Master two of math’s most powerful techniques
Hone the skills you need to solve problems in computer science, business, communications, and more.
Combinatorics looks at permutations and combinations. Optimization explores ways to make any operation work more efficiently within given constraints. Together, they provide powerful methods for modelling and solving large management problems, from optimizing flight schedules to making a factory’s layout as efficient as possible.
In Combinatorics and Optimization at Waterloo, you’ll learn concepts such as enumeration, combinatorical designs, graph theory, linear programming, nonlinear optimization, operations research, and combinatorical optimization, and how to use them in real-world applications. Plus, you'll have the opportunity to gain paid work experience through the co-op program.
When you graduate, you can put your skills to work in areas as diverse as cryptography, electronic security, software development, social media, and risk analysis.
- Add research to your résumé. As an undergraduate research assistant, you could spend a term working on a research problem with one of our award-winning professors.
- Have fun with other mathies. Take a break from your studies. The student-run Pure Math, Applied Math, Combinatorics and Optimization Club offers talks, food, board games, and more.
- Available as a regular and co-op program
- Available as a major and minor
- Graduate with a Bachelor of Mathematics in Combinatorics and Optimization
- Offered by the Faculty of Mathematics
What will you learn?
You'll take a mix of Mathematics and Computer Science courses to give you the foundations for your upper-year classes, along with a few electives.
Customize your degree
You can add additional areas of expertise by including one of the minors available to all Waterloo students.
Once you're a student, advisors can help you explore which minors or specializations may fit into your plans.
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Monthly topics include how to choose a program, what it's like to be a Waterloo student, the differences between high school and university, and more.
Questions? Ask a student!
Contact a Faculty of Mathematics student ambassador to learn about their experience in the program.
Ask them questions such as why they chose their program, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.
Co-op = relevant paid work experience
By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore new career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve.
Sample co-op job titles
- Business technology analyst
- Data analyst
- Full stack developer
- Quantitative trading associate
- Software developer
- Software QA specialist
- Web interface developer
What can you do with a degree in Combinatorics and Optimization?
Waterloo Combinatorics and Optimization graduates often pursue careers in software development, data analysis, and more. They often work for entertainment companies, financial institutions, and software companies.
- Junior Quantitative Analyst – Green Brick Labs
- Risk Analyst – Rogers Bank
- Actuary – Sun Life Financial
- Software Engineer – Amazon Canada
- Statistical Analyst – Ministry of the Attorney General
- Platform Developer – IGLOO
- Engineer, Software Development - Microsoft Canada
Learn about the future of careers in business.
Student life, including women in mathematics
Math Society (MathSoc)
MathSoc is run by students for students and provides a wide range of clubs and services as well as social and academic events to make your experience as a Waterloo Mathematics student the best it can be. There are many ways to get involved and to meet students in other Faculty of Mathematics programs.
Outside of the Faculty of Mathematics, our campus is packed with opportunities to get involved, no matter how unique your interests. Between clubs supported by the Waterloo Undergraduate Student Association, sports and recreation, student government, and an incredible range of events, there's something for everyone at Waterloo!
Women in Mathematics
The Women in Mathematics (WiM) community encourages and advocates for women of all ages who are interested in studying math and pursuing a career in a related area. WiM strives for all genders to be well-represented in mathematics and welcomes people with under-represented gender identities.
Women in Computer Science
Women in Computer Science (WiCS) promotes gender equity for students interested in studying computer science and pursuing career in computing. WiCS has a very active student-run committee and offers events such as the Big CSters mentoring program, workshops, a speaker series, and panels about diversity in computer science and STEM.
There's also Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (WiSTEM), a student-run club that welcomes all students (regardless of gender) to promote equality in STEM. Opportunities include skills workshops, discussions, homework help, and guest speakers.
Combinatorics and Optimization admission requirements
Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including
- Advanced Functions
- Calculus and Vectors
- Any 4U English
- One other 4U course
Recommended course: Grade 11 U Introduction to Computer Science
Admission averages: Individual selection from the high 80s
How to apply?
Apply to Mathematics and choose Combinatorics and Optimization as your major at the end of first year. Once you've applied, you'll need to complete the Admission Information Form as part of the application process.
To be considered for entrance scholarships in the Faculty of Mathematics, you must write one or both of the contests. If you complete both contests, we'll use the results of the contest in which you performed best.
Connect with us
Questions about courses, programs, requirements, or careers?
Please contact our Faculty of Mathematics recruitment coordinator who can answer any questions you have.