Mathematical Optimization

Your optimal future starts here

Focus on problems where resources need to be allocated effectively in complex, dynamic, and uncertain conditions.

You'll start with a solid foundation in math, including combinatorics, linear optimization, modeling, scheduling, forecasting, decision theory, and computer simulation. On top of that, you’ll add courses in economics, business, and management science, in addition to the ability to gain paid work experience through co-op.

After first year, you'll choose one of two specializations: Operations Research or Business.

When you graduate, you’ll have all kinds of career options. You might enhance scheduling for airline crews and sports games, improve production and distribution efficiency for manufacturing companies, increase service quality and efficiency in healthcare administration, or develop sophisticated tools for finance and investments.

Computer code on a screen.

Your choice: four years or five

Choose co-op and gain two years of career-relevant work experience. Or choose the regular system and graduate a year earlier.

Learn from top researchers

There’s no better place to study optimization than Waterloo, home to the world’s largest concentration of combinatorics and optimization professors.


#1First faculty of mathematics in North America

briefcaseAvailable as a co-op and regular program

Graduation capEarn a Bachelor of Mathematics in Mathematical Optimization


Mathematical Optimization admission requirements

Apply to Mathematics and choose Mathematical Optimization as your major. Once you've applied, you'll need to complete the Admission Information Form as part of the application process.

We strongly encourage you to participate in the Canadian Senior Mathematics Contest and/or the Euclid Mathematics Contest to enhance your admissions status. 

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.

Get tips from Waterloo students

Sign up for insider advice that can help you now and in the future. Topics include

  • tips for a successful senior year of high school,
  • how to choose a university program,
  • differences between high school and university, and more.

First-year Mathematical Optimization courses

You may select advanced-stream courses for algebra, calculus, and computer science if you meet the requirements. 

September to December

  • MATH 135 - Algebra 
  • MATH 137 - Calculus 1
  • Choose one of:
    • CS 115 - Introduction to Computer Science
    • CS 135 - Designing Functional Programs
  • One communication skills course
  • One elective

January to April

  • MATH 136 - Linear Algebra 1 
  • MATH 138 - Calculus 2 
  • Choose one of:
    • CS 116 - Introduction to Computer Science 2
    • CS 136 - Algorithm Design and Data Abstraction
  • Two electives

After first year

Most of the required courses you’ll take will be combinatorics and optimization courses, with additional courses in mathematics. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.

Sample upper-year courses 

CO 331 - Coding Theory
CO 380 - Mathematical Discovery and Invention
CO 450 - Combinatorial Optimization
CO 471 - Semidefinite Optimization


Arrow pointing up and clickingApply to Mathematics and choose Mathematical Optimization as your major

math tieOffered by the Faculty of Mathematics

globeWaterloo is an international leader in Mathematics


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.

Customize your Bachelor of Mathematics degree

In upper years, you'll select Business or Operations Research as your specialization. You can also add additional areas of expertise to your degree by including one or more of the minors available to all Waterloo students.

What can you do with a degree in Mathematical Optimization?

Waterloo Mathematical Optimization graduates commonly pursue careers in software development, business analysis, and operations. They often work in financial institutions, consulting companies, universities, and more.

Recent graduates

  • App Software Developer - Bank of Montreal
  • Business Analyst - ThoughtWorks Canada
  • Business Technology Analyst - Deloitte & Touche LLP
  • Health Information Analyst - Ministry of Health Services, British Columbia
  • IT Architect - Scotiabank
  • Institutional Analyst - University of Waterloo
  • Manager, Business Operations - Fortune Metals Inc.

Learn about the future of careers in business.

Ready to learn more?