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Our history – leaders in academic programming

  • In 1967, for the first time, scientists specializing in human biochemistry, physiology, psychomotor behaviour, and biomechanics joined forces with experts in psychology and sociology to investigate and define the science of human movement: Kinesiology. Waterloo was among the first few Canadian universities to offer an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology. 
  • In 1967, the University of Waterloo approved the first academic program in Recreation, which prepared undergraduate students to address the leisure needs of society using the unique approach of considering the people, environment, and management. The Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies now offers four undergraduate majors, and is the only program in Canada to offer a degree in Recreation and Sport Business.
  • The Department of Health Studies (now School of Public Health and Health Systems) was the first academic department in the world to focus on population and public health research; to offer multi-disciplinary undergraduate and graduate degrees that fully integrate the biological, behavioural, and social science perspectives of health promotion and disease prevention; and to offer a co-op undergraduate Health Studies program. It was also among the first to offer graduate and undergraduate degree options in Health and Aging, and an online master's degree in public health.
  • The Dance program that was offered in Applied Health Sciences until 1996 permitted students to pursue dance as both academic and applied study through a balance of theoretical and technical courses. Students could concentrate their studies in several areas, including teaching foundations, documentation, and performance, and it was possible to earn both an Honours degree in Dance and a Diploma from the National Ballet School; to earn a Joint Honours degree with several departments; or to pursue Dance as a minor program.
  • In 1987, Health Studies was the first department in Canada to offer a Gerontology program that led to a graduate degree.
  • In October 1993, the first and only Canadian doctoral program in Recreation and Leisure Studies was established at the University of Waterloo. The first students were admitted to the multi-disciplinary program in September 1994.
  • In 2002, a new Master's program, offered jointly by the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies and the Faculty of Environmental Studies (now Faculty of Environment), was initiated. It was the only Master's program in Canada focussed on Tourism Policy and Planning.
  • The Department of Kinesiology currently offers more courses in more areas than any other Kinesiology program in North America; and the graduate and undergraduate programs have been ranked "one of the best in North America" by external reviewers.
  • The Master of Public Health program that was launched in the fall of 2006 is the only one in Canada that offers a specialization in sociobehavioural health. The program is also unique in that it combines distance education and on-campus components with an applied practicum in the field.
  • The collaborative PhD Program in Aging, Health and Well-Being provides its doctoral students the opportunity to access courses and resources from all three AHS academic units: Kinesiology, Public Health and Health Systems, and Recreation and Leisure Studies, and to study health and well-being in later life from an interdisciplinary perspective.