Discover the building blocks of life. Like Lego, only better.
In the past 200 years, advances in techniques and tools have allowed biochemists to focus on these fundamental questions: How do organisms use chemical compounds to thrive? How do organisms adjust to changes in their environment and how can our knowledge of the chemistry of life be applied to improving the human condition? To answer these questions, we study the structures of molecules – such as enzymes – and the diverse metabolic processes – such as the Kreb’s cycle – that are fundamental to life.
In Biochemistry, you'll create chemicals. Analyze genes. Explore the fundamentals of metabolism. You’ll start with a broad science foundation in first year, including chemistry, biology, physics, and calculus.
If you choose to add the Biotechnology specialization, you'll examine the biological and biochemical processes used to make new disease-fighting drugs and other valuable products. And if you choose the co-op stream, you'll benefit from paid work experience – exploring potential careers while you pursue your degree.
You’ll graduate with the knowledge and skills to work in a wide range of areas, from forensics to pharmaceuticals to food and agriculture.
Available as a major and minor
Earn a Bachelor of Science degree
Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including
- English (ENG4U) (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Advanced Functions (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Calculus and Vectors (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Two of Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, Mathematics of Data Management, or Physics
Admission averages: Low 80s
We recommend you complete the Admission Information Form once you've applied.
Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.
How to apply
Apply to Life Sciences and select Biochemistry as your major.
What will you learn?
Programs/majors in the Faculty of Science start right in first year. To select your program with confidence, here’s some handy info to get you started.
Skills you'll develop with this major
- Technical laboratory skills, including designing experiments and manipulating DNA
- Critical thinking
- Data analysis
- Time management
This isn't an exhaustive list – rather a glimpse into the skills this major can help you achieve.
Your experience will be unique, and the skills you develop will depend on your goals, which courses you take, and your involvement with any clubs, jobs, or research projects.
Types of courses you'll take
This is a general guideline. The ratio of courses may change slightly from year to year.
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Ask them questions such as why they chose their program, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.
First-year courses and beyond
September to December
- BIOL 130/130L - Introductory Cell Biology/Laboratory
- CHEM 121/121L - Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter/Laboratory
- MATH 127 - Calculus 1 for the Sciences
- CHEM 101 - Introduction to Biochemical Sciences
- ENGL 193/SPCOM 193 - Communication in the Sciences
- PHYS 111 - Physics 1 –– OR –– PHYS 121 - Mechanics
January to April
After first year
View a list of all the courses required for your degree.
Sample upper-year courses
Customize your Biochemistry major
You can include one or more of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular areas of focus include Economics, Mathematics, Psychology, and Biotechnology.
Co-op = relevant paid work experience
By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore new career areas and types of employers as your career interests evolve.
Sample co-op job titles
- Chemical laboratory technician
- Aquatic toxicity testing technologist
- Research and development formulation technician
- Brewing analytical technician
- Food technologist
- Undergraduate assurance technician
Sample co-op employers
- Harvard Medical School
- Health Canada
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
- Maple Leaf Foods
- Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada
- Zhejiang University
Common questions about the program
What is the difference between Biology, Biomedical Sciences, and Biochemistry?
Biology starts with a broad foundation in all aspects of the major. After first year, you can then use your many elective courses to focus on a specific aspect of biology such as plants, animals, or microbiology. Biomedical Sciences also starts off with a fairly general first year, but keeps a focus on human and animal biology. It also includes more chemistry and physics than Biology so that your science knowledge is a bit broader if you're interested in attending medical school, etc. Biochemistry studies the chemical reactions in living systems so your courses will be about 60% chemistry with some biology and physics.
How much of the program is biology and how much is chemistry?
Biochemistry is a combination of the two subjects; however the focus is on applying chemistry and chemical properties to biological systems. You'll take mostly chemistry courses in first year, but then you'll be free to either focus on biology or chemistry after that point.
Does Biochemistry prepare you to apply to medical school?
Yes and no. Biochemistry will prepare you to to apply to medical school, as most medical schools in Canada don't have specific prerequisite courses. However, having a lot of lab courses and required courses makes it tricky to make room for additional subjects that you'll need to take the MCAT and also get into med school. So yes, you can get into medical school, but it's definitely not the most easy or straightforward route. Visit our Beyond Ideas website for tips on how to get into medical school.
What can you do with a Biochemistry degree?
Graduates commonly pursue careers with pharmaceutical companies, labs, hospitals and health-related research institutes, agricultural companies, toxicology and in education, research, biotechnology, and more.
- Research Technician - The Hospital for Sick Children
- Public Health Promoter - Huron County Health Unit
- Quality Assurance Project Leader - Septodont, Novocol Pharmaceutical Division
- Regulatory Agency Officer - Health Canada
- Researcher Cancer Centre - Princess Margaret Hospital
- Quality Compliance Specialist - McNeil Consumer Healthcare
- Regulatory Affairs Specialist - Nutralab Canada
- Project Analyst - University Health Network
- Synthesis Technician - Sigma-Aldrich Canada
Learn about the future of careers in science and how skills and experience translate to amazing opportunities.
Offered through the Faculty of Science
Choose an optional specialization in biotechnology
Graduate ready for membership in the Chemical Institute of Canada
Ready to learn more?
Grab your lab coat
Thanks to our extensive range of lab courses, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to learn hands-on skills like chromatography, electrophoresis, nuclear magnetic resonance, and more.
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Interested in teaching? Get experience as an undergraduate teaching assistant. Aiming for a career in research? Be a research assistant with one of our world-renowned professors.