Internationalize your degree by going on exchange in your 3A, 3B or 4A term:
- Build your network and make new friends from around the world.
- Step outside your comfort zone to become more independent and self-aware.
- Set yourself apart in your job hunt by becoming more adaptable and developing the skills employers are looking for.
- Earn credit toward your degree at Waterloo while exploring another country/region.
If you’re planning to participate in an exchange or summer program, you will need to attend an information session before you can apply. Check the Student Success Office Go Abroad website for upcoming dates and times (found under the "Application steps: before match" tab).
- Applications for fall 2019 are now closed.
- Apply by August 1, 2019 to go on exchange in winter/spring 2020.
- Applications for fall 2020 and winter/spring 2021 will open October 1, 2019. Apply by November 1, 2019 to be included in the first round of matches (for the best chance of getting into one of your top choice schools).
- Cumulative overall average of 70% or higher (75% for Australia and the United Kingdom)
- Be in good standing for your program
- Be proficient in the language of instruction at the host university (check that the school you are interested in going to offers courses taught in English, if that is the language you will need to study in)
- Most students go on exchange during their 3A or 3B term, although 4A works best for students in Planning
For international exchanges, you pay your normal tuition fees (for 2.5 credits) to Waterloo. There is no extra tuition charged to participate in an exchange program. Please note that your tuition for an exchange term does not change if you take a lighter course load at your host school.
Summer programs through the University of Waterloo vary. For some summer programs, you pay the program fee directly to the host school. For others, you pay your tuition fees (for 1.5 credits) to Waterloo. You can find this information, as well as the program cost, on the program's summary page in Waterloo Passport.
You're responsible for any extra studying costs (books, lab fees, etc.), travel expenses, passport and visa arrangements, accommodations, food and all other living expenses, including health care.
Costs of living abroad vary considerably, but is often not significantly higher than living in Canada. To make your exchange more affordable, consider schools located in smaller cities or towns, where housing tends to be much lower than in larger cities.
International experience awards (free money!)
The University of Waterloo, in support of international studies, offers a number of awards and bursaries. You can be considered for most of the international experience awards by completing one application.
Some of our partner schools offer funding for exchange students. If there is funding available, you will find that information on the summary page in Waterloo Passport.
Where can you go?
Go to Waterloo Passport to see the opportunities that are available to Environment students.
To search, click on "Search Programs". Select "Exchange" as the type and check the box beside "Environment" to find the universities you can go to as an Environment student. Click "Apply Search" to get your results.
Click on the name of a school, in the list of results, to see more information about that host school. Be sure to check the following information when looking at the school summary:
- Term/semester dates - quite a few universities have term dates that are different from ours and may overlap two of our terms (e.g. terms in Australia typically run from February to June and July to November/December). Check individual universities for term/semester dates as these can vary even within countries/regions.
- Language of instruction (found to the right of the map) - most of our partner universities offer courses taught in English but be sure to check this before applying.
You will find plenty of useful links in the school profile (the page you see after clicking on the name of the host school) that will take you to information on courses, housing, the school website and more.
Before you apply
- Attend an information session. Upcoming dates, times and locations can be found on the Student Success Office Go Abroad website.
- Discuss with your Academic Advisor and Co-op Advisor (if applicable) how an exchange will fit into your academic plan. Depending on the term dates of the school you are going to, you may have to make changes to the sequencing of your work and study terms.
- Look at the courses you still need to graduate. Plan on taking your required courses at Waterloo and leaving your electives to take during your exchange, as it can be difficult to find courses that will transfer back to Waterloo as the specific courses you may need. Plan early and talk to your advisor about how you might be able to take the required courses you would normally take during the term you'll be on exchange, during your other terms at Waterloo.
- Check the term dates, duration and language of instruction of the host schools to ensure they would be a good option for you.
How to apply
Applications for fall 2019 are now closed, but you can still apply to go on exchange during winter/spring 2020. Before you can apply, you will need to attend a mandatory information session. Upcoming dates and times for those information sessions can be found on the Student Success Office Go Abroad (under the "Application steps: before match" tab).
Applications for summer 2020 (shorter summer programs), fall 2020, winter 2021 and spring 2021 will open on October 1, 2019. Follow the application steps and submit your online application through Waterloo Passport before November 1 to be matched in the first round. Students who apply after the deadline will be matched with a host school on a first-come, first-served basis, in the continuous round of applications.
When applying for an exchange, you are encouraged to list up to five program choices in one application. Be sure to only list schools that you would be happy to be matched with, as you could be matched with any of those five choices. You will only be matched with one school.
If you choose to decline your match, please let the Global Learning Team know if you would still like to be considered for another match, otherwise you will automatically be removed from the exchange program. If you do not accept your match by the deadline given in your match email, your match will automatically be declined.
Course selection and transfer credits
Most students are able to transfer a full course load of credits (2.5 credits) back to Waterloo after completing an exchange term. The key is to look into courses early and have them assessed before you leave for your exchange so that you know what transfer credits you can expect to receive when you get back to Waterloo.
You are welcome to take any course that your host university will allow you to enrol in. This is the perfect opportunity to take courses that can only be found at your host school.
Transfer credit assessment process
Once you have been matched with a host school, have a look at their website to find courses you might want to take while you are there. It is usually best to wait until you have access to the host school's application to have courses assessed, as you will likely have access to more information about the courses that would be open to you, as an exchange student, during the term you'll be on exchange.
Once you have a list of courses (max. 10, any subject), you can send them to Jaime Fohkens to start the course assessment process. To assess your courses, we will need the following information:
- Course name
- Course code
- Course outline/syllabus
Be sure to include your full name, program and student number in your email when requesting course assessments.
Courses outside the Faculty of Environment
If you are thinking of taking courses that might fall within the Faculty of Arts or Math, have a look at their lists of courses that have been approved for Arts and Math students in the past, to get an idea of the transfer credits you might receive.
These lists are only meant to be used as a guide. Your courses will still have to be assessed closer to the time you leave to go on exchange, as courses are continuously changing, both at Waterloo and the host schools.
Stories from Environment students
Corbin Weber (Environment and Business) - University of Wollongong in Australia
Vanessa Lubieniecki (Geography and Environmental Management) - Queensland University of Technology in Australia
Claire Hunter (Environment, Resources and Sustainability) - University of Liverpool in England
Jacqueline Harper (Environment and Business) - Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg in Germany (Ontario Baden-Württemberg (OBW) exchange program)
If you have been on an exchange and would like to share your story and/or photos, please contact Jaime Fohkens. We would love to hear from you!
Stories from students in other Faculties
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