Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students

The University of Waterloo is continuing to monitor the COVID-19 pandemic and is implementing proactive measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our community members. They will continue to monitor the situation and we will post updates on this website regarding any necessary programming changes that may be required due to the pandemic.

Quantum for high school students

Discover how mathematics, physics, computer science, engineering, and more combine into one of the most exciting topics in modern science – quantum information – at the Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students (QCSYS).

What is QCSYS?

It is a unique, nine-day enrichment program for high school students that will run August 5-13, 2021, with students arriving on August 4 and departing August 14. The program offers a blend of expert lectures, hands-on experiments, and social and networking activities.

You will

  • see how the world works at the quantum level;
  • understand phenomenon like quantum superposition and entanglement;  
  • learn how quantum technology will transform computing, imaging and cryptography; and
  • make international friendships.

Along with more than 40 bright, motivated students from around the world, you will meet and work with some of the most renowned researchers the field has to offer.

12The number of years QCSYS has been offered
Black and white illustration of a globeParticipants from over 35 countries have attended
449The number of QCSYS graduates

Learn more about QCSYS

A male student and two female students exploring quantum mechanics using tweasers, a microchip and petri dish

What do you do in QCSYS?

QCSYS faculty will provide you with the necessary mathematical background to tackle some of the largest topics in modern physics. Want to get a head start? Download the free QCSYS quantum primer and begin building your linear algebra and arithmetic skills, as well as your understanding of quantum mechanics.

During the program, you will learn about:

  • complex numbers
  • entanglement
  • linear algebra
  • quantum computing and algorithms
  • quantum cryptography
  • quantum mechanics
  • quantum optics

You will gain hands-on experience with the concepts you are learning in lectures by:

  • using lasers and diffraction to make precision measurements
  • testing the Heisenberg uncertainty principle
  • designing and building electronic circuitry
  • using cryogenics to observe superconductivity
  • building a laser-based quantum key distribution system

Social activities

Even the most dedicated students need a break! Unwind and get to know the other participants during planned activities like:

  • laser tag
  • movies
  • a campfire
  • a trip to Niagara Falls


While no two days will be exactly the same at the Quantum Cryptography School for Young Students, you can expect to follow this general format.

Time Activity
7:30 am - 8:30 am Breakfast
9 am - 12 pm (noon) Morning lectures and activities
12 pm - 1 pm Lunch
1 pm - 6 pm Afternoon lectures and activities
6 pm - 7 pm Dinner
7:00 pm - 10:30 pm Planned activity/Free time
10:30pm Lights out

Who can apply for QCSYS?

You are an ideal candidate, if you are:

  • in Grade 11 or 12 (e.g., Secondary V and CÉGEP in Québec),
  • age 15 or older,
  • have enrolled in or completed Grade 11 mathematics (Grade 11 physics is recommended), and
  • fluent in English.

 Exceptional Grade 10 students may be accepted, space permitting.

What does it cost?

If you are accepted into the program, there is a $250 CAD registration fee. Meals and accommodation are included in the registration fee.

You will be responsible for covering the cost of travel to and from Waterloo. We offer bursaries to help cover the costs of registration and travel. Please indicate if you have financial need on your application or email iqc.qcsys@uwaterloo.ca for details.

When is it offered?

QCSYS is held annually. It usually takes place the first two weeks in August.

Where is it offered?

QCSYS is held at the University of Waterloo’s main campus. The academic programming is taught in the Institute for Quantum Computing’s state-of-the-art facilities and labs.

Overnight accommodations

Overnight all students (including those from the Waterloo Region) stay in the Ron Eydt Village (REV) residence, one of the University’s residence communities. You will stay in a double occupancy rooms and there will be six chaperones to supervise students (i.e., 6 students to 1 chaperone).

Each floor in REV consists of 24 double rooms with two large washrooms (one female and one male) and a common lounge. While you stay at REV, you'll have access to amenities like: laundry facilities, tech support, the cafeteria, quiet study spaces, workout facilities and more.

Illustration of a double room in Ron Eydt Village. The left and right sides of the room are a mirror of each other. There is a window, desk, chair, bed and wardrobe.


How to apply?

  • Complete the Application form by March. Applications open in September.
  • Provide one reference letter
  • Write a short discussion paper

The application is currently closed. Join our mailing list to be notified when it opens.


Travelling to QCSYS

You are responsible for covering the costs to get yourself to Waterloo. A travel bursary can be applied for on your application form, if needed. Based on your travel plans, you will be given a designated arrival-time window for either the airport or the Ron Eydt Village (REV) residence community. One of our chaperones will greet you, at either the airport or REV, and help get you settled.

Before you book your ticket to the University of Waterloo’s main campus, please read these tips on travelling to IQC by air, train, coach bus or car.