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Program Requirements

The interdisciplinary PhD program in Mathematical and Statistical Modelling is research-based, with additional coursework and seminar requirements, highlighting the application-oriented interdisciplinary nature of the program of study. The program is designed to be completed in four years.

You will be required to present and defend a research proposal in conjunction with a qualifying exam, and write and defend a dissertation. The way the proposed program is structured, including the variety of faculty members involved, allows students to conduct interdisciplinary research. The key application domains of the program draw on the strengths of the Department of Mathematics, the Interdisciplinary Research Institute for Mathematical and Statistical Modelling in Scientific Discovery, Innovation and Sustainability (MS2Discovery), and stakeholders in the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics and the Faculties of Science and Arts.


A typical scenario involves two terms of coursework, followed by a comprehensive examination (MA800). You are required to present at and attend MA880: Graduate Seminar in Mathematical and Statistical Modelling (0.5 credit) where you are exposed to applied modelling-based interdisciplinary projects (a similar structure is already implemented in several graduate courses at the MSc level, e.g. MA680). The seminar covers state-of-the-art approaches and broader skills development, important to all researchers regardless of the application domain. Additionally, you are required to take a minimum of two 0.5-credit electives at the 600- or 800-level (1.0 credit total). In most cases, one elective is selected from within the program (MA/ST600-899). The other 0.5-credit elective(s) may be any other graduate-level course(s), such as those offered by the academic units of participating faculty as per the recommendations of your supervisor and graduate coordinator.

Area of Research

You will engage in a specific area of research under the supervision of one or more faculty members, making an original contribution to knowledge. You will start working on their research project in year 1 to become familiar with the area of research and develop a research proposal by year 2. In addition to accomplishing the goals of your research project and defending your dissertation (MA899, 6.0 credits), you must complete MA810: Research Proposal and Qualifying Examination (0.5 credit) and MA821: Research Seminar (0.5 credit). Additionally, all students in the program should attend the Interdisciplinary Seminar in Applied Modelling (MA820), which will typically run in the fall and winter terms, and participate in a one-day Research Modelling Symposium organized in summer. Participation in the seminar and symposium should be described in the annual report submitted by every student in April.

Teaching Assistantships

A teaching component, generated through teaching assistantships (TAs) for undergraduate courses, will be an important part of your training when it is available. This will also bring an additional positive dynamic and enhancement to the overall quality of the undergraduate and MSc student experience. Usually, student support is based on the PhD minimum guaranteed funding (MGF) for Science programs, which include two teaching assistantships per year. 

Yearly Progression

The program curriculum presented here is structured around an annual September intake of students. The timetable below demonstrates the anticipated progression structure for full-time students. The minimal course requirements (MA880 and two elective 0.5-credit courses) are normally fulfilled in the first and second year of the program, and the Comprehensive Examination (MA800) should normally be completed in the third term of the program after taking MA880 and at least two electives. The Research Proposal and Qualifying Exam (MA810) should normally be completed in the fourth term, but no later than the end of the fifth term.

Graduate Program Timetable

Year 1

  • Fall: MA880, electives (0.5 credit each), MA820, MA899
  • Winter: Electives (0.5 credit each), MA820, MA899, Annual Report (due April 15)
  • Spring: MA800, MA899, Research Symposium

Year 2

  • Fall: Electives (0.5 credit each), MA810, MA820, MA899
  • Winter: Electives (0.5 credit each), MA820, MA899, Annual Report (due April 15)
  • Spring: MA899, Research Symposium

Year 3

  • Fall: MA820, MA899
  • Winter: MA820, MA821, MA899, Annual Report (due April 15)
  • Spring: MA899, Research Symposium

Year 4

  • Fall: MA820, MA899
  • Winter: MA820, MA899, Annual Report (due April 15)
  • Spring: MA899

Progression Requirements

You should be meeting the following progression requirements:

  • You will be required to pass a comprehensive examination (MA800), which should normally be completed in the third term of the program.
  • You will be required to pass a research proposal defence and qualifying examination (MA810), which should normally be completed in the fourth term, but no later than the end of the fifth term.
  • You will be required to submit, by April 15 annually, a report outlining your progress in the program over the past year.
  • Doctoral students must attain a minimum B in each course taken in fulfilment of the doctoral degree requirements.

Research Symposium

To emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of research and education in the PhD Program in Mathematical and Statistical Modelling, and to promote interaction between the students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty in the program, you are expected to present your work orally or in the form of a poster in an annual one-day research symposium. Participation in the symposium will be monitored through the annual report you submit in April.

As part of the symposium, faculty and/or postdoctoral fellows from different academic units participating in the PhD program may also be asked to give short presentations on their work. Depending on the availability of funds a guest speaker with expertise in interdisciplinary research in one of the identified application domains of mathematical and statistical modelling could be invited as a keynote speaker of this symposium. This symposium will be leveraged with the Applied Mathematics, Modeling and Computational Science (AMMCS) conference series held biannually over the summer on the main Laurier campus in Waterloo.

This series of interdisciplinary international conferences aims at promoting interdisciplinary research and collaboration within a broader international community, and highlighting recent advances in AMMCS. The series been supported by the major professional organizations, such as the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics, local companies such as Maplesoft, as well as by the Fields Institute, a world-renowned international centre for collaborative research, involving mathematics and statistics. You will be encouraged to participate in short courses and thematic and focus programs offered by the fields and other major national and international centres.

Doctoral Dissertation

Successful completion of the research proposal and qualifying exam allows you to progress to the research and writing of the dissertation. Candidates who fail to satisfy this requirement within the established time frame may be asked to leave the program.

The regulations and procedures at the university in which you are registered will govern both the dissertation and the examination formats. See the graduate academic calendar.