How to Get Into University of Toronto Engineering
University of Toronto is home to one of the top engineering faculties in the world.
In addition to being ranked the top faculty in Canada by a whole slew of publications, it has also been ranked anywhere from 8th to 44th in the world in recent years. As such, it is a very difficult program to get into and knowing how to get into University of Toronto Engineering is essential.
In addition, the faculty’s undergraduate program offers incredible breadth, offering a “Core 8” of programs that range from Mining Engineering to Civil Engineering to Materials Science as well as the Engineering Science, which offers 8 majors of its own.
In addition, the faculty now offers a range of multi-disciplinary minors and certificate programs in fields ranging bio engineering to global engineering to complement their chosen engineering discipline:
On top of academics, students may also take advantage of summer research opportunities to work with a professor on a research project in the faculty’s various labs. There are also two co-op programs for students wishing to enhance their practical skills – a traditional summer internship program (ESIP) as well as U of T’s exclusive Professional Experience Year (PEY) program.
The most highly regarded paid internship program in Canada, PEY gives students an opportunity to take a 12-16 month long paid internship (usually between 3rd and 4th years) at a range of employers. The length allows them to take on more meaningful projects and roles at their employers than a summer internship would, resulting in 70% of students who do PEY having an offer in hand by the time they return to school.
However, this combination of academic breadth and practical opportunities means that U of T Engineering is a coveted program among many prospective undergraduate students both from within Canada and around the world. Today, we look quickly at the application components and offer some tips to maximize your chances of getting in.
I’ll first address the elephant in the room both to get it out of the way and because it is important. Grades matter. A lot. Grades are one of the biggest contributors in how to get into University of Toronto Engineering.
This isn’t just because the entrance averages for University of Toronto engineering are really high (starts in the low 80s and creeps up to the mid-90s for Engineering Science). Although a high entrance average does not necessarily guarantee admission, think of it like your height if you want to get into the NBA – a high one won’t necessarily help you get in, but a low definitely will hurt your chances.
In addition to the average calculated from your pre-requisite grade 12 courses, U of T will also look at your entire academic history since grade 9. Moreover, the faculty will only look at first-attempt grades for each course, making it all the more important that you do well the first time. That being said, if you are reading this, chances are your academic transcript for grades 9-11 are set in stone, for better or for worse. Thus, if your goal is to attend U of T for engineering, it is best you hit the books early for your final year of high school so at least your mid-term marks make you a competitive candidate from a grades standpoint.
Student Profile Form (SPF)
In addition to academics, applicants to U of T Engineering will also be asked to fill out a Student Profile Form, which is supposed to help the admissions team assess your strengths outside the classroom. You will receive an email detailing instructions and deadlines on filling out this form after you submit your initial application on OUAC (note there will be an additional ~$35 fee for this).
The SPF basically involves you listing out your extra-curricular activities and an essay. When listing out your extra-curricular activities, make sure they help complete the picture of how you want to present yourself as part of your application. For example, if you are applying to the U of T because you are drawn to the emphasis on global engineering that Dean Amon has put in place, make sure at least some of your extra-curriculars showcase your global perspective (for example, that time you took a humanitarian trip with your church group to Mexico, or that you lead a “Third World Awareness Group” at your high school).
The beast of the SPF, however, is the essay. Although the exact wording changes every year, it is always along the lines of the following:
What has inspired you to pursue an engineering degree and why would you like to study at the University of Toronto?
What skills have you developed through your extra-curricular experiences that will support your future success as both a student and an engineer?
Translated in plain English, you have 3000 characters (approx. 300-500 words) to convince the admission committee of the following questions:
- Why engineering and why engineering at U of T?
- What specifically do you bring to U of T that the next candidate will not?
With regards to the first question, be sure to pay careful attention to the second part of the question (why U of T). Many students can offer very compelling reasons of why they would like to pursue engineering, but have weaker arguments as to why they feel U of T is their best fit. One must go beyond the rankings and U of T’s academic reputation and focus on what specifics about U of T’s program they are drawn to.
For example, if your reason for pursuing engineering is that you are interested in creating new medical technologies or devices to improve patient care, be sure to mention the Bioengineering Minor and the opportunities to engage in research with professors at IBBME as factors drawing you to U of T.
Would-be computer engineers may talk about their interest in being involved with the Mobile Applications Lab to enhance their development skills. Aspiring civil engineers may talk about the top-ranked faculty (U of T ranks among the top 5 globally for Civil Engineering). These examples are meant to be descriptive rather than prescriptive (i.e. you don’t actually need to mention the professors just because you are applying to Civil Engineering) but more so to illustrate how you might personalize your response to match your career aspirations with the specifics of U of T’s engineering offerings.
When answering the second question, students must focus on how their extra-curricular experiences have shaped your development and made you a good fit for U of T. Remember, the faculty prides itself on things such as a close-knit community, multi-disciplinary focus, global perspective and training “engineers for the world” so be sure to familiarize yourself with what makes each of the departments “tick” and draw an anecdote or two about how your background and experiences will enhance the learning experience of those around you is key.
If you spent your weekends volunteering as a porter in a hospital wing, you may wish to talk about how that experience exposed you to a patients from a diverse set of backgrounds that allowed to develop a greater sense of empathy that will help you better understand the pressing needs of a future world – problems that you can help solve with the engineering skills you learn at U of T.
If you happened to be a part-time associate manager at your local McDonalds, you may wish to mention how that has helped you develop your abilities to work and lead teams – useful transferable skills for both school (many group projects) and your future career as an engineer.
University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering offers one of the best undergraduate engineering programs in the world. However, admissions to each of the faculty’s 10 entry options is extremely competitive and it is imperative that prospective students differentiate themselves and demonstrate they are a more compelling candidate than the next applicant.
Since the academic portion of the application will be more or less homogenous among applicants, students must make the most of the opportunity afforded to them by the SPF to personalize and show what really distinguishes them from other applicants. Through their extra-curricular activities and essay, they should also present a compelling argument that U of T is the best fit for them based on their experiences, career aspirations and specifics of the program.
As students sit down to write this essay, they should have a copy of the Faculty of Engineering Viewbook around as a reference to make sure they are hitting the points that U of T is really looking for in a student. Also note that 3000 characters is very little space to cover a lot of ground, so be sure to start early and leave lots of time for revisions and editing to make sure you are able to include everything that is necessary in a concise, coherent package.
And that’s how to get into University of Toronto Engineering.