A graduate specialization reflects expertise achieved by a graduate student in a sub-discipline of their primary area of study. Specializations are normally available in course-based graduate programs or research programs where there is sufficient required coursework to allow for the customization of the student’s program. For example, a Master’s research program with two required courses and two electives (four total courses), would not qualify for a specialization because there is insufficient flexibility for the student to demonstrate mastery of a sub-discipline. In contrast, a research program with four required courses and four electives could easily be designed with multiple specializations achieved by completing a specific set of courses as the electives.

A specialization is achieved at the University of Waterloo by successfully completing a set of courses defined by the academic unit that collectively contain the necessary depth of material to ensure a student’s level of mastery.

Graduate specializations:

  • do not require Quality Council approval;
  • do not require additional (to the host program) coursework or milestones;
  • should include at least four 0.5 unit courses or 2.0 academic units in total specific to the specialization;
  • should reflect themes that are emerging or established in the discipline, such that the completion of the specialization has meaning to an external audience;
  • should only be offered in disciplines where sufficient breadth of scholarship or professional areas exists to warrant such a distinction;
  • are recognized on a student’s official transcript, but not recognized on a student’s diploma.