Study life. It’s in your DNA.
Explore all aspects of life and living creatures – from cells and genes to species and diversity.
Some of the greatest scientific discoveries have occurred within the field of biology, including the mapping of the human genome, identifying the structure of DNA, and how photosynthesis works. All of these revelations happened because dedicated scientists looked at the world a little differently.
At Waterloo, you’ll dive into your Biology major right from day one. And with more than 80 biology courses available, you’ve got plenty of options. From microbes and genes to plants and zoology, we've got something for anyone who's passionate about living systems.
You’ll graduate ready for a career in laboratory or field research, environmental assessment, education, health professions, or industry. If you enrol in co-op, you'll also have up to two years of paid work experience to add to your resume.
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, Physics
Admission averages: Low 80s
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 Biology 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 writing
- Organization and time management
- Laboratory methodologies and data analysis
- Logical thinking
This isn't an exhaustive list – rather a glimpse into the skills a Biology major can provide.
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.
Get tips from Waterloo students
Sign up for insider advice that can help you now and in the future.
Monthly topics include how to choose a university program, what it's like to be a Waterloo student, and more.
Questions? Ask a student!
Contact a Science student ambassador to learn about their experience.
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
January to April
After first year
Most of the classes you’ll take will be Biology courses. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.
View a list of all the courses required for your degree (refer to Honours Biology or one of the specializations in Biology).
Sample upper-year courses
Co-op = relevant paid work experience
By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore different careers and types of employers.
Sample co-op job titles
- Genetic counselling assistant
- Field and lab technician
- Plant pathology research assistant
- Bioinformatics assistant
- Animal care & research assistant
Sample co-op employers
- University Health Network
- Public Health Agency of Canada
- Canadian Cancer Society
- Ontario Ministry of the Environment
- Harvard Medical School
Customize your Bachelor of Science in Biology degree
You can add additional areas of expertise to your degree by including minors and options. Our Bioinformatics Option is a popular choice for students who want to understand the complexities of life by analyzing biological data in computational terms. You'll take courses in biology, computer science, math, and statistics to better understand the vast amounts of information that can be derived from biological systems, like the human genome or microbial biodiversity.
You can also include one of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular areas of focus for Biology students include Medical Physiology, Human Nutrition, Microbiology, Environmental Biology, and Biotechnology.
In addition to your degree, you can also earn a Biotechnology Technician diploma (Department of Biology website) through our partnership with Conestoga College.
What can you do with a biology degree?
A degree in Biology can lead you to many career options. It's flexible enough to tailor your courses to meet the requirements for professional schools such as medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, or teaching. Many students continue their education specialized Master's and PhD programs which can lead to jobs in the research industry or in academia.
Graduates often work in consulting, analysis, or technician positions in fields such as health care, microbiology, genetics. Employers can range from agricultural companies, hospitals and health science centres, pharmaceutical companies, medical research centres, government, and energy companies. Education is also a popular area where graduates work as teachers, university lecturers and researchers, and more.
- Cellular Therapy Production Manager - Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
- Chiropodist/Foot Specialist - LifeSource Medical Centre
- Clinical Research Assistant - Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health
- Fishery Research Program Associate - Great Lakes Fishery Commission
- Genetic Counsellor, Prenatal Diagnosis Clinic - McMaster University
- Researcher - The Hospital for Sick Children
- Microbiologist - Septodont, Novocol Pharmaceutical Division
- Dietitian - Bridgepoint Health
What's 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.
Offered by the Faculty of Science
Apply to Life Sciences and select Biology as your major
Earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Biology
Ready to learn more?
- Visit the Department of Biology website
- Related programs
Get career-relevant skills
Looking for practical skills? Take advantage of hands-on field courses to study terrestrial, aquatic, or marine biology in places like Algonquin Park and Jamaica.
Meet other bio-nerds
Make some time in your schedule for the Biology Undergraduate Society (BUGS), which organizes student-professor nights, tutoring sessions, and a full calendar of social events.