University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo (commonly referred to as Waterloo, UW, or UWaterloo) 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 offers academic programs administered by six faculties and thirteen faculty-based schools. The university also operates three satellite campuses and four affiliated university colleges.[9][10] Waterloo is a member of the U15, a group of research-intensive universities in Canada.[11] The University of Waterloo is most famous for its co-operative education (co-op) programs, which allow the students to integrate their education with applicable work experiences. The university operates the largest post-secondary co-operative education program in the world, with over 20,000 undergraduate students in over 140 co-operative education programs.[12]

University of Waterloo
Former names
Waterloo College Associate Faculties (1956–1959)[1]
MottoLatin: Concordia cum veritate
Motto in English
In harmony with truth
TypePublic university
Established4 July 1956[1]
EndowmentC$375 million[2]
ChancellorDominic Barton
PresidentFeridun Hamdullahpur
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,

43°28′8″N 80°32′24″W
CampusUrban, 450 hectares (1,112 acres)[5][6]
AthleticsCIS, OUA
27 varsity teams
AffiliationsACU, ATS, CARL, CBIE, CIS, COU, CUP, CUSID, Fields Institute, IAU, U15, UC.
MascotKing Warrior[8]

The institution was established on 1 July 1957 as the Waterloo College Associate Faculties, a semi-autonomous entity of Waterloo College, then an affiliate of the University of Western Ontario.[13] 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.[14] 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.[14]

The university is co-educational, and as of 2016 had 30,600 undergraduate and 5,300 postgraduate students.[3] Alumni and former students of the university can be found across Canada and in over 140 countries.[10] Waterloo's varsity teams, known as the Waterloo Warriors, compete in the Ontario University Athletics conference of the U Sports.


"The greatest product which we will realize from our electronic era is the better educated race. This applies to all fields — not just the field of science."

Ira Needles, 1956[15][16]

Twentieth century

The University of Waterloo traces its origins to Waterloo College, the academic outgrowth of Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, which was affiliated with the University of Western Ontario since 1925.[17] When Gerald Hagey assumed the presidency of Waterloo College in 1953, he made it his priority to procure the funds necessary to expand the institution. While the main source of income for higher education in Ontario at the time was the provincial government, the Ontario government made it clear it would not contribute to denominational colleges and universities.[18]

Hagey soon became aware of the steps undertaken by McMaster University to make itself eligible for some provincial funding by establishing Hamilton College as a separate, non-denominational college affiliated with the university.[18] Following that method, Waterloo College established the Waterloo College Associate Faculties on 4 April 1956, as a non-denominational board affiliated with the college.[1] The academic structure of the Associated Faculties was originally focused on co-operative education in the applied sciences—largely built around the proposals of Ira Needles. Needles proposed a different approach towards education, including both studies in the classroom and training in industry that would eventually become the basis of the university's co-operative education program.[19] While the plan was initially opposed by the Engineering Institute of Canada and other Canadian universities, notably the University of Western Ontario, the Associated Faculties admitted its first students in July 1957.[20] On 25 January 1958, the Associated Faculties announced the purchase of over 74 hectares (180 acres) of land west of Waterloo College. By the end of the same year, the Associated Faculties opened its first building on the site, the Chemical Engineering Building.[21]

In 1959, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario passed an act which formally split the Associated Faculties from Waterloo College, and re-established it as the University of Waterloo.[22] The governance was modelled on the University of Toronto Act of 1906, which established a bicameral system of university government consisting of a senate, responsible for academic policy, and a board of governors exercising exclusive control over financial policy and having formal authority in all other matters. The president, appointed by the board, was to act as the institution's chief executive officer and act as a liaison between the two groups.[23]

The legislative act was the result of a great deal of negotiation between Waterloo College, Waterloo College Associated Faculties, and St. Jerome's College, another denominational college in the City of Waterloo. While the agreements sought to safeguard the two denominational colleges, they also aimed at federating them with the newly established University of Waterloo.[24] Due to disagreements with Waterloo College, the College was not formally federated with the new university. The dispute centred on a controversially worded section of the University of Waterloo Act, 1959, in which the College interpreted certain sections as a guarantee it would become the Faculty of Art for the new university. This was something the Associated Faculties was not prepared to accept.[25] As a result of the controversy, Waterloo College's entire Department of Mathematics broke from the College to join the newly established University of Waterloo, later joined by professors from the Economic, German, Modern Languages, and Russian departments.[26] Despite this controversy, until 1960 Hagey hoped for a last-minute compromise between Waterloo College and the university. Ultimately, however, the university created its own Faculty of Arts in 1960.[27] It later established the first Faculty of Mathematics in North America on 1 January 1967.[28] In 1967, the world's first department of kinesiology was created.[29] The present legislative act which defines how the university should be governed, the University of Waterloo Act, 1972 was passed on 10 May 1972.[30]

A coat of arms has been in use by the university since 1961. The coat of arms was officially registered with the Lord Lyon King of Arms in 1987 and with the Canadian Heraldic Authority in 2001.[31][32]

In February 1995, the former president of the university, James Downey, signed the Tri-University Group (TUG) agreement between Wilfrid Laurier University, and the University of Guelph. Signed in a period of fiscal constraint, and when ageing library systems required replacing, the TUG agreement sought to integrate the library collections and services of the three universities.[33]

Twenty-first century

In 2001, the university announced it would develop the Waterloo Research and Technology Park in the north campus. The park was planned to house many of the high-tech industries in the area, and is supported by the university, the Regional Municipality of Waterloo, the provincial and federal governments, and Canada's Technology Triangle.[34] The aim was to provide businesses with access to the university's faculty, co-operative education students, and alumni, as well as the university's infrastructure and resources.[35] Groundbreaking was on 25 June 2002, with the first completed building, the Sybase campus building, opening on 26 November 2004.[36] In 2010, the Waterloo Research and Tech Park was renamed as the David Johnston Research and Technology Park, after David Johnston, the 28th Governor General of Canada and former president of the university.[37]

From 2009 to 2012, the university managed four undergraduate programs in Dubai.[38] The university worked in partnership with the Higher Colleges of Technology, the largest post-secondary institution in the United Arab Emirates. Discussions regarding the partnership emerged in 2004, and the Dubai campus was officially opened in September 2009.[39] Through the partnership, the university offered undergraduate degrees in chemical engineering, civil engineering, financial analysis and risk management, and information technology management.[40] The programs offered in Dubai took place in facilities provided by the Higher Colleges of Technology.[41] On 30 October 2012, the university's Board of Governors decided to close the university's extension in Dubai.[38]


The university's main campus lies within the city of Waterloo, Ontario. It sits on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishnaabeg, and Haudenosaunee peoples that is part of the Haldimand Tract, land promised to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River.[42] It is bordered by Waterloo Park to the south, Wilfrid Laurier University to the southeast, residential neighbourhoods to the northeast, east and west, and the Laurel Creek Conservation Area to the northwest. Three numbered roads also intersect the main campus: University Avenue West, Columbia Street West, and Westmount Road North.[43] While the main campus is 404 hectares (998 acres), the majority of the teaching facilities are centred on a ring road in its southern portion.[5] In addition, the university owns several other properties in Cambridge, Huntsville, Kitchener, and Stratford, Ontario.

The buildings vary in age. The oldest is Graduate House, originally a farmhouse dating back to the 19th century. The oldest building which was erected for the university is the Douglas Wright Engineering Building, which was erected in 1958.[44] A large majority of the university's buildings, and its ring road, were constructed during the 1960s.[5] The university's main campus is divided into three major areas: South Campus, North Campus and Northwest Campus. South Campus is the academic core of the university, while North Campus holds the Research and Technology Park. Northwest Campus is the least developed area of the main campus, made up primarily of farm fields and an environmental reserve, which divides it from North Campus.[5]

Libraries and museums

The university has four libraries housing more than 1.4 million books, as well as electronic resources including e-books, serial titles, and databases.[45] Three libraries are on campus: the Dana Porter Library, housing material relating to arts, humanities and social science, the Davis Centre Library, housing material for engineering, mathematics and science, and the Witer Learning Resource Centre, housing material for the School of Optometry and Vision Science. The fourth library, the Musagetes Architecture Library, is in Cambridge, alongside the university's School of Architecture. The libraries of the university's affiliated colleges are also considered a part of the university's library system.[46] The university's library system is also a member of the TriUniversity Group, a partnership between the University of Guelph, University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University. The group provides students and researchers at all three universities with access to all of the collections and services.[47] The group also operates the TUG Annex, a repository for less-used library resources from the three universities.[46]

University of Waterloo also operates the Earth Sciences Museum, on campus in the Centre for Environmental Information Technology.[48] It is mainly used as an earth-science teaching museum for local schools and natural-science interest groups in southern Ontario. The main exhibits cover the Great Lakes, rocks and minerals, dinosaurs and ice age mammals. The museum's dinosaur exhibit includes a complete cast of an Albertosaurus.[49] The museum also houses an interactive, simulation mining tunnel which aims to teach sustainable mining practices.[50] Also owned and operated by the university is the Museum of Vision Science, which is at the university's School of Optometry building. The university had previously operated the Elliott Avedon Museum and Archive of Games, created by the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies and previously managed by the university's Faculty of Applied Health Sciences. Due to a lack of specific academic interest, in 2009, the decision was made to close the museum and transfer the collection elsewhere.[51]

Housing and student facilities

The university has eight student residences: the Minota Hagey Residence, UW Place, Ron Eydt Village, Village 1, Mackenzie King Village, Columbia Lake North and South, and Claudette Millar Hall. In addition to the eight main campus residences, students may also apply to live at any of the university's affiliated college residences. The largest residential village at the university is UW Place, which houses 1,300 first-year students and 350 upper-year students, while the smallest residence is the Minota Hagey Residence, which houses 70 students and is almost exclusively for upper-year students.[52][53] In September 2010, 24.9 percent of the undergraduate population lived on campus, including 71.1 percent of first-year students.[54] Residents are represented by two residential councils at the university, South Council which represents the students at UW Place, and North Council which represents the remaining residential villages. Each council organizes their own events and has their own executive, budget, and meetings.[55] However, the overall mission of both councils is to act as the official representatives for all residents living at the university's residences.[56]

The Student Life Centre is the centre of student governance and student directed social, cultural, entertainment and recreational activities, open seven days a week, year-round. The Student Life Centre contains the offices of a number of student organizations, including the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA), Student Housing Office, a number of retail and food services, and a variety of club space and study rooms.[57] In 2017 ground broke on a joint 63,000 square foot expansion of the Student Life Centre and Physical Activities Complex. Built to the west of Burt Matthews Hall Green the expansion will connect all three floors with the Red North corner of the PAC providing social, fitness, study, multi-faith, dining, and bookable spaces for students. The project is projected to complete in Fall 2018.[58]

The WUSA also operates an information desk in the Student Life Centre called the Turnkey Desk. It is open 24/7 365, and it is where students go to book out study spaces within the SLC, as well as where they go for information on campus events, directions, and any questions students have. The Turnkey Desk also sells a variety of tickets including GO Transit tickets, Greyhound tickets, and various local transit tickets and movie theatre tickets. It is staffed almost entirely by university students or recent graduates, and is a salaried job on the campus.

The idea for a student centre emerged during the 1960s, and to raise the necessary funds for the building students began to levy a $10 fee. Construction began in July 1966 and was completed in 1968. Tensions between the university and the student community surfaced over the management and ownership of the Student Life Centre. The conflict was not resolved until 1969, when Professor Johnson resigned his position as chairman of the Campus Centre Board, along with his colleague Pim Fitzgerald.[59]

Off-campus facilities

The university has three satellite campuses, and a number of other facilities throughout Southern Ontario. The closest off-campus facilities are adjacent to the campus, with the university acquiring land and five buildings from BlackBerry Ltd on December 2013.[60] As of February 2014, the university uses three of the buildings, and leases the other two to BlackBerry Ltd.[61]

The Centre for Extended Learning is a facility owned and managed by the university and is in Kitchener, Ontario.[62] It provides pre-university courses, part-time studies, online learning and professional development courses.[63] Another facility which is owned and managed by the university is the Waterloo Summit Centre for the Environment, in Huntsville, Ontario. It is a year-round research and teaching centre, which regularly hosts post-secondary student field courses and professional development programs, and also serves as a university outreach facility for the whole region.[64][65] Close to Algonquin and Arrowhead Provincial Park, the centre's facilities are used for research in ecological restoration and conservation.[66]

The university also operates the Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business in Stratford, Ontario. The focus for the Stratford campus is on education in digital arts and media. The idea for the Stratford campus first took shape when the City of Stratford and the university signed a memorandum in October 2006. It officially opened in September 2010.[67] In November 2009, the university also signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Western Ontario regarding academic initiatives at the Stratford Campus.[68] The campus also hosted the first four Canada 3.0 forums, before its move to Toronto in 2012.[69]

The university's School of Architecture uses a campus in Cambridge, Ontario, on the west bank of the Grand River.[70] The architecture campus was the idea of the Cambridge Consortium, a group of Cambridge business owners, who spearheaded the school's fundraising drive to cover a portion of the $27 million cost of creating the new campus. The school, along with its faculty and students, was moved to the new campus in September 2004.[70] Since 1979, the School of Architecture has also operated an architecture studio in Rome, Italy in the Trastevere neighbourhood. The opportunity to work at the Trastevere studio is offered to fourth-year architecture students.[71]

Another satellite campus of the university is the Health Sciences Campus in Kitchener, Ontario, which houses the School of Pharmacy. The pharmacy building was designed by Siamak Hariri, and was completed in December 2008.[72] While the School of Pharmacy acts as the anchor institution of this campus, other students and faculty of the university's Faculty of Applied Health Sciences also use the facilities.[73] The campus includes a primary care teaching clinic which will integrate clinical care and teaching in pharmacy and optometry. Two other universities also make use of the Health Science and Pharmacy campus. McMaster University's medical school makes use of the campus as its base for its Waterloo Regional Campus, with 56 of the medical school's students admitted at the regional campus in 2012. Wilfrid Laurier University's School of Social Work also uses some of the facilities available on the campus.[74]


Sustainability initiatives are divided between several departmental offices at the university, with the university's plant operations charged with their implementation.[75] Prior to 2005, the management of sustainability efforts was conducted by the university's waste management coordinator.[76] The university's sustainability initiatives are solely institution-specific, as it has not signed any national or international sustainability declaration.[77] However, the university, along with the other members from the Council of Ontario Universities, signed a pledge in 2009 known as Ontario Universities Committed to a Greener World, with the objective of transforming its campus into a model of environmental responsibility.[78]

The university's School of Environment, Enterprise and Development placed first in Canada in the Corporate Knights 2011 ranking for undergraduate business programs incorporating sustainability.[79] The university campus received a C+ grade from the Sustainable Endowments Institute on its College Sustainability Report Card for 2011.[80] In 2019, the University of Waterloo was ranked 13th in the world, and fifth in Canada in Times Higher Education University Impact Rankings, a ranking that evaluated 450 universities against the United NationsSustainable Development Goals,.[81][82][83]


The university operates under a bicameral system of a board of governors and a senate, as legislated by the University of Waterloo Act, 1972.[84] The Board of Governors has responsibility for the university's properties, affairs, and income.[85] The University of Waterloo Act calls for only 36 members, each of whom must hold Canadian citizenship. However, the number of members in the board for the 2013–2014 academic year is 40.[86][87] The Board has five ex officio members, including the university's chancellor and president, and the mayors of Kitchener and Waterloo.[86] The other 32 members of the board are either elected or appointed by the various members of the university community, including alumni, faculty, and student body.[87]

The senate establishes the educational policies of the university and makes recommendations to the board of governors in the management of the institution.[88] The senate has 24 ex officio positions, including the university's president and chancellor, the vice-presidents, the senior dean of each faculty, the presidents of the undergraduate, graduate, and faculty associations, and the presidents and principals of the university's associated colleges. The senate's 61 other members are appointed or elected by various communities of the university including the faculty of the university, its associated colleges, the student body, and alumni.[89]

The president, appointed by the board of governors, acts as the university's chief executive officer with the senate's approval, administers the affairs of the university, and acts on behalf of the board with respect to the operational management and control of the university. The president is the chair of the senate and a member of the board.[90] The president also holds the position of vice-chancellor, assuming the duties of the chancellor during his absences or a temporary vacancy in the office.[91] The chancellor is elected by the members of the senate for a three-year term, although eligible for renewal. The chancellor's primary duty is to preside at all convocations and present candidates for honorary degrees to the senate.[91] Tom Jenkins has been the chancellor since 1 May 2015.[92] He succeeded Prem Watsa, who held the position from 2009 to 2015.[93] In March 2011, Feridun Hamdullahpur was announced as the sixth president of the university, having been interim president since October 2010.[94]

Affiliated institutions

The university also includes three semi-autonomous affiliated colleges and a federated university. Conrad Grebel University College is a Mennonite university college that was chartered in 1961 and is religiously affiliated with the Mennonite Church Eastern Canada.[95] Renison University College is an Anglican university college chartered in 1959; it entered an affiliation with the University of Waterloo in 1960[96] and is religiously affiliated with the Anglican Church of Canada.[97] St. Jerome's University is a Roman Catholic university, founded in 1865, which entered into a federation with the University of Waterloo shortly after the provincial government granted it university status in 1959.[98] St. Paul's University College is a university college founded by members of the United Church of Canada in 1962. However, St. Paul's now operates independently from the United Church, without any formal or legal relationship.[99]

The three colleges and federated university are all within the University of Waterloo's main campus and operate their own residences.[95][98][99][100] Students of these affiliated colleges and federated university are also academically integrated with the University of Waterloo. Students who study at any of them are also considered registered students of the University of Waterloo; with students from the federated universities able to enrol in classes and faculties, and graduate as a student from the University of Waterloo.[95][98][99][100] Regardless of the affiliated colleges and federated university's religious affiliations, enrolment is not restricted based on the student's religious beliefs.[101][102][103]


The university completed the 2014–2015 academic year with revenues of $936.240 million and expenses of $906.730 million, yielding a surplus of $29.510 million.[104] Grants and contracts make up the largest source of revenue for the university, totaling $392.357 million, followed by academic fees at $357.889 million. Salaries make up nearly half of the university's expenses, at $439.973 million.[104] As of 30 April 2015, the university's endowment is valued at $335.731 million.[104]


Waterloo is a publicly funded research university, and a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.[105][106] It functions on a term-based system, with fall, winter and spring terms.[107] Undergraduate programs comprise the majority of the school's enrolment, made up of 24,377 full-time and part-time undergraduate students. The university conferred 5,041 bachelor's degrees, 267 doctoral degrees, 1,275 master's degrees, and 192 first professional degrees in 2012–2013.[108] The university is organized into six faculties, which operate a combined total of thirteen schools and over fifty academic departments.

Faculties and Schools of the University of Waterloo
Faculty Applied Health Sciences Arts
Engineering Environment Mathematics Science
School School of Public Health and Health Systems School of Accounting and Finance Stratford School of Interaction Design and Business Balsillie School of International Affairs[lower-alpha 1] Renison School of Social Work[lower-alpha 2] School of Architecture Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business School of Environment, Enterprise and Development School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability School of Planning David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science School of Optometry and Vision Science School of Pharmacy

Financial aid available to students includes the Ontario Student Assistance Program and Canada Student Loans and Grants through the federal and provincial governments. The financial aid provided may come in the form of loans, grants, bursaries, scholarships, fellowships, debt reduction, interest relief, and work programs.[109]

Co-operative education

The university operates the largest post-secondary co-operative education (co-op) program in the world with nearly 20,000 undergraduate students.[110][111][112][113] For co-op students, each term acts as either a study term or a work term depending on their co-op sequencing; typically for the entire length of their degree.[114] Co-op work terms are mandatory for all undergraduate engineering programs, as well as several arts and mathematics programs. Engineering students are required to complete five out their six scheduled work terms to graduate from their program, while students from other faculties typically need to complete four work terms.[115] Engineering students alternate between school and work terms, completing a total of eight study terms and six work terms in the span of four and two third years.[114] However, some programs have unique co-op streams where consecutive school and work terms are scheduled near the end of the program, giving the students the opportunity to apply for eight-month positions.[116]

Students are responsible for securing their work placement for each of their co-op terms.[117] This includes applying for positions and attending interviews during their study terms, which regularly requires that the student sacrifice attending some classes. Scheduling conflicts between interviews and exams are actively avoided but still possible, in which case one or the other are rescheduled on a case-by-case basis.[118]

In order for the student to receive their co-op credit, their work term must meet a number of conditions. This includes being full-time, that it is related to the student's field of study, that it lasts for the full 16-week duration, and that it is compensated with at least the minimum wage in the location of work.[119] Exceptions can be made for some of these conditions; for example, first work terms often do not have to be related to the student's field of study if the student has had difficulty securing a position.

At the end of the work term, the employer submits a performance evaluation for the student which is presented to the student's future employers during their next application stage.[119] As of 2018, Waterloo students earn an average of C$12,100 per work term when working in Canada.[120] Co-op earnings vary greatly depending on field of study, how many work terms the student has already completed, and where the work term takes place. For example, Mathematics undergraduates (including Computer Science and Computing & Financial Management) on their sixth work term made an average of US$28,600 (C$38,000) when working in the United States in 2018.[121]


The William M. Tatham Centre is the home of the Centre for Career Action office, where resources such as resume critiques, mock interviews, and networking advice are available.[122] It is also where most interviews with prospective employers take place, be it in-person, by phone, or through video conference.

WaterlooWorks is the university's official job board,[123] on which over 7000 employers post available positions.[115] Most positions on WaterlooWorks are in Canada, although positions in American-based businesses are also listed each term. Job listings from employers based in France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea have also been placed on WaterlooWorks.[124] In addition to using WaterlooWorks, students may pursue their own external job search, or found their own company, to receive their co-op credit.


University rankings
Global rankings
ARWU World[125]151–200
QS World[126]173
Times World[127]201–250
U.S News & World Report Global[128]217
Canadian rankings
ARWU National[125]6–9
QS National[126]7
Times National[127]8–10
U.S News & World Report National[128]9
Maclean's Comprehensive[129]3

In the 2019 Academic Ranking of World Universities, the university ranked 151–200 in the world and 6–9 in Canada.[125] The 2020 Times Higher Education World University Rankings placed Waterloo 201–250 in the world and 8–10 in Canada.[127] The 2020 QS World University Rankings ranked the university 173rd in the world and seventh in Canada.[126] In the U.S. News & World Report 2020 ranking, the university placed 217th in the world, and ninth in Canada.[128] In terms of national rankings, Maclean's 2020 university rankings placed Waterloo third, in its comprehensive university category.[129] In 2018 CEOWORLD magazine released its ranking for universities around the world, and placed Waterloo 220th in the world and eighth in Canada.[130]

The university also placed in a number of rankings that evaluated a graduate's employment prospects. In QS's 2019 graduate employability ranking, Waterloo ranked 25th in the world, and second in Canada.[131] In the Times Higher Education 2018 graduate employability ranking, Waterloo was ranked 100–150 in the world, and seventh in Canada.[132] In an employability survey published by The New York Times in October 2011, when CEOs and chairpersons were asked to select the top universities which they recruited from, the university placed 108th in the world, and seventh in Canada.[133]

The North American technology industry is where the University of Waterloo is most well-known. In 2014, a study from Riviera Partners found that the University of Waterloo had the third-most hired undergraduate candidates in Silicon Valley, after the University of California, Los Angeles, and the California Institute of Technology.[134] In 2016, Startup Compass found that University of Waterloo alumni were the second-most frequently hired in small and medium-sized companies in Silicon Valley.[135] Dr. Steven Woods, engineering director at Google in Canada, said in 2013 that "the University of Waterloo is one of Google's largest three or four recruiting universities year-over-year [worldwide], along with MIT and Carnegie Mellon."[136] In 2014, Business Insider found via LinkedIn data that the University of Waterloo has the fourth-most alumni working at Facebook, and the third-most alumni working at Amazon.[137][138]


The University of Waterloo is a member of the U15, a group that represents 15 Canadian research universities. In 2018, Research Infosource ranked Waterloo 12th on their list of top 50 Canadian research universities, with a sponsored research income (external sources of funding) of $189.333 million in 2017.[140] In the same year, the university's faculty averaged a sponsored research income of $163,100, while graduate students averaged a sponsored research income of $34,700.[140] Research funds comes from private, and public sources. In 2019, the university has received over C$15 million in research funding from Huawei.[141]

Waterloo's research performance has been noted several bibliometric university rankings, which uses citation analysis to evaluates the impact a university has on academic publications. In 2019, the Performance Ranking of Scientific Papers for World Universities ranked Waterloo 242nd in the world, and 10th in Canada.[142] The University Ranking by Academic Performance 2018–19 rankings placed the university 191st in the world, and 10th in Canada.[143]

The university operates and manages 41 research centres and institutes, including the Centre for Applied Cryptographic Research, the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, the Centre for Education in Mathematics and Computing, the Institute for Quantum Computing, and the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience. Official recognition and designation of all centres and institutes requires the approval of the university's Senate.[144] On 6 April 2018, the University of Waterloo announced the launching of its Artificial Intelligence Research Lab.[145]


The requirements for admission differ between students from Ontario, students from other provinces in Canada, and international students, due to the lack of uniformity in marking schemes. The minimum averages required for these programs are determined each year based on the number and qualification of applicants and the number of available spaces.[146] As of 2016, the secondary school average for first year, full time students at the University of Waterloo was at 90.1 per cent.[147] In 2018, 61.2 per cent of new students at UWaterloo had a high school average equal to or greater than 90 per cent, and 28.2 percent had an average equal to or greater than 95 per cent.[148] However, this proportion varies greatly between programs at the university. The most competitive program is Software Engineering, for which 98.3 per cent of new students had a high school average equal to or greater than 90 per cent, of which 86.3 per cent had an average equal to or greater than 95 per cent.

In the case of admission into the Engineering and Math faculties, there is a large weighting given to the applicant's supplementary application, extracurricular involvement, adjustment factors for individual high schools, and an admissions video interview. Thus, it is possible to receive an offer with an average much lower than the mean admission average.[149] The retention rate of the university's first-time, full-time first-year students in 2016 was 93.9 per cent.[150]

Student life

Demographics of student body (2014–15)[151]
Male 54.8%58.1%
Female 45.2%41.9%
Canadian student 87.7%68.8%
International student 12.3%31.2%


The university's two main student unions are the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association (WUSA) for all undergraduate students,[152] and the Graduate Student Association for graduate students.[153] Founded in 1967, the WUSA operates seven businesses, eight student services, and encompasses nearly 200 clubs. The WUSA also oversees the university's Orientation Week, Welcome Week and other special events and concerts held on campus. The organizations and clubs accredited by the WUSA cover a wide range of interests including academics, culture, religion, social issues, and recreation.[154]

Each of the university's faculties has a student society which represent and provide services for the students in their respective faculties.[155] Services include online exam banks, resume critiques, and technical skills workshops. Some student societies also operate a student deal discount program and one to two shops selling coffee and food at low prices.[156] Each faculty also operates a student-run endowment fund, which fund student design teams, laboratory upgrades, and services for their respective student societies.[157][158] The Waterloo Engineering Endowment Fund is currently the largest, valued at C$17.5 million.[159]

As of January 2015, neither the university administration nor the two main student unions recognize fraternities or sororities.[160] Alpha Epsilon Pi, Pi Kappa Alpha and Sigma Chi operate as non-accredited off-campus fraternities,[161][162][163] and Alpha Omicron Pi and Kappa Kappa Gamma as non-accredited off-campus sororities.[164][165]


The three main student publications on campus are Imprint, the university's official student newspaper,[166] mathNEWS, the Math Society's free-form publication,[167] and The Iron Warrior, the Engineering Society's newspaper.[168] Imprint replaced The Chevron as the official student newspaper in 1979,[169] and publishes a weekly edition during the fall and winter semesters and a biweekly edition in the spring semester. mathNEWS and The Iron Warrior publish biweekly in print and online throughout the year.

The university also operates a campus radio station, CKMS-FM, now known as SoundFM, which was officially incorporated in 1977. In 2008, following several referenda, the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association and the university withdrew financial support for the station and it transitioned to a community radio model.[170]


The university's sports teams are known as the Waterloo Warriors. They participate in the Canadian Interuniversity Sports' Ontario University Athletics conference for most varsity sports. Varsity teams include badminton, baseball, basketball, cross country, curling, field hockey, figure skating, Canadian football, golf, hockey, Nordic skiing, rugby, soccer, squash, swimming, track and field, tennis and volleyball. The athletics program at the university dates back to 1957, when students of Waterloo College Associate Faculties participated in the sports program of Waterloo College (present-day Wilfrid Laurier University). The university had its own independent team when the Associate Faculties officially became the University of Waterloo.[171] The university's varsity teams and the university's recreational sports programs are operated and managed by the Department of Athletics and Recreational Activity.[172]

The university has a number of athletic facilities open to varsity teams and other students. The stadium with the largest seating capacity, seating 5,400 people, is the Warrior Field, which is home to the varsity field hockey and football teams, and hosts the university's recreational flag football and soccer activities.[173] Other facilities include the Physical Activity Complex, which houses two gymnasiums, beach volleyball courts, squash rooms, and a swimming pool, and is also home to the university's varsity badminton, basketball, squash, swimming and volleyball teams.[174] The Columbia Ice Field was constructed in 1983 and houses the university's hockey team home rink, with a seating capacity of 700. The Ice Field has been expanded twice, in 1990 and 2003, and now includes three gyms and a number of fitness centres.[175][176] Including the football field, the university manages seven outdoor playing fields, with Fields 1 and 2 reserved for the varsity soccer and rugby teams, while portions of Field 3 are used as a baseball field. The rest of the fields are used by the university's recreational sports programs.[177]


The University of Waterloo operates a startup incubator for its students, faculty, and alumni called the Velocity program.[178] With no fees or equity, it is the largest free startup incubator in the world.[179] It offers office space for up to 120 startup companies, as well as a wet laboratory, assembly space, workshop, and prototyping lab. The program also provides business mentorship to its resident companies and to Waterloo students as well as partnerships with researchers at the university's main campus. Velocity provides some students and startups with grants, previously valued from C$5,000 to C$25,000. As of 2019, the $25,000 grant was removed and companies in Velocity may now pitch their ideas to instead receive C$50,000 in funding, with equity stakes from investors.[180] Companies that emerged from the Velocity program include Maluuba and North.[181]

In addition to the resources provided by Velocity, alumni regularly receive funding for their startups from United States accelerators.[182] Companies Waterloo alumni have founded with the aid of Silicon Valley accelerator Y Combinator include Pebble[183] and Bufferbox.[184] Y Combinator founder Paul Graham and president Sam Altman have both noted the University of Waterloo has stood out to them more than any other school during Y Combinator applications.[185][186][187]

In 2017, Pitchbook Data ranked the University of Waterloo's undergraduate program fourth for schools that have the greatest number of alumni who have founded unicorn startups.[188] As of the same year, Waterloo students and alumni have raised a cumulative US$3.662 billion in venture capital. The current unicorn startups from Waterloo are Wish, Instacart, Kik Messenger, Pivotal Software, Kuadi Dache, and Storm8.[182]

Insignias and other representations

Coat of Arms

The university's coat of arms was first used by the university in October 1961, but was only officially granted by the Lord Lyon King of Arms in August 1987.[31] It was not registered with the Canadian Heraldic Authority until 15 February 2001.[189] Four variations of the coat of arms existed. The first was used from 1961 to 1996, when the second bright-yellow shield using slightly different shaped lions was introduced. The yellow background was dulled in 2000, and finally, the original lions were reintroduced in 2010 in conjunction with the attempt to replace the use of the coat of arms with a futuristic W logo.[190] The new logo was eventually rejected after student opposition.[191]

The red-on-gold lions on the university's arms were adopted from those of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.[190] The City of Waterloo was named after an area just south of Brussels, Belgium, where the battle occurred.[192] The chevron on the arms was taken from the arms of Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, Field Marshal with the British Army during World War I. The black and white pattern used on the chevron was based on the colours of Prussia, as homage to the German heritage of the area.[190] The City of Kitchener was originally known as Berlin, but was renamed after Earl Kitchener in 1916 during World War I.[192]

Motto and songs

The university's Latin motto is Concordia cum veritate, translated as "In Harmony with Truth". It was introduced along with the university coat of arms in October 1961.[31] A number of songs are commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement, convocation, and athletic contests. The main song of the university is known as the "Black and White and Gold". The words were written by K. D. Fryer and H. F. Davis, while the music was composed by Alfred Kunz.[193]

Notable alumni and faculty

Over 163,000 people have graduated from the university, and now reside in over 140 countries.[10][194] Waterloo graduates have accumulated a number of awards, such as George Elliott Clarke, recipient of the Governor General's Award; William Reeves, recipient of an Academy Award, and a number of Rhodes Scholarships.[195][196][197] Two members of the university have received the Nobel Prize. In 1999, Robert Mundell was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work in monetary dynamics and optimum currency areas.[198] In 2018, university faculty member Donna Strickland was awarded Nobel Prize in Physics for her work in laser physics.[199]

A number of business leaders have worked or studied at Waterloo. Examples include David I. McKay, president and CEO of the Royal Bank of Canada, Kevin O’Leary, founder of SoftKey, John Baker, founder of Desire2Learn,[200] David Cheriton, co-founder and chief scientist of Arista Networks,[201] Mike Lazaridis, co-founder and former co-CEO of Research In Motion (now BlackBerry Ltd),[202] Prem Watsa, chairman of Fairfax Financial and the current chancellor of the university,[203] Steven Woods, co-founder of NeoEdge Networks and[204] and co-founders of Waterloo Maple, Keith Geddes and Gaston Gonnet.[205] Gonnet was also the co-founder of OpenText Corporation.[206] Several faculty members and students have also gained local and national prominence in government. David Johnston, the former president of Waterloo, served as the 28th Governor General of Canada from 2010 to 2017.[207]

A number of the university's faculty and students have also gained prominence in the field of computing sciences. Examples include QNX operating systems co-creators Gordon Bell and Dan Dodge,[208] Rasmus Lerdorf, the creator of the PHP scripting language,[209] Matei Zaharia, the creator of Apache Spark, Gordon Cormack, the co-creator of the Dynamic Markov compression algorithm,[210] Ric Holt, co-creator of several programming languages, most notably Turing,[211] and Jack Edmonds, a computer scientist, and developer of the Blossom algorithm, and the Edmonds' algorithm.[212]

Graduates from the university have also risen to prominence in other fields. Heather Moyse, a graduate from the kinesiology program, is a prominent Canadian athlete and two-time Olympic bobsleigh gold medalist.[213] Moyse has represented Canada in international bobsleigh, rugby and track cycling competitions.[214] Graduate of the Rhetoric and Professional Writing program, Rupi Kaur is a Canadian poet, writer, illustrator.[215] Her book of poetry, Milk and Honey, has spent over a year on The New York Times' bestsellers list, reaching #1 in January 2017.[216]

On October 2, 2018, Donna Strickland, an associate professor at the Physics and Astronomy Department, was awarded the Nobel prize in physics. Strickland is the third woman to have ever been awarded the prize in physics.[217] This was the first Nobel prize for a member of the university's faculty.[218] Strickland was honoured for being half of the team to discover chirped pulse amplification, a technique that underpins today's short-pulse, high-intensity lasers.[219][220] Scientific American explained the practical aspects of the invention as it applies in the most noteworthy application: it allows for "ultrabrief, ultrasharp beams can be used to make extremely precise cuts, so their technique is now used in laser machining and enables doctors to perform millions of corrective" laser eye surgeries.[221]

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Further reading

  • McLaughlin, Kenneth (2007). Out of the Shadow of Orthodoxy: Waterloo@50. University of Waterloo. ISBN 978-0-9682827-3-1.
  • McLaughlin, Kenneth (1997). Waterloo: The Unconventional Founding of an Unconventional University. University of Waterloo. ISBN 0-9682827-0-9.
  • McLean, Celia (1982). University of Waterloo 1957–1982: The Twenty-fifth Anniversary Year Begins. University of Waterloo.
  • Scott, James (1967). Of Mud and Dreams: University of Waterloo 1957–1967. Ryerson Press.
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