English for Academic Success (EFAS) with Graduate Studies Preparation

Students interested in applying to Graduate Studies, or who have been given a conditional offer from the University of Waterloo, are able to enroll in English for Academic Success (EFAS) program with an enrichment component in Graduate Studies Preparation. Designed for graduate students whose first language is not English, this program supports students as they improve their language and advance their knowledge of research skills. Students will acquire the academic competencies and confidence needed to fully participate and thrive in their graduate studies. At the end of the term, students will receive a transcript and a certificate of participation. The transcript will consist of final grades from the core EFAS courses and the final exam. Successful completion of EFAS level 400 (CEFR C1) satisfies the English language requirement for graduate studies at the University of Waterloo. 

Students who participate in this program will:

  • focus on skills needed to improve their writing at the graduate level
  • sharpen their research skills
  • improve their oral fluency to communicate effectively with peers and supervisors
  • confidently deliver presentations on research material and/or topics related to their field of study
  • enhance their academic vocabulary
  • improve their overall English language proficiency
  • become familiar with the norms and expectations of Canadian academic culture

Additional program features (EFAS-GRAD)

  • Review and proofread graduate admission applications
  • Support with adapting to academic life in Canada
  • Targeted support for writing and presenting at the graduate level
  • Mature student coffee chats
  • Individual check-in meetings
  • Social events and activities
  • Informative workshops in the areas of, but not limited to:
    • developing self-directed learning strategies
    • using the University of Waterloo library resources for research
    • creating an effective LinkedIn social networking profile
    • prioritizing and goal setting
    • wellness
    • life in Canada

If you’re a prospective graduate student, we can provide individual support in researching graduate programs and offer assistance in searching for a graduate supervisor at the University of Waterloo and other institutions.


The EFAS graduate studies enrichment component is available to students at EFAS level 300 and 400 or IELTS 6.0. Each level requires one term to complete. Students can register for one or multiple terms of EFAS.


There are four intakes per year:

  • Fall term (September – December)
  • Winter term (January – April)
  • Spring term (May – August)
  • Summer intensive term (July – August) 

EFAS level descriptions

Level 300 (high-intermediate, CEFR B2)

EFAS level 300 is for students who have successfully completed level 200, or whose language proficiency is at IELTS 6.0. This level is designed to support students as they improve their accuracy and fluency in English. Students will expand their language competence in the areas of vocabulary, critical thinking and research skills. Graduate students in this level are able to participate in the Graduate Studies Preparation component of EFAS.

Level 400 (advanced, CEFR C1)

EFAS level 400 is designed for students who have successfully completed level 300, or whose language proficiency is at IELTS 6.5. Through active engagement with course readings and lecture material, students will sharpen their language and research skills, and develop an awareness of academic expectations at a Canadian university. Enrichment in Graduate Studies Preparation available to students in this level.  Students who successfully complete EFAS level 400 satisfy the English language requirement for the University of Waterloo.

Placement/diagnostic test

At the beginning of the term, new students will write a diagnostic placement to determine which level of EFAS is appropriate. For an idea of their level, students can complete the following free online test: https://www.oxfordonlineenglish.com/english-level-test

Results of this test are simply to provide students with an indication of where they may place in EFAS. Student's EFAS level will be determined by their results on the official placement test.

The chart below indicates the number of terms a student will need to complete the EFAS program at Level 400 (CEFR C1).

CEFR EFAS Level Number of terms needed to complete the EFAS program


EFAS Level 300

2 terms needed to complete EFAS


EFAS Level 400

1 term needed to complete EFAS

Meeting the University of Waterloo language requirements

EFAS Level Language Requirement Satisfied
Level 300

Successful completion of EFAS level 300 satisfies the English language requirement for certain graduate studies programs. For more information, please visit the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar.

Level 400

Successful completion of EFAS level 400 satisfies the English language requirement for graduate studies at University of Waterloo.


To register in the EFAS program with the Graduate Studies Preparation enrichment component, students must follow the EFAS application process. Information on program dates, fees and application process can be found on the English for Academic Success program webpage