Information for

Courses in engineering

As a graduate student in the Faculty of Engineering, you are required to take courses as a part of your program requirements. You can find detailed information about these requirements in the University of Waterloo Graduate Studies Calendar. The calendar includes the specific program requirements for each unit and program in Engineering. 

If you fail a course with a grade of less than 65%, or your cumulative average falls below the minimum average requirement of 70%, you will automatically undergo a formal academic review by your department. Some programs may have higher required grades and cumulative averages.

In some cases, the result of an academic review is that you would be required to withdraw.

Courses in Engineering

Most graduate courses offered by the Faculty of Engineering are numbered as 600 or 700 series courses.  

The 600-level series are regular lecture courses offered periodically. Courses in the 700-level series are elective courses in specific research areas, or seminar courses. They are offered if there is sufficient interest among graduate students and an instructor is available.

Some courses are assigned both undergraduate and graduate course numbers, with graduate versions normally requiring additional work.

Reading courses may be offered on occasion as well. The appropriateness of these courses for graduate credit will be established by your departmental Associate Chair, Graduate Studies.

Maximum number of courses per term

The Faculty of Engineering has a maximum number of courses which can be taken each term. This rule applies to both course- and thesis-based students, in both Master's and PhD programs.

Please note: Departments can further restrict the number of courses allowed, and this is true in many programs. Please contact your department to confirm their course maximums. 

Full-time student maximum course per term - 5 courses (2.5 credits)
(Exception: MArch 6 courses (3.0 credits))

Part-time student maximum course per term - 3 courses (1.5 credits)

In special cases, full-time students may request to register in an additional course, but this would need to be approved by the course instructor, Associate Chair, Graduate Studies, and the Associate Dean, Graduate studies using the Course Drop/Add form.

Course weighting

600 or 700 series courses typically have a weight of 0.5 credits and run the full 4 months of any term. These are referred to as half-credit courses. 

Nanotechnology courses (NANO 701 or 702) are quarter-credit courses with a weight of .25, which means that they run for 8 weeks of term.

Program-specific course requirements

For all thesis-based students, your course plan is established by yourself, your supervisor, and if deemed necessary, with your departmental Associate Chair, Graduate Studies. 


Master’s students may be permitted to take a limited number of 500 series courses, where 500 series courses are senior undergraduate courses.

Two-thirds of the courses used for credit towards a Master’s degree must be taken from 600 and 700 series courses.

Your department may have more restrictive policies on the types of courses that may be used for credit towards a degree.


PhD candidates with a Master's (PhD2)

PhD candidates possessing a recent MASc degree in an appropriate discipline are required to take a minimum of three courses at the 600 or 700 level. Departments may require you to take more than three courses.

Generally, candidates with a Master’s degree cannot count 500-level courses towards a PhD degree. The inclusion of a 500 level course for credit must be recommended by your supervisor and Associate Chair, Graduate Studies prior to enrolling in the course, and it must be approved by the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies.

PhD candidates without a completed Master's (PhD3)

PhD candidates without a recent MASc degree in an appropriate discipline are required to complete at least seven courses, five of which must be level 600 or 700. 

Up to 2 500-level courses can be used to meet your program requirements. The inclusion of additional 500 level course for credit must be recommended by your supervisor and Associate Chair, Graduate Studies prior to enrolling in the course, and it must be approved by the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies before you register in the course.

Check with your department for additional details and constraints.  

Time limit for using courses towards a degree

Graduate courses must be completed within the 5 years before the end of your program to be counted towards your degree. Courses taken more than 60 months before you complete all of your degree requirements may not be counted for credit towards a degree. 

Departments may request a re-validation of courses beyond this time limit. In order for courses beyond 60 months to be used to satisfy degree requirements, the request must be approved by the Associate Dean, Graduate Studies.

In most cases, where the student has made consistent progress and maintained full time registration (no more than 2 consecutive inactive terms), courses 5 years and older will be permitted to count towards degree requirements.