Expand your world with an international exchange
Students in the Faculty of Health are encouraged to participate in an international exchange. You can spend either one or two terms studying aboard. Courses taken while on exchange may be credited towards your University of Waterloo (UW) degree. Therefore, you can complete degree requirements while getting an experience of a lifetime!
Faculty of Health students have access to more than 100 student exchange agreements.
By participating in an international exchange you have the opportunity to:
- learn about a different culture by experiencing it firsthand;
- learn to become independent, flexible, and confident;
- make friends with people from different cultural and social backgrounds;
- study courses within a different culture while obtaining credit toward your UW degree.
Students selected for an exchange serve as UW ambassadors. As such, successful candidates must have:
- at least third year standing (application accepted in 2nd year);
- overall average of 70% or higher;
- minimum academic standing of satisfactory;
- completed at least one academic year in a Health unit if they are a transfer student.
Student records, including current and past academic integrity records, will be considered prior to endorsement. Minor infractions will not automatically exclude a candidate from consideration. Each candidate is assessed on an individual basis.
Before you apply, you should meet with your academic advisor to determine if an exchange is possible based on your remaining degree requirements. If it is, your academic advisor will identify the best term for the exchange, as well as the required courses you must complete while on exchange to meet your remaining degree requirements. We cannot guarantee course offerings at other institutions. As such, academic advisors normally encourage students to go on exchange during a free elective-heavy term.
There is no guarantee of course offerings at UW. Although you may arrange your schedule to complete your degree requirements in four years, not all courses are offered every year and some courses may change time slots. This may lead to course conflicts. Be prepared for the possibility that you may not finish your degree in four years.
Adding an international experience to your degree doesn't have to break the bank! Most students who live in another country for a term find that they spend about 30% more than they would if they stayed in Waterloo. Not a bad deal for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Paying for courses
While away on exchange, you pay normal full-time (2.5 unit) tuition fees to UW, rather than having to pay international student fees to your host school. You also continue to be eligible for OSAP and other forms of financial assistance while on exchange.
Paying for other expenses
You are responsible for covering application, travel, and living costs related to your exchange. These expenses vary by country. To help you calculate how much your exchange might cost, please review living and housing expense details found on each partner school’s program page.
Exchange Scholarships and Bursaries
We recognize the value of broadening your knowledge and experience by spending time abroad. That's why we have funding and awards available for international experiences:
- Scholarships and bursaries are available through the Students Awards and Financial Aid Office.
- If you received a UW President's Scholarship of Distinction when you were admitted to the university, you may be able to claim the additional President's International Experience Award, worth $1,500.
Some exchange programs offer direct scholarships or financial incentives to UW students once they have been accepted into the program. To learn more about financing an exchange, consult How do I pay for it?
The Canadian Bureau for International Education also offers scholarship programs. To learn more, explore the CBIE funding options.
Plan and apply
You should meet with your academic advisor to determine if an exchange is possible for you, and if so, determine the best term for your exchange. You should start preparing for this experience as early as possible. You usually need to apply for the exchange 10-14 months in advance!
In first year…
- Research the exchange destinations and programs that interest you and begin to get an idea of how much it will cost.
- Review the eligibility requirements.
- Meet with your academic advisor to discuss timing.
- Meet with the Faculty of Health Exchange Coordinator to talk about your plans.
- Depending on where you want to go, consider taking appropriate language or culture courses.
In second or third year…
- Attend a mandatory information session: Students are required to attend an information session before they can apply. Check out the Go Abroad website for upcoming dates and times.
- Make sure to plan early to give yourself enough time to complete your application before the deadline. To be considered in the first round of nominations, applications are due November 1. While there is a second round of applications in January and a continuous round of applications starting in March, most spots will be filled during the first round.
- Narrow down possible destinations to your top four schools of choice.
- If you haven’t already, book an appointment with the Faculty of Health Exchange Coordinator to discuss your plans.
- Learn about the Global Experience Certificate and find out more about how to apply for international experience scholarships.
- Apply for exchange and get ready for the experience of a lifetime!
- Start getting your courses approved.
- Once admitted, make sure you have made arrangements for your study visa, travel, housing, and courses—do not leave it until the last minute!
- Your date of departure will depend on the term dates of your host school.
- Enjoy your time abroad! Meet new people, see amazing places, and study the world through a new lens.
When you return…
- Share your experience with us and other students. Connect with the Faculty of Health Exchange Coordinator for more details on how you can share your experiences.
- Sometime after you return from your exchange, the courses you completed on exchange will be applied to your UW degree as transfer credits. After this happens, you may want to check in with your academic advisor to make sure you are on track to meet your degree requirements for graduation.
Mandatory Information Session
Attend a mandatory information session: Students are required to attend an information session before they can apply. Check out the Go Abroad website for upcoming dates and times.
Applications are completed online through Waterloo Passport. Only one application per student is possible. As such, students are encouraged to include the top four schools of choice in their application.
The application portal opens October 1 and closes November 1. A second round will open in January, once applicants of the first round have been matched. As such, second round applicants will only be able to apply to schools with remaining spots available. A continuous round will open in March once second round applicants have been matched.
Before matching can occur, students must submit their non-refundable application fee. The fee must be paid online.
For more detailed information, consult the application steps.
Matching and application to host school
You will be notified of your match via e-mail in late November.
Please note, a match does not mean you have been admitted to the host school. You will be required to submit a formal application for admission directly to your host school once you have been matched. You will receive instructions by email for completing this second application:
- For summer programs and fall term exchanges: instructions will be sent out by the end of April.
- For winter term exchanges: instructions will be sent out by the end of September.
Once your match is confirmed, you should start the process of selecting your courses. Many host schools require course selection as part of their application.
Offer of admission from host school
You can expect to receive an official offer of admission from the host school:
- by the end of June for summer programs and fall term exchanges;
- by the end of November for winter exchanges.
Finalise travel arrangements and accommodation
Once you have been admitted to the host school, you can start finalising your travel arrangements and housing accommodations. This is when you will also need to apply for your study visa or permit, if one is required.
Complete the online pre-departure training course
For more detailed information, consult the application process.
After your trip
When you return home...
- Expect some reverse culture shock! A helpful antidote: talk to others who have already been away on exchange.
- Expect to be asked to network with UW students preparing for an exchange. Your experiences will be very valuable to them. Thank you in advance!
Transcripts and credits
- You will receive an official transcript from your host school, usually within two-three months of returning home, with your course grades indicated in alpha or numerical form.
- Your host school will normally send your official transcript to the Student Success Office. This will allow us to establish your UW equivalent credits.
- The credits will be added to your UW record with the designation “credit”, but without any numerical grade. In other words, the courses transferred from the partner school will have no bearing on your UW average.
While on exchange, you take courses at another school and get credit toward your degree at UW.
How it works
- While away on exchange, you pay normal full-time tuition fees to UW, rather than having to pay international student fees to your host school. In order to bill tuition for a full course load (2.5 credits), you will be enrolled in the placeholder course HEALTH 395 Study Abroad for the term of the exchange. Once we receive your official transcript from your host school, the placeholder course will be replaced on your transcript by the transfer credits.
- You need the equivalent of a 50% in a course at another school in order for it to transfer back to your UW degree. Conversions to a 50% are available for partner schools. Connect with the Faculty of Health Exchange Coordinator for details on the conversion specific to your host school.
- The grades you achieve during your exchange will not be calculated in your UW average and will only show up on your UW transcript as credit (CR) or no credit (NCR).
Finding courses and determining course equivalents
Most schools have course information available online. You can find details under each partner school's program page in Waterloo Passport.
Most of the courses you’ll take on exchange won’t be direct equivalents to courses offered at UW, and therefore will transfer back to your degree as general credits (for example, KIN 2XX or HLTH 3XX).
Registering in courses
Once you have been accepted by the host school, they will provide you with more information about how to register in courses. Regardless of when or how you register in courses at the partner school, you must pay your tuition to UW by the normal tuition fee deadlines.
Course approval process
Once your match is confirmed, you should select your courses and submit their outlines for approval to the Faculty of Health Exchange Coordinator. You will want to select your courses and initiate the approval process well before you leave. This will ensure that you know what transfer credits to expect when you get back. In many cases, you will be required to include your selection of courses in your formal application to the host school. You will therefore want to start the approval process well before the application deadline.
Course selection/availability may change throughout the application process. Please keep the Faculty of Health Exchange Coordinator up to date as these changes occur. We cannot guarantee course availability abroad. It is therefore important that you remain flexible when selecting courses for any exchange or study abroad program.
If you hope to complete specific degree requirements while on exchange, such as a core content cluster course or a Recreation and Sport Business elective, you will need to have the courses assessed to determine if they can fulfil specific degree requirements.
Faculty of Health students are expected to enroll in the number of courses required to be considered in full-time status at the host school. Regardless of the number of courses you take at the host school, you will pay tuition for a full course load at UW (2.5 credits).
The Faculty of Health acknowledges that a great amount of experiential learning happens before, during and after an exchange. As such, all Faculty of Health students who participate in an international exchange are awarded a 0.5 credit of MISC 1XX to recognize the experiential learning that takes place throughout the whole exchange process.
Course approval FAQs
Can I take less than 5 courses while on exchange?
Yes, you can decide to do fewer than five courses on exchange. Faculty of Health students are expected to enroll in the number of courses required to be considered full-time status at the host school. Please be aware that doing less than the equivalent of five courses at UW does not impact your tuition. You will still pay for a full course load at UW.
How are courses transferred back toward my UW degree?
Courses are transferred back to UW on a Pass/Fail basis (CR/NCR). As such, numerical grades will not appear on your UW transcript, and will not be included in the calculation of your overall UW averages. In other words, the averages you achieved before you go on an international exchange will remain the same once your transfer credits are applied to your transcript.
To obtain a “Pass” for a Transfer Credit, you must obtain a minimum grade equivalent to 50% or D- at UW.
Work or volunteer
Why work or volunteer abroad?
Working or volunteering abroad is a great way to see the world, broaden your horizons, and gain valuable experience and skills.
A part-time job may be possible during your exchange term; however it will depend on the specific regulations of the host country. Check the conditions of your study permit or visa, as well as your host school's website for any job information for international students.
Note: While Faculty of Health students have previously volunteered through these external programs, they are not officially affiliated with or endorsed by the University of Waterloo.