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What is WatPD?
WatPD is the University of Waterloo’s professional development program. We support Waterloo student employability by providing a framework for professional development for all students. Students complete online professional development (PD) courses for academic credit and reflect on the connections between the workplace, their community experiences, their academic courses, and their career goals.
To learn more about WatPD, visit the About WatPD section of our website.
How many PD courses do I need to take?
The number of PD courses you need to take depends on your faculty. Co-op students in Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Environment, and Science must complete four PD courses as part of their degree. Co-op students in Engineering and Math must complete five PD courses.
When do I take PD courses?
Most PD courses are taken during work terms. The exception is PD1: Career Fundamentals, the first course taken by students in all faculties except Engineering. Students who need to complete PD1 take the course during the academic term immediately prior to their first work term. Once PD1 is complete, all remaining PD courses are taken during work terms. Engineering students aren’t required to complete PD1, so all of their PD courses are taken during work terms.
If you think you may need an exception to the rules outlined above, please contact us with a detailed explanation of the situation. We’ll review your case and determine whether or not an exception is warranted. Engineering students seeking an exception should contact their program academic advisor.
Why do I have to take PD courses during my work terms?
Taking PD courses during work terms makes it easier for you to connect professional skills to your activity in the workplace. For example, let’s say you’re working through PD3: Communication during your work term. You can read a lecture and work through an assessment in the evening, and you can put the material to the test in a real-world context the very next morning. Drawing connections and testing your knowledge like this leads to a deeper understanding of the importance of professional skills.
Students also have a different mindset in the workplace than during an academic term. When you’re in the classroom, you’re likely to be performance-driven: focused on grades, worrying about the contents of an exam, fulfilling basic requirements. When you’re out on a work term, you’re more likely to be mastery-driven: looking for ways to improve the status quo, reflecting on your performance and skills, trying to surpass expectations, and developing skills for lifelong use. That’s the kind of mindset with which we want students to approach their PD courses.
Do I still need to take a PD course if I don’t have a job?
Yes. You need to complete a PD course during each work term until your PD requirements have been fulfilled, even if you haven’t found employment in a given term. It’s still possible to complete all of the assessments in every PD course without employment. You can reflect on your academic experience or volunteer work in lieu of referencing time in the workplace.
If you’re worried or have a question about something in your PD course related to employment, contact your course team for assistance.
Should I work on my PD course during work hours?
No. You shouldn’t be asking your supervisor for time to complete your PD course during the day. If you’re having trouble completing your assessments on time or struggling with an exceptional workload, contact your course team for assistance.
Do I have to pay to take PD courses?
You don’t have to pay anything! There are no extra costs associated with taking PD courses, and WatPD isn’t funded through your co-op fees or any other non-tuition fee.
Do I have to take PD courses in a certain order?
The answer depends on your faculty. Students in all faculties except Engineering take PD1: Career Fundamentals first, followed by either PD11: Processes for Technical Report Writing (Math, Science) or PD12: Reflection and Learning in the Workplace (Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Environment). Once they’ve completed these courses, students can choose an elective course to take each work term until their PD requirements have been fulfilled.1 The elective courses can be taken in any order and don’t have any prerequisites.
Engineering students take PD20: Engineering Workplace Skills I: Developing Reasoned Conclusions during their first work term and PD21: Engineering Workplace Skills II: Developing Effective Plans during their second work term. Once they’ve completed these courses, students can choose an elective course to take each work term until their PD requirements have been fulfilled1.
1 Students in some programs must take an additional compulsory PD course. Consult your faculty’s section of this page for more information.
How do I register for PD courses?
If you’re following your program’s sequencing as outlined in its section of the undergraduate calendar, you should be automatically enrolled in your first two PD courses the first time you take said courses. Students in Math and Science should be automatically enrolled in PD1 and PD11 when appropriate; Applied Health Sciences, Arts, and Environment students should be enrolled in PD1 and PD12; Engineering students will be enrolled in PD20 and PD21.
Once you complete your compulsory PD courses, you have to start enrolling yourself in elective courses. You can pick and sign up for elective PD courses using Quest, and the process is similar to the one used for enrolling in other academic courses. You’ll also need to enrol yourself using Quest if you need to repeat any of the core PD courses (i.e. PD1, PD11, PD12, PD20, and/or PD21).
Students in all faculties except Engineering should contact the WatPD office with questions or issues regarding registration. Engineering students with questions or issues regarding registration should contact their academic program advisor.
Can I take more than one PD course during a single work term?
You’re typically allowed to take just one PD course per term, but there are a few situations in which exceptions are granted. Students in all faculties except Engineering are allowed to take more than one course in a term if they’re repeating a previously failed PD course.
Students in all faculties except Engineering can request permission to take an additional PD course by contacting their academic program advisor or the WatPD office. Engineering students requesting permission to take an additional PD course (even previously failed courses) should contact their academic program advisor.
I’m considering changing my stream/sequence. How will that affect my PD requirements?
The answer depends on your faculty. Students in all faculties except Engineering should contact the WatPD office to determine if (and/or how) changing stream/sequence will affect their PD credits and requirements. Making a change could impact your ability to fulfill your PD requirements, so contacting WatPD for advice is highly recommended.
Engineering students considering a stream/sequence change should contact their academic program advisor to develop a plan regarding their PD requirements.
What should I do if I can’t access the Internet during my work term?
If you won’t have regular or consistent Internet access during your work term, you should contact the WatPD office before leaving campus. We can help you make alternate arrangements for completing your PD course or, in exceptional situations, make an alternative plan for fulfilling your PD requirements.
What happens if I fail a PD course?
If you fail a compulsory PD course, you must repeat the course during a subsequent term. PD1 must be taken during a future academic term, and all other compulsory courses (PD11, PD12, PD20, and PD21) must be taken during a future work term.
If you fail an elective PD course, you must earn the missed credit by either repeating the failed course or choosing a different elective PD course to make up the credit. Failed PD courses will appear on your transcript, and they remain there even if you pass the course during a subsequent work term.
Engineering students who fail a PD course should contact their academic program advisor to discuss the course’s impact on their failure count.
How do I access PD courses?
PD courses are accessible through LEARN, Waterloo’s online learning management system (LMS). You log into LEARN using your Waterloo user ID and password. You’ll need consistent Internet access to use LEARN, and it’s compatible with both desktop and mobile devices.
If you have any questions about your system’s compatibility with LEARN or issues accessing your PD course, contact WatPD staff.
How much work does it take to complete a PD course?
PD courses are designed to take 20-25 hours of work to complete. This estimate includes both time spent reading, watching, and/or listening to course content and time spent completing assessments. If you spread this time commitment out over the course of ten weeks (the length of each PD course), it equals roughly two hours per week.
How are PD courses graded?
The individual assignments and quizzes within each PD course are numerically graded, but the PD courses themselves are graded on a credit/no-credit (CR/NCR) basis. When you look at PD courses on your transcript, you’ll see a CR (credit) or NCR (no credit) appear in the grade column instead of a number. If you see a CR there, feel free to celebrate — you’ve passed the course!
Who can I contact if I need help in my PD course?
Every PD course has a support team made up of student teaching assistants (TAs), part-time markers, a WatPD instructional support coordinator (ISC), and a Waterloo instructor. If you have a question or a concern regarding something in your course, you should contact the course’s support staff through the course’s general email address. They can handle almost every question or problem you might have, and they can direct you to someone else if needed.
Visit your course page for the relevant contact information.
Why are some PD courses offered in certain terms and not others?
WatPD began offering its elective courses on rotation during the Spring 2016 term, a change that makes it easier for the department to support students and give them the best possible in-course experience. While the elective courses are no longer available every term, they’re scheduled such that every co-op student will have at least one chance to take every elective course.
You can review the elective courses available each term by visiting the Courses page.
Why is PD1 completed during an academic term instead of during a work term?
PD1: Career Fundamentals is focused on the development of core career skills like résumé writing and interview preparation. These skills are essential parts of the co-op process, and they’re best practiced and refined while students are looking for work and preparing for their co-op terms. Students take PD1 during the term immediately preceding their first work term so they can carry these skills into all of their future job hunts, both on campus and beyond.
Why is PD10 a compulsory course for students in some programs?
While most students who work through the WatPD program only need to take two compulsory PD courses, students in Computer Science (who started studying during the Fall 2015 term or later) and Software Engineering (who started studying during the Fall 2016 term or later) must also complete PD10: Professional Responsibility in Computing as one of their elective PD courses.
Because Computer Science and Software Engineering are accredited professional programs, their graduates have to leave Waterloo with certain skills and attributes that are necessary for successful careers. The departments ask their students to take PD10 because the course satisfies some accreditation requirements that aren’t typically addressed through their normal academic study.
If you want to learn more about PD10 and its connection to Software Engineering and Computer Science, visit the PD10 course page.
Do I still need to write a work report if I take PD11/PD12 and finish the report at the end of the course?
The answer depends on when you’re taking the course. If you’re completing PD11 or PD12 because it’s a compulsory course for students in your faculty — PD11 for students in Math and Science, PD12 for students in Applied Health Sciences, Arts, and Environment — the report at the end of the course fulfills your first work report requirement. (If you're repeating PD11 or PD12 because of an initial failure, the report at the end of the course may not count towards your work report requirement. Contact WatPD staff for more details.)
If you’re taking PD11 or PD12 as one of your elective PD courses, the report at the end of the course doesn’t fulfill your work report requirement for that term. This may mean that you have to write two reports over the course of your term: one for your PD course, and one for your degree requirements. It’s a consideration you should make when choosing your elective courses each term.
If you have any further questions about work report requirements and how they overlap with PD courses, contact the WatPD office.
Why do Engineering students take different core PD courses than students in other faculties?
Engineering students take different core PD courses than students in other faculties because the nature of their program is somewhat different. Instead of participating in the WatPD program, Engineering students complete the WatPD-Engineering program, a subset of the Faculty of Engineering with its own Academic Director and Curriculum Committee. WatPD runs the WatPD-Engineering program on behalf of the faculty. While many aspects of the programs overlap, the core courses that make up WatPD-Engineering are designed to satisfy the unique demands placed upon Engineering students and programs.
If you’d like to learn more about WatPD-Engineering, visit the program’s website.