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Graduate Admissions Specialist

Date: March 5,2015
Reports to (Job Title): Associate Director, Graduate Admissions
Jobs Reporting (Job Titles): N/A
Department: Graduate Studies Office


Main Campus


35 h/rwk

Primary Purpose

The Graduate Admission Specialist is the key liaison with the Departments and Faculties for the evaluation of admission recommendations, production of offers of admission, tracking conditions of admission and decisions, management of admission records and communications with prospective students and applicants, monitoring special applications and admissions sanctioned through University agreements with international institutions or governments and collaborative or joint programs with other universities. The incumbent is responsible for preparing procedures, and training and mentoring administrative departmental staff and faculty on best business practices for application and admission requirements, programs and agreements, and on the use of complex and evolving student system.                                                                       

Key Accountabilities:


Assessment, verification and final decision on recommendation for Offer of Admission


The Graduate Admissions Specialist assesses the file, verifying adherence to Senate regulations and guidelines pertaining to graduate studies, and has final signing authority on the recommendation for admission on behalf of the Associate Director, Graduate Admissions.  These decisions are impactful and binding, and require extensive and comprehensive knowledge of a vast number of education systems, complex combinations of qualifications (education/work experience/test scores) for non-standard admissions, as well as the exercise of sound and unbiased judgment.  Due to the variety of programs, international agreements and funding schemes, the Specialist must carefully review the unique Department details of the Offer of Admission contract letter for accuracy, to protect the student, department and University.


The Graduate Admissions Specialist must exercise discretion, judgment and critical analytical skills to detect potentially fraudulent documentation submitted as part of the application/admission process. These potentially fraudulent documents are investigated in a confidential and professional manner, and involve contacting source institutions and referees. This level of accountability, complexity and responsibility directly impacts the reputation of the University.


Management of admissions records and communications in a complex student database

The application and admission records management and systems are complex for applying rules for admission, interpreting appropriate changes of status and conditions for admission for final decisions, establishing accurate data, identifying, testing and resolving systems issues.  The importance of accuracy is high.  Data at the application and admission stage has an impact on the University as coding affects the Graduate Records and Graduate Financial Aid areas, and externally,  the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MCTU) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC).   Application and admission data are utilized for planning and reporting purposes by the Departments, Faculties, Graduate Studies Office, Enrolment Growth Working Group, Institutional Analysis and Planning and external agencies.



Training and Advisement

The Graduate Admissions Specialist provides effective direction and leadership to faculty and administrative staff on an ongoing basis throughout the year. This includes expert advice to a group or one-on-one training regarding academic regulations, application/admission procedures and use of the student system. The Specialist initiates, builds, and maintains documentation of current and new business practices related to the processing of applications and admissions, updates and maintains admissions resources and procedures for departmental use.  The Specialist attends webinars and off-campus workshops designed for admissions personnel for training with international credential evaluation and document analysis. The Specialist must stay informed and knowledgeable about all aspects of programs, applications, admissions, student life and other issues related to counselling graduate applicants, admitted students and departments.


The Admissions Specialist provides superior, empathetic customer service in all oral and written communications, relaying negative decisions, managing confidential issues, and providing appropriate, equitable and informed decisions.  With the vast cultural diversity of our global community of graduate students, issues may arise that require cultural sensitivity and interaction with applicants and students for whom English is a second language.



Business Process and Improvements/Research & Policy Development

With consideration of the highly competitive interuniversity academic environment, the Specialist reviews policy, procedural and system initiatives, provides input and recommends progressive improvements to the management of admissions.  The activities for admissions require meticulous attention to the application and recommendation evaluation processes, approval of admission offers and communications, ensuring that quality standards are achieved. This includes planning and implementing strategies for continuous improvement of processes in admissions.  Research from credential workshops may result in changes to admission policies and procedures.



Position Requirements


University degree or equivalent education and experience


Extensive knowledge of University policies and Graduate Studies regulations and practices related to applications and admissions.   Proven expertise on international education systems, degree and grade equivalencies, and document verification processes.   Knowledge and experience with applications, admissions and self-service, document retrieval and workflow in a complex student software system. Previous customer service experience required in a busy fast-paced environment.


MS Word Excel PowerPoint Other
Advanced Advanced Intermediate PeopleSoft Quest, OnBase, SharePoint, Outlook, Internet, SnagIt

Nature and Scope

Interpersonal Skills:

Detail oriented, analytical,  ability to exercise sound and impartial judgment, sensitive to the wide array of cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds of applicants and students; diplomacy and confidentiality; ability to multitask,  adaptive to rapid changes in technology.  Embraces supportive mentorship, professional quality, respectful communication, creativity, positive energy, and synergy in his/her work. Internally, communicates with a wide range of departments and groups and at all levels to ensure the achievement of university enrolment management goals through the successful expansion and implementation of admission strategies; externally, communicates with a wide variety of audiences (applicants, students, government and sponsorship agencies).  

Level of Responsibility:

High – This job has specialized work with minimal supervision and provides guidance to others.  Final decision on recommendation for offers of admission;  responsible for departmental, staff and faculty training;  contact with all levels of Waterloo hierarchy;  contact with external agencies, institutions, and universities;  manages a university-wide function and specialized process to sustain and enhance the success of admission strategies of graduate students, which has a direct impact on the university’s reputation, achievement of enrolment management and revenue goals, and ability to meet MTCU obligations. Achieving graduate enrolment goals is central to the fiscal well-being of the University, and the competition for high-caliber master’s and doctoral students is severe.    The incumbent has a direct impact on the university’s welfare, reputation, mandate and successful implementation of graduate admissions. The work done in this position has a direct effect on UW’s ability to implement strategies, meet enrolment targets, and in turn the University’s budget.

Decision-Making Authority:

High - Continually makes decisions about the most effective methods of operationalizing initiatives for which s/he is responsible, including market research, personal interactions and collaboration, work flow and time management, consultation, and other key accountabilities; determines the optimal course of action to solve problems and to exert a positive influence on other stakeholders; delegated signing authority for Offers of Admission. The incumbent has signing authority and is accountable for decisions which commit the University to a binding decision. 

Physical and Sensory Demands:

High - Requires intense concentration throughout the course of the work day; concentrated use of visual senses; periods of extensive sitting

Working Environment:

Office environment, some travel to external workshops.

Psychological Risks:  The incumbent must be sensitive to the often extreme and prolonged stresses due to volume, deadlines and demands. This role involves interactions with people who may be upset, abusive, aggressive (e.g. students who have escalated an issue, staff or faculty upset with a decision), irregular and/or high volumes, multiple and/or tight deadlines beyond one's control, and interruptions (e.g. phone calls, e-mails, student assistance at front counter and unplanned but urgent support request throughout the day).