The University Application Process Explained

By University of Waterloo Modified on December 22, 2020

What you can expect when applying for admission to a Canadian university in Ontario.

What you can expect when applying for admission to an Ontario university.

You've done your research, narrowed down the programs and schools you'll apply to, and it looks like you meet the admission requirements. Like many other students, you may be wondering what's next. Well, now it's time to apply.

Here's a step-by-step overview of what to expect when applying to a university in Ontario.


If you plan to be a full-time student, you'll apply through the Ontario Universities' Application Centre (OUAC) which processes applications for admission to all Ontario universities. International (visa) students will use the OUAC 105 application.

If you're interested in multiple Ontario universities, you can use one OUAC application to apply to all your chosen schools and programs. Each university will have different deadlines so be sure to familiarize yourself with the timelines for the schools you're interested in. Waterloo will accept applications until February 1, 2021.

Universities will respond

The OUAC will send your application to the universities you applied to. In turn, those universities will email you to let you know about what you need to do next. You can expect to hear from Waterloo within two weeks.

You submit documents

All programs will require transcripts as part of the application process. Additional requirements can include English language test scores, an interview, online assessments, math or science contests, and more. The schools you apply to will provide you instructions on what required documents to submit and how to do it.

Universities review applications and send offers

Universities make admission decisions based on your grades and anything else they require for the program(s) you've applied to (which can range from a portfolio of creative work to a video interview or English language test scores). You can expect to hear back from most Ontario universities between January and May.

You could receive an offer of admission for each university or program you applied to. At Waterloo, you'll receive a decision (yes or no) for each program you applied to.

If you're like most students, you'll receive what's called a conditional offer of admission that has certain requirements that need to be met by a certain date (usually over the summer). Conditions can include submitting final transcripts, achieving a specific grade in a required course, having a minimum final average, and sending English language requirements.

Accept your offer

Now, for the final step: if you receive one or more offers of admission, congratulations! It's important to pick the university that best caters to your goals, so here are nine factors to consider when choosing a university. Find out more about how Waterloo can help you reach your goals by learning about what makes Waterloo different from other universities.

When you've made your choice, it's time to accept your offer! You'll go to the OUAC website and accept the offer of admission from the Ontario university you plan to attend. Once you accept, the university you've chosen will email you about what's next, such as choosing courses, residence, paying fees, and more.

While we know this process can seem daunting at first, we hope this guide helped ease your stress. Good luck and hopefully we'll see you at Waterloo next year!

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