Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Students enrolled in the Faculty of Science may check the Science FAQ.
1. Program Requirements
How can I declare a Psychology Major?
If you are a first year student enrolled in the Faculty of Arts, you should follow these steps to declare your Major. Arts students in second year or above should submit a plan modification form to the Psychology Advisor.
What are the admission requirements for a Psychology Major?
Our admission requirements differ depending on the program you choose. Please check our Admission requirements for Psychology programs.
I am an Arts student enrolled in Four Year General Psychology but want to be in Honours Psychology. How do I know if I am eligible for admission to Honours and how do I make that change?
Once your cumulative Psychology average is 70% or better, submit a plan modification form to the Psychology Advisor.
When seeking employment, is it helpful to have more than one program on the Bachelor's degree (e.g., Joint Honours, Minor, or Arts and Business)?
If you are enrolled in a Major (e.g., General Psychology or Honours Psychology), enrolling in a second academic plan also (e.g., Joint Honours, Minor, or Arts and Business) is considered 'added value' to the Bachelor's degree.
Employers might be interested in the specific degree earned (e.g., General versus Honours; Bachelor of Arts versus Bachelor or Science) and the program(s) listed if relevant to the position you are applying for.
Many other factors also affect recruitment decisions. Employers collect and evaluate information about you from the resume and during the interview such as:
- match between your knowledge, skills, and abilities and those required to perform the prospective job,
- your awareness of your strengths and weaknesses,
- your personality traits and attitudes,
- examples of your behaviours in particular work related situations (e.g., volunteer or paid positions) particularly in recent years (e.g., using past behaviours as predictors of future behaviours),
- your appearance and body language,
For further details about adding value to the degree and the skills you can offer employers, go to:
How can I prepare to apply for graduate studies in Psychology?
How many Psychology courses can I take per term?
I am enrolled in the Faculty of Arts. Can I take more than 2.5 units in one term?
The maximum course load for full-time studies in the Faculty of Arts is 2.75 units per term. More than 2.75 units is considered to be an overload of units.
If you meet these conditions:
- cumulative overall average is at least 75%,
- you are not on conditional standing for your current academic program/plan,
- you do not have any INC (incomplete) grades,
contact the Psychology Undergraduate Advisor about your request to enrol in more than 2.75 units.
Those who do not meet the above 3 conditions will need to submit a Petition for Exception to Academic Regulations to the Registrar's Office for consideration. Please discuss this petition with an advisor first as they may have helpful recommendations. Please include the reasons why you think you can handle an overload of courses.
You cannot self-enrol in more than 2.75 units until the request for the overload of courses has been approved and coded by the Registrar's Office.
How is my record affected by a course drop?
See the Important Dates webpage for the three different course drop deadlines. The three deadlines are classified as follows:
- course drop no penalty:
Means that the course is removed from the record and tuition is refunded for the course.
- course drop penalty 1:
A WD grade is assigned to a dropped course(s). WD means 'withdrawn without academic penalty'. WD grades have no numerical value and therefore, do not affect average calculations.
- course drop penalty 2:
A WF grade is assigned to a dropped course(s). WF means 'withdrew/failure' which is calculated as a final grade of 32%. The 32% grade is included in the average calculations.
If you're dropping a course so that you can dedicate more time to your remaining courses, please do so early enough in the term that your decision will have a positive overall effect.
For retroactive course drops, see our Student Success page topic extenuating circumstances for details.
What to consider before dropping a course
See the Student Success page for:
- strategies for improving grades,
- tips for success in MATH 103, PSYCH 292, and PSYCH 391,
- what to do if extenuating circumstances affect your ability to meet deadlines,
- how to connect with a tutor,
Speak to the instructor and/or the teaching assistant (TA) about your difficulties. They might be able to provide helpful tips.
If dropping any of PSYCH 291, 292, 391, 389-399, 451-463, 465, 467 please consult with Psychology Undergraduate Advisor beforehand. Consider carefully course availability, degree requirements (see psychology programs page for the check lists), and sequencing of prerequisites when making the decision.
Some professional schools (e.g., medical school) might expect you to take prerequisites for admission during school terms where you are taking at least 2.5 units (full course load). It is your responsibility to research such requirements.
I am interested in studies beyond the Bachelor's degree. Does it matter how many WD grades I have on my record?
It is unlikely that a few WD grades (withdrawn without academic penalty) will hinder opportunities such as a future co-op position if enrolled in the co-op system of study, or for admission to studies beyond the Bachelor's degree (e.g., psychology programs at the graduate level). That is, assuming that you otherwise meet the qualifications expected.
However, if you have several WD grades in consecutive terms, a reviewer of your transcript might wonder whether or not:
- you have unresolved issues that might hinder your future performance,
- you have learned from past mistakes,
- you understand your limitations.
To avoid false impressions, be realistic about what you can cope with and plan accordingly. Refer to student success for suggestions. Provide explanations to reviewers if necessary and permitted to do so.
I am doing poorly in a course and it is past the course drop deadline for earning a WD grade. Is it better to stay enrolled or drop the course and accept a WF grade?
If you expect a failing final grade, consider the following:
- Are you willing to accept a WF grade ('withdrawal fail' equals 32%) in your average calculations? Would dropping the course free up study time for other courses?
- Should you stay in the course and hope to earn a grade higher than 32% regardless of whether or not you could pass the course? Keep in mind that any grade higher than 32% will have less impact on the cumulative average calculations.
Grades less than 50% are failing grades.
Are the final grades for courses that are cross-listed with psychology courses included in my cumulative psychology average?
Psychology courses offered under the rubric 'PSYCH' (e.g,. PSYCH 101) count towards the psychology course/average requirements for the Psychology Major (or Psychology Minor)
Courses named officially in the Undergraduate calendar (see course descriptions) as 'cross-listed' have equivalent content and will also be included in the psychology average.
The following cross-listed courses count towards the psychology course requirements and the cumulative psychology average requirement for the Psychology Major (or Psychology Minor) regardless of the rubric that you enrol in:
- GERON/HLTH/PSYCH 218 - Psychology of Death and Dying
- PSYCH 230/LS 272 - Psychology and Law
- PHIL/PSYCH 256 - Introduction to Cognitive Science
- PSYCH 330/LS 372 - Criminal Profiling
- PHIL/PSYCH 447 - Seminar in Cognitive Science
If I take more than the minimum number of psychology courses required for the Psychology Major (or Psychology Minor), do the final grades all count in my cumulative psychology average?
Yes. The final grades for all psychology courses taken at the University of Waterloo will count in the cumulative psychology average as well as the cumulative overall average.
Exception: If you have a 'cleared average', only the courses after that point on your record will be included in the average calculations. A cleared average would typically only occur when a student is readmitted to UWaterloo following a 'failed required to withdraw' academic decision or in some cases, following a change from one Faculty of registration to another.
I plan to do an Honours Thesis in Psychology (Psych 499A/B/C). How many other courses do I take when enrolled in Psych 499?
If doing an Honours Thesis in Psychology (Psych 499A/B/C) the course will be spread over 2 or 3 terms and is worth 1.5 units (i.e., 3 academic term courses) in total.
Do you prefer to take 2.5 units per term (full course load) including the Psych 499 enrolment, or do you prefer to take a reduced course load during the terms of Psych 499 enrolment?
Whether or not you can handle a full course load in any term (including Psych 499 enrolment or not), will depend on your individual circumstances. For further details, go to our Student Success page regarding balancing school, work, and other responsibilities.
What are the department policies for access to Psychology courses?
PSYCH 470: priority to fourth year students over third year students. All students who have the prerequisites may course select PSYCH 470 and get it in their course selection results, but we reserve the right to remove third year students if there are fourth year students who need a spot. PSYCH 391 is an antirequisite for PSYCH 470, so students who have taken PSYCH 391 cannot take PSYCH 470.
PSYCH 391: Honours Psychology students in level 3A or above who have PSYCH 291 and 292 + a Psychology average of at least 74% can course select PSYCH 391, otherwise they will need to join the waiting list.
Advanced Research Methods Courses (PSYCH 389 and 390): only Honours BSc Psychology and BA Psychology with the Research Intensive Specialization in level 3A or above who have the prerequisite courses can course select PSYCH 389 and 390.
Honours seminars (PSYCH 420, 451, 453, 454, 455, 457, 458, 459, 461, 462 and 463): priority to fourth year students over third year students; priority to those who have not taken an honours seminar previously; typically no more than one honours seminar per term will be allowed; priority in the Spring term section(s) to those in the co-op stream of study. Honours Psychology students in level 3A or above who are taking or have taken PSYCH 391 and have a Psychology average of at least 74% can course select an honours seminar.
3. Academic Standing
I am concerned about my academic standing. What does 'conditional standing' mean? What does 'at risk of being required to withdraw' mean?
See academic standing for details.