Admission and English language proficiency requirements

Learn more about:

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 listing 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.

Accepted ELP tests:

  • Internet-based TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
  • IELTS (academic) - International English Language Testing System
  • MELAB - Michigan English Language Assessment Battery
  • 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.
  • 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 admission 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.

ELP exempt country list

American Samoa

Anguilla

Antigua and Barbuda

Australia

Bahamas

Barbados

Belize

Bermuda

Botswana

Canada

Cayman Islands

Falkland Islands

Fiji

Gambia, The

Ghana

Gibraltar

Grenada

Guam

Guyana

Ireland (Republic of)

Jamaica

Kenya

Lesotho

Liberia

Malawi

Malta

Montserrat

Namibia

New Zealand

Nigeria

Papua New Guinea

Sierra Leone

Singapore

South Africa

Sri Lanka

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Swaziland

Tanzania

Trinidad and Tobago

Turks and Caicos Islands

Uganda

United Kingdom

United States of America

Vanuatu

Virgin Islands

Zambia

Zimbabwe