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McMaster University

Undergraduate Advising

ALWAYS use the complete course code (CompEng 3DR4 or ElecEng 2EI5...).

If your question is not answered on this page, please direct your inquiry to ECE's UG Administrative Assistant. Email is the most efficient method of service. Provide:

  • your full name
  • your Student/Person ID number
  • your Level and Program (include "CoOp", "Mgmt" or "Society" if applicable)
  • a relative Subject Line (i.e. "Conflict between * and * "), along with your name
  • details of your question (oftentimes a problem is the result of a failed course, so please inform us if that is the case).
  • attaching a copy of your Academic Advisement Report or Unofficial Transcript will assist a quick answer.


Completing your degree requirements:

  • Two things assist you in obtaining the necessary courses and credits to graduate - your Academic Advisement Report, and the Undergraduate Calendar from the year you started your program (not the current year Calendar). Follow those! Further information about Electives can be found here.
  • If you have any concern with your Academic Advisement Report, or need help with your degree requirements, please contact Sally Williams in the Engineering Student Service's office.
  • If you wish to speak to someone regarding your program or courses, please contact your Program Advisor for an appointment:

Electrical Engineering Advisors: Dr. Peter Smith , Dr. JK Zhang , Dr. Terry Todd

Computer Engineering Advisors: Fall Term = Dr. Ted Szymanski, Winter Term = Dr. Sorina Dumitrescu

Biomedical Engineering Advisors: Fall Term = Dr. Mike Noseworthy, Winter Term = Dr. Ian Bruce


Enrolling & Schedules:

  • Enrol in June at your assigned appointment time! Leaving it late may mean you can't get into a course you want, or a section you want, or perhaps you'll have some conflicts to deal with!
  • Look for all of the sections that are offered by clicking on the View All or Next Page / arrow buttons.
  • If you find that a Required course is full contact the department administrator immediately!
  • Sometimes more than 1 request has to be submitted (i.e. an Overload Request does not include either a Permission or Conflict approval, and a Conflict approval does not include a prerequisite waiver).
  • Processing Time: Requests pass through the hands of a few people, some of whom may be on vacation in the summer months, so please allow time for processing. Your request will be processed as soon as possible.

Conflicts: Check the possibility of getting into a different section to eliminate the conflict. If you have a schedule conflict with 2 Required courses, please contact the department. If you have a conflict that involves an Elective, you must find one that fits into your Personal Schedule. If you have a conflict that cannot be resolved by the above, complete the ECE Conflict form and follow the ECE process.

Overloads: If you wish to take more than the maximum number of units in a Term (21 / according to your Academic Advisement Report), you may request an Overload. This involves 2 forms (ECE Overload form and Engineering Permission form) and 2 supporting documents (transcript and Academic Advising Report). Because our programs are very demanding, overloading is not always allowed - it may be denied if it is not in your best interest. Generally, for students with a GPA of 9.4 or lower, overload requests of more than 2 units are not granted.

Prerequisites: If you do not have a prerequisite for a course, you may request permission to take the course without the prerequisite (waive the prerequisite). You must justify why you should be allowed to take that course without the required prior knowledge. Please complete & follow the ECE Permission form. (Except for CompEng 3DQ5 - see below.)

Permission: When you see a message saying that you need Permission, it could be because you don't have the prerequisite course, or that the course is restricted to students in a certain program or level. When permission is required to enroll in a course outside of your own department, you must submit your request to the department that offers the course (please refer to their website for their process).

CompEng 3DQ5: Exception to Permission / Prerequisite process: To request Permission to take this course, please email the instructor directly (, explaining your situation. Attach your unofficial transcript so he can assess your academic background, and an ECE Permission request form.

4th year individual research project courses (4OH4/4OJ4/4OK4): if you wish to take an individual research project course please submit a Permission request form along with your transcript to the instructor of your choice. The two of you are to discuss the nature of the project and the goals for the course. Once a plan is in place, the instructor will complete the request process.  If you meet the eligibility requirements, your request will be fully authorized by the instructor, and submitted to the UG Admin Assistant for uploading. If you are not on the Dean's Honour List, the instructor would need to seek further approval from the Associate Chair of the Department before final processing.


Always refer to your Academic Advisement Report first. It lists the exact courses which YOU need to graduate. For instance, if the UG Course Calendar says "3-4 units techincal electives (from level III or IV of the Faculty of Engineering)", your Academic Advisement Report will list the EXACT courses available to you. You can also view a list of Electives here. Please note that the list of electives on the web are guidelines only, and you must always follow your Academic Advisement Report.







Advising forms used in the ECE department:

Permissions form to obtain Permission for a prerequisite to be waived or consent to take a course. Use one form per course. Request form must be accompanied by your unofficial transcript. Instructions on how to make the request are on the top of the form.

Course Conflict form - carefully complete the top section, then obtain authorization from both instructors involved. (This can be done in person, or by emailing the form to the instructors, and requesting that it be returned to the student.) Then submit the fully complete form (with email attachments if applicable) to the ECE Dept Office (ITB-A111) for final processing (in person will be faster than email).

ECE Overload Request form to be completed in addition to the Engineering Permission Form (below) when requesting an overload. Both forms must be completed and submitted along with copies of your Unofficial Transcript and Academic Advisement Report to the ECE Department Office ITB-A111 (both of these documents can be found in you Student Centre, Academics section).

Engineering Permission form for overload (the ECE Overload Request form above must also be completed).



Other Engineering Forms (such as MSAF)


If you fail a course:

If you fail a course that is a prerequisite for an upper year course, you might still be able to take the upper year course by having the prerequisite waived (using a Permission form) - the instructor will assess your transcript to determine if you have a chance of succeeding his/her course.

If you fail a required course you have to obtain that credit. You may be able to take it the following year, but it may create Conflicts in your timetable and examinations. In this case you can submit a Conflict request form, if you feel you can manage the conflict. If you would rather take the course elsewhere, perhaps in the Summer Term, you can look at universities such as University of Waterloo, University of Toronto, Ryerson University, Carleton University or other well-known universities. Their course must have at least 75% of the content that our course has. If you find such a course, obtain the Course Outline and contact the Engineering Student Services office (JHE-A214).


Missed Work:

If you miss an assignment/quiz/midterm, fill out the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) online, and explicitly follow its instructions. It is your responsibility to follow-up with your instructor.


Final exam review:

Any student can request to see his/her final exam.  Viewing it is free of charge, and is to be arranged between the student & instructor. If you want your exam to be re-marked:
- be aware that the grade could go either up or down
- go to the Engineering Student Services office
- complete an "Examination Re-Read" form
- take it to the Registrar's Office and pay $50
- take the receipt to the Engineering Student Services office
- the Engineering Student Services office then sends the request to the department, and we have a couple of weeks to re-grade and respond
- if the grade increases by 3% or more, the $50 fee is refunded to the student


Taking a course at a different university:

To obtain Course Equivalency or a Letter of Permission, please see the Engineering Student Services office (JHE-A214). Please note that McMaster's Engineering programs are accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB), and we do not usually allow courses from an un-accredited institution to replace our own courses.


Program Transfer:

You can apply to switch programs by visiting the Engineering Student Services office (JHE-A214). You will need to provide a letter stating why you want to make the switch. Your transcript is also required, to assess whether your academic ability is strong enough for the desired program. Please note that Transfer Requests are not assessed until June, once grades have been finalized.


Reinstatements and Withdrawals:

The Re-instatement application process is handled by the Engineering Student Services office (JHE-A214). The policy is as follows...

  • FIRST WITHDRAWAL: A student who has been withdrawn once may be be reinstated once, by writing a convincing letter stating how the student has taken special steps to improve their performance in the future. Special steps may include consulting with the Center for Student Development and Learning, terminating any part-time job, consulting with a student counsellor, taking summer courses, etc. It is expected that by taking these special steps, the student's performance will improve significantly.
  • SECOND WITHDRAWAL: A student who has been withdrawn twice will not be reinstated a second time based upon a convincing letter. The reason is that the first withdrawal and reinstatement did not have the desired effect, as the student was subsequently withdrawn a second time.
  • If a student has been withdrawn twice, the student will now need to 'prove' conclusively that they deserve other chance. For example, a student can enroll in a community college engineering program, and get a near A average, and then re-apply to McMaster. Alternatively, a student can consult with a UG-Advisor, identify and take 3 challenging technical courses (i.e. Math, Science, Physics) at some university, and get a C- average or higher, and then re-apply to McMaster. The student is not guaranteed reinstatement, but at least the student can supply some conclusive evidence that they have overcome their difficulties. A capable student can meet the latter requirement in one term, enrolling as a special student in a university, and the latter requirement is not an onerous task. Basically, if a student has been withdrawn twice, the student needs to do much more than write a letter to get reinstated.