University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo is a public research university with a main campus in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

The University of Waterloo is a public research university with a main campus in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. The main campus is on 404 hectares (998 acres) of land adjacent to "Uptown" Waterloo and Waterloo Park. The university also operates three satellite campuses and four affiliated university colleges. The university offers academic programs administered by six faculties and thirteen faculty-based schools. Waterloo operates the largest post-secondary co-operative education program in the world, with over 20,000 undergraduate students enrolled in the university's co-op program. Waterloo is a member of the U15, a group of research-intensive universities in Canada.

The institution originates from the Waterloo College Associate Faculties, established on 4 April 1956; a semi-autonomous entity of Waterloo College, which was an affiliate of the University of Western Ontario. This entity formally separated from Waterloo College and was incorporated as a university with the passage of the University of Waterloo Act by the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1959. It was established to fill the need to train engineers and technicians for Canada's growing postwar economy. It grew substantially over the next decade, adding a faculty of arts in 1960, and the College of Optometry of Ontario (now the School of Optometry and Vision Science), which moved from Toronto in 1967.

The university is a co-educational institution, with approximately 36,000 undergraduate and 6,200 postgraduate students enrolled there in 2020. Alumni and former students at the university can be found across Canada and in over 150 countries; with a number of award winners, government officials, and business leaders having been associated with Waterloo. Waterloo's varsity teams, known as the Waterloo Warriors, compete in the Ontario University Athletics conference of the U Sports.


The University of Waterloo, located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, has a rich history that begins with its founding in 1957. However, its roots can be traced back to Waterloo College, an academic institution affiliated with the University of Western Ontario since 1925. The journey to establishing an independent university was led by Gerald Hagey, who became the president of Waterloo College in 1953. Hagey recognized the need for expansion and innovation but faced a significant challenge as the provincial government of Ontario did not provide funding to denominational colleges and universities. To overcome this, Hagey explored the path taken by McMaster University, creating Hamilton College as a separate, non-denominational entity. Waterloo College then established the Waterloo College Associate Faculties in 1956 as a non-denominational board affiliated with the college. This marked the initial move towards what would become the University of Waterloo.

The University of Waterloo's unique approach to education was characterized by cooperative education (co-op), a system blending classroom learning with practical industry experience. This innovative concept, developed with the visionary input of Ira Needles, marked the university's distinctive identity. Although initially met with resistance from other Canadian institutions, it was officially launched in 1957. In 1958, the University purchased 180 acres of land west of Waterloo College to accommodate its growing ambitions. By the end of the same year, it opened its first building on this new site, the Chemical Engineering Building. In 1959, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed an act formally separating the University of Waterloo from its affiliations, making it an independent institution. The university adopted a governance model influenced by the University of Toronto Act of 1906, establishing a senate for academic policy and a board of governors for financial matters, with the president acting as the chief executive officer. However, the road to independence was not without controversies. A dispute with Waterloo College over certain provisions in the University of Waterloo Act eventually led to the formation of a Faculty of Arts by the University of Waterloo in 1960. In the same year, the university introduced the first Faculty of Mathematics in North America.

Throughout its history, the University of Waterloo continued to demonstrate its commitment to innovation and academic excellence. In 1967, it pioneered the creation of the world's first department of kinesiology. Its forward-looking vision led to further developments in various fields. A significant milestone in the university's history was the passage of the University of Waterloo Act, 1972, which defined its governance framework and solidified its status as a leading institution of higher learning. The university has always emphasized the importance of research, and it adopted a coat of arms in 1961. This coat of arms was officially registered with the Lord Lyon King of Arms in 1987 and the Canadian Heraldic Authority in 2001. In 2001, the University of Waterloo embarked on another groundbreaking endeavor, launching the Waterloo Research and Technology Park in the north campus. The park aimed to house high-tech industries and promote collaboration between businesses, faculty, co-op students, and alumni. Its first building, the Sybase campus building, was inaugurated in 2004. Later, the park was renamed the David Johnston Research and Technology Park in honor of David Johnston, the 28th Governor General of Canada and former president of the university.

The University of Waterloo's global influence extended beyond Canada's borders. From 2009 to 2012, the university operated four undergraduate programs in Dubai in partnership with the Higher Colleges of Technology, the largest post-secondary institution in the United Arab Emirates. This initiative provided students in Dubai the opportunity to earn undergraduate degrees in various disciplines such as chemical engineering, civil engineering, financial analysis and risk management, and information technology management. These programs were housed in facilities provided by the Higher Colleges of Technology. Although the Dubai campus was an exciting venture, in 2012, the university's Board of Governors decided to close its extension in Dubai.


The University of Waterloo offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various faculties and disciplines. Known for its innovative approach to education and a strong emphasis on cooperative learning, the university's course offerings cater to diverse academic interests. Below is an overview of some key faculties and the courses they offer:

1. Faculty of Mathematics:
The Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo is renowned worldwide and offers a plethora of undergraduate and graduate programs in mathematics, computer science, and related fields. Students can pursue degrees in pure and applied mathematics, computer science, statistics, and actuarial science. The faculty is particularly known for its cooperative education model, allowing students to gain practical experience while studying.

2. Faculty of Engineering:
The Faculty of Engineering provides programs in various engineering disciplines, including civil, electrical, mechanical, and systems design engineering. These programs combine theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience, preparing students for careers in engineering, research, and innovation.

3. Faculty of Science:
The Faculty of Science offers a broad spectrum of undergraduate and graduate programs in disciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics, earth and environmental sciences, and psychology. The faculty emphasizes research opportunities and practical experience in labs and fieldwork.

4. Faculty of Arts:
The Faculty of Arts offers programs in humanities, social sciences, and language studies. Students can explore diverse fields such as psychology, sociology, history, and philosophy. These programs provide a well-rounded education and develop critical thinking skills.

5. Faculty of Environment:
The Faculty of Environment focuses on environmental sustainability, geography, and urban planning. It offers programs related to environmental management, resource and environmental economics, and international development. These programs address critical global challenges, including climate change and sustainable development.

6. Faculty of Applied Health Sciences:
This faculty offers programs related to health and well-being. Students can study kinesiology, health studies, or recreation and leisure studies. The curriculum combines theoretical knowledge with practical experiences in areas like physical activity and health promotion.

7. School of Pharmacy:
The University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy provides a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program, training future pharmacists to deliver patient-centered care and manage medications effectively. The program includes experiential learning in real healthcare settings.

8. School of Architecture:
This school offers professional programs in architecture, including a Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) and a Master of Architecture (MArch). The programs focus on design, sustainability, and innovation in architecture and urban planning.

9. Graduate Studies:
The University of Waterloo offers numerous graduate programs, including master's and doctoral degrees, across various faculties. These programs provide opportunities for advanced research and specialized study in a wide range of disciplines.

Global MBA rankings

Most Innovative University in Canada: According to Maclean's university rankings of 2023, the University of Waterloo takes the top spot in Canada for innovation, reflecting its commitment to pioneering research and cutting-edge initiatives.

Overall Excellence: Maclean's 2023 university rankings also position the university as the second-best overall university in Canada, underscoring its comprehensive excellence in various academic fields.

World University Reputation: In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Reputation Rankings for 2024, the University of Waterloo is ranked fourth in Canada, further affirming its global standing.

Graduate Employability: The university's focus on preparing students for the job market is evident in its ranking as the second-best institution in Canada for connecting students with employers, as per the QS Graduate Employability Rankings for 2022.

Academic Excellence: The University of Waterloo shines in academic rankings, being in the top five in Canada for mathematics, geography, physics, water resources research, and transportation science & technology, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities for 2022.

Canada's Leading Research University: The Research InfoSource for 2022 recognizes the University of Waterloo as Canada's number one comprehensive research university for 14 consecutive years, highlighting its ongoing contributions to the field of research.

Experiential Learning: Maclean's Student Voices Survey in 2022 acknowledges the university as the top institution in Canada for hands-on experiential learning, emphasizing its commitment to practical education.

Nobel Prize Laureate: Dr. Donna Strickland, a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Her groundbreaking work in chirped pulse amplification in lasers has had a significant impact on technology, from eye surgery to laser printers.

World Rankings: Globally, the university is ranked 44th for engineering and 51st for computer science, according to the US News Global University Rankings for 2022-23.

Positive Impact: The university is committed to addressing global challenges. In the Times Higher Education's University Impact Rankings for 2023, it ranks among the top 10 institutions globally for research on ending poverty and hunger and in the top 50 for promoting sustainable cities and communities.

Recruitment Hub: Leading technology companies like Google highly regard the University of Waterloo as a recruiting source, underscoring its reputation as a talent pool for global industries.

National Recognition: In the QS World University Rankings for 2023, the university secures the seventh position overall in Canada, with a focus on quality and excellence in education.

Job integration rate

The University of Waterloo is dedicated to ensuring the successful integration of its students into the job market. To provide transparency and real-time information on employment rates, the university offers a portal where students can access comprehensive employment statistics. By logging in with their WatIAM credentials, students gain access to both current and historical employment data, filtered by various criteria, including term, faculty, program, and level.

This valuable resource offers a deep dive into the recruitment cycle, covering key phases such as the first interview cycle, continuous interview cycle, and direct interview cycle, which extends into the work term. The data is updated daily to reflect the most recent employment results. It's essential to note that the recruitment period extends into the work term itself, allowing co-op students to continue their job search until the final deadline for securing employment for co-op credit, which is typically about four weeks after the work term commences.

The University of Waterloo calculates its employment rate diligently, ensuring accuracy and transparency. The formula for the employment rate consists of the number of employed students divided by the total number of students participating in co-op recruitment. This total population includes all employed students, those actively searching for employment through the traditional co-op interview process, students searching for employment outside the co-op interview process, and students awaiting a decision on employment secured externally to the co-op interview process. This inclusive approach offers a comprehensive view of the university's success in facilitating job integration for its students. For a detailed breakdown of student statuses and their meanings, students can refer to the co-op roles and responsibilities.

General information
University of Waterloo

Dominic Barton (Chancellor)

Academic staff
1,000 - 20,000
Waterloo, Ontario, Cambridge Campus, Stratford Campus, Kitchener Campus
ACU, CARL, COU, CUSID, Fields Institute, Universities Canada, U15
200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1
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Fri Mar 01 2024

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