Study the biological and social factors that impact peoples' overall health
Focus on preventing illness, not simply treating people once they get sick. At Waterloo, you’ll learn how to promote health, improve health care systems, and bring together the science and the social aspects of health.
Whether you opt for the regular or co-op stream, Health Sciences gives you the skills for improving human health, along with lots of room for electives. And with five specializations and dozens of campus-wide minors, you can tailor your studies to your specific areas of interest.
You’ll graduate with the skills to tackle global health pandemics such as COVID-19, transform public health policy, and pave the way for new medical breakthroughs.
- Biological AND social science. Take some core science courses (think biology, chemistry, and physiology) and learn about the societal factors that impact human health (like health policy and social/economic conditions). This program can prepare you for medical school – but it can also open many other career pathways like policy analysis, occupational therapy, genetic counselling, research, and more!
- Be more than a number. With small tutorial sizes right from first year, you’ll really get to know your classmates — and your world-renowned professors.
- Available as a regular or co-op program
- Graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree
- Offered by the Faculty of Health
Discover if Health Sciences is right for you.
What will you learn?
You'll take a mix of courses from the Faculty of Health and the Faculty of Science to give you the foundations for your upper-year classes. After first year, about half your classes will be Health courses.
Learn more about courses you'll take for your Health Sciences degree.
Customize your degree
You can add additional areas of expertise to your degree by including one or more of these areas of focus.
- Addictions, Mental Health, and Policy
- Aging Studies option
- Health Informatics
- Health Research
- Pre-Clinical Specialization
You can also include one of the minors available to all Waterloo students. Popular areas of focus include Gerontology, Psychology, Human Nutrition, Pre-clinical, and Health Research.
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, tips for a successful senior year of high school, and more.
Questions? Ask a student!
Connect with a current student ambassador to learn about their experience in the program.
Ask them questions such as why they chose their program, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.
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
- Genetic counselling assistant
- Healthy women project coordinator
- Health promotion assistant
- Patient flow facilitator
- Clinical research assistant
- Health and safety specialist
Sample co-op employers
- Cancer Care Ontario
- University Health Network
- Trillium Health Centre
- Heart and Stroke Foundation
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- Regional Municipality of Peel
What can you do with a degree in Health Sciences?
Your degree lays the foundation for a career in health professions such as medicine, clinical research, epidemiology, and occupational health. Or, go on to pursue an accelerated master’s degree in our School of Public Health Sciences.
- Family Physician - London Lambeth Medical Clinic
- Health Promotion Specialist - Region of Peel
- Tobacco Cessation Specialist - Canadian Cancer Society
- Epidemiologist - University Health Network
- Clinical Research Coordinator - The Centre for Dermatology
- Policy Analyst - Employment & Social Development Canada
- Speech Language Pathologist - Peel District School Board
Learn about the future of careers in health and helping professions.
While the full range of further education depends on your individual interests, these are common areas where graduates pursued a master's, PhD, or other professional program.
- Speech language pathology
- Public health
- Health informatics
Considering med school? Learn how you can get into medical school.
Common questions about the Health Sciences program
How is Waterloo’s Health Sciences program different from similar programs at other universities?
In addition to learning how to treat disease, Waterloo’s Health Sciences program also focuses on disease prevention, enabling you to develop effective approaches that keep people healthy. You’ll learn to take a systems approach to disease prevention and treatment, so you can understand how to influence the many factors that affect health. As a graduate, you’ll be well-prepared for the healthcare careers of the future because you’ll be exposed to subjects that will grow increasingly important over the next decade, such as leveraging information technology, understanding the aging population, mental health, and more.
With many small class opportunities like labs and tutorials, over 40 health-related courses to choose from, and experiential learning opportunities like co-op and our EDGE certificate program, you’ll have a distinct advantage when entering the workforce or applying to further studies.
What is the difference between Health Sciences and Biomedical Sciences?
Both Health Sciences and Biomedical Sciences are extremely flexible and can help you achieve your goals in health care and medical professions, such as obtaining a medical degree. Both offer foundational science courses in first year, such as cell biology, chemistry, and human physiology. Both offer a Bachelor of Science degree.
The difference is most noticeable after first year. Health Sciences courses combine topics like life sciences, social sciences, and research and apply those concepts to important health care subjects such as epidemiology and health informatics. Biomedical Sciences focuses on more traditional medical-based science, such as organic chemistry and molecular biology. Biomedical Sciences offers more opportunities to get into lab facilities while Health Sciences offers paid experience through our co-op program. Both will give you hands-on experience and access to award-winning instructors, so regardless of which you choose, you’ll be well prepared for your future career in health care.
Does this program meet the prerequisites for medical school and the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT)?
This is a popular option if you plan to pursue medicine. If you’re interested in a future clinical health profession, you should consult the requirements of the schools you want to attend. Between your required and elective courses in the program, you’ll be able to meet the requirements for most medical schools in Canada and around the world. Read our tips on how to get into medical school.
What is the difference between life sciences and health sciences?
In general, a health sciences degree program, such as Health Sciences, focuses on human health whereas a life sciences degree focuses on all living things. Learn more about our health sciences and life sciences programs.
Is this program available online?
No. While you may be able to take some courses online, most courses required for the degree are available through in-person classes only.
How long does it take to complete this program?
It takes four years to complete this program as a full-time student through the regular system of study. You’ll take courses between September and April each year and have your summers off. You can also choose the co-op system of study where you’ll alternate between four-month school terms and four-month terms in full-time jobs relating to the program. A co-op program takes five years to complete – and you’ll graduate with 20 months of paid work experience.
Ontario students: six Grade 12 U and/or M courses including
- Any Grade 12 U English (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Any Grade 12 U Mathematics (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Biology (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
- Chemistry (minimum final grade of 70% is required)
Admission averages: Regular: Mid-80s | Co-op: High 80s
Advanced Functions and Physics are recommended if you're interested in the Pre-Clinical specialization.
Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.
How to apply?
Apply directly to this program on your application.
Connect with us
Questions about courses, programs, requirements, or careers?
Please email Pamela Hurvid, our Faculty of Health recruitment co-ordinator who can answer any questions you have.