Chances of Admission for Fall 2023

Our recruiting cycle for Fall 2023 has begun. We have started receiving inquiries from prospective applicants regarding Waterloo Engineering. If you are a Grade 11 or Grade 12 student interested in attending an Ontario university in Fall 2023 or Fall 2024, plan to attend the upcoming Ontario Universities’ Fair to learn more about the University of Waterloo and its programs. This year, the Ontario Universities’ Fair will be held in-person at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. For those unable to attend the in-person event, there will be three virtual sessions held on October 11th, November 9th, and December 1st that may interest you.

It is once again time for my most popular blog post of the year. In this blog post, I will attempt to answer the question:

“What are my chances of receiving an offer of admission to an undergraduate engineering program at the University of Waterloo?”

As I have pointed out in previous years, this is a difficult question to answer since every applicant is different.  When selecting applicants that are likely to succeed in our undergraduate engineering programs, grades remain a significant consideration. Excellent grades in high school can be a strong indicator of future success in university. However, grades are not the only consideration.

Our admissions process uses several assessment tools to select applicants. We require all applicants to complete an Admission Information Form (AIF) which we use to assess skills, employment experience, volunteer service, course work, extracurricular activities, and notable achievements. We strongly recommend all applicants complete an optional online interview which we use to assess motivation and resilience. Interview scores are used to assess applicants for certain entrance scholarships. Our assessment tools help us gauge applicant interest in our programs and applicant fit for our programs.

We assess all applicants that we believe are potentially admissible. For our engineering programs, applicants are required to have an admission average of 85% with no grades lower than 70% in any of our required courses in their final year of high school. We then use a combination of the admission average with our other assessment tools to individually select applicants. Students with higher admission averages are more likely to be selected for admission but they are not guaranteed to be selected for admission. Our assessment tools give applicants with lower admission averages a chance to compete for spaces in our engineering programs.

Using the Ontario Secondary School applicant data for the Fall 2022 admission cycle, I have produced two graphs that show the probability of an Ontario Secondary School (OSS) applicant receiving an offer of admission to undergraduate engineering programs at the University of Waterloo.  I have grouped our engineering programs as follows:

  • OSS Tier 1: Biomedical and Software
  • OSS Tier 2: Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, Mechatronics, and Systems Design
  • OSS Tier 3: Architectural, Chemical, Civil, Environmental, Geological, Management, and Nanotechnology

These groupings are the same as the previous four admission cycles. Clearly, not all programs grouped together have exactly the same admission offer probabilities. Groupings are necessary for the purpose of a statistically significant analysis.

The first graph summarizes the probability of receiving an admission offer for Canadians and permanent resident students applying from the Ontario Secondary School system given a particular admission average.  The vertical axis represents the admission probability and the horizontal axis represents an applicant’s admission average. The admission average is calculated using the grades reported by OUAC. The admission averages are shown prior to the application of adjustments.

The graph is similar to the ones from previous years. The admission averages have continued to increase. We had more OSS applicants last year and the grades of applicants tended to be higher than previous years. Fewer applicants with averages in the 85% to 90% range are receiving offers of admission. Inflation appears to be a problem that is affecting more than just the economy. Last year, 477 applicants to Waterloo Engineering from the Ontario Secondary School system had averages of 98% or greater at the time of admission consideration. We only allow students to apply to one Waterloo Engineering program so this means at least 477 high school students in Ontario had averages of 98% or greater last year.

The second graph summarizes the probability of receiving an admission offer for visa students applying from the Ontario Secondary School system given a particular admission average.  I was very hesitant to post this graph this year as we did not have enough data to produce a meaningful result. The vertical axis represents the admission probability and the horizontal axis represents an applicant’s admission average. The admission averages are shown prior to the application of adjustments.

Waterloo Engineering attracts a very small number of visa applicants from the Ontario Secondary School system. The graph exhibits some clear artifacts due to the lack of sufficient data. In general, one should assume that all admission probabilities increase as admission averages increase. Demand for qualified visa applicants continues to outpace the supply of qualified visa applicants.

I used the same approach this year as I did in the previous year. It is important to remember that these graphs may not accurately predict the Fall 2023 admission cycle. In any given year, admission probabilities may increase or decrease. A drop in applicants can cause probabilities to increase. A surge in applicants can cause probabilities to decrease. Applicants should not read too much into the admission probability graphs. If you are truly interested in a program, you should apply.

46 thoughts on “Chances of Admission for Fall 2023”

  1. Hey, thank you for the graphs. I am a domestic 105 student and was wording if any of the graphs include data from 105 applicants. If not it would be nice to see simmilar graphs but with 105 applicant data.

    Like

  2. Dear Dr. Bishop,

    When calculating averages towards the end of the year (for required courses), would you take the uncompleted mid-term grade or the finished final grade 11 grade?

    Like

    1. We always use the most recent grades available. If we have predicted or interim grades for a more recent required course, we use them. Results from Grade 11 are only used if we do not have any Grade 12 results for a required course.

      Like

    2. Hi, I’m currently a grade 11 student. I’m planning on taking grade 12 biology this summer to use as one of my top 6 courses. Would I be penalized for this?

      Like

  3. Thank you for the post Dr. Bishop. I was wondering more about how transferring from another universities engineering program to Waterloo’s would work. I understand that the faculty requires some very solid reasoning behind why you’re applying for the transfer (which I’m certain I can provide) but are grades still a significant factor beyond meeting the threshold of 75 percent? Are there any other factors that a transfer student should consider?

    For context, I will be applying to transfer to the dept. of ECE

    Thanks in advance

    Like

    1. Transfer applicants compete against new applicants for spaces in our programs. Grades must be competitive in required courses. Applicants must demonstrate a clear motivation for requesting a transfer.

      We do not encourage students enrolled in a similar program at another Canadian university to apply for a transfer. When students transfer, it is inevitable that it will cost them time and money. For most students, it is best to complete the degree you start.

      Like

  4. Hello Professor and than you for the post,

    Since Ontario Secondary Schools are bringing back exams for university level courses and the fact that we are back to a normal semester school year, will the admission average % for engineering programs be less competitive compared to the averages that we saw from the past few years?

    Like

    1. I would be surprised if we see a return to “normal” this year. There is no incentive for high schools to decrease grades. Unless we see a sudden drop in our applicant numbers, I do not expect admission averages decrease noticeably.

      In my admissions role, I wish secondary school grades were a bit lower. It would make it easier for me to identify promising applicants. It is interesting to note that during the pandemic, university grades inflated more than secondary school grades. High school teachers have done their best for maintaining academic standards. I commend them for doing so.

      Like

  5. Dear Dr. Bishop,

    If a student takes some of the required grade 12 courses in grade 11 is this something that admissions officers will consider? Is it beneficial or detrimental to the student in any way?

    Thanks

    Like

    1. Taking Grade 12 courses in Grade 11 will not hurt your chances of admission. We do not apply any adjustments to the course grades. In some cases, the scheduling of high school courses may make it necessary for applicants to take Grade 12 courses a year earlier.

      Like

  6. Hello Professor Bishop,

    I had no questions to ask, but I just wanted to come here to simply reminisce being in the position of everyone else here exactly a year ago, while I read all these comments. I really didn’t expect I’d be admitted into computer engineering for this fall 2022 term, but here I am.

    Just wanted to say thank you for answering all the questions I had that I posted under (almost) every blog post of yours last year. It really helped out with understanding and preparing. And best of luck to everyone applying this year.

    All it really takes is believing in yourself enough, and putting in the effort to show that you really do. You’ll do great.

    Like

  7. Thanks for the post Dr. Bishop,
    As a 105 domestic applicant who is applying to UWaterloo, when would semester 1 midterm/interim grades need to be reported? I have already submitted my online application through OUAC and am awaiting an acknowledgement email. However, I am uncertain about when I should be submitting any semester 1 interim grades?

    Like

    1. Thank you for applying. You should receive an acknowledgement e-mail soon. I believe our first acknowledgement e-mails are scheduled to be sent tomorrow.

      You will definitely need to arrange for us to receive your grades as they become available if you are an out-of-province student. Hopefully, next steps will be addressed by the e-mail you will receive. We receive grades automatically from Ontario high school students. We are trying to work out automatic grade arrangements with other provinces and jurisdictions. However, most out-of-province students are still required to provide unofficial grades as they become available either through self-reporting or other mechanisms. The exact approach depends upon your location.

      Like

  8. Hello, Dr. Bishop. Thank you for the post. Sorry if this is a commonly asked question but I am wondering how adjustment factors work. Are there different adjustment factors for each province in Canada and if am taking the IB Diploma Programme, is there also a different adjustment factor?

    Like

    1. Adjustment factors are calculated for applicants based on past student success in our first-year engineering programs. For applicants in Ontario, we calculate adjustment factors for each high school. The factors are only used if we have sufficient data and the data demonstrates a significant result. For applicants outside Ontario, we most often group applicants on the basis of geographical regions. We calculate adjustment factors for each province and territory. We also calculate adjustment factors for applicants from other countries and regions where we see a significant difference in student success (for better or worse).

      At one point in time, we did have an adjustment factor for applicants from the IB curriculum. We no longer calculate an adjustment factor for the IB curriculum. If the majority of applicants from a particular school study the IB curriculum, the adjustment factor for the school will already take into account the IB curriculum.

      One thing to keep in mind is that out-of-province (105) applicants are considered separately from Ontario (101) applicants. The range of adjustment factors for out-of-province applicants is generally smaller than the range of adjustment factors for Ontario applicants.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that our adjustment factors change from one year to the next. The adjustment factor system that we use is one that was designed to promote the fair assessment of applicants in a competitive admissions process. Adjustment factors play a more significant role for applicants applying to our most competitive programs.

      Like

  9. Thank you for the post Dr. Bishop!
    I’m from an USA high school and my high school only provides letter grades (A-F) instead of % grades in the transcript. Will the letter grades negatively impact my admission chance? How does Waterloo calculate admission average by letter grades? Thanks!

    Like

    1. It is common for applicants outside Ontario to come from schools that use letter grades. In general, applicants compete against other applicants from similar programs. For this reason, you are not at an advantage or a disadvantage.

      For our U.S. applicants, I will be recruiting in the U.S. next week in Seattle, Washington. I will be attending the NACAC Seattle National College Fair on Friday, November 4th and Saturday, November 5th. You can register to attend on their website.

      Like

  10. Thank you Professor for your post. I have read conflicting things about whether there is any distinction between the applicants offered admission in the first and second round of decisions. Are all applicants considered (at least at a preliminary level) before late March/early April decisions?

    Like

    1. Yes, all applicants are considered for admission in our late March round. Applicants not selected for offers of admission in our early round will then be considered again in our final round of admission in mid-May.

      Like

  11. Dear Professor,

    Work experience is valued in AIF. The vast majority of Canadian international students cannot work in Canada (and it is difficult to return to work in their home country due to the epidemic), what do you think of this situation? Do you take a special way of looking at it?

    For engineering admission, what kind of applicants usually get an offer in March instead of May?

    I understand adjustment play a more significant role for applicants applying to the most competitive programs. But some schools have really low adjustment factors. After some calculations, it can be found that the middle and high scores obtained in some schools are difficult or even impossible for ordinary schools to achieve. Does the same school have the same adjustment factor for all engineering programs?

    Like

    1. International students compete against other international students for spaces in our programs. All international students face the same difficulty so the playing field is level. We also understand that international students may not be able to legally work. We assess applicants accordingly.

      In general, strong applicants receive early offers. However, there may be some strong applicants that we cannot consider due to insufficient information at the time of our early round.

      When we apply adjustment factors, they are applied based on the school of study. The applicant’s program of study has no effect upon how adjustment factors are applied. It is always important to remind applicants that adjustment factors do not prevent students from being admitted to programs with highly competitive applicant pools. Every year, students from high adjustment factor schools receive offers to study in programs such as SE and BIOMEDE. The AIF plays a significant role in the assessment of students for these programs.

      Like

      1. Thank you for your answer Professor,

        I have two more questions:

        1. If a Grade 12 course has a high improvement (over 10%) compared to the same course in Grade 11, do you take special action to look at this?

        2. When I looked at older blog comments, I found that when there is a significant difference between an applicant’s grades under different systems, you may set weights for the adjustment factors to calculate the final adjustment factor. If an applicant has completed the required Grade 12 courses under different systems, and there is no significant difference in grades, how will you apply the adjustment factor?

        Thank you.

        Like

      2. If we see a sudden, unexplained increase in a grade, we do look at the situation closely.

        For students who have studied courses under different systems, we take into account the systems of study to the extent possible. We can tell which courses were taken under each system of study. We can weigh our decisions accordingly.

        Like

  12. Hello Dr. Bishop,
    Do OUAC rankings play a role when UW assesses prospective students? I heard UW doesn’t care how students ranked their UW choices. Is that true?
    Thank you!

    Like

  13. Dear Dr. Bishop,

    Thank you for your post and the information provided.
    I graduated from Senior High School in Japan, where I currently live. I would like to apply to the Mechatronics Engineering Bachelor program offered by the University of Waterloo.
    I am wondering whether there is any subject other than Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and English that will be included in my admission average.

    Like

  14. My school has about a very high adjustment factor of around 20%. For programs including SE and BME, even with near perfect grades would my application have to stronger (subjectively) compared to an average applicant admitted to get admission for these programs? Would the AIF play a larger part in if I’m able to be accepted by individual selection?

    Like

    1. Adjustment factors change from one admission cycle to the next. There is no way of knowing your school’s adjustment factor for this upcoming admission cycle. The most recent adjustment factors in the public domain are those used to admit students in Fall 2021.

      A high adjustment factor does not preclude students from being admitted to our most competitive programs (SE and BIOMEDE). A strong grade on your Admission Information Form (AIF) and a good interview are required for admission to these programs.

      The significance of the AIF depends upon the competitiveness of an applicant pool. For programs with highly competitive applicant pools, the AIF is very important. For programs with less competitive applicant pools, the AIF is less important. There are a few engineering programs where most applicants with an 85% average or higher will be admitted.

      Like

  15. Hello Professor Bishop,
    I was wondering if taking courses outside my regular day school would play a part in my admission. For example, taking a course in Summer School or Private school because it wasn’t available. I was looking around and saw an article by Professor Bill Anderson about summer school marks, in which he wrote difference of less than ~10 between the Grade 11 mark and Grade 12 mark wouldn’t be an issue. However I am aware that this article was from 2014 and many things have changed, so I’m wondering if it is the same or has the process changed (And is this the same for both Private and Summer school). Additionally, I was wondering if the specific course taken outside of regular day school played a part, like taking a science in Private School.
    Thank you for your time and for creating this amazing blog post!!

    Like

    1. Applicants that take required Grade 12 courses in summer school will have their admission average adjusted if we observe a significant, unexplained increase in a grade. If an applicant takes a course in summer school that is not required (for example, Biology or Computer Science), the summer school course has no effect upon an applicant’s admission score.

      Courses taken at private schools that are accredited are not automatically adjusted. There are great private schools and there are weak private schools. The same is true with public schools. Adjustment factors sometimes help with distinguishing the great schools from the weak ones.

      If we observe a significant, unexplained increase in grades that coincides with switching schools, we always look deeper into situation. We also look closely when a student takes a single course from another school and this coincides with a sudden improvement in a subject grade. Sometimes, this will happen for legitimate reasons (for example, the quality of instruction may be better, class sizes may be smaller, etc.). In other cases this will happen for less legitimate reasons. We do the best that we can to assess the situation.

      Like

  16. Hello Dr. Bishop. This year I’m thinking of applying to computer engineering with civil engineering as my alternate choice. In the event that I don’t get accepted to computer engineering, would I still be considered for civil engineering equally to other applicants who listed it as their first choice?

    Also, are computer and electrical engineering admissions done together? I was thinking of applying to electrical instead of computer as it may be easier to get into, but I’m not so sure. Thank you!

    Like

    1. We do not give equal consideration for alternate choice programs. Applicants are considered for alternate programs only if space is available in the alternate program and the applicant is clearly much stronger than applicants in the pool for the alternate program. In a typical year, we give out very few offers to alternate programs. We prefer to admit applicants that applied directly to a program than to admit applicants willing to settle for an alternate program.

      The computer engineering program and electrical engineering program are not equivalent. Computer engineering has more computer hardware and computer software courses in the core curriculum. Electrical engineering has courses on power systems in the core curriculum. Transfers between the programs are no longer simply a matter of completing paperwork. Transfers will only be permitted when space is available. You should apply to the program you wish to study the most. We will consider applicants for these programs separately.

      I do not expect the computer engineering program to be substantially more competitive than the electrical engineering program. Starting in Fall 2023, we only have one stream of electrical engineering students. While computer engineering has more applicants, it also has more spaces to fill.

      Like

  17. Greetings Dr. Bishop,

    Does waterloo’s engineering program care about math contests? Specifically, the ones run by waterloo?

    Thanks

    Like

    1. We do not use math contest scores in our admission assessments for the Faculty of Engineering. We treat the math contests similar to other extracurricular activities. We recognize that some students do not have the ability to participate in the math contests. Even if we wanted to use the scores, we could not since we do not have access to all of the scores.

      Like

  18. Hello Dr. Bishop,

    Thank you for posting these blogs as I’m sure they help relieve the stress of trying to find a good source of information in as little time as possible.

    My question is regarding applicants within Canada (105 specifically) from religiously-tied schools. Are students penalized in their application chances if they attended a religious school for HS? I attended secular schools from kindergarten up until the 7th grade when I transferred to 3 religious schools (7-9, 10, 11-present).

    If it helps with answering my question, my highschool is located in Alberta. Our Mathematics and Science courses all follow Alberta Ed standards and the only real injection of faith is in a separate philosophies course and the daily prayers by our teachers before classes.

    Thanks again for the great help,
    J.

    Like

    1. Students are not penalized for studying at independent schools. Students that study at schools not approved by their province or state are asked to provide details on the curriculum of study if there are any significant concerns. It is very rare that a school will lack province or state approval.

      Like

  19. Greetings Dr. Bishop,

    I have applied for Management Engineering but I want to switch to Electrical Engineering. Is it possible to change my first choice program without paying the fee again on OUAC?

    Also, I have taken grade 12 Data Management in grade 11 and scored a 96% in it. If I were to receive a higher mark on an elective course during second semester midterm, will that mark be used in the average calculation instead?

    Thanks

    Like

    1. It is not possible to change your engineering program on the OUAC site without incurring an additional fee. When an applicant changes their plan of study, some additional processing is required by both OUAC and the University of Waterloo. The fee helps pay for the processing of applications. Our direct-entry programs are best for applicants who know exactly what they want to study. For undecided applicants, many universities offer general engineering programs in first-year that allow students to explore their interests prior to deciding upon a specific discipline of engineering in their second year of study.

      With respect to our admission process, we evaluate most applicants twice. The first evaluation occurs in March during our first round of admission. We will use whatever grades we have at our disposal to evaluate applicants. We may use a combination of final grades, midterm grades, and predicted grades. We typically receive additional grade information between our March round and our final round in May. It may be the case that a grade that previously appeared in your average will be replaced by a higher grade for the final round. However, this may also be the case for other applicants as well.

      Like

  20. Dear Professor Bishop,

    Thank you for continuing to post on your blog, which is an extremely helpful resource when applying to uWaterloo Engineering. I am a domestic OSS student who has applied to MGTE and have already submitted both my AIF and video interview.

    With the application deadline fast approaching, I was wondering if you plan making an updated “Admissions Information” post with the number of applicants and the admissions target for the Fall 2023 admissions cycle? (https://theroadtoengineering.com/2022/02/11/admissions-information/ )
    Presumably this information will not be finalized until February.

    In the comments of “Chances of Admission for Fall 2022” you stated the following:
    “The MGTE program is one where applicants must typically exceed our minimum admission requirements of an 85% average in required courses, no required course below 70%, no repeated courses, and a submitted AIF. However, it is common for students with averages in the high 80’s to receive offers of admission to the program. It is difficult to say whether this will remain true (https://theroadtoengineering.com/2021/10/20/chances-of-admission-for-fall-2022/#comment-6759).

    If I am remembering correctly, you have also said that around 50% of admissions offers are given out in March across the Faculty of Engineering. This varies by program, with a smaller percentage of competitive programs’ offers (SE, etc.) being given out in March. For other engineering programs, offers are given out to all “applicants meeting [Waterloo’s] minimum admission requirements in March” (https://theroadtoengineering.com/2022/01/06/a-quick-update/#comment-6756).

    With MGTE being a relatively less competitive program at uWaterloo, is it likely that more than 50% of the offers be given out in this March? How important is the AIF and optional interview in the candidate selection process, especially for a candidate with a lower average (currently around 91%)?

    I understand that you may not be able to answer all of these questions or may not wish to disclose this information.

    Thank you for the help,

    JH

    Like

    1. I will try to provide some guidance on admissions targets in February. The numbers are still being finalized. I do not expect any significant changes to the admission targets.

      I do expect the number of offers to decrease slightly this year in response to rising show rates. High school applicants are applying to more university programs than in previous years. We are still trying to adapt to this change. As an example, when admitting students to Mechatronics Engineering (MECTR) in Fall 2021, the probability of a student accepting an offer to MECTR if the student had listed the program as a 2nd choice on OUAC was 46.6%. In Fall 2022, this probability rose to 71.8%. This increase of 25.2% in show rates year-over-year is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to hit admission targets. The 7-year moving average of this show rate was 44.4% in case you are wondering if the 46.6% was a huge anomaly.

      With respect to Management Engineering (MGTE), I am predicting higher show rates for all choice levels (1, 2, 3, and 4+). This will likely mean that the program will be slightly harder to get into this year. It probably means that we will give out a few less offers to meet the same targets as last year.

      MGTE is a program where some selection is performed. The AIF does play a role in the selection of applicants. A strong AIF is not required for students with higher admission averages. For students with lower admission averages, a stronger than average AIF may be required. I expect us to give out approximately 50% of our offers in the early round for MGTE.

      Thanks for your questions. I will try to provide an update in February once I know more about our targets and applicant numbers.

      Like

  21. Hello Dr, Bishop.
    First want to thank you for all your posts as they are really very informative and helpful.
    I’ve two questions if you can please answer.
    I’ll be applying for the undergraduate engineering program of Fall 2023 for which the document deadline is 17th Feb 2023. I also know the recommended deadline is Feb 1st, 2023.
    My question is, will I be considered for the March round of admissions if I submit my documents and video interview by Feb 1st? And if I submit them by Feb 17th, will I still be eligible to be considered in the March round or will I only be considered in the May round of admissions?

    Secondly, if I’m not accepted for any particular engineering program in March, will I still be considered again in the May round?

    Like

    1. February 1, 2023 is the hard deadline to submit an application for studying undergraduate engineering programs at the University of Waterloo in Fall 2023. Applicants who submit by the deadline will join our applicant pool. All applicants in our applicant pool will be considered for admission in our first round provided that an Admission Information Form is submitted by the hard deadline for documents on February 17, 2023.

      All applicants that remain in our applicant pool after the early round will be considered for admission offers in our final round in May.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s