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McMaster University

Undergraduate Advising

General

Please read the following information and FAQs prior to contacting the department.

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 name, Person/Student ID, Program & level, and the details of your query. Please put the nature of your query in the Subject Line (i.e. "Conflict between * and * "), along with your name & Person ID. Attaching a copy of your Academic Advisement Report or Unofficial Transcript will assist a quick answer. Oftentimes a problem is the result of a failed course, so please inform us if that is the case. All emails will receive an answer as soon as possible.

Whenever referring to a course, please provide the full course catalog number (example: Comp Eng 3DR4).

Whenever providing the name of your Program, include "CoOp", "Society" or "Management" if applicable.

Degree Requirements / Academic Advisement Reports: There are 2 things that assist you 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). Please ensure you follow those. If you have any concern with your Academic Advisement Report, or need help obtaining your degree requirements, please contact Sally Williams in the Associate Dean of Engineering's office.

If you wish to speak to someone regarding the programs or courses in Elec & Comp Engineering, 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! Look for all of the sections offered by clicking on the "View All" or "Next Page" buttons. If you find that a Required course is full please contact the department immediately!

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 immediately! If you have a conflict involving an Elective, you must find one that fits into your Personal Schedule.

Permission: When permission is required to enroll in a course, it must be obtained from the department that offers the course. Please note that the granting of permission is entirely up to the department that offers the course - your request may be granted or it may be denied. If you are an ECE student wishing to take a course in another department please refer to their website for their process. If anyone wishes permission to take an ECE course, please submit an ECE Permission request package to us using the form at the bottom of this column. Please do not contact the instructor directly.

Prerequisites: If you do not have an academic prerequisite for a course, you may request permission to take the course without the prerequisite. You must justify why you should be allowed to take that course without the required prior knowledge. Please complete the ECE Permission form, following the instructions on the form (do not contact the instructor directly).

Exception: There is one exception to the normal Permission request process - Comp Eng 3DQ5. To request Permission to take this course, please email the instructor directly (nicolici@mcmaster.ca), explaining your situation. Please attach your unofficial transcript so he can assess your academic background.

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.

Overloads: If you wish to take more than the maximum number of units in a Term (according to your Academic Advisement Report), you may request an Overload. The ECE Department has a form that is required in addition to the form from the Associate Dean of Engineering's office (forms available at bottom of this column). Overloading is not always permitted - we consider whether it is in your best interest or not.

PROCESSING of requests - the process for obtaining Permissions and Overloads normally takes 2-5 days. In the summer please allow several weeks for processing, as staff and faculty take their vacations during this time. We will process your request as soon as possible. You will receive an email as soon as your request has finished it's process.

 

Advising forms used in the ECE department:

Permissions Form to obtain Permission for a prerequisite to be waived or consent to take a course

Engineering Permission Form for overload (the ECE Overload Request form below is also required)

ECE Overload Request to be completed in addition to the above Engineering Permission Form when requesting an overload

Course Conflict form - the student is to fill out the top section in full, then obtain authorization from both of the instructors involved. (This can be done in person, or if during summer it can be done by emailing the form to the instructors and requesting that it be returned to the student.) The completed form is then to be submitted to the ECE Dept Office (ITB-A111) for final processing.

Other Engineering Forms

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

Frequently Asked Questions

Request for an Appointment

  • I would like to talk to an Undergraduate Advisor. What can I do? 

Academic Advisement Report/Mosaic

  • I'm supposed to be in Level 4, but it says Level 3 when I login to the Mosaic Student Centre. What do I do?

Electives

  • Is there a list of electives that I can take?

Course Permissions

  • When I try to add a course, it tells me that I do not have the prerequisites. What can I do?
  • I failed a course which is a prerequisite for other courses. What can I do?
  • I failed a required course.  Can I take an equivalent summer course at another university?
  • I would like to take a course from Computer Science as a technical elective. What can I do?
  • I would like to take a language or humanities course? What can I do?

Course Equivalency/Letter of Permission

  • I would like to take a course at another university (Waterloo, Ryerson, U of T, etc). What can I do?
  • I have transferred here from another university, what do I do about my transfer credits?

Scheduling Conflicts

  • I have a scheduling conflict. What can I do?

Overload Request

  • I want to overload my courses to graduate on time. What can I do?

Re-instatement

  • I failed most of my 2nd year courses, and had to withdraw from my Engineering program. What can I do?
  • I failed most of my 2nd year courses, and had to withdraw from the University. What can I do?
  • I failed most of my 2nd year courses, and had to withdraw from the University, but I have a good reason for why I performed poorly. What can I do?
  • ECE's Re-instatement Policy
  • Re-instatement Application Process

Program Transfer

  • I'm looking to switch between programs in the Faculty of Engineering, what do I do?

Missed Work

  • I missed/am going to miss an assignment/test/midterm/quiz/etc., what do I do?
Request for an Appointment
I would like to talk to an Undergraduate Advisor. What can I do?

If your situation cannot be resolved by the ECE UG Admin Assistant, you will be directed to the appropriate resources.  To deal with your problem most efficiently, we prefer to handle it electronically. This means that you must make an effort to clearly summarize your problem in an email to the UG Admin Assistant. If necessary, you will be advised to contact the appropriate Advisor.  We have nearly 1,000 students in our ECE programs (Electrical, Computer, and Biomedical Engineering).  We do not schedule appointments before receiving an email with a concise summary of the problem.  DoN't forget to provide your PERSON ID, name, PROGRAM & LEVEL.

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ACADEMIC ADVISEMENT REPORT/MOSAIC STUDENT CENTRE
 
I'm supposed to be in Level 4, but it says Level 3 when I login to the Mosaic Student Centre. What do I do?

Please go directly to the Associate Dean's Office, JHE-A214 if you suspect any errors in your Academic Advisement Report.

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Electives
Is there a list of electives that I can take?

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.

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Course PermissionS
When I try to add a course, it tells me that I do not have the prerequisites. What can I do?

If you get this message, it usually means you have not obtained credit for the prerequisite course/s. It can also mean that the course is restricted to students in a certain Program or level - in which case you need to obtain Permission to take the course. Prerequisites are in place to ensure you have the background knowledge to succeed in a course. You can, however, request for the prerequisite to be waived, by submitting a Permission request form. If you are requesting that a prerequisite be waived you need to convince us that you will be able to succeed without the background knowledge, so please justify your request in the space provided on the Permission request form.

 

For all ECE courses except Comp Eng 3DQ5: Please fill out the Permission request form here and submit it along with a copy of your Unofficial Transcript to the ECE UG Admin Assistant either in person at the ECE Department Office (ITB-A111) or by email. If emailing please put your name & Person ID in the subject line, your Program & level in the body, and a brief explanation of your request. As soon as a decision has been made, you will be notified by email. This process normally takes approximately one week, but can be longer if it's during the summer when faculty take vacation, or at the Drop & Add rush. Do NOT leave this to the last day of Drop & Add - each request requires various actions so therefore takes time!

For Comp Eng 3DQ5: The Permission request process for this course is different. Please email the instructor directly (Pouya Taatizadeh - taatizp@mcmaster.ca), providing your full name, Person ID, Program and Level. Explain why you need Permission to take this course. Please attach your unofficial transcript so the instructor can see your academic background.

 

 

I failed a course that is a prerequisite for other courses. What can I do?

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 obtaining Permission.  On your request form you can provide a statement to convince the instructor that you are ready for the upper year course even though you have failed a prerequisite. The instructor may or may not grant you approval - it is up to them to assess whether you will have a chance at succeeding in their course. Please fill out the Permission Form here and submit it along with a copy of your Unofficial Transcript to the UG Admin Assistant - either in person at the ECE Department Office (ITB-A111) or by email. If emailing please put your name & Person ID in the subject line, your Program & level in the body, and a brief explanation of your request. This process normally takes approximately one week, but can be longer during the summer when faculty take vacation, or at the Drop & Add rush. Do NOT leave this to the last day of Drop & Add - each request requires various actions so therefore takes time!

 

 
I failed a required course.  Can I take an equivalent summer course at another university?

Yes, you can look for a course at another university that has at least 75% of the content of our McMaster ECE course.  Please look at U. Waterloo, U of T, Ryerson University, Carleton University, or another well-known school. If you find such a course, bring in the following to the Associate Dean's office (JHE-A214):

  • The following form completed in full.
  • A short letter with your name, Person ID and program, with the content of your letter requesting “Course Equivalency”
  • The detailed course outline of the course(s) you want to take (a print-out from that university's Calendar/Catalog)
  • The detailed course outline of the ECE course(s) you want credit for (a print-out from the McMaster Undergraduate Course Calendar/Catalog)
  • A PDF print-out of your Unofficial Transcript, showing your GPA, for the last academic year.  
  • Provide a short letter explaining how the 75% match in content between the two courses is achieved. At least 75% of the topics in the McMaster course outline should be covered somewhere in the remote course outline.
  • If you are requesting approval for multiple courses, enumerate them ie (1), (2), (3) etc.
I would like to take a course from Computer Science to replace an ECE technical elective. What can I do?

Same process as above, with the body of your letter requesting “Technical Elective Approval.”

  • ECE Technical Electives can be found here
  • ECE Term 1 courses can be found here
  • ECE Term 2 courses can be found here  
I would like to take a language or humanities course? What can I do?

In your program, you might have the option to take one 3-unit Complementary Studies elective. It is your responsibility to check your Academic Advisement Report. In it you will find the list of courses that you need to graduate, and any "outstanding" courses that you still need to take in order to graduate. Please check your Academic Advisement Report first.

The Faculty of Engineering Approved Complementary Electives are listed here. If the course you want to take is not on this list, we can potentially still approve it as an exception.  Submit the following to the UG Admin Assistant in the ECE Department Office (ITB-A111), or email the package:

  • A short letter with your name, Person ID and Program & level, with the content of your letter requesting “Complementary Elective Approval”
  • The course outline of the course you want to take
  • A print out of your Unofficial Transcript

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Course Equivalency/Letter of Permission
I would like to take a course at another university (Waterloo, Ryerson, U of T, etc) to replace one of our McMaster courses. What can I do ?

PLEASE NOTE: In addition to the online submission, ECE requires full course outlines. Not providing hard copies of these will result in a delayed response. Therefore, we request you prepare the following in a package and take it to the Associate Dean of Engineering's office (JHE-A214) as well as the online application:

  • A short letter with your name, Person ID, and Program & level, with the content of your letter requesting “Course Equivalency”
    • Your short letter should also explain how the content between the two courses matches for at least 75% of the content. Please note that at least 75% of the topics in the McMaster course outline should be covered somewhere in the remote course outline.
  • The course outlines of the course(s) you want to take at another university.
  • The course outline of the ECE course(s) you want credit for.
  • A PDF print out of your Unofficial Transcript, showing your CA, for the last academic year.
  • Apply for a letter of permission here.

The course outline is a 1-2 page document that shows which textbook is used, how many weeks are spent on each topic, how the tests and exams are graded and weighed, how the labs are weighed, etc. We need the full course outlines, not the calendar/course catalog descriptions.  The advisor will be able to quickly compare both course outlines, and make a reasonable decision.  If you do not attach the course outlines, do not expect to get an approval.

NOTE: McMaster's Engineering programs are accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB). McMaster is proud to offer an accredited program, and we constantly work hard to keep it accredited. We do not usually allow courses from an un-accredited college to replace our own accredited courses.

 

NOTE: Grades of Transfer Credits show on your McMaster transcript only as "T" - if you are ever asked for transcripts you will have to acquire one from the other university too, to show the actual grade.

I have transferred here from another university, what do I do about my transfer credits?

Please go directly to the Associate Dean's Office, JHE-A214.

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Scheduling Conflicts
I have a scheduling conflict. What can I do?

When scheduling courses, thousands of students requiring the various courses are considered. Courses are scheduled according to the normal path of each program. If you fail a course and have to re-take it, or take courses without following your Program, it diverts you from the normal path - very possibly resulting in conflicts (Personal Schedule and possibly examinations). If you are in this situation, it is likely that you will have to take an extra term, or an extra year, to complete your degree requirements. If you are following your program path, and your conflicting courses are Required courses, please come to the ECE Department Office (ITB-A111) with a printed copy of your Personal Schedule. If your conflict involves an Elective, you will have to choose a different Elective - one that fits your schedule

If you have a scheduling conflict which involve Labs that alternate Every Other Week or a situation that you could manage, you can request to take on the conflict by submitting a Course Conflict request form. Complete the form, indicate which components/sections conflict, obtain the signatures from the appropriate instructors, then submit it to the ECE Department Office (ITB-A111).

 

 

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Overload Request
I want to overload my courses to graduate on time. What can I do?

There is a maximum of 21 units allowed per term. To take any more units than that (overloading) requires permission of your program Advisor. If your GPA is >= 9.5, please follow the instructions below.  If you do not have a GPA of 9.5 or higher, you may request an overload, however approval of more than two units may not be granted. Your academic history & strength will be considered.

 

Please be aware that Engineering degrees, ECE ones in particular, are very demanding, so adding to the already heavy workload may be detrimental to your studies unless you are very strong academically.

 

Additional academic fees will be assessed for overload work. For further information click here.

 
Prepare all of the following and submit the package to the UG Admin Assistant either in person at the ECE Department Office (ITB-A111), or by email:
  • The Engineering Permission Form
  • The ECE Overload Request Form
  • A copy of your Unofficial Transcript (showing grades for the last academic year).
  • A copy of your Academic Advisement Report.
  • Submit your complete package to the ECE UG Administrative Assistant in ITB-A111. If any part of this package is missing, it will be deemed inadmissible.
  • As soon as a decision is made, you will be notified by email (this process normally takes approximately one week, but can be longer if it's during either busy or vacation times).

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Re-instatement
I failed most of my 2nd year courses, and had to withdraw from the Engineering program. What can I do?

Here is the current ECE policy on re-instatement, as of September 2008: A student who is withdrawn for the first time from the ECE program is eligible to be reinstated after applying for reinstatement from the Associate Dean's office, and after providing a convincing letter explaining the reasons for the poor performance and outlining which steps have been taken to correct the deficiencies.  A student who is reinstated will be on 'academic probation' for the first year. They will be required to repeat every course in their last academic year, in which their grade was less than C-. They will be required to repeat these poor courses during their probation in order to move on.  They will have a maximum load of 30 units while on probation.  They will be required to maintain a GPA of at least 4.0 for the first year, after which they will be removed from probation.

I failed most of my 2nd year courses, and had to withdraw from the University. What can I do?

You can apply for re-instatement, see process below. As a general rule, we require an applicant to take a year off and do either of the following two options:

  • Work at an engineering firm doing technical work, or
  • Complete 1 term or 2 terms of full-load courses at a community college. For example, you can take an ECE program in a community college. If you get an A average, then apply for re-instatement. If you cannot get an A average, then you can continue in the community college program and graduate from there.

There is no guarantee a student will be re-instated, this is completely up to the discretion of the UG Advisors.  If a student is re-instated, the student will need to repeat every course in the last year in which the grade was less than C-. It will probably take an extra year or more to complete the degree requirements.

I failed most of my 2nd year courses, and had to withdraw from the University, but I have a good reason for why I performed poorly. What can I do?

You can apply for re-instatement. See answers above and process below.

ECE's Re-instatement Policy
  • 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.
Re-instatement Application Process

You must provide the following to the Associate Dean of Engineering's Office (JHE-A214) when applying for re-instatment, not doing so will deem your request inadmissible:

  • Re-instatement form filled out in full.
  • A short letter with your name, Person ID, Program & level, with the content of your letter explaining how you have come in to this situation.  Be as detailed as possible for the best results.
    • If you have medical reasons, please provide a doctor's note
    • If you have had a death in the family, please provide a death certificate
  • A copy of your Unofficial Transcript showing grades for the last academic year and GPA.  
  • If this is your second re-instatement application, you must also provide evidence that you have taken steps to improve your situation.
    • If you have been working in the industry, provide a letter from an employer
    • If you've been taking courses at another university/college, provide transcripts/grades/letters from instructors
    • If you're engaged with Student Accessibility Services, provide a letter from them

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Program Transfer
I'm looking to switch between programs in the Faculty of Engineering, what do I do?

You can apply to switch programs by visiting the Associate Dean's Office (JHE-A214). You will need to provide a letter stating why you want to make the switch. Don't forget to include your Person ID in the details. Please note that Transfer Requests are not assessed until June, once grades have been finalized.

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Missed Work
I missed/am going to miss an assignment/test/midterm/quiz/etc., what do I do?

You must fill out the McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF) online and EXPLICITLY follow its instructions. It is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to follow-up with your instructor.

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