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FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How do I study part-time at Waterloo?
  2. If I wish to study part-time at UW, do I have to take a degree?
  3. What if my study skills are rusty?
  4. What is a "unit"?
  5. If I want an arts degree, do I have to choose a major?
  6. As a part-time student, can I take courses in the daytime?
  7. Are the standards for admission to the University as a part-time student different from those for a full-time student?
  8. Must I take 100-level courses in first year, 200-level courses in second year, etc.?
  9. As a UW part-time student, may I take a course at another university and have it count towards my UW degree?
  10. How long does it take to complete a degree when studying part-time?
  11. How much time do I need to set aside for working on a course?
  12. Will I receive transfer credit from my previous academic work?
  13. What about exams and grades?
  14. What if I find that I'm in "over my head"?

1. How do I start part-time studies at UW?
Begin by carefully reviewing the information in this website. You can also visit Waterloo's Admissions page to find additional information.

If you're not sure about which course or program to take,how to get started, or have questions about your level of preparation for university study, call the Part-Time Studies Office at 519-888-4002 or send us an email. We'll help by either by giving you the information you need or by putting you in touch with the best sources for that information.

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2. If I want to study part-time at UW, do I have to take a degree?
No. If you want to pursue specific interests without seeking a degree, you can enrol in courses as a non-degree or post-degree student. However, you must apply for admission to the University and pay the appropriate tuition. Admission requirements must be met. The courses you take on a non-degree or post-degree basis will earn credits which may be used towards a degree should you decide to, and qualify to, enter a degree program at a later date.

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3. What if 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.

UW offers a number of services to help prospective students "get started again". The Student Success Office offers a wide variety of supports, resources and workshops and Counselling Services offers ways to help you cope.

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4. 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.

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5. If I want to obtain a degree in Arts, do I have to choose a major?
No. Many students do not major in a specific discipline. If you don't want to choose a major, you should consider Liberal Studies. For more information visit the Undergraduate Admissions website.

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6. As a part-time student, can I take courses in the daytime?
Yes. Part-time students can take daytime courses. In fact, many part-time students take courses during the day. Check the schedule of classes for course dates and times.

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7. Are the standards for admission to the University as a part-time student different from those for a full-time student?
No. While the application form for part-time studies is different, the admission requirements are the same.

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8. Do I have to take 100-level courses in the first year, 200-level courses in the second year, etc.?
While this is not necessary, it is generally suggested 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 your degree demands a courses be taken in a certain sequence. You may take courses at the 200 level or above as long as you have the specified prerequisites.

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9. As a UW part-time student, may I take a course at another university and have it count towards my UW degree?
Perhaps, but you must get permission first. Complete the Letter of Permission Form on the Registrar's Office website and send it with the non-refundable fee to request permission. Generally, part-time students must have successfully completed four half-credit courses at UW before they are permitted to take courses elsewhere for credit.

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10. How long does it take to complete a degree when studying part-time?
It depends on you. 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. While many are keen to finish as soon as possible, it is best to proceed at a pace that allows you to maintain the average required for your program.

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11. How much time do I need to set aside for a course?
Since the number and weight of assignments and readings varies considerably among courses, the amount of time you need to spend will vary too. As well, 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 you'll need 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 ten to twelve hours a week, including classroom time, to do the work for one course. Ordinarily, you should expect to spend more time on advanced-level courses.

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12. Will I receive transfer credit from my previous academic work?
When you apply for admission to a degree program at UW, 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 Undergraduate Calendar.

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13. What about exams and grades?
Each instructor determines whether a course will have an exam. Visit the Final Examination page on the Registrar's website for additionl information. In some courses, your grade is based on midterm and final exams; in others, it is based on essays and quizzes. Instructors may also take into account your participation in class discussions.

If you have not taken an exam in a number of years, you may wish to check out the resources offered by the Student Success Office.

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14. What if I find that I'm in "over my head"?
If this happens, don't become discouraged, and don't lose sight of your ultimate goal. The course instructor can help with course-related difficulties. As well, every faculty has student advisors available to help you. Waterloo Counselling Services may also be of help.

If it becomes necessary to drop a course, review the instructions on Quest. Note that if you are enrolled in only one course, and you want to drop it, you'll have to complete an Undergraduate Notice of Withdrawal form.

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