On this page:
- What is the Foundation Term?
- What does the Foundation Term look like?
- Who can participate in the Foundation Term?
- When is the Foundation Term offered?
- How do I apply for the Foundation Term?
- What courses would I take during my Foundation Term?
- What academic plan and/or program will I be in during the Foundation Term?
- Other frequently asked questions
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.
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.
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:
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.
- Students in the Faculty of Engineering, see reduced load program.
- Students in the Faculty of Mathematics, see your academic advisor for support.
- 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.
The Foundation Term is only offered in the fall. Applications are accepted during winter and spring terms prior to the fall-term offering.
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 (June 30) to be considered for the 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.
UNIV 101: Strategies and Skills for Academic Success is a 0.5 unit course designed to help you become a successful independent learner. It takes a modelled approach to teach learning strategies to support students in meeting the demands of a university curriculum.
UNIV 101 is delivered in a combination of lectures and seminars. In lectures, you learn various learning theories and strategies that will help you meet the demands of your other courses. In seminars, you work to practically apply these strategies to your other courses. You are expected to demonstrate your understanding of the material through a variety of practical assessments.
Attendance for UNIV 101 is mandatory.
Upon completion of UNIV 101, you will have developed a better understanding of yourself as a learner, and identified and personalized your learning skills and strategies, including:
- Life balance
- Effective group work
- Time management
- Academic writing
- Values and goal setting
- Study strategies
- Test taking
- Memory and learning
- Adapting to your learning environment
- Effective research
- Nutrition and physical activity
- Presentation skills
Courses for Faculty of Arts students
- Course 1: A communications course determined by your academic advisor based on your previous academic record (one of ARTS 130, ARTS 140, or an alternative course)
- Course 2: Chosen from the following:
Courses for Faculty of Environment students
- Course 1: ENVS 105 - Environmental Sustainability and Ethics
- Course 2: A course from your major, determined by your academic advisor
Courses for Faculty of Health students
- Two lectures, plus associated labs (if applicable), chosen in consultation with your academic advisor.
Courses for Faculty of Science students
Your two courses are chosen in consultation with the Science student success officer, following one of the three options below:
- One Science course (plus lab, if applicable) and ENGL 193/COMMST 193 (Communication in the Sciences),
- Two Science courses (plus labs, if applicable), or
- One Science course (plus lab, if applicable) and one math course.
- Enrolment in SCI or SCBUS courses is not allowed.
- Passed courses cannot be retaken. Repeating failed courses is allowed, but not recommended.
- Courses must be on campus. Online courses are not allowed.
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.
Do I need to apply for readmission?
You are not required to apply for readmission to the University, unless you enter the Foundation Term after an absence of more than three terms.
How do I successfully complete my Foundation Term?
See all conditions in the Undergraduate Studies Academic Calendar.
To successfully complete the Foundation Term, you must:
- Pass UNIV 101, by achieving a minimum grade of 60%.
- Pass all your faculty courses, and receive minimum grades or plan averages as stipulated by your faculty:
- Arts: Achieve an average of 65% in both courses.
- Environment: Meet academic plan averages.
- Health Sciences: Achieve a term major average of 71% and a term overall average of 68%.
- Kinesiology: Achieve a term major average of 70% and a term overall average of 65%.
- Public Health: Achieve a term major average of 78% and a term overall average of 74%.
- Recreation and Leisure Studies: Achieve a term major average of 70% and a term overall average of 65%.
- Science: Minimum grade of 60% in each course, plus labs.
What happens if I don’t successfully complete my Foundation Term?
As outlined in the Undergraduate Studies Academic Calendar:
- If you fail to successfully complete UNIV 101 (passing grade is 60%): You will receive a Failed Foundation Term academic standing and this results in immediate withdrawal from the University.
- If you fail to fulfil your faculty's Foundation Term requirements: You will receive a failed academic standing which will normally result in immediate withdrawal from the program and, in some cases, the faculty.
Discuss any exceptions or extenuating circumstances with your academic advisor.
What happens to my academic record? Will the Foundation Term appear on my transcript?
Courses taken during your Foundation Term will appear on your transcript. However, the words "Foundation Term" will not be on your transcript.
Grades received during your Foundation Term will stay on your transcript and will be used in average calculations. However, as determined by your faculty, students who are successful in the Foundation Term may be eligible to have their previous term(s)' grades cleared from their academic record (i.e., grades achieved in all previous course work will still be listed but will not count in cumulative averages).
Work with your academic advisor to discuss your future studies once you successfully complete the foundation term.
Is there a cost?
There is no specific cost to do the Foundation Term. Like your degree courses, UNIV 101 is an academic course, and you will be charged tuition for it and all other courses you are enrolled in during the Foundation Term. Charges will be reflected in your account summary in Quest.
Can I stay in residence while doing a Foundation Term?
Yes, you are eligible to stay in residence. Connect with Campus Housing or one of the Affiliated and Federated Institutions of Waterloo residences to learn more about the application process.
Can I participate in winter course selection during the Foundation Term?
Yes, you can select winter courses during the designated Course Selection Period and Drop/Add Period. You should choose courses for your major with the assumption that you will successfully complete your Foundation Term.
Impacts due to reduced course load
Students doing a Foundation Term are considered full-time students, but are on a reduced course load.
I’m an international student - what happens to my study permit while doing my Foundation Term?
If you are concerned about how a Foundation Term will affect your study permit or immigration standing, book an appointment with an Immigration Consultant.
Is there an impact on my eligibility for student loans and/or scholarships?
Contact Student Awards and Financial Aid to learn how a Foundation Term may impact your student loans or bursaries. If you have a loan from a bank, follow up with them to learn if there are any impacts to your loan.
Is there an impact on UPASS fees?
Review UPass eligibility from the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association.
Is there an impact on my student medical coverage?
There should be no impact on your UHIP or other medical coverage, but check with your coverage provider.