Canadian universities for physics undergrad program

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  • Thread starter NoahJVallis
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Hello Physics Forum members! I have come to this section of the forum to ask a question that I am sure has been asked many time before on this forum; which Canadian university/universities offer the best physics undergrad program/s. I am in high school and I wish to enter become a physicist (grad school after undergraduate degree), and I am wondering which university in Canada will give me the best experience and education in this field. The only thing is; I wish to stay close to home. I live in Nova Scotia and the furthest I would be willing to go from home is Ontario. As I stated before, I want to go to grad school and I have been doing some research but there are so many choices and a wide variety of options on those choices. I've heard that UofT is the best in the country for physics, but it is a GPA killer and could possibly shut the door for grad school. I am asking students who attend, have attended, or know somebody who attends a university in Canada for physics and possibly give me your or their two cents on the subject. Hope to hear from you all in the comments.

Best wishes and thank you,
Noah
P.S I would be willing to do a co-op program only if it increases my chances of getting into grad school, but this subject is more tailored to an undergrad, not a high school student.
 

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  • #2
Choppy
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You probably already know that there's no single "best" school. There are a lot of good schools for undergraduate physics in Canada, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. One thing that I've found (I'm a Canadian medical physicist) is that the overall quality of education of an undergraduate physics degree tends to be reasonably uniform, at least across most of the bigger schools (UBC, U of Toronto, McGill, U of Alberta, Waterloo, U Vic). In admissions there's no "this guy is from school X, so he goes to the top of the heap, but that guy when to school Y so it's an automatic rejection." They look at your courses and evaluate you by your GPA.

One of the advantages of going to a bigger school is that you often will have more opportunities to explore different sub-fields, and a wider array of research opportunities. But going to a smaller school can have advantages too: smaller class sizes, better chance to get to know your professors, and there can still be lots of opportunities, just that the options are limited to what's being done where you're at.

I've heard that "U of T is a GPA killer" line for years. I'm not sure where it comes from, but I've seen no evidence that backs it up. I'm sure it's a challenging school, but I don't buy that those students have it any worse than any other students. What they do have to contend with is either very long commute times or outrageous apartment prices (not that that's exclusive to Toronto). That might be something to factor into your decision. If you're going to have to spend three hours our of every day on a GO Train or a subway or a bus, that's a big chunk of study time that's lost.

When it comes to the co-op option, this tends not to play much of a factor in graduate school admissions. What it does give you is work experience and professional network connections. For those that pay, it's also a chance to earn some cash that can cut into your student debt load. But I wouldn't expect it to make much of a difference in graduate admissions.
 

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