Study the very big to the very small. This math is universal.
In Mathematical Physics, you’ll combine theoretical physics with high-level math courses in differential equations, vector calculus, and applied mathematics. You’ll also get plenty of chances to apply that learning with hands-on labs in mechanics, electricity and magnetism, computer programming, optics, and more.
You won’t find a better place to study than Waterloo. Our Faculty of Mathematics is the largest in Canada. Meanwhile, the Department of Physics is one of Canada’s largest and most innovative, and this program comes with a co-op option so students can gain up to two years of paid work experience while pursuing their degree.
Join a program that fosters curious minds to question the smallest particles, the largest forces, and everything in between. Where you'll get the support to possibly win a Nobel Prize in Physics (like Waterloo professor Dr. Donna Strickland) or be part of the team to take the first image of a black hole (like professor Avery Broderick).
Whatever door you choose, Waterloo offers the key to open it.
Waterloo ranks top 10 in Canada for Physics and Astronomy
Waterloo ranks among the top 50 universities in the world for math
Choose your focus
You can earn your Mathematical Physics degree through the Faculty of Mathematics or the Faculty of Science. What's the difference?
- The degree you earn will be either a Bachelor of Mathematics (BMath) or a Bachelor of Science (BSc).
- Depending on your interests and whether you'd like to earn a math or science degree, you'll apply to one of two entry programs: Mathematics or Physical Sciences (which have different admission requirements).
- You'll then choose Mathematical Physics as your major within one of these entry programs.
What will you learn?
Programs/majors in the Faculty of Science start right in first year. To select your program with confidence, here’s some handy info to get you started.
Skills you'll develop with this major
- Advanced mathematical skills
- Qualitative and quantitative analysis
- Systemic, rigorous, and flexible problem solving
- Applied programming and data analysis
- Creative application of knowledge to design new technologies
This isn't an exhaustive list – rather a glimpse into the skills a Mathematical Physics major can provide.
Your experience will be unique, and the skills you develop will depend on your goals; which courses you take; and your involvement with any clubs, jobs, or research projects.
Types of courses you'll take
This is a general guideline. The ratio of courses may change slightly from year to year.
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Ask them questions such as why they chose their program, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.
First-year Mathematical Physics courses and beyond
Faculty of Science
September to December
January to April
*Note: Year-one CHEM may be replaced by year-one BIOL or EARTH courses.
Faculty of Mathematics
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
About half of the classes you’ll take will be Physics courses, with roughly the other half being Applied Mathematics and Math courses. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.
Sample upper-year courses
Customize your degree
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
- Design engineer-quality assurance
- Project engineering support
- Performance engineering co-op student
- Science & math peer tutor
- Undergraduate research assistant
- Application programmer
- Quality assurance analyst
Sample co-op employers
- Ontario Power Generation Inc.
- Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
- 360 Education Labs Inc.
- CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research
- Ontario Ministry of Government & Consumer Services
Visit our Beyond Ideas website to learn about a Mathematical Physics student's co-op experience.
What can you do with a degree in Mathematical Physics?
Mathematical Physics graduates commonly pursue careers in industry analysis and modelling, software development and theoretical physics research with nuclear power companies, tech companies, engineering firms, and more. Many graduates also pursue specialized master's and PhD studies.
- Programmer/Research Assistant – Grand River Hospital
- Teacher – Nancy Campbell Academy
- Specialist – Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada
- Shopping Operations Specialist – Google
- Lecturer – McGill University
- Front End Engineer – Sandvine
- Assistant Engineer – General Dynamic Canada
Learn about the future of careers in math, coding, and data.
Common questions about the program
What's the difference between Mathematical Physics in the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Mathematics?
In first year, students in the Faculty of Science will take more science courses and labs in subjects like chemistry, while students in the Faculty of Mathematics will take more computer science courses. After first year, the programs have very similar requirements and offer the same opportunities, so the biggest difference is whether you prefer to graduate with a Bachelor of Mathematics or a Bachelor of Science. There's no right or wrong degree, it's personal preference.
How do the math courses compare to high school?
The math courses in Mathematical Physics are more focused on proving a theory or problem rather than computing or defining a specific answer. This type of math may be very different than your high school math. It may be closest in example to trigonometric identities problems.
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.
Earn a Bachelor of Mathematics or Bachelor of Science degree
Ready to learn more?
- Visit the Faculty of Mathematics or Faculty of Science Mathematical Physics websites
- Email the Math advisor or the Science advisor if you have questions about the program
- Related programs:
Learn from top researchers
Catch a lecture at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, just south of campus, or spend a research term at Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing.
Make friends for life
Plan to live in residence? Live in a Science Academic Cluster and meet other first-year Science students. Form a study group or walk to class together with your new classmates.