Frequently Asked Questions

If you find that your questions were not answered here in any of the links provided please contact our Graduate Coordinator.

General Questions

I'm trying to put my thesis forward as a publication across a couple of different avenues. Is there anything I should be wary of when moving forward with this kind of thing?
Please consult the Ownership of Students' Work section of the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar. Students should also contact Christine Jewell, the copyright contact on campus.

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What information should I offer to a referee when I request an academic reference for an application?
When you ask someone to write a support letter, you should ask if they are comfortable writing a positive recommendation for you. You should also remind them of which courses you took and when you took them. It is always to the Applicant's advantage to remind the referee of particular successes ("You gave me an 83 for my paper on Pride and Prejudice, writing that you thought it was well argued and well researched. You especially liked my use of Bakhtin."), so they can speak with some specificity.

The two things that the Graduate committee looks most for in a reference letter is specificity, so we can tell the referee has thought about this particular applicant and not just plugged in a few generic comments, and positive indications about the applicant's research potential. Additional comments about creativity, work ethic, maturity, and intelligence are also helpful.

What is the application for admission deadline?
The application for admission deadline to all our graduate programs is February 1.

Where do I go to start the application process?
To apply to any of our graduate programs, please go to the university's Apply online web page.

How do I upload my admission documents?
Please consult the upload your documents page for detailed instructions.

Will the online application allow me to upload my CV?
A CV is not required for any of our program applications.

How many letters of recommendation are needed in the application?
For masters applications we require three letters of reference, at least two of which must be from academic sources.

For doctoral applications we require three letters of recommendation, all from academic sources.

What are the expectations for the writing sample?
We do not require the submission of a writing sample. However, there will be a "statement of interest" (otherwise referred to as Supplementary Application Information or Supplementary Information Form) in the online application. This statement has a maximum 500 word count. The low word count does not indicate a lack of importance; on the contrary, we are looking for scholarly concision.

For MRP- and thesis-stream MA applicants, and for PhD applicants, the admissions committee is looking for the articulation of a scholarly or professional project that shows an understanding of the relevant field, and the way your project could address problems or gaps in that field. For coursework-stream MA applicants, the committee is looking for a statement of how your chosen course of study (LIT, RCD, XDM) will develop your academic interests.

When will I receive notification about whether or not I have been accepted?
Offers of Admission are usually sent out in March.

Is it possible for a graduate student from another university to enroll in a course at the University of Waterloo?
It is possible for graduate students from other institutions to take graduate courses here at the University of Waterloo.

Students must complete an online application. They must choose "Non-Degree" as their program. They will be given a Waterloo ID number and instructions to upload their documents as do regular applicants. However, they are not required to supply references. They must complete the Supplementary form. They should upload scanned copies of official transcripts.

If the applicant is just here for one term, then the study permit is not required for international students.

What are the associated costs of pursuing graduate studies?
Please consult the Tuition Fee Schedule for information about fees and expenses and the Graduate studies website for information about living expenses.

What are the admission requirements for the XDM program? What is the department looking for in potential graduate students, in terms of previous work and current research interests?
The admission requirements for XDM and XDM Co-op are available in the graduate studies academic calendar.

We look for a degree in Literature, Rhetoric, or related fields; professional work and/or design work in digital media is worth highlighting on the Supplementary form. See the XDM pages for more information on the program.

Where it asks me under "Academic Background" to include a "Graduated or Expected or Completed Date (if no degree)," what should I enter if I dropped out? Neither did I graduate nor do I want to finish my degree at my previous institution.
In such cases, applicants should put the date they last attended and choose "none" for degree.

Is it obligatory to mention the names of the faculty members as prospective supervisors while applying?
It is advisable, but not necessary, to include supervisor matches for your work.

My area of interest/specialization for the PhD is not included among those listed in the application. What should I indicate?
Leave the specialization blank and elaborate in your Statement about your specific research directions.

Does the transcript I upload in my application portal have to be official?
The transcripts uploaded for the application can be unofficial. We only require official transcripts once offers have been made and accepted.

I am having trouble defining my Statement of interest. Should the overtone of the statement be academic or personal?
The Statement of Interest is an academic exercise, rather than a personal one. Successful applications feature a statement of interest that lays out a clear set of academic interests the student wishes to pursue during the degree, and indicates why this particular department and program would be the best place to undertake that work. That is, if you can be specific about why the program at Waterloo is a good fit for the research you wish to do, that would be helpful to the admissions committee as it does its work.

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How do I enroll in courses through Quest?
Please consult the instructions found on the Quest website.

How do I enroll in an undergraduate course?
In order to enroll in an undergraduate course, students must fill out a course drop/add form and obtain all the appropriate signatures. The department responsible for offering the course will make sure you have the required course requisites before admitting you to the course.

How do I enroll in a course offered by another department?
In order to take a graduate course offered in another department, students must fill out a course drop/add form and obtain all the appropriate signatures. The other department will make sure that you have the required course requisites before admitting you to the course.

How do I enroll in a course offered at another institution?
In order to enroll in a graduate course offered at another Ontario institution please fill out an Ontario visiting graduate student (OVGS) form and submit it to the department's graduate coordinator. Graduate courses taken through this plan will be designated as transfer credits to your University of Waterloo graduate degree program. You will be classed as an "Ontario Visiting Graduate Student" at the host university where you will pay no fees.

Are students allowed to take two courses with the same number? For example, I am taking ENGL 710 Shakespeare and Rhetoric right now. Can I also take ENGL 710 The Play's the Thing in the summer?
Students can take the same course up to three times as long as the topics are different each time.

How do I change my stream/program?
In order to change your stream or program of study, you must fill out the Program change form, obtain the appropriate signatures and submit it to the graduate coordinator's office.

What is a reading course?
There are different types of courses : Lectures, seminars, reading courses, etc. Please consult the Glossary of terms for the University’s official descriptions of each.

If you are interested in taking a reading course, you must approach an instructor and see if they would be willing to supervise you. Usually, students approach someone who specializes in the field that interests them. Evaluation criteria will be established and agreed upon by both instructor and student.

Once an instructor agrees, s/he must submit a course proposal (PDF) to the Graduate Studies Committee for approval. Once approved, students must fill out a course drop/add form to enroll in the reading course.

How many graduate classes must be taken in each semester to be considered full-time?
Full-time status versus part-time status at the graduate level is determined by the amount of time a student dedicates to his/her studies, rather than strictly by the number of courses he/she is enrolled in. This is particularly relevant for graduate students in the MRP, thesis, area-exam, or dissertation phases of their degree. Full-time students in the coursework phase of their program are expected to take no fewer than two courses (and no more than three courses) in a term while part-time students are expected to take no more than two courses in a term. Students must declare their status themselves (during application process and acceptance of offer process), and must fill out the Graduate Student Change of Enrolment Status form should they need to change their status.

How do I obtain a program completion letter?
In order to obtain a letter that proves you have completed your degree, you must fill out a Program completion form and submit it to the GSPA.

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Fees and Funding

How are tuition fees calculated?
Fees are paid on a term-by-term basis at the University of Waterloo.

Graduate tuition is not calculated by course, it is calculated on whether you are enrolled as a full-time or part-time status. Thus, a full-time student who completes two courses one term and three courses the next term will pay the same amount of tuition fees both terms.

What are my tuition fees for the term?
Please consult the Tuition Fee Schedule for information about fees and expenses.

Do MA transitional and qualifying students pay graduate tuition fees?
MA transitional and qualifying student are considered graduate students. Consequently, they are subject to graduate tuition fees.

How will I receive my funding?
Funding provided through TA or RA work will be awarded through payroll the last Friday of the month (four months per term). Funding provided through awards and scholarships is awarded in one lump sum. It is typically awarded after the 100% tuition refund date.

We recommend that all students sign up for direct deposit through the Human Resources department. This will allow students to receive their scholarships and awards as soon as those are processed. Otherwise, students will have to wait to receive a cheque by mail, which could take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks to be delivered. TAs and RAs who have not signed up for direct deposit will have to go to the HR department to pick up their monthly payroll.

How do I pay my tuition fees? How do I become "Fees Arranged"?
Please consult the instructions on SAFA's website.

Will my tuition fees be automatically removed from my funding?
Scholarships, bursaries and awards funding will be applied to the student account balance during the first week of term, provided the student’s registered status is "Fees Arranged."

If the remaining student account balance is greater than $100.00 a payment plan to re-direct funds from a TA/RA monthly payroll can be set up to pay the student’s fees.

In the case where a student’s Anticipated Aid on Quest exceeds the balance owing on their student account, the student will not have the opportunity to upload proof of a TA/RA in the Promissory Note process.

If the student is aware that after deducting the scholarships, bursaries and awards only, there is still a balance owing greater than $100.00, the student can send the TA/RA letter directly to to request that a payment plan be established for the term to pay the remaining balance.

How do I change my fees to reflect that I will be going on co-op?
In order to have your fees reflect that you will be going on co-op, you must fill out the Change of enrolment status form. On this form, you should check the co-op option and be sure to indicate that it will be for a duration of two terms. Once filled out and signed by you and your supervisor (if applicable),submit it to the graduate coordinator's office.

How do I obtain my T4 information?
Please visit Human Resources for detailed instructions.

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Graduating and Convocation

Where can I find information about convocation?
The GSPA usually sends out an email one month before convocation to notify students about gown rentals and other convocation processes. For more detailed information, please consult the Graduate Studies website.

Will I receive confirmation once my Intent to Graduate form has been processed?
The GSPA does not send out notifications when an Intention to Graduate Form has been processed. Students can verify in quest if their degree has been completed. A note indicating so will appear at the top of the unofficial transcript.

I have submitted my Intent to Graduate form. Why do I have fees showing up for the next term?
Once all degree requirements have been met, we will process the Intent to Graduate form and send it through the appropriate channels. As long as it is processed by the GSPA by the 100% refund date of the following term, all fees will be removed from your account.

I am supposed to graduate in October but I was wondering if I am able to push the convocation time back to the spring?
You can certainly participate in the Spring convocation ceremony instead. However, your degree will still be conferred to you in the Fall. You will have the option of going to the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs office (GSPA) one week following convocation to retrieve your diploma. If you do not pick it up, it will be mailed to you. Two months before the Spring convocation, you must email Tasha Glover in the GSPA office and request to be a walk across at that ceremony.

Can I obtain my diploma now instead of waiting until the next convocation ceremony?
Diplomas cannot be distributed before they are legally conferred upon the student at convocation.

In the meantime, students can order a Program Confirmation letter to confirm that the degree requirements have been met. The letter will also indicate the date these requirements were met as well as the future conferral date (convocation).

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