Minimum requirements for the Master's degree

Each candidate for the Master's degree shall have a supervisor who will submit a program of study for approval by the department in which the candidate is enrolled.

The minimum period of enrolment for the Master's degree is two terms from an Honours Bachelor's degree or equivalent. In practice, students take longer than the minimum period to complete the degree; they should check with their home department to find out about typical completion times. For information on required full-time attendance at the University refer to the Definitions - students section.

The minimum requirements for the Master's degree are satisfied when candidates have successfully completed either:

  1. Four two-term (1.0 unit weight) or eight one-term (0.5 unit weight) courses accepted for graduate credit by their department. These must include a master's research paper requiring an in-depth study on a topic approved by the department.* Or:
  2. Two two-term (1.0 unit weight) or four one-term (0.5 unit weight) courses accepted for graduate credit by their department, plus a thesis embodying the result of their research on a topic approved by the department.* Or:
  3. Three two-term (1.0 unit weight) or six one-term (0.5 unit weight) courses accepted for graduate credit by their department, plus a master's research paper embodying the result of their research on a topic approved by the department.* Or:
  4. Eight one-term (0.5 unit weight) courses accepted for graduate credit by the department for coursework only degrees.*

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

Graduate students admitted to co-operative graduate degree programs are normally required to complete one two-term work term, or two one-term co-operative work terms. Effective the Spring 2002 academic term, each co-operative work term shall carry academic credit and be recorded as a course with a unit weight of 0.50. These co-operative work term courses are additional academic requirements to those listed above for minimum Master's degree requirements.

For information concerning the transfer of academic credits refer to the Transfer of academic credit page.

Candidates must obtain an average of at least 70% in the courses presented in fulfilment of the degree requirements. A failing grade in any course will occasion an automatic review of a candidate's status by the department and may, in some cases, result in the requirement to withdraw from the program.

Master's degree with Research Paper  

In the case of a Master's program involving a Research Paper, the research paper must be evaluated by at least two faculty members, one of whom should be the student's supervisor.

Master's degree with Thesis

In the case of a Master's program involving a thesis, one copy of the thesis is required for each member of the Reading Committee or Examining Committee. The Committee shall be comprised of: at least one tenured or tenure track faculty member of the student's home department who will normally be the student's supervisor(s); an additional tenured or tenure track faculty member from the University of Waterloo; and at least one additional examiner whose expertise can support the evaluation of the Master's thesis. External adjunct appointments require the approval of the Associate Dean, Graduate from the student's home Faculty. No more than one adjunct faculty member (including Professors Emeriti) may serve on the Examining Committee. One copy of the thesis is submitted either to the department or to the Office of the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) of the Faculty upon being given to the Reading/Examining Committee for acceptance/defence. The thesis should normally be on public display for two weeks.

In departments that do not normally require an oral defence of the Master's thesis the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) may require such defence if circumstances warrant it or if the department or student requests it.

When an oral defence for a Master's thesis is a requirement and where the protection of intellectual property is sought by the filing of a patent application, the student and supervisor(s) may request a closed thesis examination and/or a restriction on the circulation of the thesis as outlined in the Graduate Thesis Regulations.

When the thesis is accepted by the department and Faculty, and all other requirements for the degree have been met, the student must provide the University with an electronic copy of their approved thesis as a final University degree requirement. Theses must be prepared and submitted as outlined in the Graduate Thesis Regulations.

Completion of Master's degree requirements

The requirements for the degree must be completed within the time periods stipulated by the Senate of the University. Normally these are:

  • Master's: 6.0 terms

Students must petition the Faculty Graduate Committee to continue their enrolment beyond these limits. Progress of students who have been granted extensions will be reviewed every term. For more information on time limits see the Enrolment and time limits page.

Part-time students who have been in a regular Master's program for more than six terms must be reviewed every term.

Students whose work does not measure up to the standards of their program may be required to withdraw from the program. Such students may be readmitted although there will be a limit on the time-span in which readmission may occur.

In any case, candidates must remain continuously enrolled at the University, to the end of the term in which they complete the degree requirements. For additional information, see the Continuous enrolment section of the Enrolment and time limits page.