It’s been quite a while since last posting, as various higher priority things arose, such as managing the admissions process, teaching various courses, and directing several larger research projects.  Things are still quite busy, but there is time for a quick overview of what’s happened as we gear up for the next admission cycle for September 2018.

For the 2017 cycle just finished, in very rough numbers…

  • we had around 12,500 applicants for our 1,600 spaces in Engineering.  That was a couple of hundred more than last year.
  • we had a significant rise in applications from people in the U.S., possibly because of our increasing presence there by alumni, co-op students, and other friends of the university?
  • our estimates worked out well and the programs were filled to capacity.
  • as in previous years, Biomedical and Software Engineering were highly competitive, and the rest not too far behind.  I’ll work on a new “chances” post for the fall, but there probably aren’t going to be very big differences from the Chances 2017 version.
  • as always, picking a few applicants from among so many good ones continued to be challenging.  As an indication, over 3,000 applicants with 90+% averages did not receive an offer to any engineering program.  Unfortunately we just don’t have enough facilities, space, faculty and staff to take any more.

There are lots of other interesting (hopefully?) things I plan to post in the coming weeks and months about admissions, research, our students, and engineering in general.

16 thoughts on “Synopsis

  1. Hello Professor,

    My son is in Grade 12 this year and he will be applying to Waterloo undergraduate program for the year 2018. He had a campus tour from his school, since then he is very much interested to join Waterloo. […] From your posting I came to know that, more than 3000+ applicants with 90+ average did not get offer in any engineering program. Now my question is, what are the chances for my son getting an offer into Software or Nano technology program? Does he needs to look at other universities for admission? A line in reply is highly appreciated.




    • I always recommend that applicants keep their options open for other programs and/or universities. Anyone pinning all of their hopes on Waterloo Engineering may be severely disappointed, and there are plenty of other good programs out there too.

  2. Hi Professor Anderson,

    I’m a graduate from the ECE program at Waterloo, having started in 2010. At the time I applied, the admission criteria simply stated “individual selection from the mid-80s”.

    Using the admission numbers from the most recent engineering brochure, the same average that got me admitted now only gives me a 7% chance to get in. I’m curious as to what factors have led to such a drastic raise in the admission average. I’d also like to know if there are any correlation between the higher averages and academic performance in engineering.



    • It’s basically supply and demand. In 2010 there were around 6,800 applicants. For 2017, there were over 12,000 applicants for a similar number of spaces in most programs. More competition means that we have more people to choose from and ones with higher grades will tend to be selected. People with higher averages tend to do better, but the correlation is not strong.

  3. Hello Professor,

    Firstly, I’m very thankful for your blog and it’s helped me navigate and get my head around the Waterloo admission process. Please keep it up. I am an international student planning to do Computer Science or Software Engineering at Waterloo, applying for the 2018 intake. I got 3A*s, 4As and 3Bs in my IGCSEs and I’m waiting to get my AS grades. Would getting 4Bs in my AS exams be a death sentence for my chances to get in, considering I have good ECs (Prefect, Charity Work, Programming Courses, Sports, MUN e.t.c) and would completing my final year of high school in Canada do anything for my chances? I’ve heard of high schools that have had links/connections to universities, does Waterloo have any of these?

    Sorry for the long paragraph, as I said, just trying to get my head around it all. Very thankful for everything you’ve done.


    • For the most competitive programs like CS and Software, there are lots of applicants with straight A’s and A*’s, so having some B’s will likely be a disadvantage. Not that you shouldn’t try applying, but in these situations it’s good to keep other options open. Engineering has no links with high schools, and doing high school in Canada is not an advantage for admissions purposes over doing it anywhere else.

  4. Hi Professor:
    Just wonder how many offer Waterloo gave out for Biomedical Engineering this year as my son very interested in Waterloo Biomedical Engineering ? I heard they accept more students than 55 this year. Is it true ? How competitive this year acceptance ? I want to know if my son has a chance in coming year application.

    • The Biomedical Engineering target was about 65 this year, and might grow to 70 for 2018. There were about 1,000 applicants, and we would expect this to remain similar in 2018 (maybe a small growth). With 15 applicants per available space, it is very competitive and it’s always a good idea to keep other options open.

  5. Hello Professor,

    What was the target enrollement for ECE? How many applicants were there for this program? I’m an Ontario student looking to apply in 2018. Please continue sharing these blog posts with us.

    Thanks in advance,

    • The combined target for Computer and Electrical Engineering is around 360 each year and applications numbers are around 3,000 (about 7 to 8 applicants per available space, like most of our programs).

  6. Hello professor I was wondering the amount of applicants which applies for the software engineering programs and the number admitted. I hope to apply to this program in 2018. Thank you.


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