Frequently Asked Blog Questions

I haven’t been able to answer all of the questions I have been receiving on my blog.  As you can imagine, it is a very busy time of the year.  In addition to my admissions work, I am also teaching an online course for the first time so I am busy learning new tools, developing online course materials, and conducting live tutorial sessions with my students.  Hopefully, this post will address a few of the questions not yet answered.  Shown below are a few images that I took of my new home office campus this past week.  It appears that the only thing harder to predict than the future is the weather.

Have all engineering admission offers been given out?

The most frequently asked question that I have not answered is whether all of the admission offers have been given out for program X where you can replace X with the name of any engineering program (and even some non-engineering programs).  I just sent in the last 7 admission offers to the Registrar’s Office.  These will likely appear on Quest later today.  Certainly, if you do not have an offer on Quest by Tuesday, May 19th, you can safely assume you will receive a rejection letter.

When will rejection letters be sent out?

We will start sending out rejection letters next week.  Rejection letters are a difficult part of our job.  There are some clearly excellent students who have not received offers of admission, sometimes for things they couldn’t reasonably control.  Rejected applicants often wonder what more they could have done.  In the most highly competitive programs, the admission information form and the optional interview can make a big difference.  In some cases, applicants simply didn’t submit the documentation required for admission.  If we are missing an admission information form or a required grade for an applicant, a rejection is automatic.

It is important to remember that we had over 11,000 applicants for approximately 1,800 spaces.  We can’t accept everyone, even if we might like to do so.

Was a particular program more competitive this year?

Another frequently asked question was whether program X was more competitive this year.  The simple answer is “No”.  We gave out more admission offers to programs this year than previous years based on the expectation that our deferral rate may be higher.  Also, our total number of applications was done from last year.  For programs to be more competitive, there would have to be a huge change in the quality of the applicant pool.  This did not happen.  However, this is not to say that all great applicants received admission offers.  Competitive programs always reject great applicants.  If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be competitive programs.

One reason why engineering programs may seem more competitive this year is that other campus programs increased their admission offer rate much more than we did.  Some programs on campus gave out twice as many offers as they did last year.  In engineering, the increase in the number of offers has been much more modest.  We did not increase all programs uniformly.  Programs that had strong confirmation rates in the early round of admission were subject to smaller increases in the number of admission offers.

Have all scholarships been announced?

We are getting close to finishing our scholarship selections but I do not believe they have been announced on Quest yet.  One thing to keep in mind is that we have very few entrance scholarships beyond the President’s Scholarships and Merit Scholarships.  All applicants receive some form of scholarship provided that they have at least an 85% average and they have not done post-secondary education previously.  In addition to the scholarship grid, entrance scholarships are given out to approximately 85 individuals.  We expect slightly over 1,800 students in the Fall so 85 students represents just 4.7% of all admitted students.  If you consider the fact that we give out more than 1,800 offers of admission, the probability of getting an entrance scholarship is low.

There will be some very happy applicants who will receive significant scholarships.  I believe we will have four Schulich Leader Scholarships valued at $100,000.  The majority of our entrance scholarships are much smaller.  Entrance scholarships typically range from $1,000 to $4,000 for domestic applicants.  Some international applicants will receive $10,000 scholarships which help pay for a portion of their higher tuition costs.

If you receive a scholarship or bursary, a “View Award Offers” link will appear in your Quest account next to the program details.  Clicking on this link will allow you to view the scholarship that you have been given.

Can I upgrade my offer or get a new offer?

In the past, the answer would simply be “No”.  This year, the answer is still “No” but there may be a few exceptions.  We won’t know which programs have spaces available until after June 1st.  You can ask to be put on a waitlist for a program by e-mailing, even if you have not been accepted to any engineering program at the University of Waterloo (provided you were an applicant previously).

If a program has spaces become available, we will contact waitlisted applicants in June, July, and August as spaces become available to inquire whether the applicant still wishes to receive an offer to the program.  If so, an offer can be made.  If not, we will remove the applicant from the waitlist and move on to the next applicant.  We will choose the most qualified applicants from the waitlist first.

In most cases, a deflected applicant is more likely to be chosen over an applicant that did not receive admission at all.  The exception might be an applicant that only applied for a single program and did not list an alternative program.  We will use our admission database to determine which waitlist applicant is “most” qualified for any space that becomes available.

If I receive a waitlist offer, will I miss out on residence?

Some applicants might be worried that a waitlist offer will be too late to be guaranteed a spot in residence.  While our residence guarantee only exists until a particular date, this does not mean that we run out of residence rooms on campus.  Usually, we still have rooms available long after the residence deadline.  You just may not have access to your preferred residence choice.

Also, it is not uncommon for some residence rooms to become available late in the summer due to students deferring admission.  It will be interesting to see how many international students will be able to obtain study permits and visas (if necessary) to start classes in the Fall.  The global pandemic has made predictions very difficult this year.

When will I find out more about my program?

We have a series of Virtual AMA Events starting on May 22nd and running until May 28th.  We will try to answer your questions at these events as we are sure that you will have some.  Admitted students will receive an e-mail invitation to the event for their program in the next week.

Will courses be online in the Fall?

To the best of my knowledge, the University of Waterloo has not made a decision on the Fall term.  However, it is my understanding that the university will make a decision about the Fall term prior to the June 1st so that admitted students will know how the Fall term will run and so that teaching staff may prepare accordingly.  Many (top) universities are moving in the direction of online education for the Fall term out of an abundance of caution.

Online education is not new to universities.  The University of Waterloo is currently running a full term of online studies for our students.  By the Fall, should we be required to offer our courses online, we will be well prepared.  Also, if ever there was a term that made sense to do online, the first term is the most logical one.  Upper-year courses have highly-specialized lab work which is difficult to complete remotely.  First year courses on Calculus, Physics, and Programming are a bit easier to learn online.

Will there be a summer program?

Some universities have already announced that they will be running summer programs to help students transition into university.  These programs are particularly important given that the previous year of school abruptly ended.  I know there are several plans being developed for a summer program.  I expect an announcement in the near future.  We certainly will do our best to ensure that our students are successful in the Fall term.

Can I defer my offer until Fall 2021?

We have always allowed admitted students to defer their offer until Fall 2021.  Many students may be thinking that this is a good idea this year.  This is not a decision that should be made prematurely.  You will likely have until the end of July to make a decision on deferring studies.  I would recommend waiting until closer to the deadline to make a decision.  By the end of July, you will have likely had an opportunity to participate in an online summer program and you will have greater clarity about the operation of the Fall term.

One thing I will say is that there are pros and cons to deferring a degree program.  The pros are likely obvious so I will focus on the cons:

  1. From a financial perspective, it is likely in your best interest to not defer your program.  University costs have been increasing at a rate well above inflation over the past two decades.  If this trend continues, deferring your studies may mean that your university education costs you more, even if you factor inflation.
  2. From a career perspective, deferring your program means that you will presumably start your career one year later which may mean missing an important career opportunity.
  3. From the perspective of a co-op student, you would rather be looking for co-op positions when fewer other students are looking for them.  Generally, this means you will find a better co-op position or have a better chance of getting the co-op position you really want.  Deferring might mean that you are in a slightly larger class in Fall 2021.

Personally, if I were faced with making a similar decision as a prospective student, I would want to wait as long as possible to get greater certainty about the future.

Should I accept my offer of admission to engineering?


119 thoughts on “Frequently Asked Blog Questions”

  1. Can anyone attend the Summer program or is it only for incoming and current Waterloo students?

    I’m in high school.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Mr. Bishop,

    I have been offered an entrance scholarship that has a higher grade range than my average. Is this a mistake? It appears that some other applicants are also in the same situation.

    Thank you and congratulations to you your team for finishing admissions this

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The following response is specific to the Faculty of Engineering:

      When we compute averages, we do so using the required courses plus one other 4U or 4M course using a combination of final grades, midterm grades (for courses in progress), and predicted grades (for courses without known grades). This sometimes results in slight differences in the average used for the scholarship calculation from what students may perceive their averages to be.

      For students in other grading systems, we have adjustments that are applied to course grades to account for differences in grading schemes. For example, if the pass/fail grade is higher than that used in Ontario, grades are lowered slightly. If the pass/fail grade is lower than that used in Ontario, grades are increased slightly. The effect of these adjustments is more pronounced for low grades than high grades.

      There are also times that we enter a manual average to account for an anomaly that we observed. A manual average is an override of the default average calculation. I know there was one student’s average that was increased by 5% as a result of an accommodation that was provided. Our AccessAbility Services staff determined that the student’s performance had been negatively affected by an unaccommodated disability. In my opinion, this meant that the student deserved a higher grade which made the student eligible for the engineering program selected. I chose the 5% figure after making a qualitative assessment of the situation.

      To answer the next question that someone will inevitably ask, adjustment factors are not included in the average calculation for the purpose of grid scholarships. This has the side-effect that students with averages that might be inflated will have a slightly higher probability of receiving a higher grid scholarship. Since, the amount of scholarship that one student receives from the grid scholarship has no effect on the amount of money anyone else receives, this side-effect does not have any negative consequences to students.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was in the same situation as the above student, however, now I discovered that my scholarship has been downgraded. Could this have been a mistake that is now corrected?


      2. It is my understanding that a scholarship should never be downgraded, even if your average drops. If you send me an e-mail, I will try to look into what happened and get a resolution for you.


  3. Hi Prof,

    Regarding the waitlist, are we allowed to request to put down on the waitlist for more than one program?


    1. I think it is logical that an applicant could request to be put on the waitlist for two programs at most. This would be similar to our application process where you are considered only for your first and second choice program.


      1. Hi Mr. Bishop,

        I have accepted my offer for Computer Engineering but I am deeply in regret as to why I didn’t apply for Software Engineering. If I put my name on the wait list for SE, will my offer for CE be rescinded even if I don’t get an SE offer? Also, how would I go about the process of putting my name on the SE wait list and who do I email?



  4. Hello sir, thank you for keeping us up to date in such a stressful time! I was just curious if there is somewhere I could email to see if I was blacklisted? Thank you.


    1. We don’t blacklist applicants in any sense. We simply compare applicants to other applicants. If we have one space to fill and one applicant meets all of our requirements while another applicant does not, the applicant that meets our requirements is offered admission. For highly competitive programs, applicants must exceed our minimum requirements. For these programs, we can afford to do individual selection where we choose applicants that best fit our programs in various ways.

      In many cases, it is difficult to pinpoint a reason for not selecting an applicant. The admissions process is not binary although the decision appears to be binary (i.e., admit or not admit) to an outside observer. An applicant may look strong in isolation but when you look at the pool of applicants, the same applicant may appear weaker. This doesn’t mean that the applicant wouldn’t be highly successful. Many applicants every year go on to success at other universities (or even Waterloo in a different faculty).

      Also, we don’t get every decision correct as my colleagues like to remind me. I am constantly told “If admissions did its job well, no students would ever fail out of our university programs!” I don’t necessarily believe this statement to be true but it is another viewpoint to consider. I will certainly accept that there are a few applicants who have received offers of admission who will not be successful in our programs and there are a few applicants that did not receive offers of admission who would have been successful in our programs. I simply do the best that I can with imperfect information. In this world, all we can attempt to do is our best.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I do not believe our Schulich Leaders Scholarship recipients have been announced yet. There is a process where the admitted students first chosen for the awards are offered the awards. If they choose to decline the offer and go elsewhere, there is a list of alternate applicants that are then contacted in order.

      One piece of information you may find interesting is that Waterloo Engineering had 349 applicants that were nominated by their schools for the Schulich Leaders Scholarships this year. Four of these applicants will receive awards.

      I think the AMA is a Zoom meeting. I have 14 of these events on my schedule over the next two weeks.


  5. Hello prof. Bishop,

    I am planning to attend waterloo for electrical engineering and I had a question about transfers. I understand that electrical and computer engineering is one department and take very similar courses in the first 2 years. Does this mean it is easy to transfer between them in the early years? Or is space in CE or EE an issue. I have heard some say that there aren’t as many jobs in electrical and the ones that have really interested me are in the computer engineering field that are on the waterloo website. Obviously, this will greatly depend on what I really find interesting once I enter university and begin my studies, but I would like to know if transfers are still possible.



    1. Transferring between EE and COMPE simply involves the submission of a form between study terms. You can do this until the start of your 4th academic term (2B). Transfers between these programs are allowed regardless of the standing of the student.

      My suggestion would be to start your first term in your current program. This will allow you to learn more about both programs from people who work in both fields. You will also have more time to figure out what you really like to do.


  6. Hi Mr. Bishop, is it still possible that 105 offers for engineering are still being manually processed by the admission team?


      1. Sorry, so just to clarify. By all admission offers being processed, does that mean all offers have appeared for Quest. Or, is there a possibility that these upcoming days, offers for engineering for 105 applicants can still appear?


  7. Regarding the waitlist, people on Reddit are saying they emailed admissions and were told to email back on June 1st, and I was wondering if this is true since you stated we should email on May 19th.
    Regarding residence, if we accept a program already in waterloo and then make our way up the waitlist, can we easily transition from our old program to the waitlisted one? (Like dropping out of the old program and keeping residence arrangements)


    1. We have already begun to accept waitlist requests. I indicated May 19th since I know that no more offers will come out after this day. We will start sending out rejection letters around this time. The June 1st date is the standard response that we have used in previous years since all applicants definitely know where they stand on June 1st.

      It doesn’t matter how early you apply for the waitlist. It is not first-come, first-serve. We are going to fill available spaces (if any) with the most qualified waitlist applicants that we have.

      One of the challenges of working remotely is that it is very difficult to coordinate communication with everyone. There are many people within the university that respond to admission inquiries due to the volume of traffic. From time to time, you may get slightly different answers. In this particular case, it makes absolutely no difference in the outcome.


    1. I would accept other offers. Waitlist offers will not be given out until after the June 1st deadline to accept your other offers. I suspect the earliest someone might hear about a waitlist offer would be the middle of June but most likely, it will be much later. If you have an admission offer to a program you are willing to do, definitely take it.

      The waitlist is most applicable to people who are willing to risk taking a gap year if they do not get a Waterloo Engineering admission offer. Most often these applicants will either not have an admission offer or have offers to programs they are not committed to attending. There may be more students in this situation this year, given the global pandemic. Local students, for example, might wish to stay in the local area.


  8. Hi Professor,
    Is it possible for an applicant who received their first choice program to waitlist for a completely different program that was not their alternate? Also, if the applicant does not receive an offer for their waitlisted program, will they still keep their original offer?


    1. Yes, students may put themselves on the waitlist for any program, even if they did not originally apply to it. You do not have to give up an offer to be put on the waitlist for a program.

      In this sense, the waitlist is also useful for students wanting to transfer programs prior to the start of classes in the Fall.


  9. Hi Professor Bishop, I am 100% sure I would like to switch from Electrical Engineering to Computer Engineering. Is it possible to do so before the start of the semester?


  10. Hey Professor, I recently got accepted into my program for Waterloo and was wondering if there will be any actions taken to bridge the learning gap that has occurred due to COVID. I know McMaster has released their EMBER program which provides education resources to help students learn chemistry, physics and math before coming to their first year of university. I am mainly worried that I am not fully learning the content that I would typically learn if I was able to attend school and be taught by my teachers directly rather than online.


    1. The University of Waterloo is working on various programs to support our students as they transition from secondary school to university. More details will likely be announced over the coming weeks. We are certainly aware of the difficulties facing our incoming students and we will do our best to ensure that students succeed in their transition to university.


  11. How early could I switch between the two programs in ECE? Would I be able to do so during 1A?


    1. Switching during a term is not permitted. You may switch prior to the start of a term or at the end of a term. It doesn’t really make sense to switch in the middle of a term, particularly when your classes are effectively the same.


    1. Students will have 6 opportunities for co-op placements. Some of our first year students are currently on their first work-term placements. The job market is tighter than usual but there are still jobs available. There are some companies that are busier now that people are working remotely. Also, we have many internal job opportunities related to courseware development to support online classes.

      I suspect that the job market will be much stronger by next April. Students who miss out on their first co-op placement are typically given priority service by our co-op advisors to ensure that all students are successful in completing at least 5 work-term placements. There has also been a temporary reduction in the minimum number of completed work term placements necessary for graduation. However, it is our hope that students need not take advantage of this temporary change.

      It is obviously difficult to predict the future job market. If the past is any indication, there are always opportunities for engineering students and recent graduates in the marketplace.


  12. Excuse me but how “competitive” is the wait list for mechatronics? Will the wait list use the marks and AIF from when it was submitted in March or will it use the final marks that are received in June?


  13. Hi,

    Do we have to accept our current Waterloo engineering offer to be put on the waitlist for a different engineering program we would like to switch into? Or can we accept a different offer from another university and still be requested to be put on the waitlist?


  14. Hello,

    My school offers EAE4U in place of ENG4U. Is this an acceptable replacement for the ENG4U requirement?


  15. Hi Professor, I’d like to thank you for helping us all throughout the admissions process.
    I am proud to have received an offer from UW for Tron.
    I’d like to know if there is any way we can ask for our AIF marks, or what was the critical factor that led to our admission? It is nice to know what separated you from the rest of the contestants.


    1. We do not release AIF scores, interview scores, or adjustment factors. In general, to be accepted into Mechatronics, applicants had great grades and decent scores on both the AIF and the interview. The AIF usually plays a very significant role for our most competitive programs (SE, BIOMEDE, SYDE, COMPE, ELE, and MECTR). A high score on the AIF gives a big boost to an applicant’s chances of being accepted.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Hello Professor,
    Thank you for the information regarding admissions.
    As I have not got an acceptance, what should I put in my email to put myself on the waitlist?


    1. In your request, you should simply indicate that you wish to be put on the waitlist for your program or programs of choice. You can specify up to 2 programs.


  17. Hey,

    I got admitted to Computer Science and am waiting to hear back from SE, which I assume would be a rejection considering it is the 18th today. I am currently considering accepting the offer for CS whilst also emailing to put me on a waitlist for SE. I wanted to ask if I accept my offer for CS, would that take me off the waitlist for SE? If not, then if I get admitted in July, for example, can I accept the SE offer from the waitlist and cancel my CS one?


      1. Thank you so much So, just to clarify, if I get an offer from the waitlist in let’s say July / August after I’ve accepted CS, can I still accept the waitlist offer and go to SE instead?


    1. Make sure you include your student ID number and the program. The subject probably doesn’t matter but I would put something like “Waitlist Request”.


  18. Hello Professor,

    What are the chances of getting in from a waitlist? What amount of people have got in the waitlist from previous years? How many spots do you expect or have opened in the past? Mainly looking for CE or SE.


      1. Absolutely. There are waitlists for all of our programs this year. I suspect all universities are having some challenges filling their “virtual” classrooms for the Fall. We do not know which programs will miss targets but it is safe to say that some definitely will. Programs like SE and COMPE are probably the least likely to need significant numbers of students from waitlists but you never really know until June 1st.


  19. Hello professor,
    I have emailed for my coop stream preference, and I realized that I did not specify my student ID number. Should I send another email with that information or will they reply asking for it? Thank you.


    1. I would definitely send a 2nd e-mail with your student ID number and your co-op stream preference. Also, if you have extenuating circumstances, you should mention these in your e-mail.


  20. Dear Professor, may I ask for the acceptance rate of BME for this year’s application?
    Thank you very much!


  21. Hi Professor Bishop,
    Alumni from CE Class of 2013 here. I have a couple of questions about the current state of affairs.

    How are current students doing lab work online without those beautiful coldfire boards, oscilloscopes, fpgas, etc.?

    I noticed there are 2 streams for CE whereas there was only 1 during my time. What was the reason for this change?

    Why is the “adjustment factor” calculated with the first year average and not for example the average of all 5 years or the graduation rate? I think there will be some bias towards schools with those accelerated programs. I remember classmates that already knew all of the physics, linear algebra, calc material and just breezed right through them. Personally, I struggled in first year but found a groove starting in 2nd year when we began the actually interesting ECE courses. Another observation is that most of us had around 85% average back then. I actually had this discussion with a couple of my friends and we all agreed we wouldn’t make it into ECE nowadays (which is pretty sad). What are your thoughts on this?

    Lastly, can alumnis take a one time course here and there without a degree option? I think it’s great to refresh or learn new skills once in a while.

    Thanks! Cool blog by the way.


    1. I think we abandoned the Coldfire boards a few years ago. This term, some of our labs have moved to online design and simulation tools. I know our power courses have moved in this direction. There are downsides to simulation tools but upsides as well. At least, you cannot get electrocuted working on a simulation of a high voltage system. In my course, I am replacing some of our FPGA labs with online videos that walk students through the design and debugging process. These videos will be coupled with quizzes that ensure students grasp the import details. I can create questions that ask for lines of C code or answers to challenging hardware questions. I am also doing some interactive sessions with my students to give them the feel of real lectures, tutorials, and labs.

      I did consider going the simulation route but our students do not all have computer systems capable of running our simulation tools. We do have a remote desktop capacity for certain courses but network bandwidth can be a limiting factor. By the Fall term, most of our bandwidth issues should be resolved and more labs will move online in a meaningful way. I might run my Fall course differently from my Spring course if new tools become realistic. I also looked into the option of mailing hardware boards to students but there were not enough boards in stock to supply my entire class.

      The streams of EE and COMPE depend upon the applicant pool. There was a time when the ECE Department had two streams of EE students and one stream of COMPE students. Currently, we have many more applicants for COMPE than EE. Market forces play a large role in our applicant pool.

      The reason why we calculate the adjustment factor based on the first year average and not the overall graduation rate is that we are most worried about how students will transition from high school to university. Once a student reaches 2nd year, if the student fails to graduate, their high school likely played little role in their situation. Also, if you never get past first year, you will never graduate. It turns out there is also a pretty good correlation between first year performance and graduation. There are exceptions (like yourself) but statistically, the exceptions are outliers.

      The comment that most graduates of ECE wouldn’t get admitted is not necessarily true. High school has changed since you were a student. Also, the AIF plays a critical role in the selection of students. A student with a strong aptitude for ECE will typically do well in our admission process, even if the student has a slightly lower average.

      I am not sure whether it is possible (or realistic) for alumni to take courses without starting a degree program. I can look into the matter for you if you want. Just send me an e-mail.

      Thanks for the feedback on the blog!


  22. Hi Prof. Bishop,
    I would just like to confirm, emailing to be put on a waitlist while you already have an offer to Waterloo Engineering does not rescind that offer right? (For example, let’s say I have an offer to Management Engineering but would like to be put on the waitlist for Electrical Engineering. Even if I don’t get a waitlist offer to EE, would I still get to keep my offer to Management Engineering?)


  23. Hi Professor Bishop,

    I have accepted my offer to Geological Engineering and was thinking about being put on the waitlist for Civil Engineering since they are both the same and that it’s more famous to be honest. What is your opinion? What exactly is the difference between these two disciplines? Won’t both programs boom in the next few years due to climate change?


    1. I definitely expect career prospects for civil engineers and geological engineers to be strong over the next decade. Climate change is certainly a factor since new models suggest existing infrastructure will need to be updated to cope with more severe weather events such as floods, tornadoes, and even hurricanes. The global pandemic is also likely a factor since construction projects have been delayed by lockdowns.

      From an economic perspective, a period in which the economy is depressed or in recession is typically followed by a period of infrastructure renewal. Large government infrastructure projects are viewed as a way of stimulating the economy when industry may be reluctant to invest. When the great depression happened in the U.S., the government created the Works Progress Administration to invest in putting people back to work. This led to a construction boom. You can read a bit about this in a short article by the Smithsonian Magazine. The article is titled, “When America Invested in Infrastructure, These Beautiful Landmarks Were the Result”.

      I am not an expert in either program but I know a bit about them. The two programs (civil engineering and geological engineering) share quite a few courses. Arguably, you could have a similar career path from both disciplines if you choose the right elective courses. The differences occur when you choose upper-year courses and electives. There are certain paths that are more accessible from civil engineering and other paths that are more accessible from geological engineering. I recommend looking at the 3rd and 4th year courses to get a feel for which program may be best for you. However, there is really no right or wrong answer as they both provide a solid core of fundamental engineering skills.

      Geological engineering has one very interesting advantage from a student viewpoint. The size of the incoming geological engineering class is smaller than all other engineering programs at the University of Waterloo. There are fewer geological engineering students so when you compete for co-op placements related to geological engineering, you are competing against fewer qualified applicants for positions. Also, in specialized geological engineering courses, you may find yourself in smaller class sizes where you will get to learn the names of your classmates and you will get to know your instructors.


  24. Hello Professor,
    It was recently announced that classes would be online for this upcoming fall with some in person labs. Can you please provide more details on what this means for engineering students starting their first year, since there are quite a few labs in the first year of the engineering program. Will students be expected to attend in-person labs, or will it be possible to complete the entire first (and possibly the second) term online including the labs? With the residence application deadline soon approaching, additional information would be appreciated!


    1. Incoming students received an e-mail that highlighted three main points. Arguably, the most important point was that “We will support your academic progress, no matter where you are.” This clearly implies that students may study remotely, if students wish to do so. I would anticipate many of our first-year engineering students choosing to study at home in the Fall term.

      From a practical perspective, this means that we will find a way to replicate (to the best of our abilities) on campus experiences for students studying from abroad. It is difficult to predict what, if any, on campus activities will be allowed to run. Certainly, first year engineering classes are too large to run as they normally do. There are ongoing discussions looking at ways of restructuring our classroom and lab activities in a way that is feasible. We won’t likely know the outcome of these discussions for some time.

      This is the best answer that I can provide at this time. Perhaps someone else on campus can provide a better answer.


  25. Hi Mr.Bishop, when emailing to be put for the waitlist. Do you list only two engineering programs that you want? Also, is there a waitlist for computer science?


    1. Yes, when you e-mail to be put on the waitlists for engineering programs, indicate one or two programs that you want. Also remember to include your name and student ID number. Technically, it is not required to know your name but it is nice to know.

      Computer Science admissions use a separate process. Computer Science is not within the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo. It is a separate school. As such, I do not know their process very well.


  26. Hello sir!

    Thank you for the ongoing updates and for answering so many of our questions. I just had one regarding residence and if it is worth it. I was recently accepted to BME and was wondering if I should stay near campus for the fall term if it is online. Would there be many classes in person as the program is so small? I would save quite a bit of money by staying home, which is a little over an hour’s drive away.

    Also, will my program have more students than previous years as more offers were given out?

    Thank you in advance!


    1. I really do not know how to answer the residence question. I have heard from a reliable colleague that it was announced yesterday that the non-refundable residence deposit will actually be refundable. I have not yet been able to confirm this is true. I am hoping the residence website is updated soon. As far as the value of residence goes, it largely depends upon who else is in residence. The value of residence is usually defined by the people you meet. In past years, being in residence had a huge correlation with success in first year. Students commuting from 1 hour away typically faired very poorly. It is difficult to lose 2 hours of your day to traffic. However, if all classes are online, commuting will not be required.

      It is unfortunate that all universities have chosen to be somewhat vague about the future. I realize that all universities are facing a very unclear future given the global pandemic. All universities want to deliver classes in person if there is any way to do so. It is just very difficult to say what on campus activities, if anything, will be allowed in September. Right now, groups in the Province of Ontario are limited to 10 people so no on campus activities could realistically happen. Ontario universities are counting on restrictions being eased further by September.

      Initially, most programs should overshoot their targets but we fully expect significant attrition between June 1st and November 1st (our official count date). There will be a few programs that will have room for more students in early June. Some other programs will likely have room by July or August. BIOMEDE is the most challenging program to predict. All of the applicants typically have compelling offers to other programs. For this reason, BIOMEDE has one of the lower show rates in the Faculty of Engineering despite being arguably one of our top programs.


  27. Hello!
    I have successfully gotten into the program I wanted. I just wanted to say how these blog posts have been helpful throughout my application progress. Your posts have answered many of the concerns and queries I’ve had. Thank you so much for taking the time to put these together and answer questions. I am definitely going to recommend these posts to my underclassmen! Have a fantastic day!


  28. Thank you for your detailed posts and replies! Although I chose to do CS, this blog helped relieve a lot of anxiety. On a fun side note, are you related to the fighter pilot ace William Avery (Billy) Bishop? 🙂


    1. I am glad my blog helped with the admission process and I hope you enjoy CS.

      To the best of my knowledge, I am not related to William Avery Bishop. My grandfather who was also named William Bishop was in the First World War toward the very end of the conflict. It is my understanding he was on the ground. He never talked about his service. We found some records of his service after he passed away including a couple of medals which we donated to a historical museum.

      It is a question that I get frequently asked. I used to work for an aerospace company so it was a very common question when I worked there.


      1. Thank you for your reply! I think it would be common for you to get that question, as both your first and last name are the same as the Canadian legend “Billy” Bishop.

        Anyways congratulations to you and your team on your second successful admissions season! I would like to give a shoutout to Leigh who always answered my emails with detail!


  29. Hello,

    I just received a rejection letter for my program (Civil Engineering). I applied for the waitlist, does that mean I got rejected from the waitlist too? I was not confirmed if they received my email or put me on the waitlist. How will I know?


  30. I was just wondering since I have not been accepted to the engineering program I applied to, around roughly what future date will the waitlist be released ?


    1. Waitlist decisions will be made as spaces become available in our programs. Potentially, our first waitlist applicants could receive a decision in early June but I suspect most of our waitlist spaces will become available sometime in July.


  31. Dear Mr. Bishop,
    I hope everything is going fine. Im Zain aljandali a Electrical Engineering student from Alfaisal University that finished his 2nd year and I was wondering if I still can be part of Waterloo Electrical Engineering community for fall 2020 and if I may know what the pocess is. Thank you


    1. We cannot consider applicants that did not apply through the normal process by the deadlines. Our next opportunity to apply will be in Fall 2020 for admission in Fall 2021. If you have already finished your second year of studies, your best option is to complete your current degree program and then apply to the University of Waterloo for graduate studies.


  32. Hi Prof,

    I applied to mechatronics but the program on QUEST was changed to physical science with conditional admit.
    what does this mean?
    On OUAC it still shows Mechatronics

    Thank You


    1. A few strong applicants to engineering programs have been given conditional offers of admission to programs in the Faculty of Science. I am not sure how many applicants have been given these offers. It was thought that a student applying to Mechatronics might have an interest in Physics and the Faculty of Science still had available spaces for students.


  33. Hey Mr Bishop, Hopefully you are doing well – I did not get accepted to my first choice of Mechatronics Eng. However I got a deference to Physical Sciences. I am not interested in that, though I would like to be on the engineering waitlist – How do I go about putting myself on that waitlist? Is there a formal method (i.e., mentioning which programs, name, ouac#) or can I just email someone (because I already emailed with no response)

    Thank you!


    1. The no response is simply due to volume at this time. Our team is working hard to try to deal with a backlog of e-mail. We are happy to place you on the waitlist for engineering.


  34. Hi Mr.Bishop, I doubt you might see this since you’re really busy. I just wanted to say thank you so much for your admission blog and how much effort you put into replying to other individual’s comments and mine as well. I hope you’re doing well!


    1. Thank you! I do read all of the comments on my blog and I attempt to answer as many as possible (without significant duplication). I am glad my blog could help you through this process. Good luck on your future studies!


  35. Hello,

    Recently, I have received a Schulich Leader Scholarship offer from a prestigious university for engineering while I also have received an offer for Mechatronics Engineering from Waterloo- which was my top choice. I know the deadline to accept an offer is very near but I still haven’t been able to make a decision yet. If you can provide any advice for the above situation, it would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank you so much for your blog! It has been quite helpful during my application process!


    1. The Schulich Leader Scholarship is a very prestigious scholarship. It more than replaces the income difference that you would receive doing co-op versus doing summer internships on your own. Assuming the other university is a Tier 1 university (there are about 15 of them in Canada), the other university is a very good choice. It is important to remember that engineering programs are accredited so they all provide a strong foundation for engineering.

      I believe Waterloo Engineering offers a compelling undergraduate program that is better than most of our competitors. However, the difference between the best program and a good program is probably not worth giving up $100,000. If you do well at the other university, you will still get to know some of the students at Waterloo through competitions such as the Ontario Engineering Competition and the Canadian Engineering Competition.

      Also, if you find that the other university is not what you wanted, you can always re-apply for Waterloo next year. The amount of scholarship you would lose is relatively small. The only investment is one year of studies.

      I wouldn’t give the same advice if the scholarship was valued at less than $100,000. When I was a high school student, I turned down a $10,000 scholarship at one university and a $2,500 at another university to come to Waterloo with a $1,000 scholarship. For context, my tuition was $1,200 a term at the time. I do not regret that decision at all. I know that I would not be where I am today without having attended Waterloo Engineering.


  36. Hello Professor,

    I am an incoming SE student for the Fall 2020 term, and was wondering if the entire SE curriculum for this term would be virtual/online? By this I mean including all the lectures, labs, seminars, etc.

    On a unrelated note, how can I confirm that the university has received my decision of accepting my offer? I accepted the offer on OUAC and my portal status changed to “intention to matriculate”, is this enough?


    1. More information on the Fall term and our summer program is expected to come out sometime this week (perhaps today). I think it is safe to assume that all significant contact hours for SE will be online. There may be an opportunity in the Fall to come to campus to participate in one or more activities but doing so will not be required. We will support engineering students wherever they choose to reside in the Fall. If you wish to stay home to study, this will be possible.

      We have a significant amount of course development happening right now. By the Fall, we will be well positioned to deliver compelling classes remotely. We are already getting experience in remote delivery this term since we have a large student population in the Spring term. This term, I am teaching a remote class to over 100 students. By the time the Fall term starts, my class will be fully developed and ready for the 200 students that typically take the course in the Fall term.

      I have heard feedback from students in several of our programs on our remote course delivery. While there are a few instructors struggling with the change to remote teaching, the majority of instructors seem to be doing very well. Student feedback has been positive.


  37. Hey Prof,
    I was wondering if it is possible to transfer from Physical Sciences into Engineering later on.


    1. Unfortunately, a transfer from Physical Science into Engineering is extremely rare. When it does happen, it requires starting over in 1A. You should not accept an admission offer to a program if you are planning on transferring out.


  38. Hello Professor,

    I am admitted into computer engineering, but I am considering to take a gap year, because I have been experiencing for a year a chronic pain in my neck and shoulder blade caused by long-time sitting and studying. Doctors say I really need a period of time to rest and adjust my physical condition.

    Thus, could I humbly ask about how much is the possibility that my deferral request will get approved? Because if it is not approved, I will be put between a rock and a hard place.

    Thank you!


    1. First, I hope that you feel better soon. Chronic pain is never a good thing.

      A deferral of one year is usually approved without question. You do not even need a reason for doing so. The only thing that we ask is that you do not study at any post-secondary institution during the year long deferral. If you do, the deferral offer is typically revoked.

      There is a form to request a deferral. There is no rush to complete the form. I think you have until late July to submit the form. I recommend taking your time to make your decision. Since the Fall is online, you might be able to do the coursework in the comfort of your home which might be much better than studying in class. However, it is ultimately a decision that only you can make.


  39. Hi professor Bishop,
    from what I have heard, there will likely be a large volume of students deferring their admission to 2021. This will likely have a larger impact on international students due to the travel restrictions of COVID 19. I assume the majority of them are going to defer their offers, which leaves very little space for applicants in 2021. I think it’s quite unfair for us, the applicants in 2021, that these students from the previous year taking up the space. Have the university taking action to prevent too many students from deferring their admissions. From what I heard, a lot of these students are just not willing to do classes online.
    Hope you have a great day,


    1. At this point, concerns about a large volume of deferrals are highly speculative at best.

      While there are some models that suggest a high rate of deferrals this year, these models may not be accurate for our engineering programs. We only increased offers to domestic applicants by a small amount (approximately 10% on average). The majority of the additional offers that we gave out were primarily to visa applicants. While some of these visa applicants may defer until next year, I do not expect a large number of them to do so. Travel restrictions have become irrelevant given the transition to online learning in the Fall. We will likely just overshoot our international targets this Fall.

      Next year, there will likely be as many spaces available as this year. If anything, there will be more spaces available at most universities since they will need to take in more students next year to make up for shortfalls this year. Universities cannot afford to have student numbers drop. Most universities are already experiencing budget shortfalls and any drop in student numbers will immediately have an impact on the operations of universities. I fear that there may be a few universities that will face very significant budget challenges that may result in them reducing program offerings.

      I’d also like to address your concern that students are not willing to do classes online. I am currently teaching an online course. The enrollment is over 100 students. Typically, the course has fewer than 90 students. I believe Waterloo Engineering, with its strong record of online education and distance education, offers compelling courses that students are willing to study. By the Fall term, we will have 5 months of experience offering our engineering courses remotely to students. We have significant course development happening for the Fall term at this time. Hands-on experiences are being developed using software tools that are readily available. Feedback from students taking courses right now is that our students find the courses quite good. Applicants have concerns about co-op placement opportunities but co-op placement rates have been surprisingly strong, particularly in our engineering programs.

      Finally, I would like to address the subject of fairness. There is nothing fair in life. It is certainly not fair to our graduating students that a pandemic has caused them to miss out on their capstone design symposiums and the joy of convocation ceremonies. It is not fair that some people are out of work while others are working around the clock to provide us with food and health care and education. The current situation is not fair for anyone. As engineers (or future engineers), we must strive to come up with creative solutions to improve our situations to the best of our abilities. We need to address the challenges we face and take advantage of all of the opportunities that exist.


  40. Hello prof. Bishop,

    I had a question regarding fall 2020. I am enrolled in ECE for the upcoming term and noticed a specific course called Project Studio (ECE 198). I completely understand why all classes are going to be delivered online for safety reasons, and that first-year engineering classes are typically quite large. However, I’ve noticed that this course has no lectures or tutorials and contains 1.25 labs per week done in groups (I’m assuming small groups of about 5 people) working on a design project. I’ve also noticed that the ECE is the only stream to have a course like this making it that much more exclusive. Is there a possibility that this course could be done in person? Given the circumstances that it only contains labs and done in small groups? Personally, I am all for safety and social distancing, but this course could be the difference between living on residence or staying at home considering I would have to travel to the University weekly.


    1. There has been some specific discussion of ECE 198 but I do not recall the outcome. One thing is sure. In the Fall, you will not be required to be on campus to study ECE. If there are any on campus activities, we will do our best to ensure that students who are unable to attend on campus activities are able to get similar knowledge, skills, and enrichment from online activities. We will definitely not have any ECE courses that require you to be on campus every week of the term. More information on the plans for the Fall will be released shortly. The website for future students is currently being updated to address some of these questions. Hopefully, most of the common questions will be addressed shortly.


  41. Hello Professor,

    I was wondering how the waitlist works. You mentioned that (most) waitlist acceptances will take place in July, which is (understandably) past the June 1st deadline for accepting university offers. If a student accepts an offer to another university, are they taken off the waitlist? If not, is the student able to trasnfer from their accepted offer to Waterloo?


    1. We wouldn’t necessarily know if you have accepted an offer to another university. We would still keep you on the waitlist for our programs. If we made an offer in late June or July, you would then face a tricky decision of whether to give up a deposit / scholarship elsewhere to come to Waterloo. Of course, there will be no pressure to do so. There will often be applicants on our waitlist who do not have offers to go elsewhere. Also, in some cases, our offer will simply be stronger. For example, a local student might wish to stay in Waterloo.

      I suspect many students will hold onto multiple offers well into July this year. With residence deposits being refundable here and perhaps elsewhere, there is no cost to a student to accept an offer to an Ontario university and perhaps several out-of-province universities. Doing so allows you to delay a decision until there is much greater clarity on the pandemic. This is one of the reasons why we have admitted slightly more students this year.


  42. Hi Prof. Bishop
    Thanks for keeping us updated all along. I’m wondering if the $10000 international scholarships have been sent out? If not when will it be notified to us?
    Also, just a curious side note, what does the university/faculty do if more people accepted their offers than the university/faculty has spots to offer?


    1. I believe all of the engineering entrance scholarships have been given out. All scholarship offers should already appear on your Quest account.

      With respect to your question on exceeding our targets, we have the ability to exceed our targets slightly. The targets do not represent classroom capacities. The targets are designed to meet our commitments to the government for teaching students. We need to meet our targets to receive our grant funding. If we fail to meet our targets, our grant funding is cut significantly. If we exceed our targets, we miss out on additional grant funding. Our goal is to be within +/- 3% of our targets which is practically impossible. Behind the scenes, we are also told that we cannot be less than 100% of target so we really need to be somewhere between 100% of target and 103% of target. The system is actually much more complicated as our grant funding is a function of all of our university students, not just undergraduate students entering first year engineering.

      It is very tricky business to determine how many offers to give out and when to give them out. We gave out more early offers in the hope of gauging applicant desire to come to Waterloo. We used early confirmation rates to predict which programs would need to give out more offers of admission. So far, this approach has seemed to work reasonably well. We won’t really know where we stand until November 1st when the official count is performed. November 1st is when we must meet our targets. From a practical perspective, this means that we always need to be above target on June 1st since we will always have students who chose to go elsewhere between June 1st and November 1st. Visa applicants, for example, may run into problems getting their study permits. Some students may not be able to finance their education. Some applicants will also have accepted an offer to Waterloo and another out-of-province university since there is nothing that prevents an applicant from doing so.

      Once we make an admission offer, we honour it. If we are significantly above target in a program, we can sometimes fix the issue by allowing deflected students to move into their first choice program if it is not full. If we are significantly below target, we bring in applicants from our waitlists, provided they are qualified for the program.

      I would be very happy if at the end of June 1st, we sit at 110% of target for domestic students and 130% of target for visa students. Based on our latest projections, this would likely put us very close to target on November 1st.


  43. Hello Professor,

    I hope you are doing well during this time, and I would like to thank you for your updates on the admissions process this year. I was wondering if there would be a reason my scholarship would have downgraded. Originally, when I received my offer, I had the President’s Scholarship of Distinction, but it now says on Quest that I have received the President’s Scholarship. Does the Faculty of Engineering adjust the scholarships awarded after they have been handed out?

    Thank you!


    1. A few students may have noticed on Quest that they were given a President’s Scholarship of Distinction when in fact they only qualified for a President’s Scholarship. There was a coding error that caused this to occur. The issue was corrected prior to the official announcement of the scholarship awarded via e-mail. Students in this situation would have been sent an e-mail indicating the correct scholarship.

      The Faculty of Engineering does not downgrade scholarships. The scholarship had not yet been awarded as the official announcement had not yet been sent out. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused you.


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