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What is the Foundation Term?

The Foundation Term is designed for students who have encountered academic difficulties in their first year of studies. This one-term initiative allows students to take a reduced academic course load, which includes UNIV 101, a course designed to help students learn more effectively. We want to equip students with skills and strategies to succeed at the University of Waterloo.

Our statistics show that students who were not successful during their first year but who opted to complete Waterloo’s Foundation Term do better academically, long term.

See what past students have to say:

UNIV 101 helped me identify my shortcomings and make meaningful changes in my behaviour that helped me find success. Six years after the Foundation Term, I have earned a Bachelor's and a Master's degree, and am now working toward my PhD.

Student, successfully completed Foundation Term

Through the Foundation Term, I realized that with the right mindset and motivation, anything is possible. UNIV 101 provided me with all the tools I needed to be successful in university and beyond, but it was up to me to make use of it.

Student, successfully completed Foundation Term

What does the Foundation Term look like?

In the fall term, your regular academic term is referred to as a foundation term, and during that term you will:

  • Complete three courses, all of which count towards your degree.
  • Remain in full-time degree studies, but your academic plan and program might change (see faculty information below).

See the Undergraduate Calendar for the full list of requirements and regulations in order to successfully complete the Foundation Term. Faculty-specific rules are also located in the Undergraduate Calendar:

Who can participate in the Foundation Term?

The Foundation Term is only open to students in the faculties of Arts, Environment, Health, and Science.

You may be eligible to do a foundation term if you received an academic standing of “Required to Withdraw" for the first time after your first or second study terms (1A or 1B).

You are not eligible to do a foundation term if:

  • You are receiving an academic standing of “Required to Withdraw” for the second time.
  • You previously participated/attempted a Foundation Term.
  • You are initiating a transfer to another faculty.


  1. Students in the Faculty of Engineering, see reduced load program.
  2. Students in the Faculty of Mathematics, see your academic advisor for support.
  3. If you don’t qualify for the Foundation Term (for example, if you’re an upper-year student, part-time student, etc.) you may still be considered for a Foundation Term with the support of your faculty. 

When is the Foundation Term offered?

The Foundation Term is only offered in the fall. Applications are accepted during winter and spring terms prior to the fall-term offering.

How do I apply for the Foundation Term?

If you are interested in completing the Foundation Term, reach out to either your faculty's foundation term or academic advisor to discuss your options and help you determine if the Foundation Term is the best fit for you.

There is an application form (Intention to Complete the Foundation Term) that you must complete and submit by the application deadline (July 2) to be considered for the Foundation Term.

What courses would I take during my Foundation Term?

You will be in a reduced course load during the Foundation Term. You will be enrolled in:

  • University (UNIV) 101, a skill-building course, and
  • Two courses from your academic program (and associated labs if applicable). These will be chosen in consultation with your faculty’s foundation term advisor or your academic advisor.
    • Note: You may not repeat any previously passed courses.

Due to the nature of the Foundation Term, you do not need to participate in course registration processes for the fall term – all courses will automatically be added to your class schedule once agreed upon.

What academic plan and/or program will I be in during the Foundation Term?


Plan/program changes


All students are moved to the Honours Arts program.


All co-op students will be moved to the regular system of study for their major; all students (with the exception of Planning) will continue in their plan but in the regular system of study. Planning students will be moved to non-degree since a regular system of study is not available.

To continue in the co-op system of study after successful completion of the Foundation Term, a plan modification form is required.


All students remain in their existing major (e.g., Health Sciences) but will be permanently moved to the regular system of study if they are currently in the co-op system of study.


All students are moved to the General Science program.

Frequently asked questions


Impacts due to reduced course load

Students doing a Foundation Term are considered full-time students, but are on a reduced course load.