Medicinal Chemistry

A prescription for career success

Student in the Medicinal Chemistry program at the University of Waterloo.

Want to create the life-saving drugs of tomorrow? Earn a chemistry degree with a difference.

As well as covering all the basics of physical, analytical, and organic chemistry, you’ll also take specialized courses like bio-based chemistry and pharmaceutical drug design. Meanwhile, you’ll hone essential research and laboratory skills through your choice of 20+ chemistry lab courses and an independent research project in fourth year. Students also have the opportunity to enrol in the co-op stream, where they'll gain paid work experience as they pursue their degree.

As a Medicinal Chemistry graduate, you’ll be equipped to design, create, and evaluate potential medications, setting the stage for a career with real impact. You'll also qualify for membership in the Canadian Society of Chemistry and the Chemical Institute of Canada.

PersonQualify for membership in the Canadian Society of Chemistry

Breifcase Available as a co-op program only

CapEarn a Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Medicinal Chemistry


Medicinal Chemistry admissions 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 Medicinal Chemistry as your major in first year.

Blue powdered chemical in a beaker in a medicinal chemistry class

Labs, such as our Analytical Chemistry Lab, will introduce you to advanced equipment and computer-assisted techniques. Your professors will bring real-world examples of chemistry to the classroom through their research and collaboration with industry.

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

  • Synthetic organic chemistry skills
  • Ability to design and execute scientific experiments safely and accurately
  • Analytical skills needed to identify organic compounds
  • Ability to analyze scientific and technical data
  • Problem-solving, critical thinking, and time management skills

This isn't an exhaustive list – rather a glimpse into the skills a Medicinal Chemistry 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

60% chemistry, 6% math, 5% physics, 16% program electives, 8% free electives, 5% other

This is a general guideline. The ratio of courses may change slightly from year to year.


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ClickApply to Physical Sciences, select Medicinal Chemistry as your major

BeakerOffered by the Faculty of Science

Living Learning CommunityLive in residence with other Science students in a Science Academic Cluster


What is the difference between a medicinal chemist and a pharmacist?

Medicinal chemistry is about creating and studying new drug candidates. You'll learn how drugs are made in the lab and how they impact people or animals. A pharmacist prescribes drugs and ensures patient safety.


Ready to learn more?

Get insights from industry

Because our professors collaborate closely with industry, they’ll bring plenty of practical examples to your labs and lecture halls.

Build an awesome résumé

In this co-op only program, you'll gain valuable work experience in pharmaceutical companies and hospitals — and get paid for it.