CAPSS 2020

Canadian Astroparticle Physics Summer School

May 10-16, 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Note, CAPSS has been cancelled for 2020.

COVID-19 has led to many institutes stopping visitors, public schools shutting down, universities cancelling classes and events with large groups, and banning all international travel for their staff and guests. The Canadian government has now closed international travel, and some provinces have enacted a state of emergency.

Given this, it is with great sadness that we will be cancelling CAPSS in May. While it is too early to know what our plans are for CAPSS2021, we will reach out to the community as soon as we know. This site will also be updated at that time.

In the meantime, the McDonald Institute will soon begin exploring ways to bring our content and programs to an online platform. Please join our newsletter to get updates about our programming: https://mcdonaldinstitute.ca/newsletter-archive/.

Thank you again for your interest in CAPSS, and we hope we can engage you in our other programs in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime, please take care of yourself!


What is the goal of CAPSS 2020?

Many students have already decided whether they intend to pursue a graduate career in astroparticle physics or not without having ever taken an astronomy or particle physics course. We aim to give students the opportunity to learn more about these fascinating topics before then! Students will attend lectures at a world-class institute and will have preferential access to top-of-the-line educators and facilities during their stay with us.

Where is CAPSS 2020 being hosted?

CAPSS 2020 will be hosted by both Queen’s University in Kingston, ON and SNOLAB in Lively, ON.

Will there be a CAPSS 2021?

CAPSS 2018 was the inaugural edition of the Canadian Astroparticle Physics Summer School, and it and CAPSS 2019 were very successful. We plan to continue to hold CAPSS annually, with CAPSS 2021 hopefully being announced in Fall 2020.

Who are the instructors? What is the full program for CAPSS 2020?

This is on our Information page. Note, instructors and schedules have not be confirmed yet for 2020.

A list of 2019 instructors follow:
Prof. Joseph Bramante (Queen’s/MI)
Prof. Erica Caden (SNOLAB/Laurentian)
Prof. Ken Clark (Queen’s/MI)
Prof. Guillaume Giroux (Queen’s/MI)
Prof. Ian Lawson (SNOLAB/Laurentian)
Prof. Ryan Martin (Queen’s)
Prof. Tony Noble (Queen’s/MI)
Dr. Tom Sonley (SNOLAB)
Prof. Kristine Spekkens (Royal Military College)
Prof. Aaron Vincent (Queen’s/MI)
Prof. Lawrence Widrow (Queen’s)

Who is the target audience for CAPSS 2020?

This school is targeted at strong 2nd year and 3rd year undergraduate students in a Physics, Astronomy or Engineering program. We also welcome more senior students, particularly those not graduating this summer or who are not already accepted for graduate studies. Both Canadian and international students are welcomed to apply.

Are there any course requirements for CAPSS 2020?

While there are no set course prerequisites to attend CAPSS 2020, we require at least two years of standard undergraduate course curricula from a Physics, Astronomy or Engineering program.

I am a 1st year undergraduate student. Can I apply to CAPSS 2020?

We strongly suggest you wait until at least your second year to apply to CAPSS, as you will likely not have the necessary background to fully benefit from the school. However, you can certainly apply for consideration!

I am a 4th year undergraduate student. Can I apply to CAPSS 2020?

We welcome applications from 4th year and more senior undergraduates, particularly if they will not have graduated by the time they attend CAPSS 2020, i.e. if they will still be in their undergraduate program for next fall.

I am a graduate student. Can I apply to CAPSS 2020?

As this school has been developed with undergraduate students in mind, we are not accepting applications from graduate students. However, do consider the Graduate Instrumentation and Detector School, which will be occurring later in May 2020.

I am an international undergraduate student. Can I apply to CAPSS 2020?

We welcome applications from both Canadian and international students.

I am a Queen’s University undergraduate student. Can I apply to CAPSS 2020?

We welcome applications from students from all universities, including Queen’s University.

How can I apply to CAPSS 2020?

Find out how to apply here.

What are the admission criteria for CAPSS 2020?

Selection of successful applicants will be performed by a committee that will be judging complete application packages which must include the following: your academic transcript, a letter of interest (1 page maximum), and a reference letter. Your transcript and letter of interest must be sent in a single email to summerschool@mcdonaldinstitute.ca, while your reference letter must be sent from its author.

Can I send you my referee’s letter in my application package directly?

No, reference letters must be sent to us at summerschool@mcdonaldinstitute.ca directly from the referee.

What is the application deadline?

The deadline has been extended to February 14th, 2020.

Can I submit an incomplete/late application package and still be considered?

No, we will only accept complete application packages sent to us by the application deadline at summerschool@mcdonaldinstitute.ca. This includes the reference letter.

Can I edit my application package once it has been submitted?

No, you will not be able to modify your application package once we have received it.

When will I hear back about my application?

Successful applicants will be notified in February 2020. All applicants will be updated on their status by March, 2020.

Can I receive any course credits for attending CAPSS 2020?

No, this summer school is a non-credit program. However, coming to CAPSS 2020 will greatly benefit your education and research experience moving forward!

How many students will you be accepting?

We will be accepting a cohort of roughly 20 students for CAPSS 2020.

Is there a registration fee? When is it due?

There is no registration fee, but successful applicants will need to pay a pre-registration fee of $100. This is to reserve their spot at CAPSS 2020. Successful applicants will be given information on how to pay this fee when they receive their acceptance letter. The fee will be fully reimbursed upon completion of the school.

What accommodations/meals/transportation are included in CAPSS 2020?

Successful applicants will have accommodations provided for them from the evening of Sunday, May 10th 2020 until the morning of Saturday, May 16th 2020. While at Queen’s University, students will be staying in the David C. Smith House residence. Accommodations for the SNOLAB portion of the summer school will be announced soon.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided from Monday to Friday, inclusive. A banquet dinner will also be provided during one evening in Kingston, ON. Students will be responsible for paying for their other meals.

Transportation from Queen’s University to SNOLAB and back will also be provided. Students will be travelling in a mid-sized coach bus with heating, air conditioning, and a washroom. There will be opportunities to be dropped off at various locations during the drive back to Kingston.

Is travel to Kingston, ON included?

Students will have to arrange for their own travel to and from Kingston, ON before and after the school.

Can I be dropped off somewhere before Kingston, ON on the return trip from SNOLAB?

On the return trip from SNOLAB at the end of the school, students will have the chance to be dropped off near Barrie, ON, and at a central location in Toronto, ON if this facilitates their return trip home. This is the only (non-rest) stop the bus will be making during this trip.

Are there any travel grants available?

At this time, we will not be providing travel funding or grants for any of our successful applicants, but we encourage them to explore sources of funding for travel from their home institutions.

What do I do if I have food allergies?

If you have any food allergies or intolerances, please contact us at summerschool@mcdonaldinstitute.ca.

What do I do if I have accessibility needs?

Please contact us at summerschool@mcdonaldinstitute.ca and we will endeavour to address your specific accessibility needs related to building access, school activity format, or other.

For any other questions, please email us at