The University of Waterloo is nationally recognized for its leading role in innovation and, in this area, in 2004, for the thirteenth year in a row, Maclean’s Magazine ranked the University first out of forty-seven universities Canada-wide. The University is also Canada’s leader in the flow of knowledge, ideas, and technology to the private sector; according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, in excess of 250 companies in the technology sector owe at least partial credit for their founding on research done by the University of Waterloo, more than any other school in Canada. To maintain its elite status in this area, the University established the 'University of Waterloo Research and Technology Park' (R&T Park) which, in 2004, saw its first resident in Sybase Inc., an international software development firm. Currently, R&T Park is undergoing an expansion including the opening of the Accelerator Centre which is aimed at encouraging expansion of high-tech companies and the furthering of new goods and services. As part of the 'TriUniversity Group of Libraries,' the University of Waterloo pools its library resources with those of the University of Guelph and the Wilfrid Laurier University to offer its students access to over 6 million printed items.
The University of Waterloo offers undergraduate courses and programs in over 100 disciplines and graduate classes and degrees, diplomas, and certificates in over 37 areas of inquiry in the Faculties of Applied Health Sciences, Arts, Engineering, Environmental Studies, Mathematics, and Science and the Schools of Accountancy, Architecture, Planning, Computer Science, Optometry, and Pharmacy. One of the more notable undergraduate programs is the “Independent Studies;” this option is a self-directed program designed for students to either specialize in one topic or field or engage in interdisciplinary work leading to a Bachelor of Independent Studies; this is the only such program in Canada. Also, undergraduate and graduate students in any faculty or department are allowed to customize their respective degrees via interdisciplinary or joint studies, minors, options, and/or specializations subject to final approval of the student's proposal by the Faculties/Faculty involved. A unique graduate level offering by the University of Waterloo is the 'Cost Recovery Program;' this is specifically developed for working professionals who would otherwise be unable to complete a degree through regular, on campus attendance. Through this option, students earn degrees through correspondence, online, and/or part-time learning. Students at every level at the University have co-op program options as well; the University currently has partnerships with over 3,500 employers worldwide. Also, through its Continuing Education division, the University of Waterloo offers individuals various courses and programs for academic, personal, and/or professional pursuits. One such offering is the 'travel/study programs' in which students engage in organized study of a specific topic in another country; topics and places of learning change on a semester and/or yearly basis.