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Five astounding facts about the University of Waterloo

Five incredible facts highlight the unique value the University of Waterloo presents to employers.

The University of Waterloo is a highly respected post-secondary school in our community with a reputation for educating some of the world’s most talented computer science and engineering graduates.

The New York Times has called it “one of the world’s top technology schools” and it has been ranked the “most innovative university in Canada” by Maclean’s Magazine almost thirty times!

Editor’s Note: this post was originally published July 2019. Since then, it has been updated to include recent information and links.

Some of UWaterloo’s most famous and influential alumni include BlackBerry founder, Mike Lazaridis, Engineers without Borders co-founder, Parker Mitchell, and Vitalik Buterin, who co-founded Ethereum and Bitcoin Magazine. Add Donna Strickland to that list too, who won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics and was the first woman to receive the award since 1963.

Besides these claims to fame, here are five other astounding facts that show just how special UWaterloo is.

1. Almost half of UWaterloo students have a 95%+ entry average.

That’s not a typo – in 2022, 41.5% of all new students at the UWaterloo achieved an average equal to or greater than 95% in secondary school.

Another 30% had an entry average in the 90-94% range, which means that well over two-thirds of all new students are A+ performers. 

Impressive, but it gets even better. If you look at engineering students, the number increases to 63% of all students with a 95%+ entry average and 92% of all new students entering UWaterloo with a 90%+ average. In mathematics, which includes computer science, those numbers increase to 71% and 95%, respectively. Finally, for software engineering, 88% of new students held a 95%+ entry average.

These entry averages are notable in a vacuum, but they become even more remarkable in comparison with other post-secondary institutions in Ontario. In 2020, UWaterloo had the highest proportion of students entering with a 95%+ average (at 38%), with the next closest being the University of Western Ontario with 25%.

So, if your business is looking to establish a talent pipeline of brilliant new graduates, UWaterloo is a great place to start.

This interactive table from UWaterloo’s Performance Indicators page demonstrates entry averages in each Faculty/Program since 2014.

2. UWaterloo is home to the largest concentration of math and computer science talent in the world

Source: The Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre at the University of Waterloo.


Yes, the world.

UWaterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics has 250 lecturers and professors and 8,000 students studying everything from computer science, data science and artificial intelligence to pure and applied mathematics. The faculty’s size provides a breadth and depth of study that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Read our five charts blog comparing UWaterloo computer science program to New York top tech schools.

While mathematics has a reputation for being esoteric, advances in computer science, machine learning, artificial intelligence and security are revolutionizing the tech industry and the world today. The Waterloo tech ecosystem itself was built on the back of math graduates, including Mike Lazaridis, who studied computer science (along with electrical engineering) before founding BlackBerry.

The ecosystem’s strengths in security and artificial intelligence are derived directly from the relative strengths of UWaterloo, which led to the formation of the Waterloo Artificial Intelligence Institute and Waterloo Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute.

Mathematics is also driving the next generation of technology – quantum technologies – through the Institute for Quantum Computing, which is one of the world’s leading quantum experimentation centres and a key part of the Waterloo quantum ecosystem.

If innovation is on your agenda, look no further! UWaterloo mathematics has one of the world’s deepest talent pools filled with highly skilled individuals that can help your business grow.

3. UWaterloo has the #1 co-op program in Canada

You heard that right! In a country with 96 universities, UWaterloo provides the best co-operative experience (co-op) for students and employers in Canada.

It’s not so surprising to learn that UWaterloo is home to the largest co-op program in North America. In 2021, UWaterloo students completed an average of 23,500 work terms and 7,000+ employers from around the world are actively recruiting UWaterloo co-op students.

What’s co-op? Co-op students alternate study terms with paid work terms and graduate with up to two years of relevant job experience. For employers, this means highly trained, lower-cost workers with the most up-to-date education imaginable. We wrote a whole blog post about it the reasons co-op is useful to companies looking to grow and innovate.

Looking for new talent? Hire a UWaterloo co-op graduate with hands-on work experience. You won’t regret it!

Did you know?

In 2021, 95% of co-op students were rated very good to outstanding by their employers during their employment.

4. The UWaterloo Engineering school is Canada’s largest

With just under 10,500 students enrolled in 15 undergraduate and 37 graduate degree programs, UWaterloo is Canada’s largest engineering school. Each year, they graduate the largest number of engineers at both the undergraduate and graduate level in Canada.

It’s the school’s breadth and depth that puts it on the map. As you might expect from such a large program, the university offers programs across the engineering spectrum, including traditional fields like civil, computer and chemical engineering. Emerging or future-focused programs like mechatronics, nanotechnology, software and systems design are also offered.

UWaterloo’s engineering faculty includes 55 Research Chairs working on everything from wireless systems and future internet to additive manufacturing and clean energy. Together, they work in more than a dozen research centres and institutes, including Canada’s largest university-based automotive research centre and institutes studying new polymers, nanotechnology and sustainable energy.

The high global ranking also reflects the quality of engineering students at UWaterloo – as noted in the previous section, 92% of all new engineering students have an entry average above 90% – as well as their work-readiness – all engineering students graduate with 2+ years of on-the-job experience through co-operative education.

5. UWaterloo has been the “Top Comprehensive Research University in Canada” for 15 consecutive years

You read that correctly. For the last 15 years Research Infosource Inc. has named UWaterloo as the top comprehensive university in Canadian research with a whopping $211M of sponsored research income. UWaterloo is also in the top 15 best research universities in Canada 2022.

Research Infosource rankings considers “the superior performance on key measures of research success.” UWaterloo attributes its success to the hard work from their employees, students and community who seek research opportunities to tackle the world’s greatest challenges.

“Waterloo researchers excel in fundamental and applied research conducted in a unique environment that integrates experiential education and entrepreneurship. Our research advances society with impact across the economy, advancing the use of emerging critical technologies with application in areas such as sustainability and health with local and global impact.” – Vivek Goel, President and Vice Chancellor, University of Waterloo

Additionally, UWaterloo is home to the largest robotics and automation research in Canada dedicated in learning and evolving research methods. Many of there current projects involve AI and robots to improve the efficiency of the medical, and education industry. Recently, UWaterloo has partnered with nuclear safety to research clean energy.

Ready to re-locate to Waterloo?

Take full advantage of UWaterloo’s incredible talent pipeline and research capacity.