Early Admission Offers

This Fall, we have received quite a few inquiries regarding early admission.  We attempted to answer many of these questions at the Fall Break Open House (shown below) but for those who missed the event, I will try to answer a few of the most common questions on early admission that I have received.



Does Waterloo Engineering do an early round of admission offers?

Yes.  Our plan is to select a small number of applicants to fill a small percentage of the available spaces in each program prior to our main round of admission in May.  The early round of admission is expected to happen sometime in the middle of March.  We wait for first semester grades to arrive prior to making any early admission offer decisions.  We do not expect to receive first semester grades until the first week in March.  This is why we cannot make informed decisions earlier in the admission process.

Why does Waterloo Engineering only accept a small number of applicants in the first round of admission offers?

We have a duty to applicants, their families, members of the university community, and the government to ensure to the best of our abilities that we only accept applicants who are likely to be highly successful in our programs.  Grades in high school courses are an important part of our assessment process.  At the end of the first semester, some students have completed most, if not all, of the required courses for admission to our program.  These students are considered for early admission.  Students taking several required courses for admission in their 2nd semester will not typically be considered for early admission, regardless of how exceptional their grades may have been in previous years.

Does completing my application early improve my chances of being given early admission to my program of choice?

Certainly, you will not receive an offer if your application is incomplete.  However, the exact date that you complete your application is not a factor in our decisions.  As long as your application is complete prior to our early round assessments, you will automatically be considered for early admission.  For engineering, the deadline for completing applications is February 1, 2019.

Is there any advantage to being selected early?

There is no advantage to being selected early.  While it might be comforting to know that you have an offer, being selected early does not factor into scholarship decisions, residence decisions, or program decisions.  We do not allow students with early offers to ask to be considered for another program while holding on to their early admission offer.  For example, a student accepted into Computer Engineering early could not ask to be considered for Software Engineering without giving up the offer for Computer Engineering.  You may not use an early admission offer as a “safety net”.

Is there any disadvantage to being selected early?

There is no disadvantage to being selected early.  Some students worry that they might miss out on a scholarship awarded in the main round of admission.  This is not the case.  We consider all accepted students when awarding entrance scholarships.  Receiving an early offer of admission does not increase or decrease your chances of being awarded an entrance scholarship.

How can I ensure that I will get an early admission offer?

If you are applying this year, there is no way to guarantee receiving an early offer of admission.  Do well in your courses, ensure your application is well written, and make sure you application is complete by the application deadline.  If you are in Grade 11 or earlier, you might be able to take a few of the required courses early.  Doing so might allow you to complete the rest of your required courses in the first semester of your final year of high school.

If I already have an offer from another university with an early acceptance deadline, what can I do?

If you find yourself in a situation where you would prefer to attend Waterloo Engineering but another university (or college) is asking for a firm commitment prior to May, let our Engineering Admissions Office know.  You can do so by e-mailing enginfo@uwaterloo.ca.  While we cannot guarantee that we will consider your application early, it may be possible in certain cases.  If you ask for early consideration of your application, you will be required to provide proof of your acceptance to another university (or college).

Some final thoughts…

Remember, there is no advantage to being selected early.  An applicant receiving an early offer is not necessarily more qualified than an applicant receiving an offer in the main admission round.  As an applicant, your goal should be to gain acceptance into your first choice program.  Hopefully, you will receive a letter of acceptance during one of our two rounds of admission.

20 thoughts on “Early Admission Offers”

    1. This question is more challenging to answer than it might seem which is why it took me so long to formulate a response.

      Applicants might have two interpretations of early admission. The first interpretation would be that applicants receive early notification of an offer of admission. The second interpretation would be that applicants are admitted early and start classes early. At the University of Waterloo, only the first interpretation applies to our applicants.

      Waterloo Engineering does have an early round of admission. All applicants who have completed their applications by the February 1st deadline are generally considered for the early round of admission. Very few early offers are actually sent out because many students will still have required courses to complete.

      Waterloo Engineering does not admit students to the first term of an undergraduate engineering program in terms other than the Fall. We do not allow undergraduate students to start taking courses in the Spring or the Winter. From a practical standpoint, doing so is impossible since we do not offer the first term courses in the Spring or the Winter. We only offer 1A (first term) core courses in the Fall.

      Waterloo Engineering also will attempt complete assessment of an application early for any student with a competing offer that has a deadline for acceptance prior to our normal date for admitting students. International students (and some Canadian students) may be in such a situation, particularly if they have applied to U.S. universities and colleges. We will only accelerate consideration for applicants with proof of an offer to an institution with an early deadline. The process of accelerating complete assessment comes with risks. If an applicant does not yet have enough grades to make an informed assessment, we will reject the applicant early. In some cases, these applicants might have been accepted after the next set of grades were received. We make applicants aware of the risks when they ask for early consideration.


      1. Dear Professor Bishop,
        I was referring to the first type of decision as I am also applying to the US. Is it possible for the following scenario: I get accepted to a US institution and have to reply by May 1st but Waterloo is my first choice. Instead of an accept or deny before May 1st, I ask for either an accept or defer to a later date (when Euclid scores can be seen by the faculty). If I am deferred, I put a deposit on the US school but if Waterloo accepts me, I attend Waterloo instead and lose my deposit at the US university.

        Am I allowed to ask for the accept/defer decision rather than an accept/deny decision (if I get into an US school)?


      2. You should definitely only accept one offer. Let’s hope that you get an early offer so that you are not in the situation you describe. We might be able to provide some better guidance later in the admissions process when we know the number of applicants and the number of available spaces. We are just in the process of setting our targets for each program.


  1. Dear Professor Bishop,
    Once the targets are set for each program, will you be able to publish it or is it confidential?


  2. Dear Professor Bishop,
    If I do not get an early offer, could I submit my second-semester grades (it is given out in March), and those grades will be used for the main admission round?


      1. We consider whatever grades we have available to us at the time of consideration. Unofficial transcripts and grades can be submitted to our system for consideration. When we use unofficial grades, we require proof of the grades at a later date to verify them. If the grades do not match, an offer may be withdrawn.


      2. Hi Professor Bishop,
        Do you know when the “time of consideration” is for international students? Do you think that my updated grades (which will be sent by early April) will reach the waterloo admission team before you make a decision on my application?


  3. Hi Professor Bishop,
    Does Waterloo give out early admissions for the alternate engineering choice as well, or do they only consider the first choice for the early round of offers?
    Thank you in advance!


    1. We only consider students for their first choice programs during our round of early admission offers. It is important to keep in mind that once we make an offer of admission to a program, it is a final offer of admission to a program. If we offered students early admission to their 2nd choice program, it would prevent them from being accepted into their 1st choice program. Our goal is to accept as many students as possible into their 1st choice program.


  4. Hi Professor Bishop, by February (round of early admission offers) I will have completed all the required courses for engineering except for calculus and vectors. Do you know which grade 11 mark (grade 11 functions or a top grade 11 mark) will be used to predict that missing grade. Thanks in advance.


      1. By February I will my final grade 12 data management mark. Do you know if you would use grade 11 functions or grade 12 data management for the calculus mark? Thanks.


      2. Calculus is one of the two most difficult course grades to predict. The other course grade that is difficult to predict is Physics. These courses are the two that we commonly associate with engineering. In your particular case, I could imagine using either an average of the two available math course grades or the minimum of the two available math course grades. We would probably calculate it both ways to see what range of outcomes we might expect. Alternatively, we might just wait for preliminary course grades from your calculus course. How we proceed depends largely on the rest of your application and how confident we are that you will be a good fit for the program you have applied to study.


    1. I had to look this up in my files as I do not typically handle assessment of international applicant grades. It appears that A* typically translates to 96%. However, this figure is subject to change.


  5. Hi Professor Bishop,

    You mentioned that the deadline for completing applications is February 1, 2019. Does this mean that the AIF is due on February 1, not March 1?


    1. The deadline for the submission of the AIF (and other supporting documentation) is March 1st. This being said, all applicants should try to complete everything as soon as possible to ensure full consideration during the early round of admission offers.


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