Frequently Asked Questions

If you are a new graduate student starting at Western, please review the list of Frequently Asked Questions specific to the Fall 2021 term.


Do I need to have a faculty member willing to accept me before I submit an application?

No, you do not need to have found a faculty member willing to supervise you before submitting an application. Faculty members cannot accept a student until an application has been approved by a program and some faculty may not be able to view applications until they are approved. Please note that only research degrees (MESc or PhD) require a supervisor.  MEng students do not require a supervisor. 

I would like to accept an offer, how do I do that?

You can now accept your offer through the Western Student Center. Login into the Center with the information provided with your Western Personal Computer Account and select Self Service. To accept your offer simply select the Accept Admission option under Student Admission and select your choice.

My university doesn’t give letter grades. How will my average be calculated?

We will use a conversion scale to calculate your average.


How can I change/update a referee on my application?

There is a School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies generated email after application is received that states: “You may access the graduate reference system in order to check the status of your references, change/update email addresses, request new references in place of existing ones, and alert us of impending delivery of a reference letter by means other than the electronic form. Access to the reference form system is available via the Western Graduate and Postdoctoral Scholars website.

  • Login ID; “applicant’s last name”
  • AccessKey”: “unique number available in GEARS under Reference Index”

I submitted my application today, can you confirm you received it?

There is a delay of approximately 3-5 business days before a submitted applications are received by the program.  Once an application is complete and submitted, the initial assessment is completed by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.  After SGPS has confirmed all documentation has been received, they can then release your application to the program for assessment. Each program tries to connect with all applicants but due to the high volume of applications, there can be a delay in contacting applicants who have completed an application.  If you have any questions about the status of your application once it has been submitted, please contact the program you applied to. Program information, including contact information, can be found here

How do referees submit their reference letter?

Letters are submitted electronically. Referees are contacted by the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies once your application has been received.

Does the reference letter have to come from a faculty member? Can I get a reference from a Teaching Assistant or an employer?

No you do not have to use a faculty member. However the person completing the letter should be able to adequately judge your performance in the areas listed on the reference letter (Intellectual ability; Originality of thought; Aptitude for scientific research or scholarly work; Ability to express him/herself orally; Ability to express him/herself in writing; Initiative; Perseverance).


Can I be registered in your program, but have a faculty advisor who is not part of your graduate program?

Currently, faculty supervisors need to have membership in the graduate program the student will be registered in.

When can I start a program?

Program start dates are restricted to January 1, May 1 and September 1. 

I am not familiar with the “term” system in Canada. Can you explain?

At Western University the graduate year is divided into three terms:

  • Winter term: January 1 – April 30
  • Summer term; May 1 – August 31
  • Fall term: September 1 – December 31

Language Proficiency Tests

I can provide a letter stating language of instruction was in English. Do I still need a TOEFL or IELTS score?

Applicants whose first language is not English must furnish evidence of their proficiency in the use of the English language by a satisfactory achievement within the last two years. Language of instruction is not a considering factor. Exemptions of English Language requirements may only be granted when an applicant completed a minimum of 2 years of study in post secondary education where the language of instruction and the first official language of the country is English.  Please note that the decision to grant an exemption is at the discretion of the department and contingent on the approval of the Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.  

Can you tell me what the acceptable forms of English Language Proficiency are, and what scores are required?

  • The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The minimum acceptable score is 86, with no individual score below 20 for the internet based version; 213 for the standard electronic version; or 550 for the paper and pencil version, although some programs require a higher minimum score. [Western's TOEFL ID is 0984].
  • The International English Language Testing Service (IELTS) of the British Council. The minimum acceptable score is 6.5 out of 9, with no individual score below 6.0. The IELTS is offered in 6 test centres in the US and 3 in Canada.
  • The Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) of the University of Michigan. Students must have at least 80 on each of the sections and an overall score of at least 85. Arrangements to write MELAB may be made online.
  • The Canadian Academic English Language Assessment (CAEL Assessment). The minimum acceptable score is 60. The CAEL Assessment is offered in several countries throughout the world as well as Canada.
  • Western English Language Centre Western's English Language Centre allows academically eligible students interested in pursuing a graduate degree at Western the opportunity to receive a conditional offer of admission to graduate studies without successful completion of an English language proficiency test. The condition is that the student must, in lieu of such a test, successfully complete Western English Language Centre's program. For more information, please visit
  • Fanshawe College’s EAP Program. The requirement is graduation from Level 10, English for Academic Purposes, with a minimum 80% in all components.