Medicinal Chemistry

Finding career success in drug discovery and design

a Medicinal Chemistry student wearing a lab coat and goggles working under a fume hood

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 advanced research and lab skills through your choice of 20+ chemistry lab courses and an independent research project in fourth year.

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.

Program highlights

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. Gain 20 months of valuable co-op work experience in pharmaceutical companies and hospitals — and get paid for it.


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

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?

First-year courses

In your first year, you'll take a mixture of Chemistry, Biology, Mathematics and Physics courses to give you the foundations for your upper-year classes. After first year, most of your classes will be Chemistry courses.

Learn more about courses you'll take for your Medicinal Chemistry degree.

Customize your degree

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


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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.


Co-op = relevant paid work experience

Waterloo's co-op program, the largest in North America, is an amazing way to explore potential careers, learn to interview for jobs, graduate with up to two years of valuable experience – and make money!

Sample co-op job titles

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

Co-op work-study sequence

Starting in second year, you'll normally alternate between school and work every four months, integrating your classroom learning with real-world experience. You can return to the same employer for a couple of work terms to gain greater knowledge and responsibility or work for different employers to get a broad range of experience.

Year September to December (Fall) January to April (Winter) May to August (Spring)
First Study Study Off
Second Study Co-op Study
Third Co-op Study Co-op
Fourth Study Co-op Co-op
Fifth Study Study -

Your first work term will be halfway through second year (January to April 2026).

Learn more about co-op →


megaphone icon"I really love that my labs provide me with real-world research skills that I’ve already been able to put into practice during my co-op terms. I’ve built confidence in critical thinking, which is crucial in this field."Elin, Medicinal Chemistry (co-op), student

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

Admission averages: Low 80s

Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements.

How to apply

Apply to Physical Sciences and select Medicinal Chemistry as your major.

Connect with us

Questions about courses, programs, requirements, or careers?

Please contact Alisia, our Science recruitment coordinator who can answer any questions you have.

Alisia Mar


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