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UofT vs Ryerson in Toronto?

  1. Nov 4, 2013 #1
    I am not sure where to go for physics. People say UofT is very hard and that they make you do unnecessary work that isn't even on the curriculum, and that it is the best school in Canada, etc, etc.

    My question is, if I want to take it easier and do less work (and get a higher GPA while I'm at it) should I go to Ryerson instead of UofT? Is it really that much easier than UofT? Would it affect my ability to get a job if I don't graduate with UofT? People say companies only hire UofT graduates... etc. However, this all seems like propaganda from UofT so they can make more money.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2013 #2


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    Your primary concern shouldn't be finding the "easiest" school so that you can get a higher GPA. Your primary concern should be that you get the best education you can and that you learn what you need to in order to excel at physics. That's especially true if your goal in doing physics is to go to graduate school and beyond. Truth #1: *any* university physics program is going to be a lot of work. You will have to work your butt off in order to get a good GPA and to learn and understand physics. Truth #2: the more you know, the better a physicist you will be. So, given that last statement, how would you even define "unnecessary" work?

    EDIT: If you told me for sure that you wanted to become a physicist, i.e. move on to grad school, then I would say, "if you get into U of T, go there." However, it sounds like your goal might be to go into industry, rather than academia. I can't comment on the relative "marketability" of a U of T degree vs. Ryerson. It is true that a U of T physics degree will probably be very highly regarded, since the institution has been around for so long and has developed its reputation etc.

    Having had some direct experience with U of T, here's what I can tell you about the pros and cons as far as *your university experience* goes

    U of T:


    - a very large department with a lot of faculty. If you pay attention, interact with your profs, and take on research placements, you will have the opportunity to work in labs where cutting edge research is taking place

    - connections to other research institutes, e.g. Canadian institute for theoretical astrophysics, dunlap institute, perimeter institute, u of t institute for aerospace studies

    - "prestige" of U of T

    - Access to a lot of resources, huge library, etc


    - large class sizes, not much opportunity for one-on-one interaction
    - huge bureaucracy, administration treats you like a "number" or "cog in the machine" etc.
    - some undergrad labs/equipment are old, having been around since forever

    I don't have any direct experience with Ryerson, but I can tell you what I *think* the pros and cons might be:



    - potentially smaller class sizes, more interactive learning
    - newer facilities (Ryerson has invested a lot of money lately, esp. in engineering and aerospace)


    - potentially less immediately "meaningful" degree to employers (they have expectations/"know what they are getting" with u of t graduate, may be unsure about Ryerson grad or consider it to be an unknown)*
    - smaller department, probably fewer faculty active in research, fewer opportunities to get involved in research
    - fewer resources

    At the end of the day, this list is pretty generic, amounting to the relative pros and cons of "big, research-oriented school", vs "smaller, more teaching-oriented school"

    *This is speculative: it might not even matter that much. If you have a university physics degree, and there is actually some job in industry that is looking for that, then a university physics degree is a university physics degree. Hell, do they even look at your GPA or transcripts for an industry job? I thought all they cared about were the particular skills and experience you have, and the basic level of qualification that is ensured by a degree.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  4. Nov 5, 2013 #3
    cepheid, what are your thoughts on the University of Waterloo for an undergrad in physics? I know it's one of the best schools in Canada for mathematics and engineering, but I'm not sure how good their physics department is.

    I'm asking this as a high school senior that is applying to universities this year.
  5. Nov 5, 2013 #4


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    I'm also not sure how "good" their physics department is, or for that matter, what that even means. Sometimes I think that in Canada, at the undergraduate level, it sort of almost doesn't matter where you go for physics: the content of the program and the level of rigour of the program should be more or less equivalent. So, you should just base your decision on what people say about the student experience, the quality of services, the class sizes and quality of instruction, and the place that you have to live in for four years.

    What I say is true for large research-based universities in Canada, especially since all of them are publicly-funded. So, I'm saying that if you're considering well known places of the calibre of U of T, McGill, UBC, Waterloo, etc (places high profile enough that people from around the world go there), it almost doesn't matter which you pick as far as the quality of education you will receive. Obviously my statement doesn't apply if you're comparing a large research university to a smaller technical school or community college.

    I'm sorry I can't be helpful with more Waterloo-specific information. I don't have any. The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics is right there, so that could provide some potentially interesting opportunities.
  6. Nov 9, 2013 #5
    If physics is what you're interested in, you shouldn't consider Ryerson. They don't even offer an undergraduate program that tends to students primarily interested in physics (unless your interested in medical physics). I would recommend looking more into UofT and Waterloo for physics.
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