It is named in honour of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, the seventh Prime Minister of Canada who appears on the front of Canada's five dollar bill.The university offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate programs in a variety of fields, with nearly 15,000 full-time undergraduate students, over 900 full‑time grad students and nearly 3,000 part-time students as of Fall 2016.It houses faculty scholarship, theses, dissertations, online journals, and an archival collection of The Cord dating back to 1926.

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Hallman Faculty of Social Work moved from the Waterloo campus to a campus in downtown Kitchener.

The Brantford campus is centred on a number of historic properties in the downtown area which have been restored for university use.

Together, these residences house approximately 2,780 men and women, with 2,664 beds reserved for undergraduate first-year students.

When applying to residences, students can choose to be a part of a Residence Learning Community, a themed residence environment where all members share a common interest, major, or coursework.

There are three physical locations for the Library: the Waterloo Campus's primary library (on the west end of the campus, housing the majority of the collection and the majority of the librarians and staff), the Brantford Campus' Digital Library and Learning Commons space (in Grand River Hall, which includes offices for the librarians on that campus) and the collection space in the Brantford Public Library (on the first and second floors), and the Social Work Library in Kitchener.

The library, in conjunction with Wilfrid Laurier University Press, hosts Scholars Commons @ Laurier, an institutional repository that aims to support open scholarly communication, collaboration, and lasting visibility and recognition for Laurier scholarship.

Laurier is also a prominent partner in the new Balsillie School of International Affairs, opened in Uptown Waterloo in 2008.

The school offers three programs: a masters in arts in global governance, a masters in international public policy and a Ph D program in global governance.

The majority of the University's faculties reside at the Waterloo Campus, including Business, Arts, Science, Music, and Health.