontario has a huge debt (the amount of money owing to creditors currently estimated in excess of $347.6 billion) and a huge deficit (the amount of overspending per year currently estimated at $11.7 billion). The provincial government has been forced to make some difficult cuts. Some high schools simply cannot afford to offer courses such as Calculus and Vectors, Physics, or Chemistry due to a lack of demand or a lack of resources.

      I agree with the recommendation of your guidance counselors. Without the required courses, you will not be considered if you apply to Waterloo Engineering. If you have taken the courses via night school or e-learning, you will be considered if you apply to Waterloo Engineering. If you choose to apply to Waterloo Engineering, you will simply need to explain the situation clearly on the Admission Information Form. Last year, many applicants were accepted to Waterloo Engineering despite having taken courses outside of regular day school. These applicants did a great job of explaining their special circumstances.


  14. Hi Mr.Bishop,

    I am planning to apply for civl engineering at Waterloo and will choose geological engineering as my second choice in 2020. I am planning on taking English in private school this August but what exactly is the penalty? In grade 11 english i got a 56 mainly because i wasn’t “trying” to improve. But what if I have obtained a mark of let’s say 85 in private school? What will the penalty be? And how much reduction will there be in the penalty if I disclosed the information on Private school courses vs. day school courses on the AIF? Is it also possible to get accepted to civil or geological engineering with an 88-89 overall average? And since you use the 10% range penalty will my grade 12 english mark be a 66 since in grade 11 i got a 56. But then 66 doesn’t meet the minimum average of the course needed to me admitted in the program.

    Thank You,


    1. It is difficult to predict an exact number for grade adjustments. When they are applied, the amount of the adjustment depends upon a number of factors including previous year grades and the quality of explanation provided in the special considerations section of the Admission Information Form. Your application would not be filtered out for an adjusted grade. While we do filter out applicants with grades below certain thresholds in required courses, we do not apply adjustments to individual courses. Adjustments are applied to the overall average. In other words, if you received a grade of 80% in English in Grade 12, while we may choose to apply an adjustment to your average, your grade in English would still be deemed sufficient to meet our entrance requirements.

      Based on this year’s data, an overall average in the high 80s should be very competitive for Civil Engineering and Geological Engineering. I would strongly encourage you to consider Geological Engineering as a first choice program if you are debating between Civil Engineering and Geological Engineering. The odds of getting a scholarship for Geological Engineering are slightly better since the program has a fair number of program-specific entrance scholarships. We are also looking to increase our intake into Geological Engineering to meet renewed demand for Geological Engineers in Canada.


  15. Hi Mr. Bishop,
    I am a student in the United States (dual citizen) and would like some clarification on how the admission system works for people like me. Are the only classes that are calculated into the admission average the ones that we take in our senior year (midterms/semester grades)? If not, will one be at a disadvantage if they do not perform as well in their previous years but in each consecutive year there is a upward trend? For example, someone got a “not so good grade” the year before but the next year in a course that is above it (say Precalculus to AP Calculus) they got an good grade (an average that Waterloo is looking for), would Waterloo look at only the twelfth/highest level class or would it be negative impact on ones admissions?


    1. We try to use senior grades (midterm grades or final grades) for all of our admission average calculations. If we do not have a midterm grade or a final grade for a particular subject, we predict a grade for you based on your previous year grades. We do not look at grades taken in your first two years of high school.

      There are three other things that you should know about the admission process. The first is that you will be considered a domestic applicant. With your dual citizenship, you will compete against other Canadian students for spaces available for domestic students. This means that you will compete for a much larger number of available spaces making acceptance slightly more likely. The second is that your citizenship means that you will pay domestic student tuition fees which are much more affordable than international student tuition fees. The third is that you should be able to use 529 plans from the U.S. to pay your tuition at the University of Waterloo.


  16. Hello, Mr.Bishop

    Thank You for all the helpful information but i just had a question about retaking courses. I just finished grade 10 and i decided to take Grade 11 English and get it over with, I had a family emergency and got sick but decided to not drop the course and got a 64. I plan on retaking the course in the regular school year. will I be penalized for this? (I had a 94 average in grade 10)


    1. Repeating a Grade 11 course is unlikely to have any effect on the consideration of your application to universities and colleges in Canada. Most Canadian universities and colleges focus on Grade 12 courses when assessing applicants. This would not be the case if you plan on applying to U.S. universities or colleges. In the U.S., schools often look at all high school courses when making their assessments. However, strong SAT scores can sometimes convince a U.S. school to overlook poor performance in one or more courses.

      Also, if you have a reason for retaking a course (e.g., family emergency, illness, etc.), you can indicate the reason on your Admission Information Form (AIF) in the section on special conditions for our consideration. Grade adjustments are only applied when appropriate and justified.


  17. Hi Mr. Bishop,

    I keep having this perception that software engineering or biomedical engineering are are like the best programs. But why? Why is the program really competitive? Why don’t I hear more of let’s say the Civil engineering and Geological engineering programs. Also environmental engineering. I always had this question in mind. I know this is a very wrong perception and I need some clarity that will help change it. Thank you! Also, this year do you think a flat 90 average is enough to be admitted to the Civil Engineering program along around 1 or 2 extracurriculars? How’s the coop program for Civil Engineering? Is it guaranteed to get a coop job related to the program because i have heard it’s mostly not related jobs or something. And from previous posts I have heard you said Geological engineering is increasing intake for applicants because of a renewed demand for engineers in Canada. Does this mean that the program will soon be competitive. Is this how it works? The more demand means more competitive? I just need deep clarification. Thank you so much!


    1. It is a very competitive process to gain admission to Software Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. These programs have a high ratio of applicants to available spaces. Graduates of these programs are also currently in high demand. I do not expect this to change in the near term.

      However, I believe all of our engineering programs offer students great opportunities. Our Environmental Engineering and Geological Engineering programs are not as well known but they are excellent programs with very good career prospects. These programs, like all Waterloo Engineering programs, are co-op programs. Students graduate with advanced knowledge and experience that makes them immediately employable.

      Sometimes, I think we miss out on some very good students because everyone assumes you need a high school average in the mid-90s to get into Waterloo Engineering. This is certainly not the case for many of our programs. A 90% average with some extra-curricular activity is often sufficient to be offered admission to Architectural Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Geological Engineering, Management Engineering, and Nanotechnology Engineering.

      With respect to the Geological Engineering program, we anticipate great demand for graduates of this program in the next 5 years to 10 years. There are many reasons for demand increasing. As the Earth’s climate appears to be changing, there is a need to redesign buildings and infrastructure to withstand greater environmental forces. As interest renews in exploring our solar system, there is a need for geological engineers to analyze rock formations on other planets. As the Earth’s population grows, there is a need to find and extract more natural resources without harming the environment. For these reasons and more, Geological Engineering is likely to be an attractive program over the coming decades. Thus, we hope to increase intake into the program to meet industry demand. From an applicant perspective, this actually makes it slightly more likely for applicants to Geological Engineering to receive an offer of admission.

      If you would like to learn more about all of our programs, Waterloo Engineering will be at the Ontario Universities Fair on Friday, September 27th to Sunday, September 29th. Waterloo Engineering will also be visiting a few university fairs in the U.S. this year including NACAC Fairs in Santa Clara, New York City, Lawrenceville, and Seattle.


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