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 streams.

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. Where you'll get the support to possibly win a Nobel Prize in Physics (like Waterloo professor Dr. Donna Strickland) or be part of the team to take the first image of a black hole (like professor Avery Broderick).

Person taking a pulse reading.

Learn from top researchers

Get the scoop on the latest research in the Physics Seminar, which brings together all 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).


trophyWaterloo is ranked top 100 in the world for Physics and Astronomy

Breifcase Available as a co-op and regular program

CapEarn a Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Life Physics


Life Physics admission requirements

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 (Chemistry, Earth and Space Science, and/or Physics are recommended)

Admission averages: Low 80s

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

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.

Get tips from Waterloo students

Sign up for insider advice that can help you now and in the future. Topics include

  • tips for a successful senior year of high school,
  • how to choose a university program,
  • differences between high school and university, and more.

First-year courses

September to December

January to April


If you're considering the Biophysics specialization, you should select MATH 114 as a first-term elective. If you're considering the Medical Physics specialization, select PHYS 124 as your elective in winter.

What other courses will you take?

  • About half of the classes you’ll take will be Physics courses with some Biology Courses. With your remaining classes you can choose electives from many of the over 100 subject areas available at Waterloo.
  • You can also add additional areas of interest and expertise by including a minor/minors or a specialization as part of your degree. Specializations are listed above.
  • View a list of all the courses required for your degree.

2Specializations: Biophysics or Medical Physics

BeakerOffered through the Faculty of Science

ClickApply to Physical Sciences, select Life Physics as your major


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?

Graduates of Life Physics often pursue work in fields such as medicine, radiation oncology, and medical imaging. 

Possible career fields

    • 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

    Learn about the future of careers in science.

    Ready to learn more?