Graduate programs

Colourful test tubes

Our Chemistry and Biochemistry Master of Science (MSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs rank among the top in the country. We also participate in the collaborative MSc and PhD programs in Nanotechnology, the first of its kind in Canada, and the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), dedicated to pursuing a wide variety of theoretical and experimental approaches to quantum information. See our list of faculty and their research interests to explore your options.

Chemistry and Biochemistry Master of Science (MSc) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs

Research in chemistry encompasses a broad range of topics relevant to life and environmental sciences, to the development of new materials and nanotechnology, but also to improving our fundamental understanding of the world surrounding us. The MSc and PhD programs in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Waterloo offer exposure to world-class research on many subjects including the core areas of analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, materials, nanotechnology, organic, physical, polymer, and theoretical chemistry. Our programs prepare our graduate students for fascinating careers in the industry, government, and academia.

MSc program

Thesis option

Students must successfully complete at least three graduate level courses, including CHEM 784 plus the MSc seminar course, and submit and defend an acceptable thesis. Half of the graduate courses must be taken within the Department of Chemistry.

Course work based option

Students must successfully complete six graduate courses, including CHEM 784 plus the MSc seminar course and the MSc research paper. The research paper is an experimental project to be completed during one term of full-time research in the laboratory of a faculty member. Three of the six graduate courses may be taken through other departments within the University. The minimum period of time for completion of the course work based MSc is six terms and it is expected that the program will normally be completed within five years (usually part time). This option is available to domestic students only.

Co-operative thesis option

The academic requirements are the same as in the regular thesis option, but at least two of the required four courses must be completed during the first two terms in the program. Following the second term, the student will spend two terms (eight months) working in an industrial or government laboratory, upon completion of which they must present an acceptable work report. Upon returning to the campus, the student will complete their course work, research, and prepare the MSc thesis. This option is available to domestic students only.

PhD program

Thesis option

Students in the PhD program must successfully complete two graduate level courses beyond those required for the MSc degree, the PhD seminar course, pass an oral comprehensive examination, and submit and defend an acceptable thesis. Half of the graduate courses must be taken within the Department of Chemistry.

PhD direct from BSc (3 year)

This option is possible for outstanding students who graduated with an overall 'A' standing at the undergraduate level. Students in this program must successfully complete four graduate level courses, including CHEM 784, the MSc and PhD seminar courses, the PhD oral comprehensive examination, and submit and defend an acceptable thesis.

PhD direct from MSc (2 year)

Exceptional students may transfer directly into the PhD program without first completing all of the MSc requirements. Students in the program must successfully complete five graduate level courses, including CHEM 784, the MSc and PhD seminar courses, the PhD oral comprehensive examination, and submit and defend an acceptable thesis.

Nanotechnology MSc and PhD collaborative programs

This interdisciplinary research program at the University of Waterloo is the focal point for graduate teaching and research in MSc and PhD programs in Nanotechnology. The program, jointly offered by three departments in the Faculty of Science (Biology, Chemistry, and Physics and Astronomy) and four in the Faculty of Engineering (Chemical, Electrical and Computer, Mechanical and Mechatronics, and Systems Design), provide students with a stimulating educational environment that spans from basic research through to application. The goal of the collaborative program is to allow students to gain perspectives on nanotechnology from a wide community of scholars within and outside their disciplines in both course and thesis work.

MSc program in Nanotechnology

The MSc collaborative program provides a strong foundation in the emerging areas of nanoscience in preparation for the workforce or for further graduate study and research leading to a doctoral degree. Four key areas of research strengths have been identified: nanomaterials, nanoelectronics design and fabrication, nanoinstruments and devices, and nanobiosystems.

Chemistry MSc students in the collaborative program in nanotechnology must complete 4 half credit courses (0.50 unit weight), including NANO 600 Introduction to Nanotechnology, one required nanotechnology core course, CHEM 784 Foundations of Literature Review, and CHEM 794 Master's Seminar. Students who have completed their Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) degree in Nanotechnology Engineering at the University of Waterloo can not take NANO 600 Introduction to Nanotechnology. Instead, they can choose any one course from the list of nanotechnology core courses.

PhD program in Nanotechnology

The objective of the PhD program is to prepare students for careers in academia, industrial research and development, and government research labs.

Chemistry PhD students in the collaborative program in nanotechnology must complete three half credit core courses (0.50 unit weight), including NANO 600 Introduction to Nanotechnology, one nanotechnology core course, and one elective graduate level CHEM course (0.50 unit weight). Students who have completed their Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc) degree in Nanotechnology Engineering or a Master's degree in Nanotechnology at the University of Waterloo cannot take NANO 600 Introduction to Nanotechnology. Instead they can choose any one course from the list of nanotechnology core courses.

PhD direct from BSc (3 year)

Students admitted with an appropriate Honours Bachelor's degree who transfer directly to the PhD program must complete five half credit courses (0.50 unit weight), including NANO 600 Introduction to Nanotechnolog, one nanotechnology core course, CHEM 784 Foundations of Literature Review, CHEM 794 Master's Seminar, and one elective graduate level CHEM course.

PhD direct from MSc (2 year)

Students who transfer directly from a Master's program to the PhD program must complete six half credit courses (0.50 unit weight), including NANO 600 Introduction to Nanotechnology, one nanotechnology core course, CHEM 784 Foundations of Literature Review, CHEM 794 Master's Seminar, one elective course, and one graduate level CHEM course.

See the Nanotechnology website for more information about the Nanotechnology collaborative programs.

Quantum Information MSc and PhD collaborative programs

The University of Waterloo, home of the Institute for Quantum Computing, offers graduate students unique opportunities to learn about and engage in world-leading research in quantum information through a wide range of advanced research projects and advanced courses on the foundations, applications, and implementation of quantum information processing. In particular, the University of Waterloo offers a unique interdisciplinary graduate program in Quantum Information that leads to MSc and PhD degrees.

This program is a collaboration between the Institute for Quantum Computing and:

  • The Departments of Applied Mathematics, Combinatorics and Optimization, and the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science in the Faculty of Mathematics
  • The Departments of Chemistry and Physics and Astronomy in the Faculty of Science
  • The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering

See the Institute for Quantum Computing website for more information about the Quantum Information collaborative programs.

MSc program in Quantum Information

MSc students will receive both strong and broad foundations in quantum information science, coupled with knowledge and expertise obtained within their home programs. This will prepare them for the workforce and/or further graduate studies and research leading towards a PhD degree.

Chemistry MSc students must successfully complete at least three graduate level courses, including QIC 710 (Quantum Information Processing), QIC 750 (Implementation of Quantum Information Processing), CHEM 784 (Foundations of Chemistry/Biochemistry Literature Review), the MSc seminar course, and submit and defend an acceptable thesis.

PhD program in Quantum Information

PhD students will be especially well-prepared for careers as scholars and researchers, with advanced expertise in quantum information science, together with the focus of their home programs. This program is designed to provide students with knowledge of quantum information, including both theory and its implementations, advanced expertise in quantum information science, and in home program disciplines, as well as training in research.

The PhD program in Quantum Information requires the successful completion of two graduate level courses in quantum information, as well as the completion of QIC 710 and QIC 750 if they were not completed as part of the student's MSc studies. Chemistry requires the completion of two Chemistry graduate courses, which may be satisfied by QIC courses offered by the Department of Chemistry. If a student takes a QIC course not offered by the Department of Chemistry, another Chemistry graduate course must be taken to meet the Chemistry course requirement. PhD students must also successfully complete a seminar held at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC), a seminar on a Quantum Information topic for the Department of Chemistry, a PhD comprehensive oral examination, and an original research dissertation in Quantum Information.

PhD direct from BSc or MSc

Students in the PhD direct programs must complete five graduate level courses from a specific set of Chemistry and QIC courses, including QIC 710 and 750, CHEM 784 (Foundations of Chemistry/Biochemistry Literature Review), the MSc thesis seminar, the PhD thesis seminar, the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) seminar, a PhD comprehensive oral examination, and an original research dissertation in Quantum Information.

Chemistry requires the equivalent of two Chemistry graduate courses, which may be satisfied by QIC courses offered by the Department of Chemistry. If a student takes a QIC course not offered by the Department of Chemistry, another graduate Chemistry course must be taken to meet the Chemistry course requirement. Any QIC course offered by the Department of Chemistry satisfies the Chemistry course requirements.