December 2015 Update

Things have been quite busy for me lately with admissions, teaching, and research activities.  I’ve heard (although I haven’t seen any specific data yet) that our application numbers are up between 10 and 20% again so far this year.  Looks like it’s shaping up to to be another very busy admissions cycle, and to complicate matters we’re a bit short on staff.  We will have to sort that out in early 2016.

A common question we get is about how many spaces there are in various programs, so here is a summary of what we’re using for the 2016 classes:

Number of Available Spaces
Biomedical  55 (an increase of 5 from last year)
Chemical   140
Civil   125
Computer + Electrical  360 (combined)
Environmental  70
Geological  30
Mechanical  210
Mechatronics  175  (an increase of 5)
Management  65
Nanotechnology   115
Software  125
Systems Design  90

Another common question is how many applicants there are.  This is a bit complicated and somewhat variable, so I’ll just break it down by number of applicants per available space in a more generic way.  This is based on the applicant choice on the OUAC application, not including second & third choices specified on the AIF.

Number of Applicants Per Space
Biomedical:  about 17
Chemical, Civil, Computer + Electrical, Mechanical, Software:  8 to 9
Environmental, Geological, Management, Mechatronics, Nanotechnology, Systems Design:  4 to 5

If you compare these numbers with the Chances post, you might notice something interesting.  Some of our more competitive programs (e.g. Mechatronics) don’t actually have as many applicants as some of the lesser competitive ones (e.g. Civil).  The message from this:  it’s not necessarily how many applicants there are, but it also depends on what their marks are like.  Software and Civil have similar numbers of applicants per space, but obviously a lot of the Software applicants also have quite high marks, so the competitive grades are higher.

This may be interesting, but for an applicant it’s not all that important.  As always, we encourage people to apply to what most interests them, and just hope for the best.

42 thoughts on “December 2015 Update

  1. Hi professor I’m just wondering if you choose something as an alternate program choice, do you have a lower chance of getting into that program? For example if I apply to biomed with a 94 average but get denied and my second choice is chemical, will I have a lower chance of getting in compared to someone with 93?

  2. Just a general question, but do you think applying for software engineering as an alternate choice is a viable option? I’m asking because I’ve heard that first choice options are given priority over alternate choices.


  3. Hello,
    I am am applicant from India. How does the Euclid’s Math Contest fit in the admissions process? My school has never organized the contest. Will not taking up the contest have a detrimental effect on my application?

  4. I graduated high school in 2009 with relatively low marks. If I upgrade my marks for all of my pre-req classes in the next year before applying to engineering at Waterloo, will those marks from 2008/2009 effect my average?

  5. I’m curious how ICSE board exams for grade 10 and CBSE for grade 12(from India) are compared with Canadian scores.

  6. Hello Prof. Anderson,

    If I were to apply to computer engineering as first choice and electrical engineering as alternate, would it be possible to switch into computer engineering later if I only got accepted into electrical engineering? I look at the courses for first year and they are quite similar for the two. Just wanted to know if this is a possibility.


  7. About computer and electrical engineering, are they considered as one program? If I apply to computer engineering as my first choice, should I put electrical engineering as my second choice?

  8. Professor,
    Since Computer Engineering is combined with Electrical Engineering, does that mean that it is redundant to apply to Computer Engineering and keeping Electrical Engineering as a secondary option? Are the admission criteria’s such as admission averages different for the two program, or is it the same pool of applicants?
    Say student A applies for Electrical , keeping Mechatronics and SYDE as his options.
    Is he competing with student B, who applies for Computer, keeping Nanotechnology and Management as his option?

  9. Hi Professor,

    This is a slightly off-topic question, however, does participation in FIRST Lego League in grade 7 count as FIRST Robotics Participation on the AIF? It does not seem like it but I wanted to make sure.


  10. In the undergraduate biomedical engineering program, do you take seven courses (each counting as a credit towards graduation) per semester?

  11. Dear Professor,
    I am doing the IB in India and I have a 7 and ^ in Physics and Chemistry but a 5 in Math. Converting all the SLs(7,6,6 in Hindi Economics English) and HLs to Ontario grades, I have an average of 95%. Does Waterloo use the average for admission or does it look at individual subjects. Also will a SAT 2 Math Level 2 800 be of any help in offsetting the low Math score?

    • The average of the required courses (math, physics, chemistry, English) is the main factor. The math will be double-weighted, so the SAT2 result would be useful to help build a convincing case.

      • Thanks Professor for your reply. What do you exactly mean by double weighted? Will my Year 10 ICSE grades matter because I did quite well on them(96% overall and 96/100 in math)?

      • For some curricula (where there is only 1 math course), the grade is counted twice in the average. This makes it consistent with Ontario schools, which have two grade 12 math courses. Grade X results may be considered as part of the overall evaluation.

  12. Hello professor,

    For OUAC 105F, when will the earliest decisions (and latest) come out? For 101, I’ve heard February, but for 105F, I’ve heard rolling decisions from March+?

  13. Hi Professor
    Do the AIF readers have get access to all the components of the AIF?
    For example,
    Does the person who evaluate my “Why Engineering” component have access to my “Reading Interests” component?
    I ask this because i’ve mentioned something twice (once in the “Why Engineering” part and the second time in the “Reading Interests”) , but if they read all components, then I should not do it.

  14. Professor,
    What is your opinion on using acronyms on the AIF?
    For example, if I was interested in mentioning Waterloo’s “Admissions Information Form” in my answer for “Why Waterloo?” (I apologize for such a confusing example, I just don’t want to publicize my AIF content) ,
    Would you say AIF or Admission Information Form?

  15. Is it certain that grade 11 marks will be looked at ONLY if a grade 12 mark is not available for that specific subject? Im getting an 82 in grade 11 chemistry, but if I get a 92 in grade 12 chemistry(for example) will my grade 11 mark affect my chances of me being accepted?

  16. Hi prof, Since I am applying to Comp Sci and Software engineering I was wondering if I should put my computer science projects on both the extracurricular section and the coding experience section? Or would that be too repetitive for engineering (since they’ll see both). However, the math faculty won’t see the coding experience from the engineering section.

  17. Hello Prof,
    I repeated one of my prequistes without knowing 5% would be taken off my overall average. However my average with the first attempt is higher than my average with the second attempt -5%. Will the admission office then just use my first attempt?

  18. Hello professor, I was curious where i can find data for number of available positions and # of applicants for non-engineering programs such as computer science?

  19. Hello Professor!
    Do grade 11 influence the selection process even if the projected grade 12 marks are high?
    For example, I have 80% in grade 11 but I stand in the top 5 ranks of the class. And my grade 12 marks can be as high as 95% and my school is one of the best schools in the country with school average of 91%. But when I apply my actual G-12 marks won’t be available.
    I know it’s confusing. But this question has been loitering in my mind for a long time.

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