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.
Qualify for membership in the Canadian Society of Chemistry
Available as a co-op program only
Earn 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.
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
This is a general guideline. The ratio of courses may change slightly from year to year.
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Ask them questions such as why they chose their program, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.
First-year Medicinal Chemistry courses and beyond
September to December
- CHEM 100 - Introduction to Chemical Sciences
- BIOL 130 - Introductory Cell Biology
- CHEM 121/121L - Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter/ Chemical Reaction Laboratory 1
- MATH 127 - Calculus 1 for the Sciences
- ENGL 193/SPCOM 193 - Communication in the Sciences
- Choose one of the following:
January to April
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
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.
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.
What can you do with a degree in Medicinal Chemistry?
The program focuses on preparing you for drug research-based positions such as working in universities, pharmaceutical companies, and government research labs. One of the great aspects of the program is that it gives you such a broad background in chemistry. You'll be able to work in more general chemistry fields, such as quality control and the oil and gas industry, if you decided that’s a route you wanted to take.
Our 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.
Apply to Physical Sciences, select Medicinal Chemistry as your major
Offered by the Faculty of Science
Live 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?
- Visit the Medicinal Chemistry website
- Related programs
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.