Transfers and Advanced Admissions to an ECE Undergraduate Program

Admission/Transfer in First Year

If you wish to to be admitted into either Electrical or Computer Engineering at either the 1A or 1B (first-year) level, you must contact the First-Year Engineering Office. If you wish to transfer into either of these two programs from another Program at the University of Waterloo, please contact the Associate Director of Engineering Admissions.

Advanced Admission into Second Year or the Start of Third Year

The Electrical Engineering Program at the University of Waterloo is very competitive. For advanced admissions, we require either the averages or rankings shown in Table 1 based on the institution you are currently attending for your studies in Electrical or Computer Engineering. Meeting these requirements, however, does not guarantee admission into the program; for example, there are a limited number of seats in each cohort and a cohort may be full.

Table 1. Required averages or rankings.

Department/Institution Requirement
Within ECE
(Comp to Elec or Elec to Comp)
good academic
standing with no
uncleared failures
From another Engineering Department at UW 75% with no
uncleared failures
An Electrical or Computer Engineering
Department at another Canadian University*
An Electrical or Computer Engineering
Department in another country
1st or 2nd in Class

* In some cases, depending on the university, this requirement may be more stringent.

Experience has shown that averages any lower have resulted in students failing out of the program. If you have already completed a year or more of Engineering studies at a university but you do not meet the minimum grade requirements for advanced admission, transfers back to first-year Engineering are usually not allowed.

Missing Courses

All transfer students are expected to satisfy all of the requirements of the degree into which they are transferring. Due to differences in the programs, all transfer students will have to make up a significant number of missed courses from Academic Terms prior to the Academic Term into which the student is transferring. Taking these missing courses will likely delay graduation by at least one year. These missing courses may be taken either as extra courses on top of a regular schedule in an Academic Term or as courses on Co-op Work Terms if the student is in Waterloo. In general, ECE courses are not available via distance education.

Clearing Failures for UW Students

A University of Waterloo Engineering student may not have any uncleared failures on their Transcript if they wish to transfer to either Electrical or Computer Engineering. If a request for a transfer is made during an Academic Term, we will require the student to complete the Term before we approve the transfer. If, at the end of that Term, the student maintains the required average, shown in Table 1, but failed a course, the student may still clear that failure during the subsequent Co-op Work Term, after which we will approve the Transfer.Under such conditions, the student student should still register in their original Program during their enrollment appointment period.

Background for Non-UW Students

The eight Academic Terms at the University of Waterloo are labeled 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, 3A, 3B, 4A, and 4B. Between seen of these Academic Terms are six Co-op Work Terms (W1, W2, ..., W6) in one of two possible sequences (called Streams):

Stream 4S 1A W1 1B W2 2A W3 2B W4 3A W5 3B 4A W6 4B
Stream 8 1A 1B W1 2A W2 2B W3 3A W4 3B W5 4A W6 4B

Each stream starts in September and finishes at the end of April five years later.

The Undergraduate Program in Engineering at the University of Waterloo is based on the cohort system: You join a cohort of approximately 100 students when you enter the Electrical Engineering Program. The cohort will be designated as either Stream 4S (you will go on your first Co-op Work Term after one Academic Term, i.e., four months) or Stream 8 (you will will go on your first Co-op Work Term after two Academic Terms, i.e., eight months). For the first six Academic Terms (1A-3B), the courses your cohort takes each Academic Term are, for the most part, predetermined. You will stay with your cohort until you graduate unless you fail to meet the academic standards. If you fail an Academic Term, it is possible for you to join a subsequent cohort, in which case it is almost certain that you will have to repeat all courses in that Academic Term (including those which you may have already passed).

A consequence of the cohort system is that, if you enter either of the Electrical or Computer Engineering Program in 2A, you are entering a cohort which has taken all of their courses together throughout two previous Academic Terms. If you enter in 2B, you are entering a cohort which has taken 16 out of 17 courses together throughout three Academic Terms. As well as dealing with a new culture in Waterloo, you will also have to integrate into the culture of your cohort. Failure to integrate into the cohort is the single largest factor for transfer students or advanced admissions students failing.

Basic Conditions

You must complete at least half of your academic studies and half of your Co-op Work Terms at the University of Waterloo, and therefore the latest you can enter the program is in 3A in a Stream 4S program and 2B in a Stream 8 program. (You can only take a Co-op Work Term after an Academic Term, and therefore you cannot start during a Co-op Work Term.) You must also complete a minimum of three Co-op Work Term reports. These requirements are stated in the Undergraduate Calendar.

With a few exceptions (mostly from 1A or 1B), you must join a cohort for which you have taken equivalent background courses. Thus, if you have not satisfied all of the requirements at the 2A level, you cannot join a 2B cohort. You must join the 2A class and, most likely, repeat those courses which you may have taken elsewhere. This restriction includes Co-op Work Terms. If you have courses which are equivalent to all courses up to, and including, 2B, but you have no co-op experience, you must start again in 1B. In some cases, Co-operative Education may allow you to miss one Co-op Work Term, that is, you may be able to start in the Fall with a Stream 8 2A class even though you have no co-op experience.

Some course exceptions include ECE 104 Numerical Methodsand MSCI 261: if you do not have these courses, you will be required to take these courses before graduation.

It is possible to take a probationary non-degree term where you have the opportunity to catch up on those courses which you may be missing.

International students who are in Canada on a student visa (a study permit) can only be admitted at the first-year level.

Transfer/Advanced-Admission Form

All students are required to supply, in addition to what is required by the Registrar's Office, an up-to-date resume and, as appropriate, either a Electrical Engineering Transfer/Advanced-Admission Form or a Computer Engineering Transfer/Advanced-Admission Form.

Information about individual ECE courses may be found in the Undergraduate Calendar descriptions.

Procedure for University of Waterloo Engineering Students

Students from University of Waterloo Engineering should submit the appropriate Transfer/Advanced Admission Form together with a resume to the Undergraduate Advisor/Co-ordinator, though questions should be directed to the appropriate Academic Advisor.

Students from Outside the University of Waterloo

To begin, students from another University should begin their application through the Ontario Universities Application Centre (OUAC). After applying through OUAC, you should submit the appropriate Transfer/Advanced Admission Form together with the other required documentation to the Registrar's Office. A student who makes inappropriate requests such as "I request admission into your program after the 4th Academic Term (3A)" when he or she does not have even enough background (either through equivalent courses or through Co-op Work Terms) to enter 2B will be rejected automatically with no consideration for a lower Term, as this would indicate that the student made no attempt to correctly analyze their own background.