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.
First faculty of mathematics in North America
Available as a major and minor
Combinatorics and Optimization admission requirements
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.
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First-year Combinatorics and Optimization courses and beyond
You may select advanced-stream courses for algebra, calculus, and computer science if you meet the requirements.
September to December
January to April
After first year
You’ll take upper-year courses in combinatorics and optimization and other areas in the Faculty of Mathematics. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.
View a list of all the courses required for your degree.
Sample upper-year courses
Customize your degree in Combinatorics and Optimization
You can add additional areas of expertise to your degree by including one or more of the minors available to all Waterloo students.
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
Sample co-op employers
- Sybase Canada
- Ontario Ministry of Government and Community Services
- Department of National Defence
- OpenText Corporation
- Cisco Systems Canada
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.
Apply to Mathematics and choose Combinatorics and Optimization as your major
Offered by the Faculty of Mathematics
Earn a Bachelor of Mathematics degree
Ready to learn more?
- Visit the Department Combinatorics and Optimization website
- Email our Mathematics recruitment co-ordinator, who can answer any questions about the program
- Subscribe to our newsletter to get tips and advice from current students
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.
Visit our Waterloo Stories website to learn about current research in Combinatorics and Optimization at Waterloo.
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.