Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Watch our Aviation program overview

In this video, Drs. Suzanne Kearns and Ian McKenzie answer your most frequently asked questions about Waterloo's Aviation programs.

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Still have questions?

Review our list of FAQs below or get in touch with a recruitment coordinator.

  1. Our programs
  2. Flight training
  3. Living in Waterloo Region

Our programs

What aviation programs does the University of Waterloo offer?

The University of Waterloo offers three aviation-focused programs:

  • Geography and Aviation;
  • Science and Aviation; and
  • Geography and Environment Management, Aviation specialization

Geography and Aviation and Science and Aviation prepare students for careers as pilots and flight instructors. The Geography and Environmental Management, Aviation specialization program is geared toward students with an interest in the aviation industry at large.

Why pursue an undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo?

Our Geography and Aviation and Science and Aviation programs are designed for students who love to fly, and who want a university education to supplement their flight training. Both are intensive programs, coupling a full university degree with a Commercial Pilot License (CPL). Students with a passion for flying that are able to multi-task and schedule their time well are ideal candidates for either program. In university classes, you will learn concepts that complement your flight training, such as how global positioning systems (GPS) work, geographic information systems (GIS), aerodynamics, atmospheric science, and meteorology.

It has been estimated that the aviation industry supports 67.2 million direct and indirect jobs around the world. Between now and 2036, to meet the demand forecast for the international aviation industry, we would require 67 new pilots, 14 new air traffic controllers, and 141 new maintenance engineers every day. The Geography and Environmental Management, Aviation specialization has been designed to meet the needs of those seeking careers in this growing field. Students that choose the four-year honours program have the option of enrolling in co-op.

Learn more about the University of Waterloo.

What is the difference between "Geography and Aviation" and "Science and Aviation"?

With both programs you graduate with a Commercial Pilot License (CPL). The flight training is exactly the same. The difference is in the academic portion.

In Geography and Aviation you graduate with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies (BES). You will explore aviation from the perspective of a geographer and learn how to interpret weather patterns, identify land formations, read multi-layer maps, and use a range of technical programs in your Waterloo classes. You'll gain sought after skills in sustainability and will understand the impacts of aviation on the environment.

In Science and Aviation you graduate with a Bachelor of Science (BSc). You’ll explore aviation from the perspective of a scientist and gain sought-after knowledge in science and technology, qualifying you for diverse careers in the aviation and aerospace industries. Your degree allows you to explore the sciences, such as biology, chemistry, earth sciences, and physics.

What is the difference between the "Geography and Aviation" and "Geography and Environmental Management, Aviation specialization" programs?

Both programs provide a foundational education in geography, in addition to aviation industry specific training. However, the Geography and Aviation program provides concurrent flight training to prepare graduates for careers as commercial pilots.

The Geography and Environmental Management, Aviation specialization program prepares graduates for a variety of aviation industry careers, including ground-based careers such as airline dispatcher, air traffic controller, airport operations/environmental management, and airline carbon offsetting. The program is also a good option for those independently enrolled in fixed wing or rotary flight training programs. Students may be eligible to transfer up to 1.0 credits from earning their Private Pilot License to the degree. Though prior flight training is an asset within the specialization, it is not a requirement.

The Aviation specialization also provides students who withdraw from an Aviation program, a pathway to graduate with an ‘aviation’ designation on their Geography and Environmental Management degree.

Why should I do flight training through the University of Waterloo?

The Aviation programs allow you to complete a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) and undergraduate degree simultaneously. Both programs complement your flight training by teaching you topics that are relevant to the aviation industry.

Your undergraduate degree will help you compete for jobs after graduation. If you decide to no longer pursue a career as a pilot, your degree is a perfect back-up plan.

Lastly, your professional pilot training courses not only help you attain a Commercial Pilot License, they’re counted toward your Geography and Aviation or Science and Aviation degree.

What are the admissions requirements for Geography and Aviation or Science and Aviation?

There are academic and non-academic requirements for admission.

  1. You must first apply to the University of Waterloo and be accepted based on the academic and admissions requirements for either Geography and Aviation or Science and Aviation.
  2. Attend a Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre (WWFC) information session prior to June of your intake year. This is not mandatory, but heavily recommended to understand the rigors of the program. 
  3. Obtain a Transport Canada Medical Category 1 certificate. Students should have their medical assessment completed no later than July 1st for it to arrive on time.
  4. Prior to receiving an unconditional offer from the WWFC, qualifying students will be required to submit an application package before the start of flight training, which requires proof of the Transport Canada Medical Category 1 certificate. WWFC will provide application package instructions to students once they accept their offers of admission to the University of Waterloo. 

What are the admissions requirements for Geography and Environmental Management, Aviation specialization?

Please review the admissions requirements for the program listed on our admissions website. Then, apply to the University of Waterloo through the Ontario Universities' Application Centre (OUAC).

What is the cost of these programs?

See the cost of flight training and academic tuition.

Can I go by different names at the University of Waterloo and WWFC?

You need to register at both places using the names that are on your government documents and application. If your name has changed, complete the name change form and send it to The Centre in Needles Hall.

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Flight training

Watch the WWFC's FAQ video for answers to the most common flight training questions.

Can I apply to an aviation program at Waterloo if I have no flight experience?

Yes! You do not need previous flight experience to apply to either program. We do recommend that you spend some time in a small plane in order to gauge your comfort level. This can be done through a “Discovery Flight” at your nearest flight centre.

Can I apply to an aviation program at Waterloo if I already have flight training?

As long as you have not progressed past a Private Pilot License (PPL) you are admissible to the Geography and Aviation and Science and Aviation programs.

If you have progressed past a PPL, you may apply to the three or four year Geography and Environmental Management program, and declare a specialization in Aviation. Your previous flight experience may be considered for up to 1.0 transfer credits toward your degree.

Where does flight training take place for the Geography and Aviation and Science and Aviation programs?

The flight training takes place at the WWFC. It’s located at the Region of Waterloo International Airport (YKF) and has grown to be one of the top flight schools in Canada, with training recognized by Transport Canada.

Transportation to the WWFC is currently not provided, and there are no public transportation routes. Students in the program typically carpool or organize other methods.

What will the flight program include? When will the flight training take place?

See the flight milestones and flight/study sequences for Geography and Aviation and Science and Aviation.

How many flight hours will I gain in the program?

You will gain an average of 205+ flight hours.

What is the WWFC information session?

The WWFC information session gives you and your family the opportunity to learn the ins and outs of what it takes to become a pilot, tour the WWFC’s facilities, and ask any questions you may have. See upcoming WWFC information sessions.

We highly recommend attending an information session before starting the program. You may attend a session as early as your Grade 11 year. Please contact WWFC for more information.

What is the WWFC intake interview?

An intake interview occurs after you've accepted your offer of admission to the University of Waterloo, within four to six weeks of starting the program. The WWFC will go over important topics such as payment schedule, uniform requirements, flight training procedures, etc. The WWFC will connect with you directly to book the interview.

What is an Aviation-Language Proficiency Test (ALPT)? Where can I get it done?

The ALPT is an English-language or French-language test designed to evaluate your ability to communicate effectively in an aviation context. Only international students are required to take this test. For more information, see Transport Canada's ALPT test taker guide.

You can take the ALPT at the WWFC, and for your convenience, it will be scheduled along with your intake interview date.

What is Medical Category 1 certificate? Where can I get it done?

In order to fly in Canada, you must receive a Transport Canada Medical Category 1 certification, which is a standardized health screening to ensure you are eligible to become a commercial pilot.

You will need to be examined by an approved Civil Aviation Medical Examiner no later than July 1st  and submit the medical certificate to WWFC when needed, prior to beginning your flight training at WWFC. The process may take two to three months to complete and wait times vary to see the approved medical examiner. It is recommended that you initiate this as early as possible during the application process, in order to ensure you qualify for the program before accepting or committing to an offer of admission.

The Transport Canada Category 1 Medical certificate is valid for one year. Students must obtain a Category 1 Medical every year once they begin commercial training, and throughout their career.

What are the SAMRA/SARON exams and when do I write them?

An Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) is the highest level of aircraft pilot’s license a pilot can hold, and is the goal for most working pilots as most commercial airlines require crews of two or more pilots to be commanded by an ATPL pilot.

Part of this certification is passing two Transport Canada examinations. The SAMRA exam includes meteorology, radio navigation and flight planning, while the SARON exam includes law, flight operations and general navigation topics. The SAMRA and SARON exams are written by students in their final semester after they’ve completed their flight training, Flight Lab and Flight Management courses.

What happens if I do not pass the additional aviation requirements?

If you do not pass the additional aviation requirements, you are still academically eligible to be a student at the University of Waterloo. Learn more about alternate offers of admission.

When should I have the admission aviation requirements completed by for Fall admission?

Admission requirement Date Location
Applications Visit the OUAC website for application deadlines. Online
Information session

Complete prior to June of your intake year, and before accepting your offer of admission to the University of Waterloo.

Can be completed as early as your Grade 11 year.

Transport Canada Medical Category 1 certification

Must have the exam completed no later than July 1st.

Recommendation: As wait times to see a medical examiner vary, students should initiate this step as early as possible in the admissions process.

Locations vary

A list of qualified Canadian and international doctors to administer the test is available on Transport Canada’s website.

WWFC intake interview Completed four to six weeks prior to beginning of your flight training. WWFC
Aviation-Language Proficiency Test (ALPT) For international students only. Completed before starting your flight training, during your intake interview. WWFC

If I’m not enrolled in Geography and Aviation or Science and Aviation, where can I do independent flight training?

Locally, individuals can take fixed wing training from the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre, or rotary training from Great Lakes Helicopter.

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Living in Waterloo Region

Do I need to live in Waterloo in the summer?

It is not a requirement that you live in Waterloo during your summer term. However, since you will need to fly during the summer term you should at least be able to travel to the WWFC 3-5 times a week.

Can I get a summer job or go on a vacation?

While it’s possible to work in the summer during the flight training portions of your degree, you may find it very difficult to meet the demands of your training and the expectations of your employer. Students typically find they need to be at the WWFC three to five times a week in the summer to meet their requirements.

However, it is possible to fast-track and complete the required flight training each Spring term in three months instead of four. After you've satisfied the requirements, you may take on a short-term summer job or go on a vacation for the remainder of the term.

How do I get to the WWFC?

The WWFC is located in Breslau, Ontario at the Region of Waterloo International Airport, which is a 20 minute drive from the University of Waterloo. Presently, there is no direct public transit route to the WWFC. GRT has an on-demand bus students can schedule. Many students carpool or rideshare to get to the WWFC. 

Is there an aviation club or student society I can join?

Yes! Aviation students can choose to join the University of Waterloo Aviation Society.

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