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Physics

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. 

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.

 

student with electromagnetism

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

About the Physics program

Breifcase Available as a co-op and regular program

ClickApply to Physical Sciences,
select Physics as your major

CapEarn a Bachelor of Science in Honours Physics

AtomsWaterloo is affiliated with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

BeakerOffered by the Faculty of Science

4Waterloo ranks 4th in Canada for physics
 

Physics admission requirements 

Careers 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

First-year Physics courses

September to December

PHYS 10 - Physics Seminar
PHYS 121/PHYS 131L - Mechanics/Laboratory
MATH 114 - Linear Algebra for Science
MATH 127 - Calculus 1 for Sciences
CHEM120/CHEM 120L - Physical and Chemical Properties of Matter/Laboratory 
SCCOM 100 Communication in the Sciences

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/CHEM 123L - Chemical Reactions, Equilibria and Kinetics/Laboratory 
Plus 1 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.

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

 

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 a minor as part of your degree.


    Gain relevant work experience through co-op

    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

    • Research Assistant in Experimental Quantum Optics
    • Researcher in beam loss management
    • Software Developer
    • Research Assistant
    • Research and Development Applications Testing

    Sample co-op employers

    • CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research
    • University of Waterloo
    • COM DEV International
    • Environment Canada
     

    Helpful links