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Good programs for mathematical physics in canada

  1. Nov 21, 2012 #1
    im looking to become a theoretical physicist and i think i might want to do a program in mathematical physics for an undergrad. does anyone know which are best in canada? i know the obvious ones, (i think) U of T, Waterloo, UBC, McGill, but can anyone be more specific please?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 21, 2012 #2
    Do any of these "obvious universities" offer an undergrad mathematical physics program at all?
  4. Nov 21, 2012 #3
    to the best of my knowledge u of T and waterloo does, havent looked at others yet
  5. Nov 21, 2012 #4
    That sounds rather surprising, given that to my knowledge undergrad courses in "theoretical physics" or "mathematical physics" do not exist. So I checked your best of knowledge, assuming it to be better than the best of your spelling:
    - The University of Toronto suprisingly does list a course "Mathematics and Physics". A click on it leads you to a "Mathematics" page with no physics anywhere to be seen.
    - The University of Waterloo lists exactly one course containing the letters "physics": Physics.

    Which leads me to the advice I would give you: If you really want to do an undergrad program in "mathematical physics" (for whatever reason you may have), then check the websites of potential universities and check if one of them even offers such a program. If you find one you will be one step closer to the solution of the "where can I go?" problem.

    To clarify: While my tone may not be super-friendly, no offense is meant (not even with the implicit recommendation to greatly improve your spelling: The real world just isn't World of Warcraft). And I actually hope that the statement "there is [usually] no such course" helps you.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  6. Nov 21, 2012 #5
    what part of canada are you from? a lot of universities offer it
    Simon fraser University which is where i will be going next year has one
    i believe university of alberta and uvic have it too but i cant remember that clearly so you should check out their sites like the above post says
  7. Nov 21, 2012 #6
    also, mathematical physics programs are just regular physics programs with a lot of math courses. you could get the same by just going to any university for physics and take all the math courses you can.
  8. Nov 22, 2012 #7


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    Waterloo does have a Mathematical Physics program, though.

  9. Nov 22, 2012 #8
    I'm an undergrad at UofT, and yes we do offer a math&physics specialist program, which is almost identical to our physics specialist, except twice the amount of math and it's all theoretical
  10. Nov 23, 2012 #9
  11. Nov 23, 2012 #10
    exactly. even if your school doesn't offer a mathematical physics program you would get the same education if you take all the right math classes.

    if the universities in your area dont offer it its fine. you don't need to go to a school which offers mathematical physics just for the name of the degree. its no different than a physics major taking the same amount of math classes. most just major in physics and choose their area in grad school. but you have to have an area you are interested in before you can say i wanna be a theorist or experimentalist.
  12. Nov 23, 2012 #11


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    Timo, are you referring to specific undergraduate courses called "mathematical physics" or to the name of the program? Because at the University of Toronto (my alma mater, btw), there is a program titled Mathematics and Physics, which is what is referred to as a Joint Specialist program.

    A bit of background. At the University of Toronto, there are 3 different degree types (which I think is unique to that school):

    (1) a Specialist degree (the most advanced degree you can earn, equivalent to a Major degree in most US schools where you take the most number of courses with specific requirements)

    (2) a Major degree (similar to a Specialist degree but requiring fewer courses; also the requirements are somewhat less stringent)


    (3) a Minor (typically requiring the fewest number of courses, pursued in combination with another Major or Specialist degree).

    Furthermore, a Joint Specialist program is a Specialist program that combines the key requirements of two degree programs. Therefore, the Mathematics and Physics Joint Specialist is the equivalent of pursuing a double major in a US university.

    Now as far as the University of Waterloo is concerned, there is an undergraduate degree program (offered either in the Faculty of Mathematics or the Faculty of Science) called Mathematical Physics.
  13. Nov 23, 2012 #12
    http://students.sfu.ca/calendar/physics/mathematical-phys-hon.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  14. Nov 24, 2012 #13
    I don't even know what you mean. I'm refering to the fact that to my knowledge I never met a person with a specialist undergrad degree, which would be my interpretation of the term "undergrad program" that this thread happens to be about. Thanks for the overview over your undergrad options. But I think your time is better invested adressing biggerst than me. I simply happen to be involved here because no one else was replying.
  15. Nov 26, 2012 #14
    The joint-honors physics-mathematics at McGill isn't as you wish?
  16. Nov 27, 2012 #15
    At the University of Saskatchewan they really encourage specializing in one of 5 undergraduate degrees, one is theoretical physics. We also have a mathematical physics degree. While both need the same amount of math courses the mathematical physics has to take math courses that are more centered around proofs than solving equations.

    Thus far my experience with the math department hasn't been amazing. but the physics program here is beyond amazing. That said, I am focused on nuclear physics but am taking the courses needed for mathematical physics because I want to leave the door open to at least minor in math.
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