Faculty of Engineering minimum requirements

The following sections describe minimum requirements for graduate programs in the Faculty of Engineering. Departments may have additional requirements and/or higher standards.

Admission requirements

For Master’s and Diploma program applicants who completed their previous relevant degree at a Canadian institution, the Faculty of Engineering requires a minimum overall average of 75% either over 4 years or a minimum overall average of 75% over the last 2 years for admission. For all other applicants, the Faculty of Engineering requires a minimum overall average of 75% over 4 years in the applicant’s previous relevant program for admission.

For PhD and Non-degree program applicants the Faculty of Engineering requires a minimum overall average of 75% in the applicant’s previous relevant program for admission. Some departments and programs have additional requirements and/or require a higher admission average.

Applicants to Master’s or Diploma programs who do not meet the required minimum overall average may be considered for probationary admission if they meet at least one of the following conditions:

  1. A minimum of 78% average in the last year of their bachelor’s program (including all credit courses);
  2. At least three years of relevant industrial or professional experience following the completion of a bachelor’s degree.

The minimum overall degree requirements for probationary students are identical to those of regular students. However, probationary students may be required to complete undergraduate or graduate courses additional to those required of regular Master's students. In addition, at least the first two courses of a probationary student's program should be specified in writing at the time of departmental recommendation for admission. The student will need to achieve a minimum grade of 75% (Departments may specify a higher minimum grade in the offer letter) in each course in order to continue in the Master's program as regular students. If the student fails to achieve the required grades their status must be reviewed by the Department Graduate Studies Committee. Normally a student will not continue on probationary status for more than two terms.

Probationary admission is not permitted for Doctoral programs.

Course requirements

Course grades

A grade of less than 65% in any graduate course offered within the Faculty of Engineering is considered a failed course. Students in the Faculty of Engineering are required to maintain a cumulative program average of at least 70% to remain in their program. Some programs may have higher required grades and cumulative averages.

If a student fails a course, or their average falls below their program's required minimum, they will automatically undergo a formal academic review by the Graduate Studies Committee within their Department. One outcome of the formal academic review is that the student will be required to withdraw from their program.

Maximum number of courses taken per term

There is a maximum number of courses in which students registered in the Faculty of Engineering may enroll each term. This maximum applies to both course- and thesis-based students, in both the Master's and PhD programs.

Full-time students may enroll in a maximum of 5 courses (total of 2.5 credits) per term, except in the MArch program within the School of Architecture where a maximum of 6 courses (total of 3.0 credits) is permitted.

Part-time students may enroll in a maximum of 2 courses (total of 1 credit) per term.

Departments may impose lower maximum values for specific programs. Program specific requirements can be found in the relevant sections of this calendar. It is the student's responsibility to become aware of requirements associated with their specific program.

In exceptional circumstance, full-time students may request to register in an additional course, but this must be approved by the course instructor, the Associate Chair for Graduate Studies, and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies using the Graduate studies course drop/add form.

Comprehensive exam milestone

PhD students in the Faculty of Engineering are required to successfully complete the PhD Comprehensive Exam milestone.

The PhD Comprehensive Examination consists of an oral examination conducted at the University of Waterloo with the candidate and members of the Comprehensive Examining Committee present. The examination consists of the following two parts:

  • an examination of the research proposal that the candidate intends to develop into a successful PhD research thesis,
  • an examination of the breadth of the candidate's knowledge of the academic field of the thesis and the adequacy of the candidate's background preparation to pursue the proposed research.

Proposal requirements

The research proposal will consist of a double spaced report of no more than 50 pages including tables, diagrams, and references.

The proposal should:

  1. identify the research problem,
  2. review the relevant literature,
  3. describe the tasks planned to solve the problem, and
  4. propose a timetable for the completion of the project, including the defense of the PhD thesis. With approval from their supervisor, a student may wish to distribute background working papers to members of the Committee to provide further evidence of background preparation.

Distributing the proposal

Students must submit a copy of their proposal to each member of their committee at least two weeks before the date of the comprehensive examination.

Departments may set additional requirements. Please check the relevant sections of this calendar for further information, or with the appropriate department authority. It is the student's responsibility to become aware of any department requirements which are in addition to the stated Faculty of Engineering minima.

Comprehensive exam timeline

Students with a Master's degree (PhD2)

The Faculty of Engineering requires that PhD2 students complete the Comprehensive Exam by the end of term four of their PhD program.

Students without a Master's degree entering the doctoral program directly from a Bachelor’s program (PhD3)

The Faculty of Engineering requires that PhD3 students complete the Comprehensive Exam by the end of term six of their PhD program.

Students transferring into the doctoral program from a Master’s program (PhD3-tr/PhD2-tr)  

The Faculty of Engineering requires that PhD3-tr/PhD2-tr students complete the Comprehensive Exam by the earlier of either:  

  • four terms from the first term the student was registered in the PhD program, or
  • eight terms from the beginning of the student’s Master’s program.

Note: in establishing the above timelines, each term of full-time enrollment counts as one term and each term of part-time enrollment counts as 0.5 terms.

Comprehensive exam extension requests

Students who do not complete the Comprehensive Exam milestone by the terms noted above are required to complete a PhD Comprehensive Exam Request for Time Limit Extension Form justifying the need for an extension for completing the Comprehensive Exam milestone. Students who do not submit a request for extension, or whose extension request is not approved, may be required to withdraw from the program.

MASc thesis acceptance and examination

Master's degree with thesis

In the Faculty of Engineering, the required display period for the MASc thesis is fifteen business days.

Although not typically required by departments, the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies may require an oral defense if circumstances warrant it or if the department or student requests it.

Departments may set additional requirements. Please check the relevant sections of this calendar for further information, or with the appropriate department authority. It is the student's responsibility to become aware of requirements which are in addition to the stated minima.

PhD thesis acceptance and examination

PhD minimum requirements

In the Faculty of Engineering, the required display period for the Doctoral thesis is twenty-five business days. External Examiners must be approved by the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies prior to the thesis being accepted for display by the Engineering Graduate Studies Office.

Departments may set additional requirements. Please check the relevant sections of this calendar for further information, or with the appropriate department authority. It is the student's responsibility to become aware of requirements which are in addition to the stated minima.

Thesis changes after defense

The Faculty of Engineering expects students to meet the following completion deadlines depending on the outcome of their Thesis Defense.

  • Category 1 - 1 month
  • Category 2 - 4 months

In exceptional circumstances, a student may be granted an exception to these deadlines. Requests for exception must be submitted in writing for approval by the supervisor(s), the Associate Chair of Graduate Studies, and the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies. Failure to meet these timelines may result in the student being required to withdraw.