students working in the school of architecture undergraduate studio

Future undergraduate students

The Honours Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree provides the foundation of skills, knowledge, judgement and practical experience required for subsequent professional studies in architecture.

Though the Academic Program is pre-professional, it is fully dedicated to imparting to students the culture and practice of design. Design is a synthetic activity. To do it well and serve the needs of the individual and society requires an extremely broad education. Students acquire an understanding of the workings of society and culture, of the principles of physics, of materials and techniques of construction, of the human interaction with the natural and built environment, of historical process, of critical thought and of the diverse forms of creative expression. Co-operative Education is one of the keystones of the Architecture program at the University of Waterloo. Beginning in second year, students alternate 4-month school terms with 4-month paid co-op terms working for architects and designers. The School of Architecture is located in a beautifully restored historic building in the city of Cambridge, about 30 km (45 minutes or so by car) from Waterloo's main campus.
View or download our 2024 undergraduate brochure.
Contact the Undergraduate Program Coordinator for inquiries regarding Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) admissions, courses and consultation.
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Admissions Process

At the School of Architecture, there are two stages for admission: 

Stage 1: Apply via OUAC by the application deadline. Completing an Admissions Information Form (AIF) is not required for Architecture. 

Stage 2: Based on grade averages, a number of applicants will advance to the second stage of the admissions process.  

In early-March, applicants advancing to stage 2 will receive an email containing instructions for signing into the Architecture Admissions Online Platform where you will upload your portfolio, complete a short answer "About You" survey, and indicate your interview preferences. You will also complete an English Precis test. These steps must be completed by March 31, 2024. 

Stage 2 applicants are invited to participate in an in-person interview at the School of Architecture in Cambridge during our interview period, April 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 2024. If coming to Cambridge presents undue hardship or is logistically not possible, we offer a virtual interview instead. The interviews are considered equally whether they are conducted in person or virtually. In either case, our goal is to provide you with the best opportunity to demonstrate the full range of your creative and intellectual interests and abilities.  

The School of Architecture receives a high number of applications. For consideration to proceed to the second stage of the admissions process, an overall average of low-mid 80’s and at least a grade of 75% (usually 80%) in English and at least low 70’s in Physics and the two required mathematics courses is required. If offered admission, a final term mark of at least 70% in the required courses and 75% in English is needed to maintain the offer of admission. It is also recommended that students take visual arts, history and other cultural studies courses. The course grade minimums and average of applicants invited to attend stage two of the admissions process varies and is determined by the strength of the applicant pool each year. 

Admissions requirements are outlined on Waterloo's Undergraduate Programs website.

How to Apply

Portfolio Requirements

Your portfolio is an essential component of your application to the School of Architecture. The purpose of the portfolio is to demonstrate your creativity and your critical thinking, as well as your technical skill. Applicants should include art, design, craft and other creative work that illustrates those characteristics. 

If you are selected for the second stage of the admissions process you must submit a digital portfolio which will be due in mid-late March. You will have a choice to present your physical portfolio in person, or to present your digital portfolio online during your scheduled interview.

What to include in your portfolio

There are no specific requirements for portfolios. You can include any work you feel best demonstrates your creative interests and abilities. Possible portfolio pieces might include:

  • Drawings or paintings of any subject
  • Mixed media and conceptual work
  • Examples of 3-dimensional works
  • Craft and design work such as ceramics, jewelry, metal work or furniture
  • Digital media work including graphic design or animation
  • Photography or video work
  • Performance work such as dance and music

The inclusion of 3-dimensional work is strongly encouraged. Portfolios consisting strictly of drafting, AutoCAD or other technical drawings are rarely what the admissions committee is looking for. You are strongly encouraged to bring your sketchbooks to your interview, or include pages from your sketchbooks in your digital portfolio as evidence of your thought and creative processes. You will need to carefully consider how you organize and format your work. If you are participating in an in-person interview, we strongly encourage you to bring the original works where possible. The only works from your portfolio that should be presented onscreen during in-person interviews are animations and films. All other pieces should be originals or hard copies.

Remember it is YOUR portfolio

As part of your interview (in-person or virtual) you will be required to answer questions about the making of your creative workThe work in your portfolio must be your own. Collaborative work must be properly credited. Submission of work that is not your own will result in the dismissal of your application.

Your portfolio should be recent

Powers of observation, design sensitivity, drawing skills, and craftsmanship constantly improve and will likely be more refined in recent work. Include only what you consider to be your best work in the final portfolio. 

Portfolio limits

While there is no page limit or piece limit for your portfolio, depending on the nature of the work in your portfolio, including approximately 10 pieces and a maximum of 20 pieces (exclusive of sketchbook pages) would be appropriate.


Competitive applicants will be invited to participate in an in-person interview at the School of Architecture in Cambridge where they will present their portfolio and answer questions related to their creative work and related interests. If coming to Cambridge is not possible, we offer a virtual interview instead. The interviews are considered equally whether they are conducted in person or virtually. In either case, our goal is to provide you with the best opportunity to demonstrate the full range of your creative and intellectual interests and abilities.

English Précis Writing Exercise

What is a précis?

A précis is a concise reduction of a text. A précis should include all of the important ideas in the original text, using your own words instead of the words of the original author. In order to successfully write a précis you will need to be able to read carefully, to notice distinctions, to understand tone, and to clearly state another person's ideas in your own words.

In addition to the main précis response, you will be asked to make a separate one-sentence summary of the whole passage that conveys all the main ideas of the text.

The writing of the precis test is required from all second stage applicants and will be administered in mid-April. All applicants must pass this test to be further considered in the application process.

Faculty Transfer

Transfer students are eligible for admission to the first year of the program only. College courses are not eligible for transfer credit into the Architecture program. Please refer to our faculty transfer page for further information.

Accreditation information

The professional Master of Architecture in conjunction with the pre-professional Bachelor of Architectural Studies degree from the University of Waterloo compromises an accredited professional education.

In Canada, all provincial/territorial associations/institutes/orders recommend a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite for licensure. In Canada, the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) is the sole agency authorized by the Regulatory Organization of Architecture in Canada (ROAC) to accredit Canadian professional degree programs in architecture for the purposes of architectural licensure. The CACB recognizes two types of accredited degrees offered at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture: the Master of Architecture (professional) and the Bachelor of Architecture (pre-professional). A program may be granted a six-year, three-year, or two-year term of accreditation, depending on its degree of conformance with established educational standards.

Master’s degree programs may consist of a pre-professional undergraduate degree and a professional graduate degree, which, when earned sequentially, comprise an accredited professional education. However, the pre-professional degree is not, by itself, recognized as an accredited degree.

The program in Architecture at the University of Waterloo received accreditation for a 6-year term by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB) in 2017. The program is scheduled for its next review to continue maintaining its accredited status in 2024.

View the 2017 Visiting Team Report.

Guide to Program and Student Performance Criteria.