At over 100 years old, Wilfried Laurier University is among the oldest of all the universities in Ontario alongside the University of Toronto, Western University, and McMaster University. The university is spread across four campuses in Waterloo, Brantford, Milton, and Kitchener. Your choice of program or degree will play a role in which campus you attend, as the Waterloo campus is where a majority of the school’s faculties are located. The Kitchener, Brantford and Milton campuses are the latest additions to WLU and host the school’s social work, applied sciences, and computer technology faculties. This article will explore what makes Wilfrid Laurier University a distinctive school among post-secondary institutions in Ontario, and give you strategies for how to get into university in Ontario, and elsewhere. 

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Article Contents
14 min read

Mission Statement Admissions Statistics Selection Factors Applicant Background Summary (ABS) Tuition and Financial Aid List of Notable Majors at Wilfrid Laurier University Campuses and Faculty Contact Information FAQs

Mission Statement

“Wilfrid Laurier University is devoted to excellence in learning, research, scholarship and creativity. It challenges people to become engaged and aware citizens of an increasingly complex world. It fulfils its mission by advancing knowledge, supporting and enhancing high-quality undergraduate, graduate and professional education, and emphasizing co-curricular development of the whole student.” 

“Challenge” is not a word you see often in any university’s mission statement. But it should serve as a sign that you need to put everything you have into applying, and, if accepted, your studies. To this end, the school offers over 100 different undergraduate degree, certificate, and diploma programs that you can combine into major/minor degrees or some other combination to challenge yourself.

Want to learn 7 most important and easy ways to make your college essay stand out? Watch this video:

Admissions Statistics

Percentage of Admitted Ontario Students: 61%

Percentage of Admitted Canadian Students: 57%

Percentage of International Students: 4%

Number of Applications: 25,663

Number of Admitted Students:

Acceptance Rate: 61%

Average GPA of Admitted Students: 77-98%

Selection Factors

Minimum Grade Average to Apply: n/a

If you’re thinking about what you need to get into your preferred program at WLU, you have to check the program’s individual requirements to make sure you meet or exceed them. Getting accepted into universities in Canada is not as competitive or high-stakes as it for colleges in the US, where students spend months, if not years, preparing their applications, hiring college admissions consulting firms and writing countless college essays.

Applying to universities in Canada is more based on academic performance as demonstrated by your grade average after finishing high school in Ontario, the rest of Canada or anywhere else in the world. If you’re an Ontario applicant, you only need to have:

  • Completed high school in Ontario
  • Completed at least one English course with a 60% grade average
  • Completed at least five or six Grade 12 courses with an average of 70%

If you’re applying as an out-of-province applicant, you need to meet the requirements for applicants from your province, which are not that different from those for Ontario students, such as:

  • Completed five or six Grade 12 courses (English, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Calculus, etc.)
  • Completed at least one year in a pre-university program (for Quebec applicants)

For a majority of programs at WLU, international students need only apply with their official transcript and demonstrate English language proficiency in a variety of ways from completing the last three years of full-time study in English without taking English as a Second Language (ESL).

Applicant Background Summary (ABS)

Even though applying to WLU, and most universities in Canada, does not require you to submit supplemental college application essays, you still have the option to do so. In fact, WLU has even created a unique form – the Applicant Background Summary form – for this express purpose: to give the admissions committee a better idea of who you are as a student, community leader and person through a series of questions that you can answer in essay format.

The school recommends that you do this if you feel like your transcripts offer only a narrow view of your academic potential, as it is a good way to get into college with a low GPA. In fact, it is strongly recommended if your grade average is anywhere near the minimum or even slightly above 70% and in the low 80s, as you may have a hard time getting solely on the strength of your grades.

There are two options you can choose to “strengthen your application” at Wilfrid Laurier University:

  • Applicant Background Summary form
  • Special Cases or Extenuating Circumstances

You can do them both, but you cannot use the same story, material or experiences for both; they each have to be distinct. Basically, the ABS is similar to medical school secondary essay prompts, where you are asked questions about your background or asked to describe your experiences related to your desire to study at Wilfrid Laurier University, and beyond.

The Special Cases or Extenuating Circumstances option is simply a personal statement outlining what obstacles you have faced during high school or in your life, if you are applying as a mature student that have adversely affected your grades, career or ability to excel academically. Many former applicants, now students at WLU, say that the personal statement helped them get in. It has to do with the say WLU admits students.

It’s no secret that if your grades are very high, you will be sent an offer. But if you’re grades are not that great, and you are qualified in other ways, the admissions committee will review you ABS or personal statement to make a final decision on your application. This either means you will be placed on a college waitlist or given an offer.

If you want to submit either (and we strongly recommend you do, even if your grades are excellent) you can access the ABS form on the applicant portal, under the My Applications tab. You fill out the form online and submit it there as well. For the extenuating circumstances personal statement, you can also access the form and upload your statement through the applicant portal. But make sure you do either on time, as there are separate deadlines to submit either (December 1) so they can be considered along with the rest of your application.

Applicant Background Summary Prompts

Briefly tell us how the Laurier academic program(s) you have chosen will help you towards any future career plans and aspirations you may have (2000 characters)

  1. Please list any extracurricular activities or employment experience you have which you think demonstrates good citizenship and leadership qualities. These could include school involvement, volunteer experience, work experience, involvement in athletics or the arts, participation in student exchange or leadership programs, or other activities which show your leadership and innovation skills. You can respond to this question in bulleted/point form. (Max. 2000 characters)
  2. Please list any awards or recognitions you have received for your academic and/or extracurricular achievement. This could include completion of a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) or enrolment in specialized programs, courses or curriculum. (Max. 2000 characters)
  3. Briefly explain a time where you demonstrated leadership that yielded a positive result. (Max. 2000 characters)
  4. Laurier is known for being an actively-engaged community of students, staff and faculty who volunteer, participate and give back to our community, both on and off campus. Briefly describe how you will contribute to the local and/or Laurier community as a student here. (Max. 2000 characters)

Applicant Background Summary Sample Answer Prompt #1

Growing up, I saw first-hand how social work impacted, in a positive way, the life of a childhood friend who faced abuse at home because he was gay. A dedicated social worker stepped in and helped my friend find a safe place to stay, a job, and a free bus pass so they could get to work.

I remember how she even made me feel safe because she was so certain, and knowledgeable; any question or concern my friend had, she answered calmly and reassuringly. I think this is what made me want to follow in her footsteps.

When I told my guidance counsellor about this, she mentioned Laurier's Social Work program emphasizes social justice and community engagement in the curriculum, which are two things I want to pursue as a social worker - working with vulnerable people like my friend. Through my friend’s experience I learned that LGBTQ youth are more at-risk homelessness, anxiety, depression and loneliness due to their sexual orientation.

This is something I want to change. I see myself making a difference in the lives of LGBTQ youth, providing them with a safe and supportive environment to thrive. My long-term goal is to pursue a master's degree in social work, so I have the knowledge and expertise needed to overcome the challenges faced by this vulnerable group.

I believe Laurier's esteemed Social Work program can give me the essential skills and knowledge to become an effective and compassionate social worker. I am excited about the opportunity to contribute to creating positive change in the lives of others and making a real impact on the social welfare of my community.

Applicant Background Summary Sample Answer Prompt #4

During my time with the YMCA Youth Leadership Program in Toronto, I had an amazing experience that helped me grow as a person. And I almost didn’t finish the first day! I was nervous and shy, and I didn't really want to join the program. On the first day, I was so overwhelmed.

But then, this girl named Nadia came over and talked to me. She was really nice and told me to stick around. She said we could support each other and get through it together. Her kindness really helped me feel more comfortable and confident.

Nadia and I found out we both care a lot about making our community better. So, we decided to start a community garden in one of the neighborhoods that needed some help. It wasn't easy, though. We had to find money, get people on board, and figure out all the details. But we didn't give up. We talked to local businesses and got volunteers to help out.

We designed fliers and posted them all over the neighborhood. We went to the churches and mosques and other places of worship to get the word out to as many people as possible. We weren’t sure if people were going to show on the first day, but we me and Nadia got there, we saw a lot of people. We worked hard all day long and turned an empty lot into a beautiful garden that everyone could use.

The best part was seeing how much the garden meant to the community. It became a permanent part of the neighborhood, and everyone felt proud of it. Being part of the YMCA program and creating the garden showed me that when people work together, they can make a big difference. I learned that I have the power to make positive changes in my community, and that's something I want to keep doing in the future.

Special Cases or Extenuating Circumstances Personal Statement

Experiencing the sudden loss of my grandmother and uncle in such a short time was really tough. I was overwhelmed with grief, and it was hard to handle. I was too depressed to even go to school or study, but no one said anything because my parents were also dealing with their grief; my mother especially. She had lost the people closest to her and she was devastated.

Seeing how much my mother was suffering made me want to do something positive for her. So, I set a goal of getting into Wilfrid Laurier University. I knew it would bring some hope to my family. But my grades weren't the best, so I had to work hard to improve them. I took online courses and went to summer school, putting in a lot of effort.

But it helped me in other ways. Studying became a way for me to deal with my feelings. It helped me focus and turn my pain into something positive. Every time I learned something new, it felt like an achievement beyond just grades. It showed that I could overcome tough times and that challenges in life can make you grow. Grieving taught me that it's okay to be vulnerable and to lean on loved ones.

However, even with all my efforts, I’m still not sure that my grades can carry me through, which is why I’m writing this letter. But even if I don’t get in, I will still carry the lessons from my grief with me. I'm thankful for the chance to pursue my dreams and help my family heal. There might still be tough moments, but I know I can face them with strength, knowing that I've become stronger through my journey.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition for Canadian Students: $9,454 (program-dependent)

Tuition for International Students: $47,149 – $63,995 (all expenses included)

WLU calls itself a multi-campus university but those campuses are all in suburban areas so, unless you live close by, you’ll have to choose a residence on-campus, which will increase your costs. But, WLU has many different programs, from bursaries to scholarships, designed to help ease the burden to you and your family. You can also apply for financial assistance from both the federal and provincial government in Ontario through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to cover the costs of your tuition and other learning-related expenses.

But, if you are accepted into WLU, you should fill out the entrance bursary application, which the school will review to see whether you are eligible for any entrance bursaries or scholarships. One of these bursaries is based on your grade average, meaning, the higher your grade average the more the reward will be, so you have even more reason now to get your grade average up.

Once in school, you can apply for jobs on campus at any of the school’s various departments, or at one of the businesses operating on campus. In your later years, you can also apply for a co-op program that will pair you with an outside business that is related to your field. Even though this co-op placement will give you credit toward completing your degree, you can also earn an income.

1. Entrance Scholarships/Bursaries

The good thing about these awards is that you do not have to apply to them separately. Your eligibly is your grade average, but you must also be entering as a full-time student, and have never been to a post-secondary institution before attending Laurier. The school will calculate and decide whether you will receive an entrance bursary or scholarship, which you do not have to pay back. The amount of the scholarship is determined by your grade average, so the higher your average, the more you’ll receive. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 80 - 85% - $1,000
  • 85 - 90% - $2,500
  • 90 – 95% - $3,000

2. President’s Gold Scholarships

The President’s Gold Scholarship is also an entrance award, and you don’t have to apply, but you must have a grade average at or higher than 95%. That is the only requirement, but what’s good about this scholarship is that it is renewable for the remainder of your time at Laurier, only if you maintain that high grade average every year. You must also be enrolled full-time and take at least five full credits in every successive year to maintain the annual award of $4000.

3. Laurier Scholars Award

This is one scholarship that you do have to apply to, but the reward will be worth it, as these scholarships will cover your tuition for every year you are at Laurier. Only seven applicants will be selected for the $40,000 prize and you have to submit various materials, such as a personal statement, recommendation letters, and even participate in an interview. The total amount is broken down into 4 x $7500 awards per year, and a single $10,000 experiential learning award that you can use to fund any extracurricular work you are interested.

List of Notable Majors at Wilfrid Laurier University

There are over 100 different degree programs that you can apply to at Wilfrid Laurier University. You can choose a single degree option, or choose from the various minor and options to pair with a major to diversify your education and give you better preparation to enter graduate school, if you want to earn either a Master’s or a PhD. There are ten different faculties within the school, ranging from the Faculty of Arts to the Faculty of Music and Laurier’s on-campus seminary, Martin Luther University, which is the original university founded on the grounds of the Waterloo campus.

Faculty of Arts

North American Studies (BA in Combination)

The North American Studies is one of the many combination programs available at Wilfrid Laurier University that you can take with another program, either a minor, or a double major. You can choose from any similar minor or options from the following:

  • Communication
  • English
  • Film Studies
  • Global Studies
  • Women and Gender Studies

Given the program’s interdisciplinary nature, you can also choose to enroll in language (French, Spanish) courses to strengthen your expertise in the field, as well as take translation courses to improve your ability to understand non-English texts. But one of the unique advantages of this course – although other degree programs also offer it – is the opportunity to study abroad in either Mexico or the US by your second or third year. You only need a minimum 70% grade average to enter, and a single English course with at least a 60% average.

Lazaridis School of Business and Economics

Business Administration (BBA)

This is one Wilfrid Laurier University’s most competitive programs, even for undergraduates, as the requirements are much harder than for other arts or science programs. To get into the program, you need the following:

  • 70% in Advanced Functions
  • 70% in English
  • 60% in Calculus and Vectors or Data Management

If you want to be a competitive candidate you should have a grade average at 90 or higher to be considered. If you do get in, you’ll have some of the best business minds as your teachers, as the school is often rated as having one of the best MBA programs in Canada, and attracts some of the best talent in the country, and from around the world. You’ll also have several co-op opportunities to choose from in later years, but even during your first year, you’ll still be involved in creating business plans and working in teams to flex your entrepreneurial muscles.

Faculty of Music

Music (BMus)

WLU is well-known for its music program, which is often at the top of the best music programs in Canada according to Canadian universities rankings. Getting into this program is also competitive and has many more admissions requirements than most other undergraduate programs at Laurier, such as:

  • An audition and an interview
  • Minimum 75% average for all your Grade 12 courses
  • Minimum 60% average for Grade 12 English
  • A hearing and theory test

Again, getting into this program comes with number of benefits and advantages. WLU has invested heavily into its music department and there are several performance spaces, rehearsal rooms, recording studios and music libraries throughout the campus. You’ll also be taught by both professional and expert-level musicians and others involved in the music and recording industry. You can also join any number of ensemble groups, both student-run and professional, as a student.

Faculty of Human and Social Sciences

Policing (BA in Combination)

This program is yet another where you must combine it with either a minor or any program in a related field, which for this subject could be anything from criminology and sociology to psychology and Indigenous studies. The breadth of this program is also interesting as it goes beyond quasi-police training to give you a more in-depth understanding of the law, public policy, human rights, and criminal psychology. The admission requirements are not that stringent and you only need to:

  • Complete five Grade 12 courses with a minimum 70% average
  • Complete a single Grade 12 English course with 60% or higher

There is also a research component tied to this degree, and you can explore several options thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of this program. You can also participate in several community service-learning initiatives (from working at a shelter and food bank to working with disadvantaged children), but this facet is not tied directly to the Policing program. You can do these activities in any major, but, depending on your major, they will be tailored to your specific program.

Campuses and Faculty

WLU has made enormous strides to expand throughout its 100-year history, and it continues to do so, as a new campus has opened in Milton, Ontario, which has been in the works for almost a decade. The original campus in Waterloo has also seen its share of expansion, and it currently houses 17,000 students in residence, and is also where a majority of the school’s most prominent programs are housed.

The school has also opened multiple campuses in Brantford and Kitchener, with the latter being where the School of Social Work was relocated almost a decade ago. As each of the school’s campuses is located in suburban, residential areas, a majority of Wilfrid Laurier University students live in many of the residence buildings built-into the three different campuses.

Contact Information

Wilfrid Laurier University

Recruitment and Admissions

75 University Avenue West

Waterloo, Ontario

N2L 3C5


[email protected]


1. What is the mission of Wilfrid Laurier University?

The mission of Wilfrid Laurier University is to challenge its students to achieve their goals and fulfill their potential. The school lets you explore a variety of programs, through its combination degrees and provides the support (financial, academic) to help you reach those goals. 

2. What are the GPA requirements to get into Wilfrid Laurier University?

The GPA requirements to get into Wilfrid Laurier University are a minimum of 60% grade average from your last two years of high school if you are an Ontario or Canadian applicant. But each program at WLU has its own requirements so you should make sure you know them before you apply. 

3. Is it hard to get into Wilfrid Laurier University?

It might not be hard to get into some programs at Laurier, but it depends on the program you are applying to. For example, the bachelor of business administration and music program are both competitive and have thousands of applicants each year. But other, traditional liberal arts programs will not be that difficult to get into, if you meet the requirements. You can also apply as other student types, as the school will also accept your application if you are a mature, Indigenous or home-schooled student. 

4. Is Wilfrid Laurier University a good school?

Yes, Wilfrid Laurier University is a good school for a number of reasons. It is often ranked in the top 6% of all post-secondary institutions in the world, and its graduates often have little problem finding employment afterward, as the school boasts a near-perfect 94% employment rate. 

5. What are the qualities that Wilfrid Laurier University looks for?

While the school only asks for transcripts for your application, the fact that you can send additional documents means the school looks at your entire history and experience to make admission decisions. If you want to explain why your grades are not great, you can send a personal statement explaining why, which the school often takes into consideration. For other programs, you will need to excel academically and also exhibit leaderships and community service qualities. 

6. Does Wilfrid Laurier University require interviews?

For general admission into the majority of undergraduate programs, no, Laurier does not require interviews. But for more specialized programs, such as music, you will have to both audition and interview. 

7. Does Wilfrid Laurier University have a waitlist?

Yes, Laurier does have a waitlist as it receives thousands of applications each year. You may be placed on the waitlist during the first round of admissions decisions, and this is where it is important to complete the Applicant Background Summary, as it will give the admissions committee more material to make a decision about your application; hopefully, a positive one. 

8. Do I need to submit SAT or ACT scores to Wilfrid Laurier University?

No, you do not need SAT or ACT scores to get into Wilfrid Laurier University. 

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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