First year students

Coming to Knowledge Integration this fall? Great! Now what?

  • July 2-9 is the time reserved for first-year students to select their Breadth and Elective courses using QuestThis is called the Course Selection period and acts as a ‘wish list’ of courses you would like to take in the next academic term.
  • July 17, you’ll be able to see your preliminary schedule:
    • Your schedule is made up of the courses you requested as well as Core courses you were automatically enrolled in.
    • If you do not see a course you requested, it means you are not enrolled in that course due to space or other restrictions. You will need to add an alternative course.
  • July 18-23, Quest is reserved for first-year students to start making any necessary adjustments to your schedule. This is called the Drop/Add Period and continues into the first 2 weeks of classes. All undergraduate students will have access beginning July 24.

We’re excited to meet and support you in your first year in KI! Below, you’ll find some useful information about:

Overview of KI Course Requirements

You can find the complete degree requirements for your Bachelor of Knowledge Integration (BKI) in the Undergraduate Studies Academic Calendar. In case of a disagreement over academic advice, that Calendar page is the final authority. Feel free to bookmark it for easy access.

The BKI is comprised of 3 parts:

  • Core courses (6.5 units / 12 courses)
  • Breadth courses (5.5 units / 11 courses)
  • Elective courses (8.5 units / approximately 17 courses)

Per term, you’ll typically take 1 or 2 Core KI courses along with 3 or 4 other courses - either your  Breadth courses or Electives that interest you. Click on the links above to learn more about the different Core and Breadth courses you’ll be completing. While there is no flexibility in your Core courses, there is quite a bit of flexibility in your Breadth courses options and the most flexibility in your Electives – which can be any courses taken across campus.

The Course Sequence web page will give you a good overview of what a typical 4-year journey through KI looks like, and provides some additional advice on which Breadth courses to prioritize first. For example, we outline that it is best to take your 2 Mathematics, your Computer Science, at least one of your two Natural/Physical Sciences, your English and ideally your first Second Language course in your first year.

First Year Course Selection

Registration for courses occurs in two steps: the Course Selection period and the Drop/Add period. To learn more about the steps you’ll take to register in your courses, check out the Registrar’s Office Registering for courses for step-by-step information.

When you sign onto Quest to select courses for September, you will find that we’ve already done some of the work for you. Each term, we pre-enroll you into your Core courses to make sure you get a seat where you need it the most. If you think you need to change one of those pre-enrolled courses, please connect with the KI Undergraduate Advisor– there are good reasons why we saved you a seat!

For your first Fall term, you will be pre-enrolled in the following Core Courses:

  • INTEG 10 (a not-for-credit seminar course – read more about it below)
  • INTEG 120: The Art & Science of Learning
  • COMMST 223: Public Speaking

If you haven’t been pre-enrolled, please contact the KI Undergraduate Advisor. If you are taking a full course load, you’ll need to enroll yourself in 3 additional courses, totaling 5 courses (2.5 units) for the term. This will also be the case for your Winter term course selection.

For your first Winter term, you will be pre-enrolled in late September in the following Core Courses:

  • INTEG 10
  • INTEG 121: Collaboration, Design Thinking and Problem Solving
  • PHIL 145: Critical Thinking

INTEG 10: Knowledge Integration Seminar

INTEG 10 is a key component of the Knowledge Integration experience; it is considered the “living room” of the program, where the KI community can come together to share ideas, learn about new topics and be inspired together. Each seminar features a workshop or a transdisciplinary talk by a guest speaker. It is a public talk open to all students, faculty, staff, alumni and members of the public. We welcome friends and visitors! 

Seminars typically run weekly on Friday afternoons. You’ll notice that it will be added to your schedule automatically to reserve that space. If you do have class during that time, contact the KI Undergraduate Advisor to request an override or remove it from your schedule as needed.

See the KI seminar schedule for the upcoming term.

Key Supports & Resources

Transitioning from high school to university can be nerve-wracking for many students. In Knowledge Integration, you’ll find a caring community here to support you alongside the broader Waterloo support systems.

From mental health support to housing to course planning, you are always welcome to connect with the KI Undergraduate Advisor through email, dropping by their office or setting up a meeting time. They will be able to redirect you to other services and suggest on or off campus supports as needed.

First Year Q&A

I’m worried about taking Mathematics courses. What can I do to feel ready?

If you took MHF4U (Functions) and/or MCV4U (Calculus and Vectors) or equivalents and are planning to take university Math courses that have those courses as prerequisites, you might want to enroll in MTHEL 99 (First-Year Mathematics Readiness).

MTHEL 99 runs from early August to early September. The course is free of charge, designed to take between 3 to 5 hours per week over 5 weeks, and will be delivered asynchronously (meaning that you can work at your own pace). If your high school mathematics skills are very strong, then you could complete the course in a few days.

This skills-based course is designed to help you refresh your knowledge of high school mathematics as you start your university journey. We believe that this will be especially helpful if you finished your high school mathematics in unusual circumstances due to the global pandemic. 

Find out more information about MTHEL 99  Note: This MTHEL 99 web page is for students who are majoring in Math at Waterloo and are automatically enrolled in the course. It is optional for KI students, so if you plan to take it you will need to add it during the course selection period in July.

I took A-levels, AP or IB courses in high school. Can I get transfer credits for them?

If you attended another university, did your A-levels, took Advanced Placement courses or completed International Baccalaureate courses, you may be eligible for one or more transfer credits. Visit Transfer Credits for more details. These transfer credits may be included in your online academic record this summer. The degree requirements they fulfill will be recorded by the end of the Fall term.

We strongly recommend that you carry a full five-course load even if you’ve got some transfer credits already. You’ve earned an opportunity to take more advanced courses sooner. Go for it!

Certain transfer credits can be used to satisfy KI Breadth courses and will be evaluated by the Undergraduate Advisor. For example:

  • English Breadth Requirement: ENGL 1XX
  • Second Language Breadth Requirement: up to 2 (in the same language) of LANG 1XX, CHINA 1XX, DUTCH 1XX, FR 1XX, GER 1XX, GRK 1XX, ITAL 1XX, JAPAN 1XX, KOREA 1XX, LAT 1XX, SPAN 1XX
  • Mathematics Breadth Requirement: up to 2 of MATH 1XX, MATH 127 or MATH 137
  • Computer Science Breadth Requirement: CS 1XX
  • Natural/Physical Science Breadth Requirement: up to 2 of BIOL 239 & BIOL 130L, BIOL 130 & BIOL 130L, CHEM 120 & CHEM 120L, CHEM 123 & CHEM 123L, PHYS 111 & PHYS 111L

Please Note: PHIL 1XX is NOT equivalent to your PHIL 145 Core required course.

How do I know when classes begin and other important dates?

The Registrar’s Office Important Dates is a useful page to bookmark to stay up to date on deadlines. You will be able to see important dates such as the first day of classes, tuition deadlines, different dates by which you can drop a course and get refunded, and more!

How can I see when certain classes are offered?

The Schedule of Classes allows you to view the courses offered per term and their dates, times, instructors. This is another helpful link to bookmark. The Course Selection Offerings List provides you with one large list of all the courses offered for the upcoming term but does not specify dates & times.

If you’re wondering whether a certain course will be offered in a future term, check to see whether it was offered the previous year’s – although not a foolproof way of knowing as course offerings can change due to department capacity and instructor availability, it may help orient you.

How do I enroll in my Breadth or Elective courses?

Each term, you will select your Breadth or Elective courses using Quest. During the Course Selection period, you will be choosing the courses you’d like to take for the upcoming term. You can follow the step by step instructions on adding, dropping or swapping courses on the How do I select courses? page.

It is only during your appointment time and the Add/Drop period that you will see if you were successfully enrolled in those courses and the dates & times of your courses. During the Add/Drop, you will be able to play around with your schedule to select different course times if there are seats available. More class information.

A course I want to take says it requires “Department/Instructor Consent.” What does this mean?

You’ll sometimes find courses that require “Department consent” or “Instructor consent” to register. This is how the university makes sure it has enough room for the students who need the courses for their degree plans.

How do you get “Department consent” or “Instructor consent” to take a course? Contact the administrative assistant for the department that offers the course. They will know who can give you consent (and a personalized permission number to enter on Quest). For “Instructor consent” you could also track down the course instructor directly and make a succinct, polite request to join the course, identifying yourself by name and student number, and identifying the course by its course code and section number.

How do I buy textbooks?

Ah, now it's time to get acquainted with the University of Waterloo bookstore. Choose the "course materials" menu option where you can look up the required textbooks for your courses. You can order in advance or come shopping during orientation week or the start of classes.

You will always get a syllabus in the first class of any course, and it will tell you the textbooks required. But they will already be on the shelf in the bookstore, so you don't need to wait for the start of classes. Keep your receipt. One of the advantages of buying new is that you can return an unmarked book if you change your mind about taking the course.

Textbooks will be a major expense during your degree. Consider buying used books and selling the books you don't need after the term. The Waterloo University Students Association (WUSA) operates a used bookstore for textbooks in the Student Life Centre. Be sure to check out the KI Library in the KI Studio (EV2-2069) once you’re on campus as many past KI students have donated books required for some of your KI courses.

How do I pay for my tuition?

You can use a combination of payment methods to pay the balance on your student account. Refer to the Payment Options page to see step-by-step instructions on paying for your tuition. Please note that Waterloo cannot accept payment by personal cheque, credit card, cash, debit, INTERAC or instalment payment plans.

If you have more questions about your finances (e.g., viewing your tuition fees, opting out of optional or voluntary fees, applying for a bursary, etc.), here is more fees and financial aid information

I have/suspect to have a disability, mental health challenges or had an IEP plan in high school. How can I set up accommodations to help me succeed at UW?

There are a number of supports available to you on campus to help you succeed at UW. If you require an accommodation, the AccessAbility Office will support you and work with you and your instructors to ensure that your needs are met while completing coursework. You can apply for academic accommodations and review services on the AccessAbility Office website.

Accommodation plans can be developed at any point in your undergraduate degree when needed but establishing a plan earlier in the term will help you avoid a long waitlist and get you the support you need quicker to ensure your wellbeing.

Have more questions?