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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is Applied Mathematics?
  2. Why should I pursue an education in Applied Math?
  3. What is the difference between Applied Math and Pure Math?
  4. What can I expect in my first year?
  5. What are the admission requirements for Applied Math?
  6. Am I eligible for scholarships/bursaries?
  7. What types of careers can I pursue after studying Applied Math?

1. What is Applied Mathematics?

Applied Mathematics involves using mathematics to solve real world problems, in particular, problems in scientific research and in the development of new technology. Applied Mathematics also involves the development of new mathematical and computational tools.
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2. Why should I pursue an education in Applied Math?

In studying Applied Mathematics you will learn how to use a variety of mathematical and computational tools to solve problems in diverse fields, ranging from physics and engineering, to biology and medicine. You will develop the intellectual discipline and reasoning abilities needed to think through complex problems and develop sound practical solutions. A person with an education in Applied Mathematics is thus versatile and effective in meeting challenges in the workplace or in graduate school.
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3. What is the difference between Applied Math and Pure Math?

Some people enjoy mathematics for its own sake. They appreciate the logical foundations, the precise formulation of the concepts and the rigorous justification of the results (proofs). They see beauty in the abstract structure of mathematics. Such people will enjoy Pure Mathematics.

On the other hand, some people enjoy seeing how math can be used to solve problems in the real world. They are attracted by the challenge of determining what mathematical tools are appropriate for a particular application and possibly inventing new tools. They appreciate seeing how diverse physical phenomena can have a similar mathematical description. Such people will enjoy Applied Mathematics.

These differences do not mean that there will be no mention of applications in PMATH courses, or that you won't see any proofs in AMATH courses! The difference lies in the extent to which applications and proofs are emphasized.

So in a nutshell the answer to the question:

     "What is the difference between Applied Math and Pure Math?"
is 
     "In Applied Math there are more applications and fewer proofs."

But in the Math Faculty at the University of Waterloo you can have the best of both worlds! If you are attracted to both Applied Math and Pure Math, you can enroll in a double honours Applied Math/Pure Math plan and have two majors.

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4. What can I expect in my first year?

In your first year at the Faculty of Mathematics you will take the core math courses that every math student takes. These include Algebra, Calculus, and Computer Science, together with Physics for those students interested in Applied Mathematics.
Find out more about first year courses.

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5. What are the admission requirements for Applied Math?

The admission requirements for Applied Mathematics are the same as those for the Faculty of Mathematics if you are enrolling in first year. See the Faculty of Mathematics admission requirements.

If you are a UW student and are thinking of switching to the Applied Mathematics program please contact your Academic Advisor for more information.

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6. Am I eligible for scholarships/bursaries?

To learn more and find out whether you can apply for scholarships/bursaries please visit:

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7. What types of careers can I pursue after studying Applied Math?

Applied Mathematics graduates enjoy many different types of interesting careers all over the world. Visit careers to see examples of companies that employ AMATH graduates and to see the profiles of some Applied Math Alumni.

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