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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Do I need to be seeking a degree to take online education courses?
  2. What if I've been away from school and my study skills are rusty?
  3. What is a "unit"?
  4. If I want a degree in Arts, do I have to choose a major?
  5. Are the standards for admission to the University the same for students wanting to take online/distance education courses as for those in on-campus courses?
  6. Must I take 100-level courses in my first year, 200-level in my second year, etc.?
  7. How long does it take to complete a degree online?
  8. How much time do I need to set aside for working on a course?
  9. Will I receive transfer credit from my previous academic work?
  10. Will my degree indicate that I have completed it online?

Answers

1. Do I need to be seeking a degree to take online education courses?

No. If you want to pursue specific interests without seeking a degree, you can take individual courses as a non-degree or post-degree student. However, normal admission requirements must be met. You must apply for admission to the University in the usual way and pay the appropriate tuition.

2. What if I've been away from school and my study skills are rusty?

You're not alone if you feel this way. Many adult students are concerned about their study and learning skills, feeling that they may need some brushing up because of a lack of recent practice. Waterloo offers a number of services to help prospective students "get started again". Our Student Success Office can help you in many different ways.

3. What is a "unit"?

A unit is the credit value associated with a course. Unit weights are used in the calculation of averages for academic standing. Most courses have unit weights of 0.5, but some have weights such as 0.25, 1.0, 2.0.

4. If I want a degree in Arts, do I have to choose a major?

No. Many students don't major in a specific discipline. If you don't wish to choose a specific major, you can proceed to a Liberal Studies academic plan. If you do wish to specialize, you may wish to declare a major where more specific requirements will be set by the discipline. If you have specific questions, contact the Arts Undergraduate Recruitment Coordinator.

5. Are the standards for admission to the University the same for students wanting to study online as for those wanting to study on-campus?

Yes, the admission requirements are the same. To find out the specific admission requirements for your faculty of interest, please see the individual faculty admission requirements for Arts or Science.

6. Must I take 100-level courses in my first year, 200-level in my second year, etc.?

While this is not necessary, it is generally required that a 100-level course be completed before moving on to a 200-level course and so on. Courses do not have to be taken in any special order unless there is a prerequisite or unless a major plan demands a certain sequencing. You may take a course at the 200 level or above as long as you have the specified prerequisite.

7. How long does it take to complete a degree online?

Many students take 2 courses each term (fall, winter, spring), completing a degree in 5 years; some take 1 course in each term, finishing in 10 years; others start as a part-time student and later finish a degree by enrolling full-time. Whichever pace is right for you, keep your other obligations in mind and do not overburden yourself to the point of discouragement.

8. How much time should I set aside for each course?

Since the number and weight of assignments and readings vary considerably among courses, the amount of time you need to spend will vary too. You may find that while you already possess quite a lot of background knowledge in some subjects, you may have very little in others, perhaps necessitating further preparatory or remedial work. In making up your study schedule, you should also leave time for writing essays and preparing for examinations. Most people need about 10 to 12 hours a week per course. Ordinarily you should expect to spend more time on an advanced-level course.

9. Will I receive transfer credit from my previous academic work?

When you apply for admission to a degree program at Waterloo, the Admissions Committee looks at your post-secondary transcripts, not only for admission purposes, but for transfer credit as well. Individual faculty policies regarding transfer credits can be found in the individual faculty admission requirements for Arts and Science.

10. Will my degree indicate that I have completed it through online education?

No. Degrees and transcripts granted by the University of Waterloo do not indicate that courses or programs were completed online.