How to apply

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Preparing to apply | Apply online | After you apply | International applicantsContact us 

We are thrilled that you are considering graduate studies at the University of Waterloo. The Faculty of Arts works with departments and Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) to review all graduate applications. We are committed to a fair and thorough review process with the goal of providing students with an admission decision in a timely manner.

Preparing to apply

Decide which program is right for you

It’s important to find the right program – one that aligns with your academic interests, educational background, and ideal career path. The Faculty of Arts offers 35+ graduate programs in diverse fields such as digital media and user experience, cognitive neuroscience, global governance, bioethics, and more.

Whatever your interests are, there's a graduate program for you.

Review application requirements

Each program will have slightly different application requirements. Some may require a writing sample, personal statement, or resume. Make sure you know what the program you're applying to requires so that you can submit a complete application.

Consider potential supervisors (research programs only)

Some programs will assign you a supervisor at the time of admission while others will assign one once you've started in your program. Regardless of which type you're applying to, it's a good idea to research potential supervisors that you might be interested in working with and indicate this on your application. 

A supervisor is not required for course-based programs.

Select referees

References are an important part of your application to Waterloo, so it's important to choose referees who know your skills and experience, and who can communicate your ability to succeed as a graduate student.

You are not required to gather reference letters from your referees before you apply. When you submit your online application, you will provide your referee's contact information and they will be sent a link to a confidential reference form which will be automatically added to your application once completed. All reference forms will be verified for authenticity.

Apply online

Prepare your application

Create an online application account to start your graduate application. If you run into any issues, contact the graduate application team at

You should start preparing your application well in advance of the application deadline. Applications that stand out are complete, well-written, with strong references. Be sure to know when deadlines are coming up – and give your referees time to prepare.

Submit your online application

On the online application system, select your program and enter the necessary details and application information. There is an application fee of $125 per program.

One to two business days after you have completed the online application and the fee has been processed, you will receive an email with instructions for claiming your identity (user ID and password) to access Quest, the University of Waterloo’s student information system.

You will use Quest to upload your application documents, view the status of your application, and accept or decline your offer of admission if applicable.

After you apply

Admission review process

Once you have uploaded all of your required documents, and your referees have completed their reference forms, your application is complete. The document status will change from “Initiated” to “Completed” under your documents list in Quest. Completed applications will be reviewed after the application deadline.

  1. Your application will first be reviewed by the department you have applied to. Applicants selected by the academic unit are recommended for admission and the application is sent to the Faculty Associate Dean’s Office.
  2. The Faculty Associate Dean’s Office then reviews your application. All applications approved for admission are then sent to Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs for review and final approval.
  3. Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) reviews your application to verify admissibility.

We aim to make an application decision within 8 - 10 weeks of the admit term’s application deadline, though this may vary depending on the number of applications received. We ask that you defer from contacting the department for an update on your application status until 10 weeks after the application deadline. 

Admission decision

Once the admission review process is complete, your admission decision will appear on Quest along with funding and supervisory details and any conditions of admission, if applicable.

After reviewing your offer of admission details, please accept your offer in Quest by the deadline indicated in the offer details. We are excited to welcome you!

Contact us

Program help

For questions about the program you are applying to, reach out to the graduate coordinator

  • Program content and structure
  • Application requirements
  • Funding information

Application help

For questions about the online application process, reach out to the application support team.

  • Submitting your online application
  • Uploading your documents
  • Changing a referee

While the Faculty of Arts at the University of Waterloo deeply values the contributions of international students in our graduate programs, we can only accept a small number of international students each year.

To ensure your program of interest is accepting international students, please reach out to the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies prior to applying.