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.

16 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.


  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?


    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.


  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


    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.


  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?


    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.


  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?



    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.


  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.


  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?


    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.


  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?


    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.


Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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