Theoretical and Computational Science (PhD)

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Length of program

48 months

Mode of delivery

In person

Program consists of:

  • Thesis
  • Coursework
  • Comprehensive examination




Summer, Fall and Spring

Program description

The PhD program is a four year program. The format for the degree consists of coursework and a thesis. The student must pass a written and an oral comprehensive examination within the first two years of the program.

The thesis is the most significant component of work towards the degree and involves original research. The first step for any prospective student is to select a potential supervisor and in consultation with the supervisor, organise a research plan including possible thesis topic, before admission to the program. Faculty research interests are a critical factor in this preliminary decision.

The department is attempting to expand and strengthen its research activities and graduate students will play an important role in this endeavour. Almost all faculty members in the department receive external or internal funding to support their research programs.

Graduate degrees traditionally have been awarded for the successful completion of a satisfactory thesis. The thesis route expresses the fundamental tradition of academic scholarship. It also relates to the University's undergraduate programs, because the creation of a thesis in any discipline calls for a range of skills which are central to the liberal education tradition, including analysis and synthesis of ideas, empirical investigations, the construction and articulation of arguments, and writing skills.

Because of the nature of the PhD program, the thesis forms the central requirement of the program. The thesis will be written under direction of a supervisor or supervisors. Consequently, it is necessary for a candidate to establish contact with potential supervisors prior to application for admission. Candidates seeking potential supervisors should contact either the relevant academic department or the School of Graduate Studies.

Relevant educational background

Students with an MSc in mathematics with a strong GPA, should be well-prepared to enter the PhD program.

Finding a supervisor

Students are required to secure a potential supervisor prior to submitting an application for this program. Faculty members in various departments including Physics, Computer Science, and Mathematics, can supervise in this area. 
Amir Akbary-Majdabadno
Andrew Fiori
Daya Gaur
Dave Morris
Habiba Kadiri
Hadi Kharaghani
Howard Cheng
Hua Li
Jackie Rice
Joy Morris
John Zhang
Nathan Ng
Robert Benkoczi
Shahadat Hossain
Wendy Osborn
Yllias Chali
Saurya Das
Arundhati Dasgupta
Behnam Seyed-Mahmoud
Kenneth Vos
Mark Walton

Additional supervisors may be available. Visit our Search Supervisors webpage for more information.

Career pathways

Being a mathematician is touted as being the best of all jobs. In 2009, the Wall Street Journal published a study ranking Mathematician, Actuary and Statistician as the top three careers. Other recent surveys grading job satisfaction according to income, job security, stress and work environment all ranked jobs involving mathematical reasoning and knowledge at the very top.

Here are just a few of the options open to you once you've earned your degree:

Researcher, Cryptologist, Statistician, Actuary, Economist, Investment Banker, Computer Scientist, Systems Analyst, Software Developer, Physicist, Geologist, Meteorologist, Astronomer, Ecologist, Epidemiologist, Biomathematician, Biostatistician, Operations Research Analyst, Sales Manager

The University of Lethbridge PhD graduates in mathematics have gone through successful careers by securing postdoctoral positions and pursuing academic and research opportunities.

Additional information

The department has a number of research-related activities, including the Colloquium Lecture Series, Number Theory and Combinatorics Seminars, and Optimization Research Group Seminars, all highlighting leading experts from other universities as guest speakers. The Number Theory and Combinatorics Seminar has been particularly active over the last ten years with over 200 seminars including 50 external speakers.

The department has also hosted high-profile research conferences including Number Theory Day 2008, Canadian Number Theory Association 2012 (CNTA XII), Western Canada Linear Algebra Meeting (W-CLAM) 2012, Algebraic Design Theory and Hadamard Matrices 2014 (ADTHM), and Alberta Mathematics Dialogue 2015 (AMD). The CNTA XII meeting was one of the largest conferences hosted at the university with nearly 200 participants from all over the world.

The Department of Mathematics has faculty members who conduct research in the following fields:

  • Algebra
  • Analysis
  • Combinatorics
  • Logic
  • Number Theory, and
  • Statistics.

The research strengths of the department include Number Theory and Combinatorics.

Our department became a member of PIMS (the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences) in 2012. PIMS was created in 1996 by the community of mathematical scientists in Alberta and British Columbia, and subsequently extended to both Washington State, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. It is a multi-million dollar venture, with various universities being awarded funding for projects, conferences, speakers, post doctoral positions, graduate scholarships, etc.

The mandate of PIMS is to promote research in and applications of the mathematical sciences, to facilitate the training of highly qualified personnel, to enrich public awareness of and education in the mathematical sciences, and to create mathematical partnerships with similar organisations in other countries (with a particular focus on the Pacific Rim). PIMS funds Collaborative Research Groups, Post-Doctoral Fellowships and individual events on a competitive basis.

There are many benefits of having membership in PIMS. Each year the department has two post-doctoral fellows in-house, sponsored by PIMS. Several financial awards have been granted to faculty and graduate students in the department.

Program benefits and learning outcomes

Benefits of the program and potential learning outcomes and skills/knowledge that students will acquire while completing the program:
The mathematics program will allow you to develop a variety of mathematical skills, such as: dealing with abstract concepts, analysing and solving problems, constructing mathematical arguments, analysing and interpreting data, finding patterns and drawing conclusions, applying mathematical theories to physical theories, and using mathematical software. You will also learn to present arguments and conclusions with accuracy and clarity, organise your work and time effectively, as well as build on your critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills.