Build better buildings — and a bright career in the process
Combine engineering expertise with architectural savvy to boost the energy efficiency, durability, and sustainability of buildings. In Waterloo's newest engineering program, you'll learn how to design, renovate, and retrofit flexible buildings that adapt to different needs. And have the opportunity to combine it all with co-op.
You'll cover all the science and engineering that goes into good building design, including mechanics, structural analysis, structural design and more. In third year, you'll study at Waterloo's world-class School of Architecture, deepening your understanding of aesthetics, culture, and other elements of design.
As a result, you'll graduate speaking the language of both engineers and architects — a skill that will put you on the fast track to leadership in the building design industry.
in Canada for engineering (US News & World Report 2020)
Gain two years of experience in Waterloo's co-op program
Earn a Bachelor of Applied Science degree
Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including
- Advanced Functions (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Calculus and Vectors (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Chemistry (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Physics (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- English (ENG4U) (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
Admission averages: Individual selection from the high 80s
The Admission Information Form is required for admission.
Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.
Architectural Engineering at Waterloo
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First-year courses and beyond
September to December
January to April
You'll have your first four-month paid co-op work term.
May to August
Sample upper-year courses
Co-op = relevant paid work experience
You'll have your first co-op work term in January to April of your first year, alternating between four-month co-op work terms and four-month school terms. By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore new career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve.
- Consulting firms specializing in structural and/or architectural design
- Building performance consulting firms
- Construction companies and developers
- Regulatory agencies
- Building owners and operators
What can you do with a degree in architectural engineering?
You’ll be particularly well-suited to work in building design consulting firms of all sizes that house specialists relating to building design, e.g., interior designers, architects, structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers. However, you could also work for government public works departments, school boards and hospital authorities, private building infrastructure owners (e.g., airport authorities), building construction firms, developers, and more.
Possible professional designation
Learn about the future of careers in engineering.
Common questions about the program
What is the difference between Architectural Engineering and Architecture?
The Architectural Engineering program will be an accredited engineering program, so you’ll be able to work towards professional engineer (P.Eng.) status. Course content-wise, the program is actually closer to Civil Engineering than Architecture. Courses will cover content on mechanics, structural analysis and structural design, as well as heavy math content in the first two years. You'll have a better understanding of the science and engineering behind good building design – not just the structural aspects, but also energy efficiency, sustainable building design and smart/green building design. Architectural Engineering only covers enough about the aesthetic aspects of building design to be able to communicate intelligently with architects in their own language on this subject. In Architecture, these aesthetic aspects are a much greater focus.
What is the difference between Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering?
Architectural Engineering focusses heavily on building design. In contrast, Civil Engineering is a more general field with more breadth. The Civil Engineering curriculum includes design of large municipal infrastructure components. In both programs, you’ll take courses in structural analysis and design (i.e., how to determine forces in structures and size their members, connections, etc.). As an Architectural Engineering student, you’ll also take courses on building science and systems (such as HVAC) in the place of courses that Civil Engineering students take on transportation networks, water distribution systems, geotechnical engineering, and more.
Architectural engineers work for design consulting firms specializing in the design, construction, renovation, and rehabilitation of buildings. Civil engineers are more likely to get jobs with government, provincial highway authorities, and construction companies. There is certainly some overlap between these programs. However, the Architectural Engineering program has been developed to address highly specified issues particular to building construction.
Does the level of design work vary between Architectural Engineering, Architecture, and Civil Engineering?
Design has a very different meaning to engineers than it does to architects. There is not more or less in one program or the other – just different kinds of design. In comparison to Civil Engineering, Architectural Engineering includes more design and introduces design concepts much earlier on in the program. It can be said that the design in Architectural Engineering includes making decisions in addition to making calculations. This decision-making component is unique to the program and helps you address open-ended design problems.
How is the learning style different between the programs?
The main differences between Civil and Architectural Engineering in terms of learning style are the studio streams in Architectural Engineering. You’ll take a “studio” course every term, which will involve projects, model building, and synthesis of knowledge from other courses. You’ll have a desk in a studio, which will be your home for the entire term. This is similar to what Architecture students currently have. You'll also do your third year at the School of Architecture in Cambridge, where you’ll interact and eventually work on collaborative projects with Architecture students. In other respects, the program is very much an engineering undergraduate program. It is different from Architecture in all the same ways as any other engineering program.
What would make me more suited to Architectural Engineering than Architecture?
If you’re strong in math and science, interested in the technical aspects of building performance and design but relatively weaker in terms of artistic and creative abilities, you would potentially be more suited for Architectural Engineering.
What would make me more suited to Architectural Engineering than Civil Engineering?
The skills required from you in these two programs would actually be similar. We expect it would primarily be interest and future career preferences which would drive you in one direction or the other. In both cases, we hope you'll choose Waterloo if you have a passion for the program and field of expertise to which you’re admitted.
How does the application process differ between Architectural Engineering, Architecture, and Civil Engineering?
If you’re applying to Architectural Engineering or Civil Engineering, you’ll need to take high school chemistry. Architecture does not have this requirement. Architecture requires an interview and portfolio of creative work while Architectural Engineering and Civil Engineering don’t. If you apply to Architectural Engineering or Civil Engineering, you’ll have the opportunity to complete an optional online interview. Evidence of design and creative skills and interests will be considered an asset in Architectural Engineering much more than it would be in Civil Engineering.
Offered by the Faculty of Engineering
Apply directly to this program on your application
Learn how sustainability is fundamental to design
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Design from day one
Combine science and design. You'll gain the technical know-how of an engineer while developing design skills through modelling and prototyping in hands-on studio courses each term.
Collaborate with architects
You'll spend third year at the School of Architecture in Cambridge, Ontario, working and interacting with talented Architecture students and gaining expertise in design.