Undergraduate studies in mathematical physics

Mathematical Physics program leading to a Bachelor of Mathematics degree

Advanced mathematical methods are important in the entire spectrum of physics, from basic research into the fundamental laws of nature to the development of new types of technologies. The Department of Applied Mathematics, in collaboration with the Department of Physics and Astronomy, is therefore offering a program entitled, "Mathematical Physics." The program offers an integrated set of courses in mathematics and physics and leads to the Bachelor of Mathematics honours degree. It is a challenging program which requires high mathematical ability and strong physical intuition.

The program is flexible and students interested in a career in industry may broaden their background by including courses, for example, in computational mathematics or computer science. There are currently positions, for example, in the energy sector, in the semi-conductor industry, in the field of telecommunication and in medical technology. Students who wish to move on to graduate studies are being particularly well prepared by this program. It is important to note that a career at the forefront of industrial research, e.g. in quantum optics or nanotechnology, often requires a graduate degree. A career in academic research always requires a PhD, as well as several years of mobility in so-called postdoctoral work at universities or other research institutes before settling into an academic position. Many of those who start an academic career eventually move to industry. In industry, mathematical physicists, in particular those with a graduate degree, possess a reputation as being particularly able to solve complex real world problems and are, therefore, sought after for high level positions even in unrelated fields such as finance, software or management consulting.

Why choose University of Waterloo for mathematical physics?

University of Waterloo's Faculty of Mathematics is unique, with over 200 professors. If it is math, we probably have an expert in it. We attract Canada's best students in mathematics.

Waterloo has two large research institutes for physics:

  • Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) is at the forefront of both mathematical and experimental research into how to build and operate quantum computers. It is part of a worldwide effort to learn to control individual atoms and photons with one of the main goals being to utilize quantum mechanical phenomena to achieve an exponential speed-up of certain types of calculations.
  • Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI), which is an independent research institute with close ties to University of Waterloo, focuses on the foundations of quantum theory and general relativity, with applications to cosmology.

All this means that, at University of Waterloo, you may, for example, attend some of the many regular seminars by international researchers, perhaps work in a co-op term at the IQC or at PI, or apply for a summer research scholarship to take part in research in quantum gravity.