Interested in math and music? Biology and geography? Chemistry and Spanish? Many programs at Waterloo allow you to combine your interests and to make your degree uniquely you.
Including a minor (or minors) as part of your degree provides additional knowledge or skills. Most minors and specializations start in second year and become part of your degree, e.g., you can earn a Bachelor of Arts in Honours Anthropology with a minor in Political Science. As long as you meet the requirements, you can choose minors that complement your major – or choose minors that are very different.
What is a minor?
A minor is a group of 8-10 courses in a specific subject or topic which you would complete along with your major as part of the 40 or so courses for your degree.
What's a major? What's the difference between an option and a specialization? Check out our guide to university terminology for the scoop on higher education language.
Tip: Questions about choosing a minor, certificate, or diploma? Contact the recruitment co-ordinator for your program of interest if you're a prospective student or your academic advisor if you're a current student.
The following minors are available to all undergraduate students regardless of which program you're studying. Programs with a high number of required courses (such as Engineering) usually do not have enough elective courses in order for you to include a minor, diploma, or certificate as part of your degree.
In addition, many Waterloo programs and faculties also have specializations specifically for students in those areas.
Arts, humanities, social science
- Anthropology: From Neanderthals to Millennials, discover what it means to be human. Explore cultures past and present and delve into the origins of human and primate evolution.
- Applied Language Studies: Language. We use it, learn it, and experience it every day. This is a great choice if you’re interested in learning a foreign language, teaching a second language, or in linguistics.
- Canadian Politics and Public Policy: Immerse yourself with knowledge of the structure and functions of Canadian political institutions, as well as skills in policy research and analysis.
- Catholic Studies: Connect the dots between how religious history intersects with different parts of society. Focus on world religions; Christian traditions; or religion, culture, and society.
- Classical Studies: Explore the rich art, literature, and cultural history of the ancient civilizations of Greek and Rome.
- Cognitive Science: Study the mind and intelligence, through psychology, philosophy, linguistics, neuroscience, computer science, and engineering.
- Communication Studies: Hone your written and oral communication skills while developing expertise in teamwork, research, visual and digital literacy, and critical analysis — just the kind of skills that employers are hungry for.
- Digital Arts Communication: Learn to use images, sound, hypertext, and video to design digital communication. Focus on understanding its role in meeting the needs of different audiences rather than learning programming or specific software.
- Economics: Economists make sense of the world. Gain valuable insight about how decisions are made domestically and globally and how economics can benefit your own everyday life.
- Economic Theory: Pursue a deeper understanding in economics research and the way that theories can lead to solutions in the current world.
- English: Satisfy your inner writer and explore a wide variety of topics from literary studies to technical writing and digital media.
- Gender and Social Justice: Learn the important role gender and sex play in all aspects of life and be an advocate for equity, justice, and positive change.
- History: We’ve all heard the saying, history repeats itself. History helps us understand where our world has come from and where it might be going.
- Human Rights: Understand the theories and applications of human rights in a Canadian and global context.
- Human Sciences: Investigate the fundamental aspects of being human. Gain a robust understanding of core ideas that have shaped Western civilization using concepts from philosophy, psychology, religion, and politics.
- International Studies: Broaden your horizons – and your degree! Learn about global issues such as environmental sustainability, global poverty, economic development, and human rights.
- Knowledge Integration: Are you interested in almost everything? Combine your multiple interests and engage with interdisciplinary topics and challenging ideas.
- Legal Studies: Explore the impact of law on society, the origins of legal systems, how the Charter of Rights and Freedoms creates change, and issues such as crime, punishment, and restorative justice.
- Medieval Studies: Explore the ideas and events of Europe and the Near East from the fall of the Roman Empire to the beginning of the modern era in 1500 CE.
- Peace and Conflict Studies: Understand the factors that drive conflict and violence. Think critically about how peace can be built in complex situations to move towards a healthy society where communities and individuals flourish.
- Philosophy: Learn to answer life’s most difficult philosophical questions, study the fundamentals of formal logic, and apply philosophical reasoning to current events.
- Political Science: Let’s talk politics. Gain a deeper understanding of politics and government.
- Politics and Business: From environmental labour issues to globalization and economic development, exploring the relationship between politics and business is central to the world's future.
- Psychology: Ever wonder why you think the way that you do? Explore the frontiers of the mind while examining human behaviour.
- Religious Studies: Examine how religions have influenced politics, economics, culture, art, science, and society throughout history.
- Sexuality, Marriage, and Family Studies: Explore relationships; communication; parenting; and how media and culture affect our understanding of gender, sex, and relationships.
- Social Development Studies: Interested in social work and community well-being? Learn about the causes of societal issues and be empowered to pursue a career dedicated to the betterment of individuals and communities.
- Sociology: Sociology is the study of group life and deals with how people organize and understand relationships. Examine social interaction and the principles by which society is organized.
- Technical Writing: Learn how innovative organizations communicate with one another and with the public. Study information design, editing, digital images, and the rhetoric of advertising.
- Entrepreneurship minor: Learn how to make your ideas come to life. Develop the business skills needed to move ideas from concept to success.
- Entrepreneurship option (for Engineering students): Do you dream of creating a start up? Combine your engineering knowledge with the business skills needed to move ideas from concept to success.
- Event Management: Calling all event planners! Learn to plan, implement, and assess events while gaining practical project management skills and experience.
- Human Resources Management: Today’s organizations realize their most powerful asset and competitive advantage is their people. Learn about designing jobs and teams, training and developing employees, assessing performance, and more.
- Indigenous Entrepreneurship: Learn about Indigenous worldviews on entrepreneurship and innovation management. Gain the skills required for success in entrepreneurship built on a model of Indigenized business education and experiential learning.
- International Trade: From trade wars to trade deals, our world is more connected than ever. Explore the far-reaching political and socio-economic implications of trade and globalization.
- Management Studies: Good managers are essential to any organization. Understand the critical role that management plays and cultivate your ability to make strategic decisions.
- Tourism: Love travelling? Explore the impacts of tourism in Canada and around the world in terms of marketing, planning, and outdoor recreation.
- Canadian Studies: Oh, Canada! Take a closer look at Canadian culture, history, and traditions from a variety of perspectives.
- Cultural Identities: Explore how culture shapes a person’s identities by analyzing the intersection of culture, language, and representation in both Canadian and global contexts.
- East Asian Studies: Enhance your understanding of East Asian history, culture, and languages.
- French: Learn to speak, write, and understand French while discovering French culture and literature.
- German: Study the culture, literature, film of Germany while developing your language skills.
- Indigenous Studies: Understand the history, culture and traditions of Indigenous Peoples in Canada, while thinking about the future.
- Italian Studies: Learn the language of art, music, and la dolce vita while studying one of the truly seminal cultures and literatures of the western world in Italian or in English.
- Jewish Studies: Discover the wealth of traditions and achievements in Jewish history, culture, civilization, and religion.
- Mennonite Studies: Explore Mennonite history, theology, and culture from the early 16th century to the present.
- Russian and East European Studies: Study Russian and East European languages, literature, politics, and history.
- Studies in Islamic and Arab Cultures: Discover the history and contributions of Islam and its peoples through the fine arts, language and literature, drama, history, politics, science, gender, and more.
- Spanish: Learn the beautiful language of Spanish and the rich culture and literature of one of the world’s most widely spoken languages.
Environment and sustainability
- Environment, Resources and Sustainability: Learn to use a variety of approaches to address topics such as ecosystem conservation and restoration, environmental politics and behaviour, and sustainability policy and governance.
- Geography and Environmental Management: Address some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as climate change, water scarcity, resource management, global population growth, and more.
- Parks: Study the ecology, conservation, and management of ecosystems, parks, and protected areas.
- Urban Studies: Help plan the next generation of cities. From environmental issues to social issues, explore how to build inclusive and sustainable communities.
Fine and performing arts
- Church Music and Worship: Deepen your knowledge of music styles that shape worship today while broadening your vision of church music from around the world.
- Fine Arts Studio: A blank canvas awaits. Express yourself in classes through art history and hands-on experience in the studio.
- Music: Take classes that hit the right note! Explore your love of music through one of our music ensembles and classes in history, culture, and theory.
- Performance Creation: Don’t miss the show! Explore the vibrant discipline of theatre and performance, from acting to stage management and design.
- Visual Culture in a Global Context: Explore how culture is expressed through visual images. Study the history and theory of visual culture by choosing from courses in more than 20 departments.
Math and computer science
- Combinatorics and Optimization: Learn powerful methods for modelling and solving large management problems, from optimizing flight schedules to making a factory’s layout as efficient as possible.
- Computing: Gain a deeper understanding of computer science and the use and operation of computers.
- Pure Mathematics: Study the power, elegance, “how,” and “why” of math. Choose from a wide spectrum of mathematics topics with an emphasis on theory and abstraction.
- Mathematics: It’s easy as 1,2,3! Develop analytical and problem-solving skills in the complex and vast field of mathematics.
Important: Some minors may take more than 10 courses to complete because of pre-requisites needed for courses within the minor. This is especially true for non-math students wishing to pursue a math-focused minor. Contact the faculty that offers your program of interest to learn about including a minor as part of your degree.
Science and health
- Addictions, Mental Health, and Policy: Be an advocate for mental health. Use a multidisciplinary approach to understand and address factors connected to addictions and mental health and lead the change of this growing public health concern.
- Astrophysics: Shoot for the stars and beyond! Explore the formation, structure, and evolution of planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe.
- Biochemistry: Study the chemistry of life, focusing on the molecules and chemical reactions that form the basis of life on Earth.
- Biology: Learn about all living things – from bacteria to the largest mammals – and the systems and processes that govern life.
- Biophysics: Combine the power of physics with biology and study life at the cellular and molecular levels. Graduates might use technology such as MRIs, x-rays, and ultrasounds to diagnose and treat illnesses.
- Chemistry: Explore the structure, properties, and reactions of molecules in courses and labs where you'll apply chemical principles to the fields of materials, health, and energy.
- Earth Sciences: Learn about the fascinating world under your feet by exploring the geological processes of the Earth, including how we, as humans, use the Earth for our own energy and mineral resource demands.
- Ergonomics and Injury Prevention: Gain the skills to assess and address workplace issues such as human-machine interaction, workplace boredom, fatigue, and equipment design to maximize productivity and minimize the risk of injury.
- Gerontology: Examine the physical and social aspects of human aging and how the aging process affects older adults. You’ll be prepared for careers or graduate programs that promote and support healthy aging.
- Human Nutrition: You are what you eat, but what exactly is that? Examine the effects of diet and food on health and disease in humans, and food choices in populations.
- Medical Physiology: Interested in health? Take courses in biology and kinesiology and prepare for professional programs such as medical school or for careers in the biomedical field.
- Physics: Discover the deeper reality of energy and forces, studying everything from electromagnetism and thermodynamics to quantum mechanics and relativity.
Important: Some minors may take more than 10 courses to complete because of pre-requisites needed for courses within the minor. This is especially true for non-science students wishing to pursue a science-focused minor. Contact the faculty that offers your program of interest to learn about including a minor as part of your degree.
Courses you take for your degree can often count toward a certificate or diploma that you can earn in addition to your degree.
Black Studies and anti-racist communication
Diploma in Black Studies
With a Diploma in Black Studies, you'll gain a fundamental understanding of Black arts, life, culture, and society. You’ll also breathe life into your course material by going on field trips centred on film, comics, animé, art exhibits, performing arts, popular cultural events, and literary readings.
Diploma in Fundamentals of Anti-Racist Communication
With a Diploma in Fundamentals of Anti-Racist Communication, you'll dig deep into how racism impacting various groups affects language, behaviour, institutions, conversations, and policies – but also how to combat racism and communicate with sensitivity in everyday life. You'll gain essential skills in anti-racist communication practices, racial awareness, cultural competency, interracial communication, and interracial allyship.
Environment and sustainability
Diploma in Ecological Restoration and Rehabilitation
The Diploma in Ecological Restoration and Rehabilitation offers you an opportunity to do more than just learn passively. It’s a chance to do something that makes an important, meaningful impact while you gain skills and experience that can lead directly to a fulfilling, difference-making career.
Diploma in Environmental Assessment
With a Diploma in Environmental Assessment, you’ll learn to assess the impacts of proposed and implemented projects (e.g. mines, dams, roads, or pipelines) and strategic initiatives (e.g. policies, plans, or programs). You'll explore principles, processes and practices of assessment, methods for examining biophysical and socio-economic effects, and advanced real-world approaches that address cumulative effects.
Diploma of Excellence in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
So much of today's information and data has a geographic component to it. Whether tracking or forecasting forest fires, choosing a location for a new retail store, or managing transportation routes or utility corridors, GIS is a powerful tool with an incredible range of uses. With the Diploma of Excellence in Geographic Information Systems, you’ll develop advanced technical skills with programs that display and analyze this data, including the fundamentals of modelling, programming, and management of georeferenced data.
Diploma in Future Cities
Most of the world's population now lives in cities that range in size from tens of thousands of people to huge urban areas home to millions. The Diploma in Future Cities introduces you to the tools futurists use to plan for urban challenges and to make our cities more livable.
Diploma in Sustainability
With the Diploma in Sustainability, you’ll examine the intersecting and competing approaches to sustainability. You'll explore societal and environmental sustainability challenges and opportunities through frameworks based in environmental science, social well-being, and economic prosperity at local, national, and global scales.
Diploma in Health Humanities
Being able to contextualize the present through lessons of the past, to consider the ethics of one’s strategies, to form strong arguments, to communicate clearly, and to inspire trust are skills that can help both health clinicians and public health practitioners to serve the public and, more broadly, ease social discord and save lives.
With a Diploma in Health Humanities, you'll learn to be a responsible leader able to respond holistically to health-related questions and to guide and nurture action. You'll learn how to create a more compassionate and just society and to respect the dignity of all persons.
Experiential learning and leadership
EDGE experiential education certificate
If you're not in co-op and want to gain practical experience, the EDGE experiential education certificate will help you develop key professional skills, explore your career options, and market yourself to potential employers. You'll graduate with an essential set of skills and the ability to make clear, confident connections between their own experience and the needs of employers.
Student Leadership Program
The Student Leadership Program helps you to develop and enhance your leadership skills while engaging with the University of Waterloo community. You'll explore and enhance your leadership knowledge through interactive workshops facilitated by student leaders. You'll also enhance your résumé by developing the soft skills employers are looking for.
Demonstrate your expertise in languages with one of our diplomas.
How do you learn more?
You can contact the recruitment co-ordinator for your faculty/program of interest if you have questions about minors or specializations.
Once you're a Waterloo student, you'll have an advisor or advisors who can help you throughout your time at Waterloo. They can assist you with selecting your courses, choosing minors or other specializations, and ensuring you're taking the courses you need to.
Learn how to study multiple interests as part of your degree.