Science International Exchange

student on exchange in Venice

Mercedes, a science student, on her exchange in Italy.

Internationalizing your degree

Students in the Faculty of science are encouraged to Go Abroad in a number of different ways: academic exchanges, internships, co-op jobs, summer programs, volunteer opportunities, and more. Through Waterloo Passport, you'll be able to explore the programs and destinations available to Waterloo Science students.

For more information about other international programs, such as internships and service learning (volunteer) programs, please contact one of the Global Learning Coordinators.

student standing on top of a mountain while on exchange
Inside Gyeongbokgung Place, photo taken by student on exchange
borobudur temple, picture taken by student on exchange
Milan Cathedral, photo taken by student on exchange
Nærøyfjord, photo taken by student on exchange
Student with wings

All photos were recieved from the Student Success Office photo contest of Winter 2018.

From top to bottom, left to right: Claire on one of New Zealand's Great Walks; Steven visited the Borobudur Temple; Pamela visited Nærøyfjord, the narrowest fjord in Norway; Andrew took his photo inside Gyeongbokgung Place;Mercedes saw the Milan Cathedral; and Riley recieved her "Liverbird" wings in Liverpool. Riley's photo won the Winter 2018 exchange photo.

Why go abroad?

Still in doubt about whether you should go abroad? Here are a few reasons to consider an international experience:

  • It's an amazing opportunity to be exposed to different cultures.
  • You will meet people from other countries, participate in clubs and activities, and improve your interpersonal skills and your confidence to interact with a variety of different people.
  • You'll be able to improve your language skills.
  • An international experience can also serve as a starting point for travel to different parts of the world.
  • You can study abroad for one or two terms and experience a new academic environment, take courses that are not offered at Waterloo, and use them towards your degree.

Information for going on exchange


  • Minimum overall average of 70% (some universities may require an average of 75% or higher)
  • Be in at least satisfactory standing for your program
  • Be an advocate for the academic integrity of the University of Waterloo
  • Be proficient in the language of instruction, if courses are not taught in English
  • You must be at least in your second year when you apply, to go on your third year (completed four full academic terms at Waterloo)
    • Some summer programs may be more flexible
  • Exchange term cannot be your last academic term
  • The Faculty of Science has the final decision on whether to endorse a student, taking a student's entire academic record into account. The endorsement can be revoked if academic performance suggests a student is unlikely to be successful on exchange


Tuition/Program fees


For international exchanges, you pay your normal tuition fees to Waterloo prior to departure. There is no extra tuition charged to participate in an exchange program. While studying abroad, you're responsible for any extra studying costs (books, lab fees, etc.), travel expenses, passport and visa arrangements, accommodations, food and all other living expenses, including health care. Costs of living abroad may vary considerably but is often not significantly higher than living in Canada.

Study Abroad Programs

For study abroad programs, you pay fees at your host school. Some Waterloo programs offer a study abroad experience specific to a department or faculty.

Summer and Short-term programs

Summer and Short-term programs through the University of Waterloo vary. For some summer programs, you pay the program fee directly to the host school. For others, you pay your tuition fees to Waterloo. You can find this information, as well as the program cost, on the program's summary page in Waterloo Passport.

Exchange Scholarships and Bursaries

There are a variety of scholarships and bursaries available for students who are going on exchange.

International experience awards – one application to be considered for them all!

FSF Education Travel Award – just for Science students!

Before you apply

  1. Attend a self-registered mandatory info session on LEARN. Check detailed available dates on Go Abroad web page.
  2. Research where you want to go on Waterloo Passport.
  3. Talk with your program advisor about your exchange plan and courses.
  4. Look at the courses you still need to graduate. Try to get most of your required courses out of the way before you go on exchange or have a plan of when you will take those courses when you return to Waterloo.
  5. Check the term dates, duration, and language of instruction of the host schools to ensure they would be a good option for you.
  6. Check out the Global Experience Certificate (GEC).

For more information, please visit the Student Success Office Go Abroad website.

How do I apply?

Once you have done your research and spoken with the right people, you are ready to apply. Application instructions can be found through Waterloo Passport.

Two application rounds for 2024-2025 exchange academic cycle, including exchange terms of fall 2024, winter 2025, spring 2025 and summer programs in spring 2025:

Round 1 - October 1-31, 2023;

Round 2 - February 1-29, 2024.

Spots for all terms in an exchange academic cycle will be open for application in the 1st round. Only the remaining spots from 1st round will be available in 2nd round.

To be considered in the first round of nominations, applications are due October 31, 11:59 pm. Applications submitted after November 1 will be considered in the second round.

When applying for an exchange program, you are encouraged to list up to four program choices in one application, but your first choice will be prioritized.

After applying, a non-refundable fee will be required before your application can be considered.


Once you know which school you will be going to, it is important to start selecting your courses and obtaining course approval. You need to look into courses early and have them assessed before you leave for your exchange so that you know what transfer credits you can expect to receive when you get back to Waterloo.

Select a list of courses you are interested to take and send the course description or course syllabus to the appropriate advisors/faculties accordingly. It is important to be flexible when selecting your courses for studying abroad. We also recommend that you select extra courses as changes may occur after arriving at the partner university. If uncertain about which courses to take, you will need to discuss with your UWaterloo program advisor which courses work best towards your degree progression.

For non-Science students: Please connect with your home faculty Exchange Representative and use this form to send requests for possible Science course equivalencies.

For Science students: Please contact the following advisors directly. Make sure you keep all the email records and forward them to Science Exchange once they are completed.

Course code/subject Advisor name
BIOL Marcel Pinheiro
CHEM Steven Forsey
EARTH John Johnston
PHYS Richard Epp

Science Exchange

While away on exchange, you will be enrolled in the placeholder course SCI 395/396/397 Science Study Abroad Program, for the term of the exchange. Once we receive your official transcript from your host school, the placeholder course will be replaced on your transcript by the transfer credits.

Students need to obtain at least a passing grade at the host university, or equivalent, in order to transfer the credit back to the University of Waterloo. Refer back to the Waterloo Passport school profile for any exceptions or special notes for this rule.

The grades you achieve in your exchange courses are not calculated in your UWaterloo average and will only show up on your UWaterloo transcript as credit (CR). Science will not transfer failed courses. However, you may need to submit your exchange transcripts along with your UWaterloo transcript for further education applications.

Important Resources

Going abroad involves a lot of preparation. Do you have a valid passport? Will you need a visa? How much will it cost to live in a different country? What other expenses will you have?

To answer these and lots of other questions, Waterloo International has some useful information:

Working abroad: learn more about international co-op.