Physics and Astronomy

Aim for a career with astronomical possibilities

A Physics and Astronomy student at the University of Waterloo.

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 to possibly win a Nobel Prize in Physics (like Waterloo professor Dr. Donna Strickland) or be part of the 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.


4Waterloo ranks 4th in Canada for physics

Breifcase Available as a co-op and regular program

CapEarn a Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Physics and Astronomy

 

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 (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 (which includes the Physics and Astronomy major).

 

How to apply

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


Physics and Astronomy at Waterloo

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


What will you learn?

Programs/majors in the Faculty of Science start right in first year. To select your program with confidence, here’s some handy info to get you started.

Skills you'll develop with this major

  • Applied programming and data analysis
  • Image analysis and manipulation
  • Building and working with detector technology
  • Statistical analysis techniques applicable to a wide range of disciplines
  • Telescope operation

This isn't an exhaustive list – rather a glimpse into the skills a Physics and Astronomy major can provide.

Your experience will be unique, and the skills you develop will depend on your goals; which courses you take; and your involvement with any clubs, jobs, or research projects.

Types of courses you'll take

57% physics, 12% math, 5% chemistry, 23% free electives, 3% communications

This is a general guideline. The ratio of courses may change slightly from year to year.

 

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Monthly topics include how to choose a university program, what it's like to be a Waterloo student, and more.

Questions? Ask a student!

Contact a Science student ambassador to learn about their experience.

Ask them questions such as why they chose their program, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.

 


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

BeakerOffered by the Faculty of Science

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

 

 

Ready to learn more?


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 faculty 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.