Three students collaborating together at a blackboard

PSI Start Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any fees to apply?


Do I have to pay a fee to attend the ten-week online school or research internship?


Is there any financial support?

Research interns will be paid through a Research Award. Perimeter Institute will also cover economy travel expenses between each intern’s home institution and Toronto Pearson Airport. Ground transportation from Toronto Pearson Airport to Perimeter Institute will also be provided. Interns will be provided with credit at Perimeter Institute’s Black Hole Bistro to use for weekday meals (excluding holidays).

While there are no participation fees for the online school, Perimeter Institute recognizes that participation in an online program may be a financial burden to some students. Financial support, such as funding for IT equipment, is available to participants based on their needs.

If I'm uncertain whether I’m eligible to apply, what should I do?

Please contact [email protected].

How do my referees submit their reference letters?

Upon completion of the online application, the system will automatically contact your referees with details on how to submit their reference letter. Referees are asked to evaluate your abilities and motivation, academic background, and group collaboration skills.

We encourage you to contact your referees before listing them on your application. Please let them know that they will receive an automated email from AJO (Perimeter's application tool) with with instructions for submitting their reference letters and that letters should address the following points.

1. Please compare the candidate with other students you have encountered at a similar level. Describe the group with which you are comparing the candidate.

2. Please elaborate below on the candidate’s abilities and motivation. We ask that you consider the following aspects in your evaluation:

  • the candidate’s ability to find creative and innovative solutions to problems,
  • the candidate’s curiosity about topics in theoretical physics,
  • the candidate’s ability to quickly learn new and difficult concepts,
  • the candidate’s ability to deeply understand concepts they have learned,
  • the candidate’s tenacity and determination when approaching difficult problems,
  • the candidate’s self-motivation and ambition,
  • the candidate’s work ethic,
  • the candidate’s ability to work independently.

3. Please elaborate below on the candidate’s group collaboration skills and commitment to EDI (equity, diversity, and inclusion). We ask that you consider the following aspects in your evaluation:

  • the candidate’s ability to work collaboratively on problems,
  • the candidate’s ability to listen to and appreciate others’ points of view,
  • the candidate’s ability to accept constructive criticism and guidance in their work,
  • the candidate’s ability to convey their understanding to colleagues and help them understand,
  • the candidate’s understanding of the importance of EDI in research and learning environments,
  • the candidate’s commitment to improving EDI practices in their research and learning environments.

NOTE: Referees will NOT be able to access your application or view your private information.

What previous knowledge should students have to attend the school?

PSI Start students should have knowledge of the following topics by the time the school starts:

  • Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formalism in classical mechanics
  • Some knowledge of quantum mechanics (Hilbert space, bras and kets)
  • Familiarity with linear algebra concepts (linear maps, eigenvalues and eigenvectors), especially in the context of quantum mechanics

Students who will learn about these topics after the application deadline but before the start of the school can still apply.

I am planning to apply for the PSI Bridge program. Can I also apply for the online school?

PSI Start and PSI Bridge happen in parallel, so it is not possible to attend both at the same time. Students who apply for both can only be selected for one of the programs.

What kind of visa do I need for the in-person research internship?

You need a visitor visa and/or eTA.

Will my chances of being selected for the online school change if I also apply for the internship? 

No. Applications will be considered based solely on your submitted application materials.

Are the internship positions awarded based on performance during the online school? 

No, internship positions will be awarded by the end of February 2024 and will be based on your online application.

Can I participate in an internship online, or on dates other than the scheduled window of May 6 - August 16?

The minimum time commitment for the internship is 12 weeks. Interns who are unable to travel to Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada for the entire period may participate online for part of their internship. It may be possible to accommodate a candidate whose availability falls slightly outside of the above window but shifting the timeframe by weeks or months is not possible. 

Can anyone in the world apply? Which countries are eligible?

Students around the world who meet the eligibility criteria are welcome to apply. Students outside of the Eastern Time Zone should expect that the synchronous meeting schedule for the online school may not match their usual daily routine of waking and sleeping times. The online school will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays at two different times each day: 9 am to 11:15 am, and 3:15 pm to 5:30 pm (Eastern Time) It is highly recommended that prospective applicants consider the time difference between Waterloo and their community before applying.

Can I apply to PSI Start and the PSI master's program in the same year?

You are able to apply to both the PSI Start and PSI master's programs in the same year. However, you will not be accepted to both in the same year. If an offer for either program is made, it will be for the program that we feel is the best fit for you – not necessarily your preferred choice. Participants in the PSI Start program generally complete one additional year of study before starting in the PSI master's program or another graduate program in physics.

For example, if you apply for both, and receive an offer for the PSI Start school or internship, you will be removed from consideration for PSI master's program in the same year, and will need to re-apply to the next year of the PSI master's program. You will not be given the opportunity to choose between the programs. Exceptions are possible for students displaced or at risk due to conflict.