What makes Waterloo different?

6 ways we stand out from the crowd

Choosing which university to go to isn’t an easy task. If you haven’t done your research and don’t know the differences between schools, it can be especially difficult. But we’ve got you covered – to help get you started, here are some things that makes Waterloo different from other universities.

Female student in business suit.

Unmatched experience

Waterloo is home to the largest co-operative education program of its kind in North America. There’s an entire building (the Tatham Centre) dedicated to co-op. It has 130 interview rooms and 37 phone/webcam stations where interviews are held with our 7,000+ employers year-round. It also houses numerous resources to help you with résumés, interviews, professional development, and more.

I’ve used resources at the Tatham Centre to help improve my résumé and prepare for my interviews. Co-op was intimidating to me at first, but after using these resources I’ve gained a lot of confidence!

Students in the Waterloo co-op program have between four and six four-month-long co-op terms during their undergraduate degree. This means you get to graduate with up to two years’ experience and try out many different careers. On average you earn between $42,000 and $90,000 completing all of your co-op work terms, which means you could graduate which much less debt.

"When deciding where to transfer, the co-op program at Waterloo was what ultimately helped me make my decision… I’ve had the opportunity to try different jobs and gain experience and now entering into my final year, I have a good sense of what I want to do after university." - Olivia, Arts and Business student

Ideas that belong to you

Maclean’s magazine has named Waterloo  Canada’s most innovative university for 27 years in a row, and we plan to defend that title for many years to come. Innovation is truly at the heart of Waterloo. With startups like North (previously Thalmic Labs) and Shift Ride, it has people wondering what will be next for Waterloo students.

Velocity, our entrepreneurship program and on-campus startup incubator, offers a ton of support and encouragement for pursuing ideas at Waterloo. Velocity provides knowledge, tools, space, and networking opportunities for Waterloo students to help their ideas succeed.

One of the best parts of being entrepreneurial at Waterloo is that your ideas are completely yours. Our intellectual property (IP) policy states that all intellectual property is owned by the inventor. So, even if you create something on Waterloo campus, it’s all yours; Waterloo doesn’t own any of your idea. If this doesn’t impress you, it’s worthwhile to note that this IP policy isn’t something that exists at all other universities – often, a university will own the rights to its students’ IP.

Two males exchanging business cards.

Getting down to business

At Waterloo, we do business a little differently. Rather than having to commit to just studying business, Waterloo has what we call “+ business” programs. Basically, these programs allow you to combine an interest in arts, math, science, environment, or sports with business.

Don’t worry; if business is what you'd like to have as your main focus, we also have accounting, finance, and risk management programs in our world-class School of Accounting and Finance.

I personally chose to study Arts and Business at Waterloo. I really liked the idea of being able to combine multiple interests instead of just committing to one.

Discover more about how Waterloo could be perfect for you by checking out these other links


One-of-a-kind programs

Many people know Waterloo for its Science, Computer Science, Engineering, and Math programs, but we have some unique programs that really set us apart from other schools.

  • Sexuality, Marriage and Family Studies: explore relationships, communication, parenting skills, the effects of media on our understanding of gender/sex/relationships, and more.

  • Environment and Business: study finance, field ecology, entrepreneurship, environmental ethics, and more, and gain an in-depth understanding of environmental issues and the business world.

  • Knowledge Integration: learn how to solve complex problems, communicate effectively, and make a difference in a complex and changing world. In KI, no degree is the same; you get to build the program around your interests.

Students walking down a street in the city of Waterloo.

A city for students

The city of Waterloo is another factor that contributes to making Waterloo different from other universities. In the city, there are two universities and a college, which means you’ll build connections with people outside of your school community, too.

Another perk of having so many students around is that there are always things to do and people to meet. Waterloo is filled with places to shop, eat, and have fun. With countless restaurants, pubs, arcade bars, board game cafes, shopping malls, the St. Jacobs Market, and Waterloo Park, there’s plenty to see and do. And with your WatCard, it’s especially easy to get around and see all of these places. (To learn what a WatCard is and more, read up on some university terminology.)

"With Laurier right down the street, I’ve been able to take classes there and meet people outside of Waterloo." - Odessa, Math and Business student

Waterloo truly has so much to do. Even after being here for over two years, I still feel like there are so many things I haven’t seen or done yet!

Clubs for EVERY interest

Most schools offer clubs, but do they offer clubs like Waterloo does? Sure, we have traditional clubs like book club, chess club, debate club, band, and more. But we also have some clubs you would never even think of!

  • Campus Crusade for Cheese: a club that brings together students, faculty, staff, and alumni who enjoy or wish to sample cheese.
  • DJ Club: for all those who want to learn how to DJ or for those who just like the music.
  • Humans vs. Zombies: a game where a team of humans defend themselves from a growing hoard of zombies with nerf blasters and socks.

With the 250+ student-run clubs here at Waterloo, there is bound to be a club that suits your interest! If not, you can always grab a few friends and start your own club through the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA).

Clubs are a great way to meet new people and build lasting friendships. Looking back, I really wish I had joined a club in my first year of university. Don’t make the same mistake I did – discover what current students wish they knew in first year.

I hope you learned a little about what makes Waterloo different from other universities. To learn what makes university different from high school, read our 7 differences between high school and university.