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Fall 2020 term information

The following list summarizes the remotely delivered and in-person course (and course component) offerings for course-based and research graduate students for fall 2020 at the University of Waterloo.

In addition to the course offerings, pending public health directives, we will restart on-campus research activities, including research involving face-to-face contact, throughout the summer.  We hope to engage as much on-campus research for fall 2020 as the public health conditions allow. More information on this will come to you soon.

For students enrolled in co-op programs, or need to complete internships or practica in fall 2020, we are developing guidelines to support you in accomplishing these goals.

We want you to know that we are putting steps in place to keep you safe when you are on our campus including detailed physical distancing plans for classrooms, labs and other shared spaces.

In all cases, if your course is delivered online, it may have real-time activities like online seminars and tutorials. If these elements are part of your course, we have asked our instructors to make sure that no students in the class are disadvantaged if they are unable to participate in real time. 


Research and supervision

If you wish to resume on-campus research activity, you and your supervisor are encouraged to assess whether the planned research meets the return to campus criteria.  If so, your supervisor can submit a request to the Office of Research that contains a detailed safety plan outlining how you will resume activities while following social distancing and other public health authority guidelines. You and your supervisor will both be asked to sign the form indicating that you have discussed the safety plan, and both are comfortable with its contents.

Upon confirmation that you are returning to campus, you will be required to complete the Returning to Campus Safely During COVID-19 (SO2036) online training module, available on LEARN. The training module takes about 30 minutes to complete and provides guidance on how to maintain a safe and healthy working environment for everyone. This training is mandatory and you must complete it before returning to campus.  Supervisors will ask for a confirmation from you that you have completed the training – typically by requesting a screenshot from LEARN showing the completion of the training.  For more information and help with registration, go to the Returning to Campus Safely During COVID-19 Safety Office training page.

If you are uncomfortable resuming on campus research, you should discuss your concerns with your supervisor, your Associate Chair Graduate Studies in your Department, or your Faculty Associate Dean.  No student will be required to return to on campus research activity if they do not wish to do so.

You are encouraged you to review the request form, an updated safety plan template and detailed instructions on the research information webpage.

You’re also encouraged to take a look at the Guide to Graduate Research and Supervision to review the roles and responsibilities of students, supervisors, the department team and the advisory committee.


Revised time limits for graduate students

In light of the extenuating circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University is revising the time restrictions for graduate students.  More specifically, the following changes are in place, effective immediately.

  • If you are a graduate student who is within three terms of the time limit for a research milestone – comprehensive exam or research proposal – you will be granted a one term extension for your research milestone without the need for a petition under Policy 70. 
  • Similarly, if you were given a fixed time limit to accomplish an academic outcome, e.g., securing a graduate supervisor or meeting minimum academic performance requirements, you will be granted an additional term to satisfy these requirements.
  • If you are a graduate student who in winter 2020 is in the final term of your program time limit, typically term six for research master’s students and term 12 for PhD students, you shall have your time limits extended by one term. The implications of this consideration include the relaxation of the need to petition for time extension in the subsequent term.  
  • If you were beyond your time limits prior to winter 2020, there is no change in expectations.

You are encouraged to contact your graduate supervisor, graduate officer/program directror or graduate co-ordinator to adjust your academic requirements appropriately.

April 16 update: The University is also eager to support students who are near to completing their graduate research program and to accelerate their paths to graduation.  To this end, you are encouraged to discuss your progress and ways to accelerate your degree completion with your supervisor. 


Thesis proposals, comprehensive exams, thesis defences

If you are anticipating meeting your academic milestones (including thesis proposals, comprehensive exams, final thesis defences) during the winter 2020 and spring 2020 terms, please note that these milestones are now being facilitated remotely. Review the new processes for remote thesis defences and contact your program co-ordinator or graduate supervisor(s) to make the necessary arrangements or to obtain more specific details for your program.  Don't forget to check out the Remote defence: tips for success page.

Here is a list of resources available to you and your supervisor(s) as you prepare for your academic milestones remotely.

Submission of your approved thesis remains online – details are available on the thesis submission webpage.


International student supports

Detailed information is available for many frequently asked questions. Please refer to the following FAQ categories for more information:

The University’s International Student Experience provides a variety of supports, available online, for international students including:


Help is available

We understand that many of our students have family members in areas affected by COVID-19. If you feel overwhelmed or anxious and need to talk to somebody, please contact the University’s Campus Wellness services, either Health or Counselling Services.

Please visit or call Health Services (519-884-4096), drop by the Counselling Services office in Needles Hall North, 2nd Floor or phone 519-888-4567 ext. 32655. Visit the Campus Wellness page for hours of operation and additional information. Campus Wellness services are provided at no charge in a private and confidential setting to University of Waterloo students who are currently registered or on a co-op term.

The COVID-19 Information home page provides information on a number of additional resources.


AccessAbility Services

Although the doors of AccessAbility Services and the Exam Centre are temporary closed, our staff our still available and committed to students. AAS will continue to support students with assistive technology, learning strategy support, and accommodation consulting to ensure you are supported in the online space. 

Find out more about AccessAbility Services modified services.


Accommodations due to COVID-19

A new online Petition for Exception to Academic Regulations - Graduate Students (Form 70A) has been created. Students may submit this form in accordance with Policy 70 (Student Petitions and Grievances) – Section 3 and Appendix A; Policy 70 provides information and explains the difference between petitions and grievances.

Accommodation for illnesses

If you are demonstrating symptoms consistent with COVID-19, you can now self-declare (via a Quest form) notifying the university that you are unwell.