University of Waterloo | The Canadian Encyclopedia


University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo is a public research university whose main campus is located in Waterloo, Ontario. Founded in 1957, the institution received its Ontario charter in 1959. It began as a nondenominational engineering and science faculty associated with the University of Western Ontario.
University of Waterloo
Dana Porter Arts Library at the University of Waterloo, June 2009. "A Sculpture Enviroment" (1970) by Ron Baird is visible in the foreground.
University of Waterloo
Nanotechnology Building

Faculties and Campuses

The university has six faculties: Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Engineering, Environment, Mathematics, and Science. It has four campuses in Ontario (the main campus in Waterloo; the School of Architecture in Cambridge; the Health Sciences campus in Kitchener; and a Digital Media campus in Stratford) and an Engineering campus in the United Arab Emirates. The Waterloo campus includes four affiliated university colleges: St. Jerome’s University, St. Paul’s University College, Conrad Grebel University College and Renison University College.


The university pioneered co-operative education in Canada. It has a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, nurtured in part through a creator-owned intellectual property policy and programs like VeloCity, an on-campus commercialization incubator for student entrepreneurs.

Waterloo was the first university in the world to establish a faculty of mathematics and is a world-leader in cryptography research. The university is also home to Canada’s only English-language school of optometry; the world’s largest concentration of quantum information research; Canada’s largest engineering faculty; the largest actuarial science program in North America; and the world’s first kinesiology department. The Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum Nano Centre is home to quantum information and nanotechnology research.


In the 2015–16 academic year, the university had an enrollment of more than 31,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. It counts more than 189,000 alumni in 152 countries around the world. Waterloo also has partnership agreements with institutions in China (Suzhou), Brazil (Campinas), United Kingdom (Bristol and Cambridge), France (Bordeaux) and Germany (Duisburg-Essen).

Esteemed faculty and alumni include: Mike Lazaridis, founder of Research In Motion; John Baker, founder of Desire2Learn; Maria Soklis, chief operating officer of Kia Canada; David Cheriton, co-founder of Arista Networks; Eric Migicovsky, creator of the Pebble smart watch; Nobel Prize winner Robert Mundell (economics); Killam Prize winners Mark Zanna, Ming Li, and the late William Tutte; George Elliott Clarke, Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate; and David Lloyd Johnston, former university president and 28th governor general of Canada. In 2018, physicist Donna Strickland was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for her work on the development of laser technology.

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