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.
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).
Waterloo is affiliated with the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Available as a major and minor
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 (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.
How to apply
Apply to Physical Sciences and select Physics as your major in first year.
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
- Systematic, rigorous, and flexible problem solving
- Qualitative and quantitative/numerical analysis
- Applied programming and data analysis
- Laboratory experimental procedures and methodologies
- Communication of complex ideas
This isn't an exhaustive list – rather a glimpse into the skills a Physics 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
This is a general guideline. The ratio of courses may change slightly from year to year.
Get tips from Waterloo students
Sign up for insider advice that can help you now and in the future.
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 the chose their program, what the classes are like, and how you can get involved on campus.
First-year courses and beyond
September to December
January to April
After first year
View a list of all the courses required for your Physics major.
Sample upper-year courses
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.
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
Sample co-op employers
- CERN - European Organization for Nuclear Research
- COM DEV International Ltd.
- Environment & Climate Change Canada
- Humber Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning
What can you do with a degree in Physics?
Common careers for Physics graduates include biomedical research and design, research and development, nuclear power research and operation, modelling, computer hardware and software development, financial analysis and forecasting, and more. Phsicists 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.
Apply to Physical Sciences, select Physics as your major
Offered by the Faculty of Science
Earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Honours Physics
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.
Ready to learn more?
Check out these articles to learn more about Physics at Waterloo, the student experience, and more.
Learn from top physicists
Be sure to take advantage of public lectures at the nearby Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
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.