International Exchange

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Internationalizing your degree

Students in the Faculty of Arts are encouraged to go abroad in a number of different ways: academic exchanges, co-op jobs, summer programs, service learning, and more.

Through Waterloo Passport, you'll be able to explore the exchange programs and destinations available to Waterloo Arts students.

Why Go Abroad?

Going on an academic exchange allows you to broaden your world view, enhance your cross-cultural understanding and communication skills, while learning to be adaptable and innovative. All of this while earning credit toward your UW degree!

When can I go?

  • AFM students are eligible to go on exchange in the Fall 4A term only.
  • GBDA students are eligible to go on exchange in their 3A or 4A term.
  • Honours Arts and Honours Arts and Business students are eligible to go on exchange from their 3A term onward. Exchanges in your final 4B term are not recommended and transcript and graduation delays will result.  
  • Honours Arts and Honours Arts and Business and Honours Liberal Studies students can also apply for 2-4 week summer programs that begin before level 3A.

Want to know more?

If you're interested in participating in an academic exchange or study abroad your next step is to attend a mandatory information session. Please visit the Go Abroad Application Steps website for upcoming information sessions and make sure to submit your application by the posted deadlines. The first deadline is October 31 this year.

GBDA Students: Please see the GBDA Go Abroad website to learn more about how an exchange can compliment your degree.


Students selected for an exchange serve as UW ambassadors. As such, successful candidates must have:

  • Academic level of 3A (9.5 units complete) or higher at the time of the exchange* 
  • Minimum cumulative overall average (CAV) of 70% at the time of application** 
  • Minimum academic standing of satisfactory (SAT) in all academic plans at the time of application***
  • Must not have exceeded the maximum number of non-numeric academic units possible for their degree program (this includes CR grades). Exchange terms are typically awarded 2.5 units of transfer credit so students must have space for 2.5 units of transfer credit to be awarded.
  • Fees arranged status in Quest (a No Fee Arranged hold will prevent an application being endorsed)

    Academic level*

  • AFM students are eligible to go on exchange in their 4A term only.
  • GBDA students are eligible to go on exchange in their 3A or 4A term.
  • Honours Arts, Honours Arts and Business, and Honours Liberal Studies students can apply to go on exchange from 3A onward. Exchanges in your final 4B term are not recommended and transcript and graduation delays will result.  Honours Arts, Honours Arts and Business, and Honours Liberal Studies students can also apply for 2-4 week summer programs before level 3A (example – applying in the Winter 1B term to go in summer before Fall 2A.)

    Academic average**

  • Arts academic advisors should consult with the arts exchange coordinator when reviewing an application where a student has an INC grade as it will impact a student’s overall average.

    Academic standing***

    Arts academic advisors should consult with the arts exchange coordinator when reviewing an application where a student has a conditional (CNDS, CNDP) academic standing. If a student’s academic standing is CNDW the application cannot be endorsed.



For international exchanges, you pay your normal tuition fees (for 2.5 units) to Waterloo. There is no extra tuition charged to participate in an exchange program.

You can also take your OSAP with you. It is important to research application, travel, and living costs (which vary by country). To help you calculate how much an exchange might cost, please review the Waterloo Passport program pages. Please note that your tuition for an exchange term does not change if you take a lighter course load at your host school.

Summer programs

Summer programs through the University of Waterloo vary. For some summer programs, you pay the program fee directly to the host school and for others, you pay your tuition fees (for 1.5 units) to Waterloo. You can find this information, as well as the program cost, on the program's summary page in Waterloo Passport. Please also check with your major advisor to determine eligibility.

Exchange Scholarships and Bursaries

There are a variety of scholarships and bursaries available for students who are going on exchange.

  • International experience awards – one application to be considered for all available awards.
  • Arts International Experience Award: Several awards, valued at $1,000 each, are available annually to full-time Arts undergraduate students (excluding Accounting and Financial Management) who are planning to travel abroad to enhance their learning experience.
  • Eric Breugst International Exchange Award: Two awards, valued at $1,000 each, will be awarded annually to full-time undergraduate students enrolled in Year Three or Four of any program in the Faculty of Arts (excluding the School of Accounting and Finance) who will be participating in an eligible international exchange/study abroad program.

Before you apply

  • Attend a mandatory information session.
  • Contact your Academic Advisor(s) to understand how an exchange will fit into your academic plan.
    • Depending on the term dates of the school you are going to, you may have to make changes to the sequencing of your work and study terms or extend the length of your degree to accommodate your study overseas.
    • Plan on taking your required courses at Waterloo and leaving your electives to take during your exchange, as it can be difficult to find courses that will transfer back to Waterloo as the specific courses you may need.
  • Check the term dates, duration and language of instruction of the host schools to ensure they would be a good option for you. You are expected to be at your host school for their term dates, not Waterloo's.

How to apply

  1. Review the eligibility requirements above for Arts students above
  2. Attend a mandatory information session hosted by the Study Abroad team
  3. Review potential host schools in Waterloo Passport. Note: you will only have access to the application form following your attendance at an information session and when applications are open.

See the Application Steps tabs on the Student Success Office's Go abroad page.

Course selection and transfer credits

Transfer credits

We recommend you research your courses early and have them assessed before you leave for your exchange so that you know which transfer credits you can expect to receive when you get back to Waterloo.

You are welcome to take any course that your host university will allow you to enrol in, and recognize that an exchange is a cultural experience just as much as an academic one, so don’t be afraid to try something new!

Transfer credit assessment process

Step One - Determine your course needs

After you’ve been matched for an exchange, book an appointment with your major academic advisor first, to determine your course needs and review your study plan. Your academic advisor must approve any courses towards a major, minor, diploma or specialization. The exchange advisor may also approve specific and generic courses where possible. If you do not get your courses approved before departing for exchange, you risk not meeting your degree or academic plan requirements.

Step Two – Determine your required course load

Please review the destination in Waterloo Passport that you plan to study at to determine how many courses you need on exchange. It's important you understand the credit system of the host institution to complete the equivalent of 5 UW courses (i.e. your course load needs to be equivalent to a 2.5 unit load at UW).

You can now begin to research and browse the host university’s course offerings online and determine courses of interest. This research should include priority courses you want and some backup courses.

Step Three - Submit your course requests

For students in all faculties, including Arts (AFM or GBDA - see below): Once you have determined your course needs, required course load and courses of interest at the host university, please talk to your major academic advisor within your faculty, and then submit this form for possible Arts course equivalencies.

For AFM Students: Please contact your academic advisor in the School of Accounting and Finance to review your eligibility for an exchange, and to confirm your course equivalencies –

For GBDA Students: Please see the GBDA Go Abroad website - Course Selection for your course approval process. Do not follow the instructions below.

Commonly Asked Questions:

  • How do I register in courses? The Global Learning Coordinators will provide you with more information about how to register in courses at the partner institution. This may be part of the partner application process after you are matched or may happen separately.
  • Can I make course changes after I arrive? Yes, if you need or want to make changes once you get to your exchange school, you will need approval of those courses. Follow the same process as above to get approval. We will work as quickly as possible to review your requests, however do not wait until the last minute to request changes. The minute you know you need to make a change, send us an email. 
  • What is the difference between specific and generic course equivalents?  Most of the courses you will take on exchange will not be direct or specific matches to courses offered at UW. You receive general or generic credit matches for these courses. Specific or general course matches have the same credit value (0.5 units).
    • Specific Course Equivalents: These are courses that have content similar or close to a course offering at UW. The course will be transferred back to your record as a specific transfer credit (i.e. PSYCH 101, SOC 202, ECON 301). For specific course equivalencies, a course outline or syllabus will be required. These are usually unavailable during the course selection process when you are applying to the host institution. A reminder to students that specific course equivalencies are not guaranteed on exchange, but can be approved when possible.
    • General Course Equivalents: These are courses that do not match courses or content offered at UW, but are relevant to your studies and in a discipline offered at UW. If you are eligible to take the course, it will be transferred back your record as a generic transfer credit (i.e PSYCH 1XX, SOC 2XX, ECON 3XX, or MISC 1XX).

Can I take less than 5 courses while on exchange?

Faculty of Arts students are expected to enrol in the number of courses required to be considered full-time status at the host school but you can decide to do fewer than five courses on exchange if the Host institutions allows it. It is important to follow those guidelines as they are connected to the validity of your study visa. You can take fewer than 5 courses at the host institution but be aware that doing so may result in you receiving fewer than 2.5 UW transfer credits when you return. You will still pay for a full course load at UW.

How are courses transferred back toward my UW degree?

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 UW averages. In other words, the averages you achieved before you go on an international exchange will remain the same once your transfer credits are applied to your transcript.

If you have any questions about course approvals, please contact the Arts Outbound Exchange Advisor at


Arts Exchange Advisor
PAS 2439 | 519-888-4567, ext. 45870

Advising Hours:
Monday to Friday
10:00 a.m. to noon | 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.