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.
You’ll graduate with the knowledge and skills to work in a wide range of areas, from forensics to pharmaceuticals to food and agriculture.
- 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.
- Build an awesome résumé. 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. And gain paid work experience through co-op!
- Available as a regular or co-op program
- Available as a major and minor
- Graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry
- Offered by the Faculty of Science
What will you learn?
In your first year, you'll take a mixture of Biology, Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics courses to give you the foundations for your upper-year classes. After first year, most of your classes will be Chemistry courses with some Biology courses.
Learn more about courses you'll take for your Biochemistry degree.
Customize your Biochemistry degree
You can include one or more of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular areas of focus include Economics, Mathematics, Psychology, and Biotechnology.
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.
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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.
Does Biochemistry prepare you to apply to medical school?
Yes and no. Biochemistry will prepare you to apply to medical school, as most medical schools in Canada don't have specific prerequisite courses. However, having a higher proportion of lab courses and required courses makes it tricky to make room for additional subjects (electives) that you'll need to take the MCAT and use as course requirements to 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.
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
Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.
How to apply
Apply to Life Sciences and select Biochemistry as your major.
Connect with us
Questions about courses, programs, requirements, or careers?
Please contact Katelyn, our Science recruitment coordinator who can answer any questions you have.