Expand your world on an international exchange
Students in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences (AHS) are encouraged to participate in an international exchange opportunity. You can spend either one or two terms studying aboard. Courses taken while on exchange may be credited towards your University of Waterloo (UW) degree. Therefore, you can complete degree requirements while getting an experience of a lifetime!
AHS has more than 40 student exchange agreements in over 20 different countries.
By participating in an International exchange you have the opportunity to:
- learn about a different culture by experiencing it firsthand;
- learn to become independent, flexible, and confident;
- make friends with people from different cultural and social backgrounds;
- study courses within a different culture while obtaining credit toward your UW degree.
Students selected for the exchange program serve as ambassadors of the University of Waterloo (UW). As such, successful candidates must have:
- at least third year standing (application accepted in 2nd year);
- 70% or above overall average;
- completed at least one academic year in the department if they are a transfer student.
Before you apply, you should meet with your academic advisor to determine if an exchange is possible based on your remaining degree requirements. If it is, your academic advisors will identify the best term for the exchange, as well as the required courses you must complete while on exchange to meet your remaining degree requirements. We cannot guarantee course offerings at other institutions. As such, academic advisors normally encourage students to go on exchange during a free elective-heavy term.
There is no guarantee regarding course offerings at UW. Although you may arrange your schedule to complete your degree requirements in four years, not all courses are offered every year and some courses may change time slots. This may lead to course conflicts. Be prepared for the possibility that you may not finish your degree in four years.
Adding an international experience to your degree doesn't have to break the bank! Most students who live in another country for a term find that they spend just about 30% more than they would if they stayed at Waterloo. Not a bad deal for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Paying for courses
While away on exchange, you pay normal full-time (2.5 credit) tuition fees to UW, rather than having to pay international student fees to your host institution. You also continue to be eligible for OSAP and other forms of financial assistance while on exchange.
Paying for other expenses
You are responsible for covering application, travel, and living costs related to your exchange. These expenses vary by country. To help you calculate how much your exchange might cost, please review living and housing expense details found under each partner institution’s program page.
Exchange Scholarships and Bursaries
We recognize the value of broadening your knowledge and experience by spending time abroad. That's why we have funding and awards available for international experiences:
- Scholarships and bursaries are available through the Students Awards and Financial Aid Office (J.R. Coutts, the Ron Eydt, and the David Johnston International Experience Awards).
- If you received a University of Waterloo President's Scholarship of Distinction when you were admitted to the university, you may be able to claim the additional President's International Experience Award, worth $1,500.
Some exchange programs offer direct scholarships or financial incentives to UW students once they have been accepted into the program. To learn more about financing an exchange, consult How do I pay for it?
The Canadian Bureau for International Education offers scholarship programs. To learn more, explore CBIE funding options.
Plan and apply
While Health Studies, Public Health and Recreation and Leisure Studies students normally go on exchange in fourth year, and Kinesiology students normally go on exchange in either third or fourth year, you should meet with your academic advisor to determine if an exchange is possible for you, and if so, determine the best term for your exchange. You should start preparing for this experience as early as possible. You usually need to apply for the exchange 8-12 months in advance!
In first year…
- Research the exchange destinations and programs that interest you and begin to get an idea of how much it will cost.
- Review the eligibility requirements.
- Make an appointment with your academic advisor to discuss timing.
- Make an appointment with the AHS International Exchange Officer to talk about your plans.
- Depending on where you want to go, consider taking appropriate language or culture courses.
In second or third year…
- Make sure to plan early to give yourself enough time to complete your application before the deadline. To be considered in the first round of placements, applications are due November 1.
- Narrow down your destinations to your top three exchange universities.
- If you haven’t already, make an appointment with the AHS International Exchange Officer to discuss your plans.
- Learn about the Global Experience Certificate and find out more about how to apply for international experience scholarships.
- Apply for exchange and get ready for the experience of a lifetime!
- Start getting your courses approved.
- Once admitted, make sure you have made arrangements for your visa, travel, housing, and courses—do not leave it until the last minute!
- Your date of departure will depend on the term dates of your host institution.
- Enjoy your time abroad! Meet new people, see amazing places, and study the world through a new lens.
When you return…
- Share your experience with us and other students. Communicate with the AHS International Exchange Officer for more details on how you can share your experiences.
- Sometime after you return from your exchange, the courses you took on your exchange will be applied to your Waterloo degree as transfer credits. After this happens, you may want to check in with your advisor to make sure you are on track to meet your graduation requirements.
Applications are completed online through Waterloo Passport. Only one application per student is permitted. As such, students are encouraged to include the top three institutions of choice in their application.
The application portal opens October 1. Although the portal remains open, to be considered in the first round of placements, the submission deadline is November 1. Applications submitted after November 1 will still be considered, but, they will be assessed in the second round of placements.
Before placements can occur, students must submit their application fee. The fee can be paid one of three ways:
- In person at the Student Success Office: SCH 217
- By phone: 519-888-4567 ext. 84410
- Online payment
For more detailed information, consult the Student Success Office website: How do I apply?
Placement and application to host institution
You will be notified of your placement via e-mail by mid-February.
Please note, a placement does not mean you have been admitted to the host institution. You will be required to submit a formal application for admission directly to your host institution. You will receive instructions by email for completing the application to the host institution:
- For summer programs and fall term exchanges: instructions will be sent out by the end of April.
- For winter term exchanges: instructions will be sent out by the end of September.
Once your placement is confirmed, you should start the process of selecting your courses.
Offer of admission to host institution
You can expect to receive an official offer of admission to the host institution:
- by the end of June for summer programs and fall term exchanges;
- by the end of November for winter exchanges.
Finalize travel arrangements and accommodation
Once you have been admitted to the host institution, you can start finalizing your travel arrangements and housing accommodations. This is when you will also need to apply for your study visa or permit, if one is required.
Complete the online pre-departure training course
For more detailed information, consult the Student Success Office website: application process.
After your trip
When you return home...
- Expect some reverse culture shock! A helpful antidote: talk to others who have already been away on exchange.
- Expect to be asked to network with Waterloo students preparing for an exchange. Your experiences will be very valuable to them! Thank you in advance!
Transcripts and credits
- You will receive an official transcript, from your host institution usually within two-three months of returning home, with your course grades indicated in alpha or numerical form.
- Your host institution will also send your official transcript to the Student Success Office. This will allow us to establish your UW equivalent credits.
- The credits will be added to your Waterloo record with the designation “credit”, but without any numerical grade. In other words, these credits transferred from the partner institution will have no bearing on your UW average.
While on exchange, you take courses at another institution and get credit towards your degree at UW.
How it works
- While away on exchange, you pay normal full-time tuition fees to UW, rather than having to pay international student fees to your host institution. In order to bill tuition for a full course load (2.5 credits), you will be enrolled in the placeholder course REC 375/ KIN 372 /HLTH 405 International Exchange for the term of the exchange. Once we receive your official transcript from your host institution, the placeholder course will be replaced on your transcript by the transfer credits.
- You need the equivalent of a 60% in a course at another university in order for it to transfer back to your degree at UW. Conversions to a 60% are available for each partner institution. Communicate with the AHS International Exchange Officer for details on the conversion specific to your host institution.
- The grades you get in your exchange courses are not calculated in your average and will only show up on your UW transcript as credit (CR) or no credit (NCR).
Finding courses and determining course equivalents
Most universities have course information available online. You can find details under each partner institution’s program page in Waterloo Passport.
Most of the courses you’ll take on exchange won’t be direct equivalents to courses offered at UW, and therefore will transfer back to your degree as general credits (for example, KIN 2XX or HLTH 3XX).
Registering in courses
Once you have been accepted by the host institution, they will provide you with more information about how to register in courses. Regardless of when or how you register in courses at the partner institution, you must pay your tuition to UW by the normal tuition fee deadlines.
Course approval process
Once your placement is confirmed, you should select your courses and submit their outlines for approval to the AHS International Exchange Officer. You will want to select your courses and initiate the approval process well before you leave. This will ensure that you know what transfer credits to expect when you get back. In many cases, you will be required to include your selection of courses in your formal application to the host institution. You will therefore want to start the approval process well before the application deadline.
Course selection/availability may change throughout the application process. Please keep the AHS International Exchange Officer up to date as these changes occur. We cannot guarantee course availability abroad. It is therefore important that you remain flexible when selecting courses for any exchange or study abroad program.
If you hope to complete specific degree requirements while on exchange, such as a core content cluster course or a Recreation and Sport Business elective, you will need to have the courses assessed by your academic advisor to determine if they can fulfill specific degree requirements.
AHS students are expected to enroll in the number of courses required to be considered full-time at the host institution. Regardless of the number of courses you take at the host institution, you will pay tuition for a full course load at UW (2.5 credits).
AHS recognizes that a great amount experiential learning happens before, during and after an exchange. As such, all AHS students who participate in an international exchange are awarded a 0.5 credit of MISC 1XX.
Course approval FAQs
Can I take less than 5 courses while on exchange?
Yes, you can decide to do fewer than five courses on exchange. AHS students are expected to enroll in the number of courses required to be considered full-time at the host institution. Please be aware that doing less than the equivalent of five courses at UW does not impact your tuition. You will still pay for a full course load.
Can I take less than 5 courses while on exchange?
Courses are transferred back to UW on a Pass/Fail basis (CR/NCR). As such, numerical grades will not appear on your UW transcript, and will not be included in the calculation of your overall average. In other words, the cumulative average you have before you go on an international exchange will be the same cumulative average when you come back to UW!
To obtain a “Pass” for a Transfer Credit, you must obtain a Minimum Grade Equivalent to 60% or C- at UW. You should therefore consult the entry for your host institution to see the minimum grade that equates to a 60% or C- at UW.
Work or volunteer
Why work or volunteer abroad?
Working or volunteering abroad is a great way to see the world, broaden your horizons, and gain valuable experience and skills.
Volunteering abroad is a requirement of the Global Experience Certificate.
A part-time job may be possible during your exchange term; however it does depend on the specific regulations of the host country. Check the conditions of your study permit or visa, as well as your host institution’s website for any job information for international students.
Note: While AHS students have previously volunteered through these external programs, they are not officially affiliated with or endorsed by the University of Waterloo.
Contact us if you have questions about the international exchange, or would like to schedule an appointment the AHS International Exchange Officer!
- Email us
- Call us at 519 888 4567 ext. 35663
- Come see us in person to the Dean’s Office (third floor BMH)