Come to Waterloo - undergraduate course selection

If you are coming to Waterloo on exchange, you will be required to complete course selection for your first term of study as part of your application. Prior to filling out the application, ensure that you follow these three steps:

  1. View course descriptions through the undergraduate calendar and have courses pre-approved for credit transfers at your home institution prior to applying for the exchange. Pay close attention to the pre-requisite requirements for each course to ensure you have the required background for the courses you are requesting. The Glossary of Terms can help if you’re not sure what something in the undergraduate calendar means.
  2. Review the undergraduate schedule of classes (paying close attention to the search code applicable for each term). You can look at course offerings for the same term in the previous year if the schedule for the term you are applying for is not yet available. Please note that some courses may include supplementary tutorials (TUT) or labs (LAB) in addition to the lectures (LEC). When reviewing the schedule of classes and evaluating time conflicts, you should consider these items as well (if applicable).
  3. On your application, list up to ten courses in order of priority, allowing for a couple of “back-up” courses in the event that restrictions or scheduling conflicts arise. Additional courses will not be reviewed until after you are admitted.  

You will be informed of your course approvals once your application has been processed.

Course restrictions

Please note that some courses may be restricted (not available) to exchange students. You should review the list of restricted courses prior to making your course selections. These restrictions are determined by the respective academic department/faculty.

Course descriptions

Please note that full course descriptions (including notes on textbooks, marking schemes, assignments, tests, midterms, exams, etc.) are usually provided to students during their first class and will not be provided beforehand. Many departments have this information available to students through Learn (which is a learning management system) once they are registered in the course. However, it is primarily up to the respective professor if they will post the information online. Some professors only provide students with this information during their first class.

When researching your course selections, your best option is to search the respective University of Waterloo department websites as some departments may post course syllabi online that were offered in previous terms. The syllabus, if available, will provide additional information to the description in the undergraduate calendar but it is important to note that the course structure (e.g. specific topics, methods of assessment, textbooks, etc.) may change in future terms, especially if a different professor will be teaching the course.

Course assessment

Your home university will typically base their initial assessment on the course outlines that are available in the undergraduate calendar if a syllabus is not available. 

Credit system

At the University of Waterloo two terms of study are equivalent to a full academic year, although we operate on a trimester system with fall, winter, and spring terms.

The full-time course load is 5 courses per term (equivalent to 2.5 units) with a minimum of 3 courses per term (equivalent to 1.5 units). Most of our courses are assessed as a unit of 0.5 and are approximately 39 teaching hours per term. One undergraduate course at 0.5 units is equivalent to 6 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS). Details of specific unit weights and teaching hours per course are available via our undergraduate schedule of classes.

In addition to maintaining full-time status in undergraduate level courses, a student may enrol in a maximum of one graduate course during their exchange at Waterloo. For students participating in an exchange longer than one term, a maximum of two graduate courses may be allowed. 

Please refer to our undergraduate calendar for information regarding our grading system.