Application quick check list

  • All post-secondary transcripts
  • 3 academic references
  • Supplementary information form
  • English language proficiency*
  • Physics subject GRE*

* as applicable


Your application will be made available to faculty, adjunct faculty and cross-appointed faculty listed on the University of Waterloo, Department of Physics and Astronomy site, as well as all faculty listed on the University of Guelph, Department of Physics site. You are welcome to and encouraged to name any faculty that you are interested in working with from either institutional site. This will help us direct your application to a potential supervisor.

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:

Application deadlines 

Application forms and supporting documents are due by the deadlines outlined in the table below. Please check the Discover Graduate Studies website in the case there are deadline extensions. 

Starting Term Application Deadline
Fall (September) January 9th
Winter (January) June 1st (previous year)
Spring (May) October 1st (previous year)

Students who meet these deadlines and are eligible, will be considered for any major awards and scholarships (OGS, Tri-Agency Scholarships and internal UW awards) to which they have applied. 

Domestic students (Canadians and Permanent Residents) applications will be considered after these deadlines, although this may impact your eligibility for major awards and scholarships in your first year.

Admission requirements 

General application information can be found on the Academic Calendar; specific admissions requirements can be found under each program description within the Academic Calendar's Physics and Astronomy section. 

In general, students looking to apply to the Department of Physics and Astronomy will need to have the following: 

Requirement Additional information

An appropriate degree with a 75% overall standing

Master’s program: An Honours Bachelor's degree (or equivalent) in Science with at least a 75% standing (or equivalent). 

PhD program: Normally a Master's degree in Physics, with at least a 75% standing (or equivalent). 

OUAC application 

Applications will be submitted using the OUAC website. Be sure to declare ALL post-secondary institutions attended (past and current; this includes incomplete studies and transfer courses).

There will be a place to indicate up to 3 areas of study, and a place to list potential supervisors. You are strongly encouraged to indicate potential supervisors even if you haven't contacted them yet.

Supplementary Information Form (SIF) 

The SIF is used to learn about your preference of research area, scholarly contributions, scholarships and statement of interest. For tips on filling out the SIF, please visit the Discover Graduate Studies site.

  1. In order to permit the Admissions Committee more flexibility and to achieve greater success in placement, please study our website and indicate below your preference of research area.
  2. Do you prefer experimental or theoretical research, or are you undecided?
  3. If openings are not available in your chosen area(s) as indicated above, would you be willing to accept an offer in an area that has openings? (yes or no)
  4. In 250 words or fewer, succinctly state your research interests and goals, and how you intend to achieve them.
  5. Please list any evidence of research experience A) fourth year thesis or research project, coop research terms, NSERC USRAs, B) scientific presentations or scientific papers authored or co-authored (maximum 500 words).
  6. Any scholarships received.
  7. Please list any evidence of Leadership A) Committees, B) Organizations, C) Teams, D) any other evidence of leadership.

Academic Transcripts 

Once you have submitted your application on OUAC, you will be required to upload your academic transcripts from each post-secondary institution attended showing all courses and marks along with a transcript legend/key/grading scale. For more information on which transcripts you are required to send, what information must be included on the transcript, and what to do in the case of an international education, please visit the Discover Graduate Studies page on academic transcripts.

Three references 

Master’s program: 2 of the 3 references should be from academic sources

PhD program: All 3 references should be from academic sources.

For more tips on selecting a reference, please visit the Discover Graduate Studies page on references

This is a competitive program with a limited number of openings each year; approved applicants are admitted to either of these research programs ONLY if a supervisor can be found.

Students DO NOT need to find a supervisor prior to applying. However, we strongly recommend that they indicate some potential supervisors on their OUAC or Supplementary Information form. You may indicate a supervisor without contacting them first.

Applicants are encouraged to contact potential supervisors after submitting their application. Be specific in your correspondence, let them know about your research experience, publications, presentations and the aspects of their research you are most interested in. Avoid sending generic messages.

Supervisors looking for graduate students can view potential graduate student applications once they are approved by the Admissions Committee.

Information for International Students

The department strongly recommends that international students apply at least nine months prior to the start of the term, to allow sufficient time to arrange for a study permit.

In addition to the above admission requirements, international students may need:

Requirement Additional information
Physics SUBJECT Graduate Record Exam (GRE) If your previous/current degree(s) were NOT taken at a Canadian university, you must submit a physics subject GRE with a minimum score of 800.
English Language Proficiency (ELP) Certification If English is not your first language, your BSc or MSc was completed in English more than two years ago or your previous education was not completed in English, you must submit proof of an English Language Proficiency (ELP). For more information on requirements and exemptions, please view the UW ELP requirements and the ELP exemptions.

Applicants who have arranged to take a GRE and/or TOEFL at a future date may apply with these tests pending. As soon as the test results are received, the application package will be reviewed (providing all other documents have been received as well).