Geography and Aviation

Launch a high-flying career in the aviation industry

Do you dream of being a pilot? Take to the skies with the largest university-level aviation program in Canada.

You’ll earn a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from one of the country’s top-ranked geography departments (Waterloo is ranked 39 in the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities) – and graduate with your Commercial Pilot Licence. There’s no better way to appreciate geography than from several thousand feet above the ground. And your knowledge of geography will be an asset when you’re navigating across continents.

Between the classroom and the cockpit, you’ll gain a deep understanding of landforms, weather patterns, and the computer technology behind tools such as geographic information systems (GIS) and remote sensing.

Log 200+ flight hours

Through a partnership with the Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre, you'll receive at least 200 hours of in-the-air experience at one of Canada's largest flight training centres.

Build crucial skills

As well as learning to fly, you’ll obtain your multi-engine and multi-instrument ratings, giving you the skills you need to handle twin-engine aircraft and rough weather.


Geography and Aviation at Waterloo

Chelsea-Anne recalls her first time flying on her own, her first time flying with her mom, and shares a glimpse into the life of an aviation student.

RibbonJoin Canada's largest university-level professional pilot program

BreifCaseGraduate with your Commercial Pilot Licence

TrophyWaterloo ranks in the top 10 geography programs in Canada


Geography and Aviation admission requirements

Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including

  • English (ENG4U) (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
  • One Grade 12 U Mathematics course (minimum final grade of 70% is required)

Admission average: Low 80s

Qualified applicants will be asked to complete a screening process by the Waterloo-Wellington Flight Centre that includes a program briefing session, Transport Canada Category 1 Medical Certification, and an Aviation Language Proficiency Test (for Permanent Residents and visa students only; the medical certification must be completed prior to writing the test).

We recommend completing the Admission Information Form once you've applied.

Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.


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First-year courses

September to December

  • AVIA 100 - Introduction to Aviation
  • GEOG 101 - Human Geographies: People, Space and Change
  • GEOG 181 - Designing Effective Maps
  • CS 100 - Introduction to Computing
  • One of:

January to April

  • GEOG 102 - Global Environmental Systems: Process and Change
  • ENVS 178 - Environmental Applications of Data Management and Statistics
  • AVIA 101 - Professional Pilot Program Course
  • One elective

Note: This a sample schedule. Courses may be taught in different terms from year to year. Professional Pilot Course II (AVIA 102) is required during the spring term (May to August) following first year.

After first year

About half of the classes you’ll take will be Geography courses, while the other half will be Aviation 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.

Sample upper-year courses

AVIA 270 – Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Knowledge Requirements
GEOG 271 – Earth from Space Using Remote Sensing
AVIA 310 – Human Factors in Aviation
AVIA 320 – Aviation Safety


EnvironmentOffered by the Faculty of Environment

ClickApply directly to this program on your application

Graduation CapEarn a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree


Customize your degree

You can add additional areas of expertise by including one or more of the areas of focusing within the program.

  • Climate Change and Environment
  • Earth Systems Science
  • Economy and Society
  • Geomatics​​

What can you do with a degree in aviation?

Graduates often work at airlines and flights centres as either pilots or flight instructors.

Recent graduates

  • Pilot – WestJet Airlines
  • Pilot, First Officer – Sunwing Airlines
  • Flight Instructor – Waterloo-Wellington Flight Centre
  • First Officer – Sunwing Airlines
  • Flight Instructor – Brampton Flight Centre
  • Pilot – Air Canada

Learn about the future of careers in environment, sustainability, and geography.

Ready to learn more?