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 for 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.

192 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.


  18. Hi Mr. Bishop
    I read on your other post on “Competitiveness” and it says 50% of receiving an offer for an admission average from 85% to 89% for Civil engineering or Geological engineering. But in the previous post where you replied to me you said high 80s should be very competitive for Civil engineering. I’m applying this year so has the competitiveness changed or something? Most likely I will be getting an average around high 80s with 1 or 2 extracurriculars. You can give me any advice that can help improve my chances as it is greatly appreciated. Thank you!


    1. We group engineering programs when calculating probabilities of admission based on grade ranges. Some programs in a group will be above the average and some will be below. Also, an admission average of 85% will likely have a lower probability of admission than a grade of 89%.

      A high 80’s average applying to Civil Engineering will likely have a greater than 50% chance of being offered admission. If you are more likely to be accepted than rejected, your application is very competitive.


  19. Hi Mr. Bishop,

    Before entering grade 11, I took Chemistry 11 and Pre-calculus 12 in summer school to prepare for the IB program. Would this negatively effect my application?

    Thank you for your time!


    1. To complete our required courses and programs such as IB, applicants often need to do some creative scheduling. We take scheduling issues into account. We simply ask that you explain why courses were taken outside of normal day school when applying. You can do this by indicating the reason on your Admission Information Form (AIF). Obviously, if you have spare time as a result of taking courses early, we do expect to see that time used wisely. You might use this spare time for additional course work, extra-curricular activities, volunteer work, or employment.

      It is generally okay to take non-required courses outside of normal day school. We do not require an explanation for taking Grade 11 courses or non-required courses outside of normal day school. We simply want to avoid applicants using courses outside of normal day school to boost admission averages. Applicants that need to boost their admission averages to get into Waterloo Engineering are often unsuccessful in our programs.


  20. Hello Mr. Bishop,
    Thank you for writing such an informative blog! I am planning on applying to software engineering this year and I saw your response to one of the comments stating that, on average, successful SE applicants have at least two years worth of programming experience. I was wondering if anyone with less than a year of programming experience has been accepted into the program before? Does the admission team value side projects more than grades and computer science courses?


    1. We look at the applicant pool as a whole to determine how much programming experience students require for Software Engineering. If the applicant pool is very strong academically, programming experience plays a much more significant role in our decision process. We do like to see more advanced programming knowledge in an applicant. Our primary concern is that inexperienced programmers will feel overwhelmed by the jargon used by classmates and instructors.

      One introductory course on computer science or one simple side project will not typically be enough for a student to be selected given the expected quality of the applicant pool for Software Engineering. Last year, for example, we had applicants who had taken programming courses at the university level and applicants who had worked as interns at companies such as Microsoft.

      This being said, selection depends largely on how you complete your Admission Information Form and how you describe your programming experience. You can significantly improve your chances of selection by doing an excellent job of explaining your programming experience. Don’t be afraid to provide detail. Feel free to put in links to the work / projects that you have completed. As long as you have some programming experience, you have a chance at being selected for Software Engineering.


  21. Hello Mr Bishop,

    Can you please provide details on what programming languages are preferred, and does the admission team put girls on the same level as boys? Also, will the team consider if my English mark is 87-90 while the rest are about 95? Thank you so much!


    1. Without being too specific, we do not look for any particular language. However, we do look for meaningful projects. There are some languages that might not lend themselves well to meaningful projects. Any language that is commercially supported will typically lend itself well to meaningful projects. The most popular languages that we see listed on applications are Python, Java, C++, and C#.

      Although I have stated this many times, it is always worth repeating that Waterloo Engineering does not factor the gender of applicants into admission decisions. We use the same decision averages for all candidates regardless of gender. This is true for all engineering programs.

      With respect to having a lower grade in English, this is not uncommon. It is certainly much easier to obtain a perfect grade on a math test than it is to obtain a perfect grade on an essay. For that matter, English grades are often assigned using a letter grade system that has a maximum grade of either 95% or 98% while math grades are often calculated as percentages out of 100%.


  22. Hi Mr. Bishop

    thanks for all the above answers , it makes the process easier.
    I have a quick question.

    Will it be allowed to be considered for early admission round ,if i apply with 2 Maths 12-grade and 1 elective(of my choice) which is Computer engg. grade-12.

    i do not have grade-12, Physics, Chemistry & English. however, i do hv Grade-11 fir the 3 of them.

    pl. advice.


    1. We look at all applicants in the early admission round that have met the application requirements. We do not expect applicants to have all of their required courses completed at the time of application.


  23. Hello Mr. Bishop,
    I am currently attending an American system school in China. I am in my senior year of high school and planning to apply to the University of Waterloo for computer engineering. I am currently taking AP physics, AP Chemistry, and planning to take AP calculus in my second semester. I wanna know if waterloo can accept my AP calculus score even if I am taking in my second semester which is after the deadline for application. I also want to know if I am able to use my AP chemistry score instead of my regular chemistry score for the required courses because I have a higher score for my AP class. Taking the scores that I have right now, I have an average of about 96 and my SAT score is 1390, and I have taken AP exams for AP calculus, AP macro/micro economics, AP statistics, AP Chinese, which are all 5. Would you tell me the chances of getting accepted if possible?


    1. Yes, you can still apply and be fully considered. Once the application deadline passes, we still accept supporting documentation to verify grades and we regularly receive grade updates from schools. In your case, one of our Admissions Officers would contact you to request information on your missing calculus course. Knowing that you are enrolled in the course would be sufficient for admission consideration.


  24. Hello Mr. Bishop,
    I’m quite interested in your mechatronics and mechanical engineering programs but I’ve heard that mechatronics has a higher average than mechanical despite them being in the same group and having around the same number of available spaces. Is this because mechatronics receives more applicants or has applicants with higher averages? I’ve also read that first choice applicants will be prioritized for their program over those who listed it as an alternate. Is this also true for mechatronics and mechanical despite their similarity?
    Thank you!


    1. Applicants to the Mechatronics Engineering program tend to have slightly higher secondary school averages than applicants to the Mechanical Engineering program. There are many reasons why this might be true. The Mechatronics Engineering program at the University of Waterloo was one of the first programs that specialized in the discipline of Mechatronics, a combination of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering. The Mechatronics program is also a well established co-op program with co-op placements available worldwide. The program remains one of a handful of engineering programs in the Province of Ontario specializing in the discipline of Mechatronics. Also, the University of Waterloo’s reputation for excellence in computing probably is an attractive feature for students interested in pursuing Mechatronics. Finally, our Student Design Centre in Engineering 5 is one of the top student design facilities in the country. For these reasons and more, top applicants often choose Mechatronics Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

      Mechatronics Engineering has fewer applicants per available space than Mechanical Engineering. The quality of the applicant pool is just slightly stronger for the Mechatronics Engineering program. This being said, both programs are excellent programs that will teach students the fundamental principles of mechanical engineering design. Mechatronics offers a bit more breadth given its coverage of Electrical Engineering but less depth in Mechanical Engineering.

      When evaluating applicants, we evaluate all applicants for their preferred program. If they are not given an offer of admission to their preferred program, they are potentially considered for their alternate program. Our goal is to maximize the number of applicants receiving an offer of admission to their preferred program. We try to avoid filling a program with students who really wanted another program. Having unhappy students is not good for our students’ mental wellness or the long term success of our programs.


  25. Hi Mr. Bishop,
    I had a few questions regarding the ‘systems design engineering’ stream. Firstly, what tends to be the general ratio of applications to acceptances for this program? Also, is this program really much less competitive than the SE stream? Lastly, for alternate choices, would you advise someone to place a less competitive program for their alternate for a better chance of acceptance?


    1. We do not disclose the number of offers that we make for a particular program, partially due to the fact that the number of offers given out depends upon our mathematical models of acceptance rates. We do give out more offers than available spaces. We have a system in place that predicts how likely an applicant is to accept our offer. We have a large table of show rates that attempts to model applicant acceptance rates for different categories of applicants.

      For domestic spaces, the SYDE (Systems Design Engineering) program is very competitive but still not nearly as competitive as the SE (Software Engineering) program. For international spaces, the SYDE program is much less competitive. Last year, the SYDE program missed its international target. At first glance, the international applicant pool for SYDE appears slightly stronger this year so I am optimistic that the SYDE program may meet its international target.

      One thing to keep in mind is that alternate offers to the SYDE program are highly unlikely. If you apply to SE as your first choice and SYDE as your second choice, the most likely outcomes are either an admission offer to SE or no admission offer to either program. SYDE likes to see SYDE specific content on the AIF. If you tailor your AIF for SE, a SYDE admission offer is highly unlikely.

      In other words, if you really want SYDE, apply to SYDE as your first choice. If you really want SE, apply to SE as your first choice. I would not list either SE or SYDE as an alternate choice as both programs are quite competitive. If I did list SE or SYDE as an alternate choice, I would not anticipate an admission offer to my alternate choice program.


      1. Thank you for the detailed response. Sorry but I should have been more clear about why I was asking that question. I only asked about the competitiveness of SE compared to SYDE, because I’ve heard that SYDE is becoming more competitive than ECE (which it’s grouped within the admissions chances chart). I’m actually applying to SYDE as my first choice, and management engineering as my alternate. My AIF still seems tailored to both programs, so would an admissions officer notice this and prioritize me in getting an alternate offer to management, rather than if my AIF was just tailored to SYDE? I’ve heard that alternate offers are very rare and only given in the case that there is no space in the applicant’s first choice program. I’d like to get your confirmation on this myth, if possible. Thank you again for your time.


      2. The Systems Design Engineering (SYDE) program does have a competitive selection process as there are more qualified applicants than available spaces. If you are not given an offer of admission to SYDE, you would likely be considered for the Management Engineering program. Last year, we deflected a handful of qualified applicants from SYDE to other programs. The deflection from SYDE to Managment Engineering was one of the more common deflections. Deflections happen when one program is over-subscribed with quality applicants and another program is under-subscribed with quality applicants. It is difficult to predict when deflections are likely prior to knowing the complete applicant pool.

        It is not a myth that you will be considered for your first choice program first and only be considered for your second choice program if you do not receive an offer to your first choice program. We do not consider applicants for both their first choice and second choice programs equally.

        There are significant differences between the SYDE program and the Management Engineering program. Make sure you are applying for the program that fits you best. Take a look at the courses you will study. Review the websites of each program. Try to figure out which program is best for you. Tailor your AIF for the program you want.


  26. Hi Mr. Bishop,
    Thank you for putting this together, it has been very helpful.
    I am feeling unsure about applying to Waterloo’s Computer Engineering program as it is quite competitive. I am also interested in Civil, but not as much compared to Comp Eng. I predict my average will end as a 92. I have no programming experience other than Vex robotics but I’m not sure if it’s worth mentioning as it was basic C or a drag-and-drop program. Will having no programming experience affect my AIF score a lot?
    Also, if I apply to comp eng and choose civil as my alternate program, how much of a lower chance do I have in civil? Would I have a much higher chance if I put civil first?
    And finally, is there any way I could find out my school’s adjustment factor and how it may affect my average or is it very discreet?
    Thank you so much for your time.


    1. Programming using C or drag-and-drop development kits still counts as programming experience. I would certainly mention this experience on an application. An application to Computer Engineering without some mention of any programming experience would be unlikely to receive an offer of admission given the competitiveness of the program.

      An average of 92% may be competitive for Computer Engineering, depending upon a number of additional factors. Last year, a 92% average had about a 60% chance of being offered admission to Computer Engineering. I would anticipate similar statistics this year.

      For Civil Engineering, a 92% average would be highly likely to receive an offer of admission. Last year, a 92% average had about a 90% chance of being offered admission to Civil Engineering. I would anticipate similar statistics this year. Keep in mind that the statistics I reported on my blog include applicants who are ineligible for admission due to failing an integrity check or due to failing to complete their application fully. This is part of the reason why the probability of acceptance never fully reaches 100% for any program.

      You will need to decide which program you prefer. We would not normally deflect a student from Computer Engineering to Civil Engineering. Computer Engineering and Civil Engineering are radically different programs. The types of work that you will do are considerably different in these programs. I often refer to Computer Engineering as an inside program as much of the engineering work is done on a computer in a lab and I refer to Civil Engineering as an outside program as some of the engineering work is done onsite at a location. Of course, work can vary significantly from one company to another.

      You could make your case more compelling for Computer Engineering by taking an online programming course or by enrolling in a summer school course on computer programming. While you would not necessarily be able to demonstrate proficiency by the application deadline, you could at least show that you are taking the initiative to learn more about programming. I would also describe your Vex robotics work in detail on the AIF so that you can at least demonstrate some of the skills you have already learned.

      We do not disclose adjustment factors to students. In addition, the adjustment factors to be used in the next admission cycle cannot be computed yet. I am still waiting on grade data to finalize. By the time I have the grade data, it would be too late for applicants to update their applications for this cycle. Also, adjustment factors play only a very small role in the overall admission process.


  27. Hi, I’m currently a grade 12 student studying in Manitoba. My top 5 average is high, physics being particulary low at only 79. However my other grades are 98, 99, 96 and 100 making my average around 94%. I was wondering if a failing mark not in my top 5 such as biology would be considered for admission average. I already have enough credits to graduate. Will this course affect my admission average. Thank you!


    1. A failing course grade in a non-required course could affect admission decisions for highly competitive programs. Certainly, if you were applying to a program such as Biomedical Engineering, a failing grade in biology would be a significant concern. For less competitive programs that are further away from biology, the failing grade might not be a significant concern.

      Since the grade is in a course that is not required, it would not affect your admission average. However, your application would be flagged for a low mark in a non-required course. Whether this matters really depends upon the quality of the applicant pool for the program you have selected. For programs such as Biomedical Engineering and Software Engineering it would be a significant concern. For other programs, the flag might be ignored completely.


      1. Hi, I might pass biology but it would be really low mostly around 55. Should I retake the course to achieve higher mark or just leave it as it is. Also my school does not offer any calculus course, just pre calculus. I’m currently taking it online. Would that affect my admission or not. Thank you!


      2. Retaking a course has no effect on our admissions process. It is not possible to retake a course to clear a low mark flag. The low mark will still exist on your transcript.

        If your school requires you to take Calculus online, simply indicate this on your AIF. When there exists a good reason for taking a course online, penalties are not assessed.


    1. As I indicated in my previous post, the effect of the low mark flag depends upon the quality of the applicant pool and the perceived relevance of the course to the applied program. For some programs, it will have no effect on the selection of an applicant. For other programs, it may prevent the selection of an applicant.


  28. Hi Mr. Bishop,
    I am a Grade 12 student from the Atlantic Provinces applying for Chem. Eng. in Sept, 2020. I have ENG621A, MAT621B, and CHM621A marks this semester. My average for these three should be about 94 (conservatively). I will not take PHY621A or MAT611B until next semester. How will my average for admission be determined? I took PHY521A and MAT521B in Grade 11, but my marks were lower (average of 88) because of personal circumstances, including a death in my family. I would expect my PHY621A and MAT611B marks to average around 94-95, but won’t have those marks available early. I have lots of extra curriculars and some awards. What are my chances of getting an early offer at Waterloo? Any offer from Waterloo? The stats I read give the impression that anything under a 95 average is a gamble. i am also worried about the adjustment factor and how that might affect my average. I have heard the adjustment factor for Eastern Canada is very high. Thanks for your help with this information.


    1. Your grade 11 marks will only matter for early admission assessment. Once you know your midterm grades for PHY621A and MAT611B, send them to one of our Admission Officers and we will update your record accordingly. Of course, this step will only be needed if you do not receive an early offer of admission.

      You should briefly comment on the circumstances that affected your performance in your courses on your Admission Information Form. Depending upon the circumstances, we may apply an adjustment to your admission average.

      Your extracurricular activities and awards significantly improve your chances of receiving an offer of admission. For Chemical Engineering, I would be surprised if you did not receive an early offer of admission based on what you have described. The majority of the domestic applicants with a 90+ average that were not given admission to Chemical Engineering last year had not completed their Admission Information Form. As a result, they were ineligible for admission.

      Domestic applicants with a 90+ average that complete the Admission Information Form and the optional interview will have a very high chance of receiving an offer of admission to Architectural Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Geological Engineering, Management Engineering, or Nanotechnology Engineering.

      With respect to adjustment factors, I will point out that we calculate adjustment factors for each province in Canada. Some are slightly higher than the adjustment factor for the Province of Ontario while others are slightly lower. The Atlantic Provinces are not pooled together. The adjustment factor is simply a tool that we use to help ensure student success in our programs. It compensates for observed differences in student performance from one school or region to another. We have done many internal studies of the effectiveness of the adjustment factors that we use. Our studies show that they help us lower failure rates in first year studies which I think all students and parents can appreciate.


  29. Hello Mr Bishop,

    Thank you for your useful posts. I am a grade 12 student studying in Singapore interested in Waterloo’s mechatronics (visa applicant). I would like to know whether SAT and SAT subject exams are in anyways helpful for my admission.

    Also, I have participated in many math competitions and programming competitions, but only received 2 rewards. I have also volunteered in teaching elementary students how to code and helped in hospitals. I have also joined a research program and may publish a paper (collaborate with other scientists) in 2020 Asia-Pacific microwave conference about antennas. Does these extra-curricular activities help? If they are useful, have I done enough to be competitive among other visa applicants?

    I have chosen computing as a subject in my Grade 11 and Grade 12 (for A-levels). Does this prepare me for mechatronics?

    Thank you for your attention and have a nice day sir.


    1. Also if this may help — I have a score of above 95% percentile in my cohort. I would be glad if this condition helps. Thank you!


      1. Without knowing the size of your cohort or the quality of your cohort, it is difficult to assess whether a 95th percentile is good or outstanding. Any information you can provide to indicate the size and the quality of your cohort would be useful.


    2. We do look at SAT scores when they are provided by applicants. The scores sometimes provide us with additional insight into an applicant’s abilities.

      All of the extracurricular activities you have listed are helpful. Your extracurricular activities would be quite good when compared against other visa applicants, provided that the activities occurred within the last 2 years.

      Any foundation in computing prepares applicants for our Mechatronics program. Electronics experience or robotics experience is also desirable but any of the three areas (computing, electronics, or robotics) will prepare you reasonably well for the program.


  30. Hello Mr.Bishop,

    Your post has been extremely useful so i would like to thank you for that. I’m an international student studying in India in the CBSE curriculum Regarding transcripts, will it be sufficient if I upload my Grade X board exams and my Grade 12 Predicted scores? Thank you in advance. Much appreciated.


      1. Hi Mr. Bishop,
        I meant to ask if uploading only grade 10 and grade 12 scores be sufficient, as I won’t be receiving my grade 11 shool transcripts until much after the deadline. Hence will not be able to upload those. So can my AIF be judged based on grade 10 and grade 12 scores only. Thank your for your patience.


      2. This is a question best answered by one of our Admission Officers. Are there some extenuating circumstances that are causing your Grade 11 transcripts to be difficult to produce? If so, please explain the issue to the Admission Officer assigned to handling your application. We might be able to proceed with a conditional offer based on your Grade 11 grades without uploaded transcripts. Of course, the offer conditions would require presentation of the Grade 11 transcript prior to providing you with an opportunity to enroll in courses.


  31. Hey Mr.Bishop,

    If I took physics in private school and already completed it with an exceptional mark, and I decide to take the physics again in my regular day school and get a lower mark, then would there be some sort of penalty in the “repeated courses” category even though my first attempted mark was higher (in private school). I know there may be a private school penalty but would there also be a repeated course penalty.

    Thanks in advance


    1. We would typically use the lower grade. We might assign a repeat course penalty if we felt that the first course led to a higher grade (than you normally would have received) in the 2nd course.


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