Minimum academic requirements

The University of Waterloo, Senate Graduate and Research Council (SGRC) establishes the minimum academic admission requirements common to all graduate students. Learn more about our minimum academic admission requirements in the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar.  

While the university establishes minimum guidelines, your program may indicate higher or additional requirements.

Master's program and Graduate Diploma admissions

Applying with domestic credentials:

  • Have at least a 75% overall standing in the last two years of a four-year Honours Bachelor's degree or equivalent

Applying with international credentials:

  • Have at least a 75% overall standing in a four-year Honours Bachelor's degree or equivalent

Doctoral admissions

Applying with either domestic or international credentials:

  • Have at least a 75% overall standing, or equivalent, in your previous degree
  • Demonstrate other superior qualifications, such as advanced research ability
  • In certain instances, if you have successfully completed one PhD you may be admitted into a second PhD in a complementary area

English language proficiency (ELP)

The official language of instruction at the University of Waterloo is English. It's our responsibility to ensure that all students have the English language skills required to be successful.

Please visit the GSPA webpage for COVID-19 updates for graduate students for more ELP test taker options while ELP Testing Centres remain closed.

Accepted ELP tests:
  • Internet-based TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
    • We are not accepting TOEFL MyBestTM scores to meet the ELP requirement, the required scores must be met in a single test.
  • IELTS (academic) - International English Language Testing System
  • MELAB - Michigan English Language Assessment Battery
    • The MELAB is no longer being offered, however, results can still be submitted until July 2020. After July 2020, we will no longer accept MELAB results to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAEL - Canadian Academic English Language
  • PTE (academic) - Pearson Test of English
  • EFAS - English for Academic Success

It is important to know:

  • ELP scores are valid for two years from the test date.
  • Visit our program pages for specific ELP program requirements.
  • Letters from your university stating the medium of instruction is English do not satisfy Waterloo admission requirements.
  • Complete your test at least two months before the application deadline to ensure your scores reach us in time. It will take 4-6 weeks for your official test score to reach Waterloo.
  • Learn more about our ELP tests and scores in the Graduate Studies Academic Calendar.

Conditional English language proficiency admission

  • If you are applying to a graduate program, have supplied an ELP test but and are slightly below the required score, conditional admission may be offered. 
  • If you are applying with a sponsorship that includes funding for English language studies, conditional admission may be offered.

ELP exemptions

You are exempt from submitting an English language proficiency examination score if any one of the following conditions is true at the time of application to Waterloo:

  1. You have completed three or more years of post-secondary education at a Canadian institution or university. or
  2. You have completed a graduate degree at a Canadian university. or
  3. You have completed three or more years of post-secondary education, or completed a graduate degree in an exempt country listed below. or
  4. You have been employed for at least three years in a position in which English was the language of business in a country listed below. or
  5. You have completed three or more years of post-secondary education, or completed a graduate degree at a university where English is listed as the only language of instruction on the International Association of Universities World Higher Education Database (WHED).
    1. Note:  ELP exemption from a WHED institution expires two years after graduation.