Aim for a career with astronomical possibilities
Do you look up at night and dream of distant galaxies? Do you wonder about the origin of the universe? Explore your curiosity with a Physics and Astronomy degree from Waterloo.
Complement your foundational studies in physics and math with courses in astronomy. Interested in research? Waterloo's Centre for Astrophysics hosts aspiring young researchers and students, helping them to unlock the mysteries of the universe. Researchers will collaborate with some of the top astrophysics agencies in the world.
The program’s strong ties to Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing provide additional opportunities to get involved in research. Meanwhile, if you opt for our co-op program, you’ll gain valuable résumé-building experience on your work terms.
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).
Once you complete your degree, you’ll have what it takes to pursue specialized graduate programs or to launch directly into a career in fields like aerospace, astrophysics, or remote sensing.
- Award-winning teaching. As well as small class sizes, you’ll enjoy great teaching. This is a department that has racked up an impressive eight Distinguished Teaching Awards. Check out some of the research being conducted by professors in this major on our Waterloo Stories website.
- Meet other astro-nerds. Meet students who share your passions in the rocketry club or the space club, or spend some time in Waterloo’s very own Gustav Bakos Observatory. Learn more about going to infinity with Gustav Bakos on our Beyond Idea's website.
- Available as a regular or co-op program
- Graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Astronomy
- Offered by the Faculty of Science
Physics and Astronomy at Waterloo
What will you learn?
In your first year, you'll take a mixture of Physics, Computer Science, and Chemistry 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 and Astronomy degree.
Customize your Bachelor of Science degree
You can specialize with a minor in astrophysics or biophysics or choose to add additional areas of interest from across campus by including a minor or option as part of your degree.
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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.
Co-op = relevant paid work experience
By alternating school terms and paid co-op work terms throughout your degree, you can explore careers in astronomy and work for different types of employers as your career interests evolve.
Sample co-op job titles
- RADARSAT operations support assistant
- Sun-earth development program assistant
- Science & math tutor
- Undergraduate research assistant
- Software development & testing coordinator
Sample co-op employers
- Canadian Space Agency
- Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
- CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research
- National Research Council of Canada
What can you do with an astronomy degree?
With a Physics and Astronomy degree, you can use your passion for physics and space to pursue careers as an astronomer, aerospace scientist, or a researcher in theoretical physics, astrophysics, as well as data analysis for space and atmospheric institutes.
You can start preparing for your career during your undergrad, visit our Beyond Ideas website to learn about how Harmohit got a head start to his career with all the resources offered in Physics and Astronomy.
- Astronomer - The National Research Council's Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics
- Aerospace Scientist - NASA
- Researcher - Canadian Space Agency
- Hazard Analyst/Modeller - National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research
Learn about the future of careers in science.
Common questions about the program
What's the difference between astronomy and astrophysics? Which of the two does the program focus on?
Astronomy is more about observational physics: what you can see and observe within an entity (including our vast universe). Astrophysics uses observational physics to propose new theories and tests them through mathematical modelling. In Physics and Astronomy, you'll learn both but will focus more on observational physics.
What kind of things do you do in the astronomy labs? Do you use the observatory?
You'll use telescopes, star maps, and other instruments in your astronomy labs, and yes, one lab does use the observatory, which you can also use when it's open to the public.
Physics and Astronomy 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 for Physical Sciences (which includes the Physics and Astronomy major).
How to apply
Apply to Physical Sciences and choose Physics and Astronomy as your major.
Connect with us
Questions about courses, programs, requirements, or careers?
Please contact Katelyn, our Science recruitment coordinator who can answer any questions you have.