How to apply

All applications to graduate programs at the University of Waterloo are processed through the graduate online application system. Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA) has prepared a guide to help you navigate the application process. This page is meant to supplement that guide. Note that a full application involves both applying through the online system and creating a Waterloo student account to upload all application documents and view your application.

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Research which program you wish to apply to

Take a look at our programs page, which provides you an overview of all the programs offered by the Department of Physics.

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Check the admission requirements

Once you have decided which program(s) you are interested in, review the admission requirements for your program(s) and find out about University of Waterloo's admission process on the Future Students page

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Know the application deadlines

  • October 1 (for admission in May)
  • January 9 (for admission in September, early applications encouraged)
  • June 1 (for admission in January)

Allow around two weeks of time between starting the application process and the deadline, to make sure you have ample time to upload documents, and for your referees to complete their reference form.

International Students should apply at least nine months prior to the start of the term, to allow sufficient time to arrange for a study permit.

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Connect with a potential supervisor

In addition to applying and meeting the admission requirements, admission into a graduate program requires matching with a faculty member that is willing to serve as your supervisor. 

We recommend that you review department websites to identify the research areas and faculty members who you believe would be the best candidates to act as your supervisor and with whom you think you would like to work with. Then contact the faculty member(s) and provide them with the information they would find valuable for determining if you would be a good fit for their research group. 

Approaching a faculty member by email is a good first step. Be sure to tailor your email and message to each potential supervisor. Your goal is to stand out and make them notice you – a great first impression.

GSPA provides guidance on how to find your supervisor.

You may contact potential supervisors either before or after applying.  However, when you do apply, we strongly recommend that you indicate potential supervisors on your application.

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Contact your references

The Department of Physics & Astronomy requires three references as a part of the application. For PhD program applications, 3 academic references are required. For MSc program applications, 2 academic references are required and the last reference may be either academic or professional. Make sure to contact your references early, to provide them with ample time to complete your reference.

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Gather your supporting documents

Students will require the following documentation for their application:

  • Transcript: You will need to provide transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended. 
  • Supplementary Information Form (SIF):The Supplementary Information Form is used to ask program specific questions as part of your application.
  • Record Examination (GRE): Students who did not complete their schooling in Canada are encouraged to submit a Physics subject GRE score, however it is not required for a successful application. 
  • English Language Proficiency (ELP): If you completed your schooling outside of Canada, you may be required to submit an ELP. For more details on the process of submitting an ELP and if you might be exempted, please check Admission and English language proficiency requirements. 

The application procedures and deadlines for collaborative and other programs may differ from those for the regular physics MSc and PhD programs listed on this page. Please refer to the appropriate program websites for details:

Prospective PhD Students intending to work at the Perimeter Institute with a Waterloo affiliated Perimeter Institute faculty should also apply to the Perimeter Residency Doctoral Award