Graduate students

Modern society has been shaped by a long tradition of mutual inspiration and enrichment between Mathematics and the Sciences.

In this tradition, the Department of Applied Mathematics offers its graduate students opportunities for study in the areas of Control Theory and Dynamical Systems, Fluid Mechanics, Mathematical Medicine and Biology, Mathematical Physics, and Scientific Computation. Our students' research projects involve cutting-edge applications of mathematical theory in a broad range of fundamental and applied sciences. These applications include, for instance, cancer therapy optimization, control of shape memory alloys, fractal image processing, quantum computing, and the study of climate variability, inflationary cosmology, and nanotechnology.

The Department of Applied Mathematics is one of five units that comprise the Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo, which was ranked 20th worldwide in the 2015 QS University Rankings for mathematics. Graduate students in the department benefit from our close links with the Faculties of Science and Engineering, the Centre for Mathematical Medicine, the Centre for Theoretical Neuroscience, the Institute for Quantum Computing, the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, the Water Institute, and the Centre for Computational Mathematics in Industry and Commerce.

We offer both Master's and PhD programs. Our thesis-based Master's of Mathematics (MMath) program normally takes two years to complete. Many of the graduates of this program subsequently pursue PhD degrees; others are successful in obtaining rewarding positions in industry or government. Our PhD program generally takes four years to complete. Most of our PhD graduates find employment in university research. Others take on positions in research and development in industry, government, or commerce.

For more information about Graduate studies in Mathematics at the University of Waterloo, please visit the Math Graduate Office "Future Grad Students" website.

Graduate program progression in comparison to programs offered in other countries

  • In Canada, an honours undergraduate (Bachelor's) degree typically takes four years to complete, after which students could be admitted into our Master's program, but not directly into our PhD program. This is typical of most Canadian graduate programs. Our thesis-based two-years Master's degree involves completion of a significant research project. Graduates of the Masters' program who choose to pursue a PhD normally complete that degree after four additional years of study. Alternatively, we offer an option for transfer between programs which can accelerate progress to the PhD:  Master's students who have a suitably strong record after one year of Master's studies can take an exam that transfers them directly into the PhD program (in which case they do not write a Master's thesis).
  • At other institutions (including many in the USA and overseas), students usually enter the PhD program directly after completing an undergraduate degree. The completion time for these programs is typically 5-6 years, which is about the same as the normal completion time for our Master's-PhD sequence. In comparison with direct-entry PhD programs, our students have the advantage that they can naturally re-evaluate and change direction after the first two years of grad studies.
  • We typically match all of our students (Master's and PhD) with a research supervisor during the admission process. This practice differs with some programs (again, including many in the USA and overseas) in which students find a supervisor after completing a term or two of courses. For the student, early matching has the advantage that progress on a research project can begin immediately. Also, immediate access to funding from the supervisor's research grant means that our students' Teaching Assistant (TA) duties are low in the first year, normally only five hours per week on average.

If you are a strong student and want to be involved in mathematics-based research in a multidisciplinary environment, consider applying for graduate studies in Applied Mathematics at Waterloo.