Academic standing - Understanding your unofficial transcript

It is in your best interest to contact your academic advisor on a regular basis to discuss your academic standing. Advisors can help you understand what your academic standing means, things you need to consider for next term/year, and access available supports for your academic success.

The official grading system is described in the Undergraduate Studies Academic Calendar. A transcript legend is also provided on the Registrar's Office website, which includes numeric grades, non-numeric grades, and requirement designation definitions.


  • 50% or higher is a passing grade in Waterloo courses.
  • Courses taken at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) on a Cross-Registration basis or via self-enrolment on Quest (e.g., BUS 111W and BUS 121W) require a final grade of 50% to be credited toward your Waterloo degree (WLU employs a letter grade system where a D- is equal to a 50%); grades in WLU courses, while appearing on your Waterloo transcript, will NOT be calculated into your averages (some exceptions are made for students pursuing majors or minors in Anthropology, Classical Studies, German, and Spanish).
  • The highest grade that will be assigned in ANY Waterloo course is 100%
  • Failed courses have a grade of less than 50%. For Faculty of Arts students, any grade lower than 32% is calculated into averages as 32%.

Other grades that may be assigned include:

  • INC (Incomplete) - reflects an agreement between a professor and student to hand in work late; no numeric value. Please refer to the INC grade process for further information.
  • FTC (Failure to Complete) - calculated in averages as 32%
  • NMR (No Mark Recorded) - no work submitted for the course, calculated in averages as 32%
  • DNW (Did Not Write) - missed the final exam (calculated in averages as 32%)
  • MM (Missing Mark) - grade has not been received by the Registrar's Office, no numeric value
  • WD (Withdrew) - no numeric value
  • WF (Withdrew too late, Failed) - calculated in averages as 32%

Minimum grade averages needed from Arts students

The averages you need to maintain are determined by the specific requirements of your official academic plan. Students are responsible for knowing what their requirements are and meeting them. The undergraduate studies academic calendar outlines program and plan level requirements. Academic advisors are available to help you understand your requirements if you are unsure.

Arts average

Your faculty or "Arts average" (all Arts courses ever taken) MUST equal 65% or higher. Your Arts average is the most important average when determining your standing decision.

Cumulative average

Your cumulative average (Arts + non-Arts courses) MUST equal 60% or higher.

Grades in courses taught by other faculties (for example BIOL, CS, MATH, HLTH) are factored into your cumulative average only. For a list of all Waterloo courses and their corresponding faculty, see the course description index to know if a course will count in your Arts average or only your cumulative average.

Important: A cumulative average of 60% is not adequate if your Arts average is below 65%.

Major average

If you're registered in a major plan (or hope to be admitted to a major plan), the average of the courses that are required for your major must equal:

  • 65% average for a 3-Year or 4-Year General major;
  • 70% average for an Honours major (as above, your overall average must be at least 60%);
  • Liberal Studies students need a 65% Arts average for 3-Year or 4-Year General, or a 70% Arts average for Honours.

Review specific plan average information in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Arts and Business students (Co-op or Regular)

If you're registered in the Honours Arts and Business program, the following averages are required:

  • 70% average in required Business-related courses
  • admission to an Honours major plan or Honours Liberal Studies at the end of the 1B term

Minor average

If you wish to complete a minor, the average of all courses completed that are applicable to that minor must equal 65%. The only exception is the HRM minor, which requires a 70% average.

Academic Standing Decisions

Academic Standing Decisions are made at the end of every term in which you complete courses, even if you only take one course. You'll find these decisions on your unofficial transcript once grades are official (usually three weeks into the following term). Academic Standing of Excellent, Good, or Satisfactory are the standing decisions that indicate you are meeting your academic plan requirements.

  • Excellent - 80% or higher cumulative average plus major/faculty average of 80% or greater
  • Good - a cumulative average between 70% and 79.9%  plus minimum major requirements
  • Satisfactory - a cumulative average between 60% and 69.9% plus minimum major requirements

See the Undergraduate Calendar for program and plan information for major requirements.

Standing Decisions “of concern”

Contain the words “Conditional/Must Raise...” or “Unsatisfactory” or “Failed." Meet with your advisor to discuss your options.

Conditional Standings

  • "Must Raise Faculty average” - the Arts average is below the minimum 65% required
  • “Must Raise Overall Average” - the cumulative average is below the minimum of 60% required
  • “Must Raise Plan Average(s)” - the major average or Arts and Business average is below the required minimum
  • “Must raise Overall and Plan Average(s)” - the major average(s) and overall average are below required minimums
  • “At Risk of Being Required to Withdraw”  - averages are significantly lower than required and student is at risk of receiving a failed standing in the following term and being required to withdraw from Waterloo

Unsatisfactory Standings

Any of the standing decisions below will automatically change your degree program. Meet with an advisor as soon as you can.

  • “Proceed in Honours Arts & Business Regular”
  • “Proceed in Honours Arts”
  • “Proceed in 4-Year General”
  • “Proceed in 3-Year General”

Failed Standings

Any failed standing will impact your ability to continue your studies. You must meet with an advisor before proceeding so that you understand your options.

  • “Required to Withdraw”
  • “May Not Continue in Faculty”

Students may qualify to enroll in the Foundation Term after a Failed standing decision in level 1A or 1B and at least one term absence from studies. To participate in the Foundation Term, students must sign and submit several forms for consideration by the deadline.