Academic and co-op information for students

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Spring convocation

A message from Feridun Hamdullahpur, president and vice-chancellor

As the University of Waterloo responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, the well-being of our students, their families, and our campus community is our top priority.

After serious reflection and consideration, it is with great disappointment that we inform you that all in-person convocation ceremonies will not take place at Waterloo in June.

The extraordinary circumstances where we find ourselves, however, have forced us to do what is best for our community. Having the chance to meet and celebrate with Waterloo’s newest alumni and their loved ones is something I personally hold close in my heart. I will greatly miss being able to share in your celebrations and honour your accomplishments.

Please read President Feridun Hamdullahpur's full message to graduands and their families.

Spring term 2020 information

We have made the difficult decision to  continue with  an alternative delivery system for Spring Term. This means that we are not going to deliver in-person course activity. All courses and exams, including graduate research milestones, will take place online.  

The spring term will start on May 11, 2020.

 All courses will happen online or using alternative delivery methods (with the exception of CLIN and PRA courses)  starting  May  11, 2020 – a week later than originally scheduled. 

Courses  will run for  a full 12-week term, to August 5, 2020. There will be a limited  one-week exam  period, ending, August 15, 2020, during which there may be online exams or final assessments due. 

Drop/add period and other important dates

Undergraduate students' class schedules and your Drop/Add Period appointment times will be available in Quest on April 1.

Revised undergraduate important dates to note:

  • April 2-3: Drop/Add Period begins with gradual appointments in Quest
  • April 4 to May 25: add period for all students
  • April 8: tuition fee bills viewable in Quest
  • May 11: classes and co-op work terms begin
  • May 15: deadline to pay tuition and fees or become fees arranged
  • June 1: last day to drop classes with 100% refund

Revised graduate studies important dates to note:

  • April 6 – May 31: Class enrolment period (revised from March 30-May 24) 
  • April 8:  tuition fee bills viewable in Quest 
  • April 8:  end of winter 2020 term evaluations begin - no on campus exams 
  • April 25:  end of winter 2020 term evaluations conclude 
  • May 11:  spring term begins, including classes and co-op work terms (revised from May 4) 
  • May 15:  deadline to pay tuition and fees or become fees arranged (revised from April 24) 
  • May 16: Late fees begin (revised from April 25) 
  • June 1:  100% tuition and fee refund deadline (revised from May 22) 

    A few things to note about the Schedule of Classes

    • It will be updated by April 1; this includes the cancellation of some classes and that all dates/times and locations will be removed. 
    • If a class has been cancelled, it will not appear in your schedule. 
    • In an online-only academic term, no class "conflicts" will occur. 

    Course programming

    With no in-person course activity this term (with the exception of CLIN and PRA courses), all classes and exams will be online. This may mean that some courses and/or labs will not be available. In light of this, departments and faculties are working on contingency plans to allow students to complete their programs as efficiently as possible.

    Academic advisors or graduate program co-ordinators can be contacted for further guidance.

    Tuition fees

    In these challenging circumstances, we remain committed to bringing students the quality learning experience they expect from Waterloo. In order to support this commitment, tuition fees will not change.

    As some of our student services have been modified or will not be accessible to those located at a distance from our campuses, we are currently reviewing all incidental fees. Expect to hear about any changes in these fees by Friday, April 3.

    All full-time registered graduate students will continue to receive funding support that was previously committed to them by their program.  

    Please visit the Student Awards and Financial Aid (SAFA) website (undergraduate students) or the GSPA financial need funding web page (graduate students) for information about available financial aid, processes, and deadlines.

    Completing winter term

    In order to protect the safety of our students, employees and our community, the University of Waterloo has suspended in-person course activity for the remainder of winter term as well as spring term. We are working to ensure students get the best outcomes from their hard work so far this term.

    Course activities in alternative formats began Monday, March 23.

    • Instructors will provide students with information on how they will complete their courses.
    • The Centre for Extended Learning’s fully online courses will continue. 
    • The winter term's Drop with WD Period has been extended to March 30, giving students more time to make choices once course instructors have determined how courses will proceed for the remainder of the term.
    • Accordingly, the Drop with WF Period has been shifted to be March 31 to April 7, inclusive.
    • Instructors will inform students how assessment will happen.
    • The cancellation of in-person exams includes the in-person exams for fully online courses. 

    The Student Success Office and the Centre for Extended Learning have created an introductory module to online learning. Review this comprehensive resource for tips on how to adjust to online courses. This module covers time management, creating your workspace at home, studying effectively online and online discussion posts. 

    We know that the changes we have put in place for the end of the Winter Term 2020 because of COVID-19 may be difficult for some. We want students to have the best learning experience at Waterloo during these times of unprecedented change. We also want to make sure that students can continue to make progress towards earning their degree. 

    To help with this, we are making two important changes for courses that award numeric grades. 

    Instructors can now use CR (credit) or NCR (no credit) in place of numeric grades for Winter Term 2020 

    If an instructor chooses this grading plan, it will apply to all students in the course.

    Students should expect to hear from their instructor by email on the instructor's plan to give grades – either numeric or CR/NCR -- at the end of the term. 

    Students will be able to ask to convert numeric grades to CR or NCR for a specific period after the end of Winter Term 

    The second change we are making allows students to avoid a need to appeal their numeric grades after the end of Winter Term 2020. Normally, we ask students to follow Policy 70 to petition grades. This will not apply this term if a student wants to convert a grade to CR or NCR.

    The University will be working with Faculties to develop a simple method for students to convert their grades for a limited time after the end of the term, should they decide to do so. We will also be providing students with information they need to consider when making this decision. More information on this process will be coming soon.

    Students who have questions about these changes should talk to their course instructor or academic advisor. 


    Students encouraged to make arrangements to move out of residence

    We are strongly encouraging all students to  make arrangements to move out of residence  by noon on Friday, March 20. 

    We know that this is unexpected and so we are offering a pro-rated refund on the fees that have been paid.

    Students' wellbeing matters to us, so we want to reduce the number of people in our residence buildings to help stop the spread of the virus. We are making this request as we have cancelled in-person course activities until the end of term and are moving a number of critical services on campus to alternative modes of delivery.

    We will continue to offer essential services within residences for those who are unable to leave, such as people who can’t return to their country of origin.

    Please see our FAQs for University operations and services for further details.


    Co-op program information

    Co-op and Experiential Education is engaging with students enrolled in co-op programs and their employers to help them manage through the remainder of the term. Students in other work placements can reach out to their academic supervisor if they have any concerns. 

    All students who choose to end their winter 2020 co-op work term now will still earn their co-op credit. Please see our co-op FAQs for further details.

    Students, contact your advisor who will support you.  Please note that employers are still required to complete a performance evaluation – this can be done after a student leaves the work term.

    Co-op employers looking for recommendations are encouraged to read our guide for supporting co-op students working remotely.


    Graduate studies information

    Planned research milestones for graduate students such as comprehensive exams and PhD defenses may continue as planned. Students should contact their supervisor or associate dean, graduate studies to discuss any changes.

    Please see the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs website for further updates.

    As always, if you have questions or concerns about coronavirus and Waterloo, please email and our team will help find the right campus contact.

    Research-based graduate students

    If you believe the coronavirus is creating challenges for you to complete your research milestones (e.g. comprehensive exams, research proposals, defenses), engage with your supervisors or your program's graduate officer to seek accommodations for these requirements.


    Accommodations due to COVID-19

    You can find details on normal academic regulations and accommodations for undergraduate students and course-based graduate students on the University’s academic calendar.

    You are reminded that our rules for accommodations for justified absence from class and/or from assessments are in place to support student success and to mitigate the effects of extenuating circumstances on their academic progress. These accommodations remain in place for alternative course delivery.

    Accommodation for illnesses

    We have made the University of Waterloo Verification of Illness form for students a self-declaration, which means students do not need a doctor’s note for accommodation if they become ill. Students can find the Illness self-declaration form in the Personal Information section of Quest. 

    Other accommodations due to COVID-19 

    When in-person courses resume, if you are delayed from returning to class because of the coronavirus outbreak – please communicate with your instructors and advisors as soon as possible about your absence.

    If you believe you have extenuating circumstances or have been adversely impacted by COVID-19 which has affected your academic record, you may wish to discuss with your academic advisor whether to submit a petition for exception to academic regulations in line with Policy 70.

    Changes to OSAP

    To ease the financial burden on students during the COVID‐19 outbreak, the province will temporarily defer loan payments and interest accrual for six months for students borrowing through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP). 
    The changes will come into effect March 30 and last until Sept. 30.