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Fall 2016
The Graduate Calendar

Calendar - General Information & Regulations


Enrolment and Time Limits
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Residence Requirements - Graduate Programs

Residence is related to terms of enrolment and on-campus activity. It is calculated based on a student's enrolment status in their program (part-time or full-time). Additional enrolment information is provided below.

  • Normal: three terms of full-time enrolment (6 terms part-time) from an Honours Bachelor's degree
  • Minimum: two terms of full-time enrolment (4 terms part-time) from an Honours Bachelor's degree
  • Normal: six terms of full-time enrolment from Master's degree, nine terms from Honours Bachelor's degree
  • Minimum: four terms of full-time enrolment from Master's degree, six terms from Honours Bachelor's degree

In exceptional cases, and on the recommendation of the Faculty, some or all of the residence requirements may be waived.


At the University of Waterloo the calendar year is divided into three academic terms known as Fall (September-December), Winter (January-April) and Spring (May-August). Graduate students normally enrol for the first time in September at the beginning of the Fall term. In some cases, a department permits new students to enrol in January or May. To enrol, a new student must have been issued a Letter of Acceptance by the Graduate Studies Office (GSO) which specifies the date for which enrolment is authorized.

Enrolment and Residence: On successful completion of each four-month period (Fall, Winter, Spring) students advance as follows:

  • full-time students will advance at the rate of one term (1.0);
  • part-time students will advance at the rate of one-half term (0.5);
  • Inactive enrolment has a term value of 0.0.

Term Enrolment: Students will not be allowed to enrol after the government reporting date in a term (for relevant dates refer to the Calendar of Events & Academic Deadlines page). If they are not enrolled, students will not receive credit for course work completed up to that date and will have to apply for readmission to their program.

Enrolment and Time Limits (additional Program Time Limits information is provided below): Students who have enrolled and paid fees, but have reached the maximum time limits allowed for their program must submit a Petition for Program Extension form to their department/Graduate Studies Office by the government reporting deadline of each applicable term (departments may have earlier deadlines). Students who fail to do so will be de-registered from their program. Once de-registered, students will be required to re-apply to the program.

Failure of students to arrange fees as required will cause their enrolment in Graduate Studies to lapse. It may be re-established only if an application for readmission is approved.

Students who are readmitted to a program must enrol for a minimum of one academic term.

Continuous Enrolment

A graduate student proceeding to a degree must maintain continuous enrolment, either active or inactive, in each successive term from the time of initial admission until the end of the term during which the requirements for the degree are completed. Students are responsible for ensuring that they enrol and arrange fees at the appropriate time each term (formal dates are available on the Finance website).

Co-operative Work Terms

Students on a work term must change enrolment status to part-time/work term. Students requesting a status change, must complete a Change of Enrolment Status/Voluntary Withdrawal Form.

Enrolment in a course is allowed with permission from the student's home department. Failure to maintain continuous enrolment will cause their registration in Graduate Studies to lapse (see the Co-Operative Education page for more information).

Full-Time Off-Campus

A student who is undertaking an internship, or other degree requirement where the activity requires the student to be away from campus for more than four weeks in an academic term shall enrol as full-time off-campus.

The student's supervisor/graduate officer/associate dean must advise her/him regarding intellectual property commitments, e.g., signing an agreement which may restrict a student's ability to publish their thesis or other program-related work.

Students requesting full-time off-campus status must complete a Change of Enrolment Status/Voluntary Withdrawal Form.

Inactive Status

All graduate students must maintain continuous enrolment until the completion of their program. In certain circumstances such as illness, maternity/parental leave, limited external research or work opportunity which is not related to their University of Waterloo program, or temporary financial difficulties for which the University cannot provide hardship funds, students may apply to the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) of their Faculty for inactive status (leave of absence). Students who have been granted inactive status for a term are not entitled to use the services of the University, including graduate supervision, for the duration of that term. Normally, inactive status is approved for a maximum of two consecutive terms (maternity leave up to three consecutive terms). Students who request more than two consecutive terms of leave because they have other commitments such as a full-time job or travel plans, should voluntarily withdraw from their program until they are prepared to resume their studies. In advance of voluntary withdrawal, students must discuss with their department any conditions which must be met upon their readmission to their program. Normally, students who have incomplete courses on their record are not eligible for inactive status.

Students requesting inactive status, must complete a Change of Enrolment Status/Voluntary Withdrawal Form.  

Enrolment - International Students on Study Permits

Students without valid Study Permits will not be allowed to enrol at the University of Waterloo. All international students admitted to graduate studies degree programs at the University of Waterloo must have a valid Study Permit issued by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). A copy of the Study Permit must be submitted to the Graduate studies Office (GSO) upon arrival at the University.

If a Study Permit expires prior to program completion, students must apply to CIC for renewal and submit a copy of the renewed Study Permit to the GSO (check the 'valid until' date on the Study Permit). Make sure you apply at least 30 days before your current permit expires. If your Study Permit expires and you have made an application to renew it, but have not had a decision yet, you can continue studying until you receive a decision. Proof of application for renewal must be submitted to the GSO to permit continuing enrolment.

Birth and Parental Leave

Students wishing to take parental leave during their program of study may apply to change their status to inactive. Interested students should consult with their academic supervisor(s) and Department Graduate Coordinator prior to making such an application; where an external agency is involved as in the case of visa students or those holding external scholarships, such agencies should also be consulted.

Further information on Birth and Parental Leave can be found in the Graduate Studies Birth and Parental Leave Guidelines. Students who wish to apply for a Parental Leave Bursary should complete the application available on the Graduate Studies Office website.


Students who are unable to participate in their program of study for more than two consecutive terms should voluntarily withdraw from the program. Students who reapply to a program and are approved for readmission, will be required to enrol for a minimum of one full term, without tuition refund, to complete their program.

The Change of Enrolment Status/Voluntary Withdrawal Form is also available in department Graduate Offices and the Graduate Studies Office.

The University reserves the right to require a student to withdraw from a program for academic reasons.

Course Drop/Add Date

During the first four weeks of term, students must drop or add graduate courses using Quest, the University of Waterloo's online student information system. For courses with enrolment restrictions, students must obtain permission through their Department Graduate Assistant.

Graduate students who wish to enrol in an undergraduate course may petition using a Drop/Add form, obtainable through their Department or the Graduate Studies Office. Signature of the instructor, supervisor and Department Graduate Officer are required.

After the first four weeks of term, students may not drop or add a course except by petition using the Drop/Add form, and only under exceptional circumstances with the signature of the instructor, supervisor, Department Graduate Officer and the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) of their home Faculty.

These are Graduate Studies Office deadlines. Individual Faculties may have earlier deadlines. (Please check with your Associate Dean's Office.)

Courses may not be dropped or added, nor course status changed, after the examination period begins.

Retaking Graduate Courses

Course selection by a graduate student is subject to approval from the academic department of the student's program. A graduate course may be retaken only once as a requirement for the degree and requires approval from the department and Faculty. The original course will be retained on the student's academic record and is normally counted for credit in the overall average for the program.

Enrolment vis-a-vis Completion of Degree Requirements

Graduate students must enrol active, and pay appropriate fees plus incidentals, in each term in which they are engaged in course work, research, or thesis preparation including the term in which the completion of degree requirements is anticipated.

If a student plans to enrol in courses beyond the degree requirements, he/she must apply for non-degree admission for the term following the term of degree completion.

Program Time Limits

The University Senate has set the following program time limits:

Master's 6.0 terms
PhD from an Honours Bachelor's 18.0 terms
PhD from a Master's 12.0 terms
PhD from an MA (Clinical Psychology) 15.0 terms

Up to 3.0 terms' extension of these time limits may be obtained by petitioning the Graduate Officer of the Department. Further extensions must be approved by the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) of the Faculty. A Petition for Extension of Program Time Limit Form may be obtained from department graduate offices or through the GSO website. If the Petition is not approved, the student will be discontinued from their program. If students fail to submit a Petition approved by the government reporting date of each term (departments may have earlier deadlines), they will be discontinued from their program and must reapply.

*For the purposes of these time limits a term is counted as 1.0 per term of full-time enrollment, and 0.5 per term of part-time enrollment.