Become the next Einstein. Wild hair optional.

Study the most fundamental aspects of nature in one of Canada’s largest and most innovative physics departments.

Physics at Waterloo offers award-winning teaching, 20 months of optional co-op experience, and partnerships with some of the biggest institutes in the world working at the forefront of physics research.

Choose from a broad range of courses in applied physics, astrophysics, biophysics, chemical physics, mathematical physics, and quantum computing. Then supplement your learning with hands-on labs and tutorials.

Over the course of your degree, you’ll develop the strong quantitative and analytic skills that industry is looking for. You’ll graduate well prepared for a career in engineering, biotechnology, medicine, or astronomy — or for graduate studies where you can delve deeper into the world of research.

You might take a class from Physics and Astronomy professor Donna Strickland, who was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for her groundbreaking inventions in laser physics.

Physics 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 (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 for Physical Sciences.


How to apply

Apply to Physical Sciences and select Physics as your major in first year.

First-year Physics courses

September to December

January to April

  • PHYS 10 - Physics Seminar
  • PHYS 122/132L - Waves, Electricity and Magnetism/Laboratory
  • PHYS 124 - Modern Physics
  • MATH 128 - Calculus 2 for the Sciences
  • CHEM123 - Chemical Reactions, Equilibria and Kinetics
  • Plus one elective*

After first year

Most of the classes you’ll take will be Physics courses and some Math courses. With your remaining classes, you can choose electives from many of the 100 subject areas at Waterloo.

View a list of all the courses required for your degree.

Sample upper-year courses

PHYS 234 – Quantum Physics 1
PHYS 242 – Electricity and Magnetism 1
PHYS 256 – Geometrical and Physical Optics
PHYS 358 – Thermal Physics


student with electromagnetism

Choose to focus your studies in applied physics, astrophysics, biophysics, chemical physics, mathematical physics, or quantum computing.

Breifcase Available as a co-op and regular program

ClickApply to Physical Sciences, select Physics as your major

CapEarn a Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Physics


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

  • Ultrasound image reconstruction specialist
  • Defence analytics research assistant
  • Software developer
  • Undergraduate research assistant
  • Science & math peer tutor
  • Modelling support technician

Sample co-op employers

  • CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research
  • COM DEV International Ltd.
  • Environment & Climate Change Canada
  • Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning

AtomsWaterloo is affiliated with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

BeakerOffered by the Faculty of Science

book iconAvailable as a major and minor


Customize your Physics degree

Within the program, you can focus on applied physics, astrophysics, biophysics, chemical physics, mathematical physics, or quantum computing. You can also add additional areas of interest from other subjects by including one or more of the minors available to all Waterloo students.

What can you do with a degree in Physics?

Common careers for Physics graduates include biomedical research and design, research and development, financial analysis and forecasting, nuclear power research and operation, modelling, computer hardware and software development, and more.

Recent graduates

  • Physics teacher, Waterloo Region District School Board
  • Systems Integration Specialist, University of Waterloo
  • Postdoctoral Researcher, BC Cancer Agency Radiation Therapy

Do scientific research

In your fourth year, you can undertake a cutting-edge research project — perhaps at Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing.

Learn from top physicists

Be sure to take advantage of public lectures at the nearby Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.


Learn more about Physics