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 one of the world's leading institutes for research and training in foundational theoretical physics.
Join a program that fosters curious minds to question the smallest particles, the largest forces, and everything in between. Where you'll get the support you need to succeed (and maybe win a Nobel Prize like Waterloo professor Donna Strickland or be part of a team to take the first image of a black hole, like professor Avery Broderick).
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.
- Learn from top physicists. Waterloo is ranked #1 in Canada for physics (Academic World Ranking of Universities 2023). Be sure to take advantage of public lectures at the nearby Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, located just south of campus.
- Do scientific research. In your fourth year, you can undertake a cutting-edge research project to explore your interests in physics — perhaps at Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing.
- Available as a regular or co-op program
- Available as a major and minor
- Graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Physics
- Offered by the Faculty of Science
What will you learn?
In your first year, you'll take a mixture of Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, and Computer Science courses to give you the foundations for your upper-year classes. After first year, most of your classes will be Physics courses with some Mathematics courses.
Learn more about courses you'll take for your Physics degree.
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.
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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
What can you do with a degree in Physics?
Common careers for Physics graduates include research and development, nuclear power research and operation, modelling, computer hardware and software development, financial analysis and forecasting, and more. Physicists also find jobs in industry, finance, government, and software development. The combination of scientific method and strong mathematical knowledge opens doors to jobs in many technology and data-driven fields.
- Physics teacher, Waterloo Region District School Board
- Systems Integration Specialist, University of Waterloo
- Postdoctoral Researcher, BC Cancer Agency Radiation Therapy
Learn about the future of careers in science.
What's the difference between Physics, Mathematical Physics, and Physics and Astronomy?
In Mathematical Physics, you'll take more math courses and will not be required to do labs after first year so this program is good if you’re interested in theoretical (math-based) physics. In Physics and Astronomy, you’ll have observational astronomy labs, astronomy courses such as Stars and Galaxies, and have fewer required math courses. This program is good if you’re interested in the observational side of space research. Physics continues with labs throughout the degree and is the most general physics program. It's good if you’re interested in experimental or applied physics or if you're unsure where your interests lie in physics.
Physics degree 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 Physics as your major in first year.
Connect with us
Questions about courses, programs, requirements, or careers?
Please contact Alisia, our Science recruitment coordinator who can answer any questions you have.
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