So you're thinking about going on exchange ...

World map

Step 1: First things first

  • Before going any further, check that you are eligible for exchange.

  • If you are, then use Waterloo Passport to research potential exchange destinations. Click on the Search Program button (top left next to Welcome) then filter by faculty. 

Also be sure to consider:

  • Language of instruction - Check the language of instruction at your preferred partner school as not all partners teach in English and some language preparation may be needed
  • Term dates - Term dates vary among our partner schools and sometimes overlap with those at Waterloo.  It is expected that you study at your host school for the entire duration of their term, including exams. If the terms overlap, you will need to take a term off or arrange a shortened work term. Some schools offer early/alternative assessments that will allow you to return to Waterloo early and write a proctored exam in Waterloo but this is not possible at all partners.

  • Courses while on exchange - Check the courses taken by other students in your department and those offered by your institution(s) of interest to determine potential course matches, that is your proposed study plan form, with your Waterloo term (i.e. 3A, 3B, or 4A) BEFORE submitting your application in Waterloo Passport.  This will help determine if you are on track to graduate with your class or may have to delay graduation because of course mis-matching.  NOTE: Keep this information safe as you'll need to submit it to your Exchange Course Coordinator once you've been matched (see section 4 on this page).

    Note for Chemical Engineering students:  You must complete a preliminary course plan and submit it to Eline Boghaert for review.

  • Permitted terms for exchange - Your engineering program will determine on which terms you may do an exchange:
    Architecture - 3B only
    Architectural - 3B only
    Biomedical - 3A and/or 3B
    Chemical - 3B only
    Civil - 3B or 4A
    Computer and Electrical - 3A and/or 3B; possibly 4A
    Environmental - 3B or 4A
    Geological - 3B or 4A
    Management - 3A and/or 3B
    Mechanical - 3A and/or 3B
    Mechatronics - 3A or 3B (one only)
    Nanotechnology - 3A and/or 3B
    Software - 3B only
    Systems Design - 3B only

  • Note - temporary stream switches may be possible in order to align with the partner school semesters dates.  Be sure to talk with the staff in the Faculty Exchange Office about this.

Step 2: Mandatory information session

All students considering a term or two away from Waterloo, MUST attend a mandatory information session by the Student Success Office on LEARN BEFORE an application can be submitted in Waterloo Passport. Note: select Fall and Winter if you wish to go abroad for eight months not the single term.

Step 3: Academic program or specific host university questions

  • The Faculty of Engineering has 14 undergraduate engineering programs as well as an undergraduate program in architecture. The Faculty of Engineering has mobility agreements with over 60 institutions. 
  • For general questions about engineering exchange, please visit our FAQ page. Frequently Asked Questions | Engineering | University of Waterloo (
  • For questions relating to your academic program/courses and exchange, please contact your Exchange Course Coordinator. They have program specific knowledge around how to meet your academic requirements for your program while on exchange.
  • For questions relating to specific host institutions, please contact the experts in Study Abroad.

Step 4: Submit your application in Waterloo Passport and what to do when you've been matched

When you've successfully completed the steps above, you're ready to submit your application via Waterloo Passport.  Refer to How to Apply instructions.  Important dates for submission according to term are posted on Waterloo Passport.  Note: select Fall and Winter if you wish to go abroad for eight months not the single term.  

Once you've been matched, you'll need to complete your proposed study plan form proposed study plan form and submit it to your home Exchange Course Coordinator for review and, hopefully, approval.  If this isn't done, you'll be at risk of not receiving credit for the courses taken while on exchange.

The course lists/schedules are available online for some host schools while others don’t publish until closer to the start of their term. This means you may have to make last-minute changes to your study plan close to the start of host school’s term or once you arrive at the host school but, this is ok and happens quite regularly.  Be sure to inform your home department Exchange Course Coordinator of any changes to your Proposed Study Plan.

Also be sure to review "Application Steps: Match Process" and follow the advice of the Global Learning Coordinators in the Waterloo Go Abroad Office.

Step 5: Connect with other exchangers

Join the two facebook groups specifically for Waterloo exchangers: Waterloo Engineering Exchanges (to connect with other engineering students who have been on exchange and who are planning to go on exchange as well as students who are at Waterloo on exchange) and Go Abroad Waterloo.