Frequently asked questions


1. Preparation

What can I be doing over the summer to prepare for a successful study term in Fall 2024?

Read this website

Take your time and read the information on this website. It has been curated specifically for you!

Complete course selection between June 17 and June 24, 2024

Course selection can be confusing your first time, especially since your course selection for Fall 2024 term differs from the process you will follow for the second term and beyond. The Math Undergraduate Office makes your first term easier by helping you with this special course selection process so please make sure you complete course selection within the one-week time period.

Anticipate your first-year workload

Most students take 10 courses (5.0 units) in first year: five courses (2.5 units) in the fall term and five more courses (2.5 units) in the winter term. Some students may find they can perform better by taking fewer courses in a term. It does mean that they will be here longer but it may mean that they can get the grades they want or participate in a range of extra-curricular activities. We encourage no fewer than three courses (1.5 units) per term so you will still be considered a full-time student. We suggest you speak to an academic advisor if you have questions about course load.

Most classes have three or four "contact" hours scheduled per week, so you will spend from 15 to 20 hours each week attending lectures, tutorials, and labs. This, however, is only the beginning. For every contact hour, you spend in class, you should expect to spend at least two hours of private study: working on assignments and projects, doing assigned reading, and preparing the notes you will use to study for the midterm and final exams.

Thus, you can expect to work a minimum of 45 to 60 hours per week. What's more, you won't have the pressure from parents or teachers to tackle the work. Your professors will treat you as adults, which means they will expect you to take responsibility for keeping up with your assignments, readings, lectures (taking notes and later digesting the information), term projects, and preparation for midterm and final exams. The key to success is to carefully manage your time and balance your responsibilities from the very beginning of each term.

Register with AccessAbility Services (if applicable)

AccessAbility Services is the university’s centralized office for the management of academic accommodations for all students with a known or unknown disability, illness, or condition. AccessAbility Services design and facilitate your academic accommodation plan by removing barriers and building your capacity for personal success. AccessAbility Services can support students with temporary conditions ('I broke my leg and it is difficult to get around the campus') and chronic/permanent conditions ('I am legally blind'). If you think you may have a condition that warrants an accommodation plan, we encourage you to register for accommodations before you begin classes or as early as possible when you start in September to enable accommodations to be implemented in a timely manner.

Participate in MTHEL 99

MTHEL 99 is an online, skills-based course that begins in August and will help you get ready for university-level mathematics.

Participate in Waterloo Ready

Waterloo Ready gives you personal connections with other students, insider tips and resources to successfully navigate your first year.

Register for Orientation

Orientation is your official welcome to campus. It is an opportunity for new students to experience a balanced introduction to the academic, social and community aspects of university life with the guidance and support of upper-year students. Orientation is a shared partnership between the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA), the Student Success Office (SSO) and the faculties. 

2. Course selection

Should I accept my transfer credits?

This decision is up to you and your personal circumstances. You can find more information about transfer credits

Should I take the advanced courses (MATH 145/147 and CS 145)?

We should clarify that the advanced courses are the enriched versions of the regular courses. All of the students who were accepted to the Faculty of Mathematics at Waterloo are exceptional students and some of you will struggle with our honours level offerings of the core courses (MATH 135/137 and CS 115/135). We also know that some students will not feel challenged by the honours level and this is why we have an enriched section of these courses.  

What should I choose for my non-math elective?

This will depend on your program requirements. We suggest you review these charts for plans beginning in 2A as you may find an answer there. Overall, we encourage you to choose a course in which the topic fascinates you or you want to learn more about that area or will be a nice change from the other courses you are enrolled in. All academic plans in Mathematics require that students complete ten non-math courses (with two of them being required communications courses). You can review a list of courses that may be available to you on the Registrar's Office website under the Fall 2024/Winter 2025 tab. 

3. Course enrolment

I did course selection. Why do I have to do course enrolment?

Course selection is a wish list of courses you wish to take in Fall 2024. We cannot guarantee that you will be enrolled in all of your requested courses due to capacity issues etc.  

Course enrolment is when you can make changes to your schedule, swap to different sections of core/required courses, swap to a different communications course or non-math elective. It is also good to confirm that you were enrolled in the courses that you were expecting to be enrolled in.  

What should I do if a course is full or the section I want is full?

You will need to wait until a spot becomes available in Quest because another student has dropped the class or swapped to another section. If a communication or non-math course is full, you will have plenty of other terms that you can take the course. 

I am getting an error message when I try and add a course or swap to a different section?

The Drop/Add Period begins in July with appointment times for new students between Thursday, July 18, 2024, and Tuesday, July 23, 2024. Each student is given a specific appointment time for when they will have access in Quest to make changes to their enrolment. It is not a physical appointment time that you have to attend. You can follow these directions to find your appointment time beginning July 17, 2024. 
You have until September 17, 2024, to add courses or swap to other sections of the same course. 

There are a variety of error messages that students may receive. To try and solve the problem, we strongly encourage you to review the Registrar's Office FAQs about the Drop/Add Period and the enrolment error messages page. If you don't find an answer to your question, you can contact the Math Undergraduate Office from your Waterloo email account making sure to include your eight-digit student number and a screenshot of the error message you are receiving. 

4. Degree requirements

What is the Undergraduate Calendar?

The Undergraduate Calendar is published once a year by the Office of the Registrar. The Calendar provides official information about courses, programs and plans, related policies, and regulations for both students and applicants, as well as general information about the University. You can use the undergraduate calendar to know about faculty policiesdegree requirements and course descriptions. We find that many questions that students have about their academic plan, courses or faculty policies can be found in the undergraduate calendar so we strongly encourage students to look here as a first step.  

What grade do I need in my List 1 Communications course?

You need a 60%+ in your List 1 communication course. This information can be found in the undergraduate calendar

When can I declare my major?

This is a very common question that we receive from our newly admitted students. If your entry program was Honours Mathematics, the earliest that you will be able to declare a major will be at the start of your second year. This means that we strongly encourage you to spend your first term of study getting used to university life and learning what you do and do not like about Math study at Waterloo which may help you understand what areas you want to pursue further study in. In the Fall and Winter terms, the Math Undergraduate Office together with the departments in the Faculty of Mathematics will be providing further information about declaring majors. 

I applied to co-op but was not accepted. Is it possible to get into co-op later?

It is a highly competitive application process to transfer from the regular program to the co-op program and there are a limited amount of spots available for students to transfer to co-op while a student at Waterloo. 

5. Academic integrity

What is academic integrity and why is it important?

Academic integrity is the cornerstone of research, teaching, and learning at the University of Waterloo and it is expected that all members of our community personally demonstrate academic integrity in their work. 

Academic Integrity is taken very seriously and it is your responsibility as a student to know, understand, and follow the University of Waterloo policies. Violations can have serious consequences, affecting your grades, academic standing, and future career. Ignorance is not an excuse. Check out the following: fact sheet for undergraduate students (PDF)academic integrity brochure (PDF), and complete the undergraduate academic integrity tutorial to be sure you have all the knowledge you need. 

If you have further questions about academic integrity, you can send an email to our Academic Integrity team.

6. University life

What is a WATCard and where can I get it?

The WatCard is the campus ID card for students, faculty, staff and affiliates of the University of Waterloo. Your WatCard will be your most used piece of identification on campus and offers access to many services both on and off campus. Just a few of the things you can use your WatCard for include: riding Grand River Transit buses and ion Light Rail Transit in the Waterloo Region, purchasing food at Food Services locations, identification for exams, access to your student residence and printing anywhere on campus with W Print.  

Information about how to upload your photo and where to pick up your card can be found on the WATCard's website

What email address should I be using to communicate with staff and faculty?

Beginning June 2024, all messages from the University of Waterloo will be sent to your new Waterloo email address. After this date, you must activate your Waterloo email account. It is expected that you use your Waterloo email account to communicate with staff and faculty and you include your eight-digit student number in all email correspondence. 

What computer do I need to study at the Faculty of Mathematics?

If you need to purchase a new computer, we recommend that you do so toward the end of your first year. This will help you determine whether the plan in which you are interested has particular computing requirements. 

  • Any of the three major operating systems (Windows, Mac OS, Linux) will meet your needs. Computer science majors, however, will find it easier in the long run if their computer supports a variant of Unix (which is used for many assignments). Mac OS and Linux meet this criterion; Windows 10 users can enable the Windows Subsystem for Linux and then run a flavour of Linux simultaneously with their Windows install. 
  • The amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) (memory) has a significant effect on performance. 8GB is a bare minimum; 16GB or higher is recommended for better performance. 
  • The price of SSD (Solid State Drives) has come down; they can provide a substantial improvement over a mechanical "hard disk drive", so they are a good investment. 
  • You should back up your computer on a regular basis (e.g., daily). An external hard disk, stored away from your machine, is an easy way to do this. If you don't have a lot of data, a USB key might be adequate. You might also consider cloud-based storage and backup services as a way to keep copies of your files. 
    • Laptops or netbooks are handy for taking notes in class, doing homework while on campus, and taking on a work term. 
    • Don't spend a lot of money on software before you check out what you need and options for getting it. Much of the software used in courses is free and available for all three major operating systems. The university has a variety of site-licensed software, which is available to the university community for free or at a greatly reduced price. Software that is required for courses is also available on the Math Faculty teaching servers. More information can be found on the computing facility websites:  

What calculator am I allowed to use?

To ensure that all students have equal access to calculators, the Faculty of Mathematics has approved only a small number of calculators for use. You can purchase an approved Pink Tie calculator from MathSoc or from W Store

The Faculty of Mathematics has a strict calculator regulation. Please ensure you are familiar with this regulation before purchasing a calculator. 

When are tuition fees due for Fall 2023?

Fees schedules for the Fall 2024 term will be available in early July and will be posted to individual student accounts in late July. Students will be notified by email at that time. 

If you are interested in applying for financial aid or need information about awards and scholarships, please contact our Student Awards and Financial Aid Office

What is the deadline to apply for housing on campus?

The deadline to apply for housing on campus is TBD. However, we recommend that you view Residence's incoming first-years webpage and direct any questions about housing to our campus partner, Housing, as this is their area of expertise! 

7. Co-op questions

Typical Mathematics co-op work term jobs: What kind of employment do students find on their work terms?

This is a difficult question to answer since there is tremendous variety in the types of jobs available for co-op Mathematics students. A simple list of recent co-op jobs would not do justice to the range of employment that is possible. The types of jobs available include: 

  • pure or applied research 
  • business analysis or marketing 
  • database or systems analysis 
  • problem-solving 
  • end-user technical support or training 
  • quality assurance 
  • software development 
  • web development 

and the list goes on! 

You control your applications. You will be able to apply to jobs with employers from all sectors of the economy. Your applications will depend on your own unique set of skills and the different interests you have in seeking employment. You will be more successful if you prepare early and remain flexible in your choice of potential employers (including the nature of the job, its geographic location, and salary range). 

Professional Development (PD) courses: How do students prepare for their first work term?

In addition to the academic course requirements for your plan, all co-op students are required to obtain credit for five PD courses. These courses were created in response to feedback from employers about the skills they value in the students they hire. 

PD courses provide students with the opportunity to develop skills to improve their employability and workplace productivity. You will take the first of these online courses, PD 1: Co-op Fundamentals, in the term prior to your first work term. This course will lead you through resources and activities that will provide you with the tools to be competitive in your employment search and prepare you for a successful first work term. The remaining PD courses are normally taken during your co-op work terms. PD courses normally involve approximately 20-25 hours of work during the work term.  

Work term housing accommodation: How do students find housing on their co-op work terms?

Once you have been matched with an employer, you may need to seek housing for yourself on your work term. The University has an Off-Campus Housing Office (lower level of the Student Life Centre), to assist you with your search. Their listings include off-campus housing for various cities throughout Ontario and other provinces. If you have been hired by an employer in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, you can apply to live on campus in residence during your winter or spring work term. 

Fellow students or your new employer may also be a great source of help in finding off-campus housing for your work term. In addition, your co-op student advisor (the person from CEE who provides support during your recruiting and work term and who may check in or visit you on your work term) may also be able to assist you in finding accommodation.  

Support for co-op students: Where do I go for co-op help?

Prior to your first work term, you can meet with an advisor in the Centre for Career Development for a co-op consult. They can assist with questions about finding a job, resume/cover letter review and career strategy. Once you find your first co-op job, you will be assigned a student advisor from Co-operative Education to assist you. 

For questions related to your co-op sequence, you can contact a Math Co-op Advisor. Please note that a Math co-op advisor is different from an academic advisor because they advise on matters related to the academic aspects of your co-op program (co-op sequences, work reports etc.) 

Transfer to co-op: Can I transfer to co-op if I am in the regular stream?

Students in the regular stream can apply to transfer to co-op during their 1B (second) term. It is a highly competitive process and encourage you to read this information about the process.