Application Process Update

Now that the holiday season is drawing to a close and the Winter term has started, I thought it might be worthwhile to give everyone a brief update on our application process.  The application deadline for Waterloo Engineering is fast approaching.


As indicated in our engineering brochure, interested applicants should apply to Waterloo Engineering on the OUAC (Ontario Universities Application Centre) site by Friday, January 31st.  Applicants have an additional four weeks to submit all supporting documentation for their application.  Supporting documentation includes the AIF (Admission Information Form) and the optional Online Interview.  All supporting documentation must be completed by Friday, February 28th.

The AIF (Admission Information Form) is a required component of the application process.  If it is not completed and submitted by the deadline, you will not receive an offer of admission.  Last year, there were a few applicants who missed the deadline due to a combination of procrastination and computer problems.  My suggestion is that applicants complete the AIF (Admission Information Form) well in advance of the deadline to ensure that they do not miss out on their applications being fully considered.

We have currently received over 9,100 applications to Waterloo Engineering programs, excluding Architecture.  This is approximately 1.8% lower than last year.  Some programs have more applicants and others have fewer applicants.  To answer the inevitable question, I cannot disclose more specific application numbers at this time.  The application numbers change rapidly and without context, they are largely meaningless.

However, I can say that we have seen a few general trends.  There has been a slight increase in domestic applications for many engineering programs and a slight decrease in visa applications for almost all engineering programs.  These trends have been consistent for the past month as I have been tracking the application numbers periodically.  In approximately 4 weeks, I should have the final application numbers for the 2019/2020 admission cycle.  I expect our total number of applications to approach 11,000 by the application deadline.

I wish to thank those applicants who have already submitted their AIFs and Online Interviews.  We have already begun assessing interviews that have been completed by applicants.  We expect to complete our assessments of all AIFs and Online Interviews by the end of March in preparation for our first round of admission offers.  It greatly helps our Admissions Office to receive supporting documentation early.

As you can probably imagine, we are very busy at this time of the year.  While our Admissions Office will do our best to answer your questions in a timely manner, please keep in mind that we are very busy at this time of the year.  We are experiencing a high volume of inquiries.




16 thoughts on “Application Process Update”

  1. Hi Professor,
    You mentioned that there is a slight uptick in domestic applications and down tick in international applications. In this case will there be more seats allocated for domestic applicants?


    1. One might think that targets are set solely based on demand but this is not really the case. There are many factors that affect the setting of targets such as the availability of instructors and classrooms, the quality of the applicant pool, and of course, government funding. All universities have an agreement with the government to train a certain number of students in each discipline. When we exceed that number, we do so without receiving additional government funding. If we take in fewer students than our agreed number, we lose government funding.

      I should point out that the average increase in domestic applications was around 1.8% when I last checked my application data. This is a very modest increase. There are also a few programs where the number of domestic applications have decreased. The likelihood of a domestic applicant receiving an offer of admission will be the same as last year for many programs.

      The decrease in international applications was much more significant. I do not recall the exact number but the average decrease was greater than 10% when I last checked my application data. The likelihood of a visa applicant receiving an offer of admission will be slightly higher this year for many programs.


  2. Hi professor,
    Iam an international student. In the first semester of year 12, i got 90% but 87% on Math, would grade 8 of Euclid Contest make massive different ?


    1. Euclid contest scores are not normally considered for admission to engineering programs. The Faculty of Engineering does not receive the list of Euclid contest scores for the current year prior to applicant selection. We only have access to the published results from previous years.

      If an applicant makes us aware of their score from a previous year on their AIF or if an applicant’s score from a previous year appears on the Student Honour Roll on the CEMC website, we can use this information to break ties but this is a rare occurrence.


      1. Hello professor,
        What about the Faculty of Mathematics like CS and SE ?
        They said ‘You’re strongly encouraged to write the Euclid Mathematics Contest and/or the Canadian Senior Mathematics Contest’


      2. At the University of Waterloo, admission to the CS (Computer Science) program is handled by the Faculty of Mathematics and the School of Computer Science and admission to the SE (Software Engineering) program is handled by the Faculty of Engineering. Different admission requirements and selection criteria are used by the two programs. I can only comment on the admission requirements and selection criteria used by the Faculty of Engineering. The Faculty of Engineering does not normally consider Euclid contest scores for the reasons I highlighted in my previous post.


  3. Hi, Mr. Bishop,
    I really appreciate your effort on this blog and your information as well as guidance to applicants throughout these years.
    My name is Kevin, I am a visa student from China who currently study in Hamilton and planning to apply to Waterloo CS and software engineering in 2021.

    I discovered after browsing so much on the websites and various blogs that waterloo admission focus heavily on the skill sets a candidate have. I understand that the math and engineering department always want to select the candidates with the best knowledge and skills. However, have you considered a situation that a candidate with great skills (probably good averages and a whole ton of EC and side projects) who lack the passion to learn and weak in their self-learning abilities since most skill sets either comes from their parents’ networking and teaching versus a student who might not have such great skills but have a lot more passion for learning and creation and have good self-learning habits?

    Also, I found different schools may have different evaluation process and goals. For instance, my school’s physics and chemistry classes focus a lot more on hands-on experiences (engineering) to really build a project and demonstrate the thinking than tests and exams comparing to other schools, which may deflate the marks since marking for projects can often be subjective. I am surprise to find some students got a 98 or 99 in physics. Since the adjustments factor is the same, approximately 16%, I can see that me and my friends average might be a little low.

    Also, I discovered that there are potential barriers for visa students to apply. The case is a lot of visa students mostly transfer to a canadian high school such as me. We have significant disadvantages considering working experiences, internships, and side projects since we are not allowed to work without a Work Permit (I notice on various sources that a lot of successful domesticate candidates have prior working experiences in big techs or great side projects). Therefore, I end up searching for potential job opportunities back in China.

    For side projects, do you have any suggestions concerning the current trend? Is waterloo engineering looking for students’ with highly professional side projects as I saw on previous software engineering applicants (some developed machine learning algorithms)? Also, while great amount of efforts will be contribute into admission average, I don’t think a lot of time can be devoted into develop highly professional side projects like other previous successful applicants.

    In conclusion, somehow I felt like admission to engineering, especially software engineering, starts to look like interviewing for big tech companies in the industry, which requires resources, information, networking that are sometimes not available to us.
    Lastly as you cannot commenting on the CS and Math admission, would you offer some recommendations for appropriate people for us to consult for CS and Math admission?
    I hope to hear your valuable suggestions and guidance and pass them to my fellow peers who are struggling to get these information.
    Thanks for your time to read this.
    My sincere gratitude and very best regards


    1. The situation you describe is not an accurate reflection of our applicant pool for the Software Engineering (SE) program. We place a strong emphasis on extracurricular activities due to the fact that most of our applicants have similar strong averages. Last year, we had 300+ applicants with averages of 97% or higher. Of course, we would adjust our admission criteria if we discovered that the applicant pool was weaker in a particular year.

      The reason why we consider programming experience is that we want to ensure fit within the SE program. An applicant lacking significant software experience may not understand the jargon used by experienced programmers. This can lead to frustration when working on class projects. It also makes it more difficult to find a suitable co-op position in first year.

      Visa students do not directly compete against domestic students. Visa students are compared against their peers for admission consideration. Work experience is not required for visa students.

      Ultimately, we are preparing students to pursue careers in a highly competitive job sector. We need to ensure that our applicants are ready for the challenge. Technology companies will only hire our students if the companies feel that our students are qualified.

      You can always e-mail to contact our Admission Officers to inquire about non-engineering programs at the University of Waterloo. Admission Officers may be able to provide additional guidance on the process used by other programs on campus.


    1. I am not sure what average curve you are referencing. Our probability graphs have been available since September. We have no plans to release any additional average information at this time.


  4. Hello Professor,

    Will all students who submit their AIFs by Feburary 28 be considered for early round offers? Or will those who submit it earlier (before end of January) be considered only.

    Thank you


  5. Hello. My application is looking strong (98.5% average, strong ECs (SHAD, FIRST, VEX, 10 years altar serving, etc.), and national/international rankings on contests (top 100 worldwide in SIN). The problem is that I have no work experience. I was wondering if altar serving counted? Also, I used my circumstances section for something else. Should I try to add an explanation for my lack of work experience? I don’t have a strong reasoning (my parents wanted me to focus on school and travelling was inconvenient). And one last thing. Does it help to hand in the AIF early? I know everyone gets equal chances for early acceptance but if enough people are chosen, then the people after would not be chosen right? Thanks so much for your blogs though. Please keep it up!


    1. I would not expect your lack of work experience to be a significant concern given your average and your extracurricular activities. Many of our applicants lack work experience. I would not expect many applicants with work experience to have qualifications similar to your qualifications.

      Handing in your Admission Information Form (AIF) early helps us do our job but it does not change your chances for an early offer of admission. We have adjusted our admission processes to ensure that all applications will be considered for early offers of admission this year. We also intend to give out more early offers this year.


  6. Hey Prof,

    Thanks for your dedication to quelling everyone’s anxiety here! I just had a question about a thread above. You said that regardless of when we submit our AIF, our chances for early admission will not be affected? How will admissions plan for this to be done this year? Are offers simply going to come later in March? Also, if we submit our interview after Feb 1, would that affect our early admission chances? Thanks again and please let me know if you could enlighten us more on the early admission process this year.


    1. This is a great question. We have made two significant changes to our processes to make this possible. The first is that we are pushing back our early round until the end of March. The second is that we will now have more than one reviewer of AIFs to expedite their assessment.

      To avoid inconsistent AIF assessment, we will be dividing the AIFs by program. For example, I will be assessing all SE AIFs this year. Last year I looked at all the SE AIFs but the formal assessment was done by another member of the admissions team.

      We are trying these changes to see if we can give out more early offers of admission. I would guess that slightly more than half our admission offers will go out on March 31st if all goes well. We hope to reduce some of the anxiety caused by the admission process.


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