Rocket science, meet medical science
If you enjoy biology and physics and want a career in medical technology or health research, Life Physics at Waterloo is for you.
Run by the Department of Physics and Astronomy — one of the largest and most innovative physics departments in Canada — this flexible and interdisciplinary program is based on a solid foundation of physics, chemistry, and biology. Not to mention that students have the opportunity to gain paid work experience through their co-op work terms.
You’ll enjoy small classes, hands-on labs, and the opportunity to get involved in research and teaching.
Join a program that fosters curious minds to question the smallest particles, the largest forces, and everything in between. Be part of a community that includes Nobel Prize laureate professor Donna Strickland and professor Avery Broderick, part of the team to take the first image of a black hole.
Learn from top researchers. Get the scoop on the latest research in the physics seminar, which brings together all Waterloo physics students for talks from top scientists.
Make friends for life. Plan to live in residence? Join a Science Academic Cluster to connect with students who share your passion (and get study support).
- Available as a regular or co-op program
- Graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Life Physics
- Offered by the Faculty of Science
What will you learn?
In your first year, you'll take a mixture of Physics, Biology, Mathematics, and Chemistry courses to give you the foundations for your upper-year classes. After first year, most of your classes will be Physics courses with some Biology courses.
Learn more about courses you'll take for your Life Physics degree.
Customize your degree
You can add additional areas of interest and expertise by including one of the minors available to all Waterloo students or a specialization as part of your degree.
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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.
What's the difference between the Medical Physics and Biophysics specializations?
Each specialization has set course requirements which must be completed in addition to the core Life Physics requirements. Biophysics looks to understand biological systems using physical concepts, for example, studying how muscles work and the physics behind muscle movement and growth. This specialization is strongly rooted in math and physics, and includes both theoretical and experimental ideas.
In contrast, medical physics is the practical application of physics to the human body and includes x-rays, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasounds, computed tomography, and nuclear medicine. You can learn more about medical physics and career options on the Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists website.
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
- Medical device design assistant
- Ultrasound image reconstruction specialist
- X-ray diffraction technologist
- Science and math peer tutor
- Undergraduate research assistant
- Quality assurance analyst
Sample co-op employers
- National Research Council of Canada
- TRIUMF particle accelerator centre
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
- CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research
- SNOLAB neutrino and dark matter physics lab
- Antibody Healthcare Communications
What can you do with a degree in Life Physics?
Life Physics is a uniquely interdisciplinary degree, which gives you a great deal of flexibility depending on which electives you choose. You could pursue professional programs such as medicine or optometry or work in fields such as radiation oncology and medical imaging. You could specialize as a health physics technician in industries, or as a medical physicist or medical imaging technician in hospitals. You could also go on to do research related to biology, physics, or both.
You can learn more about medical physics and career options on the Canadian Organization of Medical Physicists website.
Possible careers for graduates
- Senior Scientist, Drug Discovery - Merck Canada
- Medical Physicist - Cancer Centres
- Health and Safety Officer - Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
- Customer Support, Scientific Instrumentation - Olympus
- Product Developer - Christie Medical
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 Physical Sciences and select Life Physics as your major in first year.
Connect with us
Questions about courses, programs, requirements, or careers?
Please contact Katelyn, our Science recruitment coordinator who can answer any questions you have.