Medicinal Chemistry

A prescription for career success

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.

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.


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.

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.


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First-year Medicinal Chemistry courses

September to December

January to April

  • CHEM 125/125L - Chemical Reactions, Equilibria and Kinetics/Laboratory
  • CHEM 140 - Introduction to Scientific Calculations
  • MATH 128 - Calculus 2 for the Sciences
  • Choose one of the following:
  • Plus one elective

After first year

What other courses will you take? Most of the classes you’ll take will be Chemistry courses. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.

View all the courses required for your degree.

Sample upper-year courses

CHEM 357 – Physical Biochemistry
CHEM 381 – Bioorganic Chemistry
CHEM 333 – Metabolism 1
CHEM 382L – Advanced Organic Synthesis Lab


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


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

  • Discovery analyst (Pharmacology)
  • Research and development technician
  • Pharmaceutical R&D
  • Undergraduate research assistant
  • Quality control assistant analyst
  • Science tutor
  • Pharmacist assistant

Sample co-op employers

  • Merck Frosst Canada Ltd.
  • Sanofi Aventis Group
  • University of Victoria
  • Pfizer Inc
  • Aegera Therapeutics Inc.
  • NPS Pharmaceuticals
  • Apotex Inc.

Customize your degree

You can add additional areas of expertise to your degree by including one or more of the minors available to all Waterloo students.

What can you do with a degree in Medicinal Chemistry?

Medicinal Chemistry graduates often pursue careers in pharmacology, drug discovery and design, industrial research and development, and experimental research. Many graduates also pursue specialized master's and PhD studies.

Learn about the future of careers in science.

Ready to learn more?