SERS graduate student FAQs - Current students

Faculty and school administration

Important websites

Graduate Studies Academic Calendar

The Graduate Studies Academic Calendar is the main contractual document between the student and the University. It is very important that you read through the general information and regulations sections, as graduate student administration is completely different from undergraduate student administration – there are several important things that you need to be aware of, such as registration (tuition payment), continuous enrollment, residence requirements, and changes of enrollment status.

Important dates

Resources and information

Email account and online learning system

Email account

Graduate student email accounts are created automatically when a student is matriculated (made active) as part of the admission process. All email addresses take the form

Learn how to set up Office 365 email on your computer or phone.

Log in using your WatIAM username and password.

It is important to check your UWaterloo email regularly. The program and the University of Waterloo will be communicating with you through this email account.

Please refer to the statement on official student email address web page for additional information on your email account.

For technical assistance, please visit the Environment Technology and Instructional Support (ETIS) help desk

Online learning system

Login on LEARN.

Visit LEARN to access registered courses and view additional opportunities for training and professional development.

Waterloo LEARN courses are designed to function in a variety of operating systems and web browsers. While courses generally function well in many computer configurations, only some are formally supported and tested. Please check the latest computer requirements.

Learn more about LEARN resources and information.

Fees and course registration


You will use Quest to enroll in courses, obtain your fee statement, view financial aid, change your address and/or email and other personal information, view your unofficial transcript for grades and view your course schedule.

Tuition fees

The Finance Office will post your tuition fees on Quest approximately one month prior to the beginning of each term in your graduate studies program. You may print your fee bill from your Quest account (see below). Payments/fee arrangements can be made at a bank, online, by personal cheque, through payroll deduction for TA/RA earnings, and from scholarship/bursary payments. Visit Student Financial Services web page for more information on tuition fee payment deadlines.

If you have funding as part of your offer, you can submit a promissory note to have your tuition paid from your funding each term. Teaching Assistant (TA)/Research Assistants (RA) funding letters will be sent by email a minimum of a week before fees are due and if you have a scholarship or Graduate Research Stipend (GRS), it will show as anticipated aid normally a minimum of a week before the tuition is due. More details on submitting a promissory note. Promissory notes need to be submitted each term.

Funding packages are indicated in your offer of admission and are normally based on 12 terms for PhD students and two years for MES students. Normally there is no additional funding past the end of the term indicated in your offer letter. Each individual student is unique, and we encourage students to plan accordingly based on their funding package, progression through the program and financial needs. There are a range of resources available through the Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) to augment funding opportunities, including scholarships, bursaries and emergency support.

Enrollment regulations

Students are expected to maintain continuous registration, either active status or inactive status, throughout their program. Failure to register and pay any required fees each term will mean you will have to apply for readmission. Special permission is required to change your registration status from full-time/part-time to inactive. If you do request inactive status, you must submit a change of enrolment status form. A rationale explaining the reasons for the request must be submitted. Requests for inactive status will not always be approved. Students are encouraged to discuss program changes with faculty supervisors or graduate administrators if issues or concerns arise about maintaining registration status.

Students are required to enroll and pay fees each term that they are active in the program. Terms when students are working on their research and thesis/major research paper are considered active terms.

Learn more about enrolment status change.

Required core and elective courses

Required core courses

Required courses can be found on the following links:

Elective courses

Students are encouraged to discuss elective options with faculty supervisors before choosing courses. Elective courses must be at the graduate level. For the MES-MRP program specifically, at least 2 electives must be an ERS course.

Course descriptions are available in the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar and course syllabi can be accessed through the SERS graduate course outline web page or Course Outline Repository normally before the term starts. If no outline is available, please reach out to the instructor of the course.

Additional information for new and current students

Student card

The WatCard is the University of Waterloo’s campus identification card and is needed for many of the services provided by the University. The WatCard is your “One Card” to access many facilities and services such as: food services, photocopying, libraries, computer labs, and the Physical Activities Complex (PAC). It can also be used at some restaurants in the surrounding community.

Parking Services

If you require parking, please visit or contact Parking Services in the General Service Complex (GSC) or ext. 33100. For information on lots and cost of parking please, visit Parking Services.

There is also pay parking available in specific lots around campus if you are a part-time student. Please use the campus map to help locate these visitors paid parking areas. See Student Permits for more information.

Graduate student office and study space

Masters' students are not assigned individual office/desk space. However, we have two large rooms that have been set up for general or occasional use: EV1-355, which is equipped with the thesis library, large tables and chairs, as well as small lockers, is designated as “quiet space”; and EV1-357, which is equipped with lockers, couches and chairs and some desks, is designated as “loud space”.

PhD students share office space which is assigned upon arrival in discussion with their supervisor and is handled by the Dean of Environment Office. Once an office space is approved, student will need to pick up a key from Key Control/Parking Services in the GSC building or will be provided with a code to access the room.

There are various study spaces around ENV including the courtyard in EV1 and outside the SERS EV2 space. Meeting rooms are available for study spaces when not in use also in EV2.

Library services

Library services include study spaces, research and data management, systematic reviews support, copyright support, as well as many workshops for skills-building. The library also offers a SERS department guide and an assigned librarian familiar with departmental research initiatives.

Professional development resources

Graduate students have a wide range of opportunities to develop or augment professional skills, in addition to the research and professional skills obtained through the program. We encourage students to discuss their professional development goals and skill development interests with faculty supervisors, and to develop a plan that aligns with their program. A selection of professional development resources is outlined below. As well, visit the GSA’s page on graduate student worker resources for more information about skills development and experience.

TA skills development and/or preparing for pursuing a career in teaching

If you are interested in pursuing a career in university teaching or in improving your TA skills, you may be interested in the Centre for Teaching Excellence (CTE). The CTE houses a wealth of teaching resources and provides several graduate student programs, including a Teaching Certificate program that can be completed while enrolled in your program.

Career planning resources

The Centre for Career Action (CCA) supports undergraduate and graduate students, alumni and employees. Career Advisors can help with career planning, career management strategies, graduate and professional school preparation, work search methods and setting meaningful career goals.For more information visit CareerHub.

Writing and communication skills

The Writing and Communication Centre offers many services and strategies that augment your academic program, including skills for public speaking, writing, and revising your work.

Sharing research and mobilizing knowledge

There are many ways to share your research accomplishments and outcomes within and beyond the University. Discuss with your supervisor and colleagues about popular conferences in your field. Join academic societies that advance your research area. Seek paper proceedings from past conferences to identify focus areas and possible research collaborators. Keep an eye out for Departmental, Faculty, GSA and Grad e-News emails for other opportunities. There are a growing number of resources and initiatives that encourage novel approaches to knowledge mobilization, including the ‘3 minute’ thesis and SSHRC ‘Storytelling’ competitions.

Publishing your research in peer-reviewed journals may be a goal during your program. Discuss this with your supervisor to outline the process, expectations and requirements to do so. The publishing world now includes pay-walled and open-access options, and the quality and reputation of the publication venue is an important consideration. There are also ‘predatory journals’ which promise easy publication, often at a cost and these should be avoided.

Faculty supervision: Roles and responsibilities

Faculty supervisors play an important role in the experience of graduate students. Ongoing communication between graduate students and supervisors about expectations, timelines, funding and opportunities for professional development is central to an effective partnership. The GSPA provides a helpful overview of roles, responsibilities and expectations for both supervisors and students. When in doubt about an issue, talk to your supervisor, or reach out to SERS graduate administrators for assistance: Guide for Graduate Research and Supervision.