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Queen’s Civil Engineering vs Waterloo Civil Engineering vs McMaster’s Civil Engineering

I am an international student from pakistan and I’ve applied to the 3 univeristies for civil engineering. I got acceptance from queen’s university and  the other two decisions are pending. I was wondering which university offers the best program. Queen’s says about having internships in the second and third years for students to familiarize them to field work and experience in the industry. However Waterloo offers a co-op program. Are they one and the same thing? Do we get paid for internships like in  co-op jobs? Which university is the best according to the social life, the program and professional growth? Kinda need an expert opinion on this…

1 Answer

  1. Both co-op and internship are paid positions but the schools charge fees (sometimes a significant amount) to allow you to participate.

    The difference between co-op and internship is usually the length of the work placement with co-op generally being shorter work periods and internship being at least 1 year.

    At Waterloo for Civil you would do 6 x 4 month placements for a total of 2 years of work experience. It’s built into the program (but you have to be admitted to the co-op stream otherwise you can’t participate). You will probably start your first work placement after your second term.

    At Mac co-op is optional and you can choose when you want to do it. Placements for Mac are more flexible. You can choose to do 4 x 4 months = 16 months, 3 x 4 months + 1 x 16 months = 2.25 years, or 4 x 4 months + 1 x 12 months = 2.25 years.

    Queen’s offers an internship program that is optional. If you choose to participate you usually do it after your 3rd year and the placement is 1 x 12-16 months.

    There are upsides and downsides to either format. With co-op you get the opportunity to try out many different types of jobs/employers but, in the case of Waterloo you are constantly having to seek new placements and you are constantly transitioning between work and school which can be a bit of a logistical challenge (finding somewhere to live etc.). Also shorter work placements don’t really allow you to get involved in longer term projects with your employer. Longer placements allow you to get more involved in a project or possibly exposure to multiple areas within an employer, but if you don’t like your placement you are stuck there for the long term. Waterloo’s co-op program gets top marks because they have a really well organized program that attracts top employers and some of their students make a lot of money. I’m not sure how effective Mac and Queen’s are at getting placements for their students. The internship program at Queen’s is only starting to get popular with the students there.

    Which university is best for social life is a subjective thing but most would rate 1) Queen’s, 2) Mac, 3) Waterloo (Waterloo really isn’t known for it’s social life at all).

    Program and professional growth? You can’t go wrong with any of the programs you’ve listed but in terms of employment prospects Waterloo graduates are highly recruited by Silicon Valley type companies. Mac and Queen’s students do OK as well, but Waterloo’s program is basically seen as tops for jobs. Queen’s program has the benefit of really strong supports and the highest graduation rate. From what I’ve heard the program really stresses team work and the students really bond and try to help each other. Both Mac and Queen’s programs have a general first year and then you apply to your specialty (Civil) for second year. At Queen’s your choice is open, meaning you don’t have to compete with your fellow students for a spot (though they have a few limited direct entry spots for Electrical). All you have to do is pass your courses and you will be given whichever discipline you want for 2nd year. Mac offers limited guaranteed choice for incoming students but most will have to meet a specific GPA requirement to get their choice of discipline and admission is competitive. Waterloo is direct admit to your specialty and you start in first year. Those who know exactly what area they want to focus on may prefer direct admit whereas others prefer taking all the streams in first year first before deciding. Waterloo’s program is highly competitive both for admissions and also the students within the program.

    Not to be biased but I mainly applied to B.Sc. Physics programs and only 1 engineering program – Queen’s. I just liked the structure, the focus on team work and co-operation, all the supports they have to make sure you pass your courses and graduate, and was drawn to their Engineering Physics stream (Mac has Engineering Physics too but I just really preferred Queens). I did get admitted to both Mac and Waterloo for Physics but after visiting all 3 schools I liked Queens the most.

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