Physics and Astronomy

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 mathematics with additional courses in astronomy.

Interested in research? The program’s strong ties to Waterloo’s Institute for Quantum Computing give you plenty of opportunities to get involved in research. Meanwhile, if you opt for co-op, you’ll gain valuable résumé-building experience on your work terms.

Once you complete your degree, you’ll have what it takes to succeed at graduate school 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.

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.


Emily, a Physics and Astronomy student, loves the program because it deals with questions that people have been asking since ancient times. 

About the Physics and Astronomy program

Breifcase Available as a co-op and regular program

ClickApply to Physical Sciences and select Physics and Astronomy as your major

CapEarn a Bachelor of Science in Honours Physics and Astronomy

20+Live with other Science students in a Science Academic Cluster

BeakerOffered by the Faculty of Science

4Waterloo ranks 4th in Canada for physics

Physics and Astronomy admission requirements 

  • Ontario students: 6 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
  • An Admission Information Form is recommended
  • Not studying in Ontario? Search our admission requirements

How to apply

Apply to Physical Sciences and choose Physics and Astronomy as your major.

Careers in astronomy

With a Physics and Astronomy degree, you use your passion for physics and space to pursue careers as an astronomer, aerospace scientist, or a researcher in theoretical physics, astrophysics, data analysis for space and atmospheric institutes.

Sample careers of our graduates

  • 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

First-year Physics and Astronomy 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
ENGL 193/SPCOM 193- Communication in the Sciences

January to April

PHYS 10 - Physics Seminar
PHYS 122/132L - Waves, Electricity and Magnetism/Laboratory
PHYS 124 - Modern Physics
PHYS 175/175L - Introduction to the Universe/Laboratory
MATH 128 - Calculus 2 for the Sciences
CHEM 123 - Chemical Reactions, Equilibria and Kinetics


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 375 – Stars
PHYS 461 – Nanophysics
PHYS 474 – Galaxies
PHYS 476 – Introduction to General Relativity


Customize your astronomy 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.


Gain relevant work experience through co-op

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

Learn more about Physics and Astronomy