Science co-op programs

 Waterloo co-op students at work 



Biochemistry is the study of the chemical basis of life and, as such, is a discipline at the interface between biology and chemistry. A broad discipline, biochemistry has applications in medical diagnosis, forensic science, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, industrial microbiology and genetic engineering.

Waterloo Biochemistry is one of the flagship programs of the Faculty of Science. Students participate in a lab-intensive program covering cell biology, molecular biology, physical biochemistry and analytical and organic chemistry.

Students fulfill the academic requirements for professional membership in the Chemical Institute of Canada.

This highly focused and lab-intensive program is designed to give students sound training in both biology and chemistry, providing excellent preparation for a career in biochemistry or biotechnology. Students in biochemistry have the opportunity to specialize in physiology, molecular biology, biotechnology or microbiology.

Students in this program receive solid training in biochemistry, including the most up-to-date knowledge in the field. With their extensive hands-on lab experience, research and computer skills, they arrive well-equipped for the workplace.

Students are able to make a valuable contribution in numerous areas, including:

  • quality control and testing
  • sample preparation, data collection and analysis
  • identification and characterization of compounds
  • protein synthesis
  • DNA sequencing, cloning and restriction mapping

Modern equipment provides students experience in analytical techniques such as:

  • chromatography
  • electrophoresis
  • nuclear magnetic resonance

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One of the most rapidly developing areas of science, biology is the understanding, management and manipulation of living organisms: their structure, function, organization, origin and evolution.

Waterloo’s Biology program is a distinctive program since it exposes students to a wide range of biological concepts in the first two years, after which specialization is encouraged. There is extensive lab experience during these first two years. Lecture and laboratory courses and field trips are all designed to equip students with a thorough, broadly based foundation in biology.

Students in this program develop broad-based biology knowledge, including extensive hands-on laboratory experience. They are bright and highly motivated.

They are able to make a valuable contribution to the workplace in numerous areas, including:

  • DNA sequencing, cloning and restriction mapping
  • survey of fungi, algae and plants
  • quality control and testing in the food industry
  • sample preparation, data collection and analysis
  • research design and analysis

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Biotechnology/Chartered Professional Accountancy

Students in Waterloo’s Biotechnology/Chartered Professional Accountancy program are interested in pursuing careers in the accounting profession. The program encompasses the requisite technical experience necessary to make them more effective in interacting with, and working in, modern technology-intensive organizations.

The program combines formal education in accounting and science. These students offer a different perspective than students graduating from a straight accounting program. They learn how to be effective in the expanding science and technology marketplace by developing strengths in biotechnology and accounting.

This unique program integrates advanced courses in biology, biochemistry and biotechnology with studies in financial management, accounting, auditing and taxation.

This program leads to the Master of Accountancy program, which qualifies students to write the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants exam required to become a Chartered Professional Accountant.

Students in Waterloo’s Biotechnology/Chartered Professional Accountancy program are focused individuals committed not only to accounting, but to enhancing their technical knowledge, making them more effective within modern, technology-intensive organizations. 

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • ability to offer different perspectives
  • critical thinking and analysis skills
  • applying accounting concepts in industry-specific settings
  • performing financial analysis and creating financial statements

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Students in Waterloo’s Biotechnology/Economics program have a specific technical focus on biotechnology. This expanding industry will impact many facets of society, including health-care, food and agriculture, energy and  the environment.

This program integrates fundamental principles and applications of biotechnology with a more specialized business focus on economics. 

The Biotechnology/Economics program gives students a dual capability as scientist and economist. They learn how to be effective in expanding the science and technology marketplace by developing strengths in biotechnology  and economics.

Students in this program must complete the required courses, which include English, advanced functions, calculus and vectors, and two of the following:

  • biology
  • chemistry
  • mathematics of data management

In today’s expanding marketplace, these students are especially valuable because many types of organizations are looking for specialists with combined scientific and business knowledge. They have an understanding of both scientific principles and key economic concepts that helps them successfully transform research ideas into new processes  and products. 

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • excellent numeracy and problem-solving skills
  • ability to perform research, collect statistics and make mathematical calculations
  • strategic thinking skills
  • unique perspectives and solutions

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Chemical Physics

Chemical physics focuses on the application of the fundamental laws of physics to many emerging areas in chemistry. The applications are useful in other fields too such as, nanosciences, biological research, drug design and more.

Our students learn from some of Canada's top professors and have hands-on experience working in our labs. Students are equipped with knowledge about spectroscopy, theoretical chemistry, computational chemistry/physics and simulations, and materials and nanosciences.

Chemical physics students can make a number of valuable contributions such as:

  • preparing molecular, solid state and surface property simulations
  • data collection and analysis
  • assist with calculations for quantities of interest (molecular structure and energetics, spectroscopic signals, rates of reactions and more)

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Chemistry is a diverse discipline, involving substances in every aspect of life. With an equal emphasis on theory and practical work, Waterloo’s Chemistry program prepares students for career options across the spectrum. Graduates could be searching for the roots of diseases, developing cancer-fighting drugs, assessing environmental damage, carrying out research in academic or government labs or developing or refining products such as electrical components, plastics and new fuels.

The program gives students the advantage of experience with real-world examples of chemistry, through our renowned professors’ research and collaboration with industry.

Students in Waterloo’s Chemistry program develop broad-based and deep knowledge of chemistry, including extensive hands-on laboratory experience. They are bright and highly motivated.

Students are able to make a valuable contribution to the workplace in numerous areas, including:

  • preparing new compounds, purifying and analyzing  their structures
  • developing new analytical techniques » characterizing properties of materials
  • quality control and testing
  • sample preparation, data collection and analysis

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Earth Sciences

Earth sciences is a versatile field that is cross disciplinary to many areas of science and engineering.  Earth Scientists study natural compositions, structures, processes and interactions within, at the surface of and all around the Earth and other planets. Waterloo’s Earth Sciences program facilitates an interactive and dynamic learning environment that gives young professionals the skills for evaluating and managing the Earth’s environment and resource including water, minerals, soil, oil and gas in an ever changing climate system and in light of societal needs. Top students are attracted to Waterloo’s Earth Sciences by our broad and challenging programs, internationally recognized professors and mentors and our reputation for high-quality experiential learning and innovative problem-solving approaches.

This program is designed to provide students with the skills for thinking and applying themselves in the geosciences, with a range of opportunities for specialization if they so choose and foundational requirements for professional accreditation. Our programs allow maximum flexibility to launch careers in the geosciences and other professions.

Students in this program bring the benefit of having both the hard and soft skills to adapt and apply their knowledge and skills. They are bright, highly motivated and eager to succeed in new and novel ways.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • broad knowledge base in the geosciences and related disciplines
  • imaginative and innovative problem-solving skills
  • numerically literate and unique data-gathering abilities
  • ability to think and create critically
  • maturity and professionalism beyond their years

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Environmental Science

Students in Waterloo’s Environmental Science program combine scientific knowledge, creativity and  determination to solve ecological issues. The program  is valued because of its strong emphasis on the natural,  life and biological sciences.

While the focus of the program is on the ecology of the environment, students also study an array of disciplines including chemistry, Earth sciences, environment and  resource studies, and mathematics.

The Environmental Science program enables students to combine their passion for the environment and a sustainable future with their talent and strength in the sciences.

Students have the opportunity to select one of two specializations: 

  • Ecology: students learn to combine scientific knowledge, creativity and determination to address ecological sustainability possibilities and issues.
  • Geoscience: students learn skills necessary to assess the environmental impact of surface and subsurface contamination from industry, urbanization, agriculture and mining.

Students in Waterloo’s Environmental Science program already have a passion to better the world, and they have the practical knowledge and skills in science that make them valuable to a variety of employers.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • statistical data analysis
  • proper research methodology and report  preparation techniques
  • data gathering
  • creating/implementing project timelines and rollouts
  • specialized/advanced equipment experience
  • environment sampling methods
  • planning experiments

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Life Physics

Waterloo’s Life Physics program provides a solid foundation in basic physics, chemistry and biology while allowing a flexible, interdisciplinary and integrative approach to the study of the life sciences. Students will develop analytic and experimental skills with broad applications.

Through appropriate selection of electives, students are prepared for careers which require a broad scientific knowledge, including biophysics, medical physics, other health sciences and careers in biotechnology and biomedical instrumentation.

Students in Waterloo’s Life Physics program are prepared with a strong foundation of broad scientific knowledge, and are especially valuable due to their multidisciplinary learning.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge
  • training in quantitative thinking
  • ability to group, analyze and model experimental data
  • strong analytic skills
  • ability to integrate and apply key concepts 

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Mathematical Physics

Mathematical Physics combines theoretical physics with high-level math courses in differential equations, vector calculus, and applied mathematics. From high-level researching to creating groundbreaking technologies, students can choose to develop skills in a wide variety of fields.

Studying with either Canada's largest Faculty of Mathematics or the Faculty of Science, students in Mathematical Physics also have many opportunities to apply their learning through hands-on labs in mechanics, electricity, magnetism, computer programming, optics and more.

Mathematical Physics prepares students for careers in software development, finance and medicine, as well as careers developing technologies like nanotechnology and quantum computing. With ties to Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and the Institute for Quantum Computing, students are able to take their education to the next level.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • computational and analytical analysis skills
  • advanced problem-solving skills
  • strong knowledge base in many areas of math, physics and technology
  • demonstrated ability in pure and/or applied research
  • communication skills

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Materials and Nanosciences

Waterloo’s Materials and Nanosciences program is an interdisciplinary program offered jointly by the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The program is designed for students who are interested in materials and devices, both at the macroscopic and nanometre scales.

Students will be prepared for careers in new and high-tech fields, including manufacturing, materials technology, nanomedicine, renewable energy and information technology. This program complements the Nanotechnology Engineering program offered through the Faculty of Engineering. The program has two themes; one associated with inorganic and organic materials, the other with biomaterials. 

Students in Waterloo’s Materials and Nanosciences program are equipped with a strong knowledge of materials and devices, and are motivated by new and exciting fields of work in materials science and nanoscience.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • strong analytical skills
  • ability to integrate and apply key concepts in chemistry and physics
  • innovative and flexible thinkers
  • ability to communicate results effectively 

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Medicinal Chemistry

Medicinal chemistry is the science of drug discovery. Students in Waterloo’s Medicinal Chemistry program are trained as chemists. Thus, medicinal chemists are knowledgeable in the areas of analytical, biochemistry, inorganic, physical and organic chemistry. In 3rd and 4th year the Medicinal Chemistry students gain further incites and knowledge necessary for careers involving the design, creation and evaluation of potential medications.

Developed to address industry needs indicated by leading researchers in the Canadian pharmaceutical sector, this program helps students develop a skill set that allows them to be qualified for positions in this rapidly evolving field. Students are also qualified to work, areas such as biotechnology, biomolecules, polymer chemistry, biochemistry, materials chemistry, nanotechnology and analytical chemistry.

Graduates of Waterloo’s Medicinal Chemistry program qualify for membership in the Canadian Society of Chemistry and the Chemical Institute of Canada.

The Medicinal Chemistry program at Waterloo emphasizes advanced laboratory research skills and the proper handling of chemicals. Students become valuable team members who rapidly learn new techniques and have strong problem solving abilities.

A medicinal chemistry education provides students with strong critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, quality experience within chemistry laboratories and knowledge tailored to the chemistry field through classes specifically developed for the industry.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • communication skills
  • data analysis & analytical skills
  • creative problem solving skills
  • flexible and adaptable
  • lab skills/techniques

Students are able to make a valuable contribution to the workplace in numerous areas, including:

  • synthesis under inert atmosphere (septum and N2 lines)
  • conducting NMR characterizations
  • inorganic synthesis 

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Established in 2008 and located on Waterloo’s new Health Sciences Campus in downtown Kitchener, the School of Pharmacy offers the only co-op pharmacy program in Canada and one of only two in North America. 

Formerly a Bachelor’s degree program, in 2015, the first students graduated from the new Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. The School of Pharmacy, along with the new PharmD curriculum also underwent the national accreditation process in 2015 and received the maximum accreditation time possible of 6 years!

Inter-professional education is a key component of the program. Students learn to work as highly functioning members of professional health-care teams, which may include doctors, nurses, optometrists, social workers and many others.

This unique program is designed to create the health-care sector’s future leaders: highly skilled, motivated and passionate professionals, whose expertise will be critical on the modern health-care team. Courses emphasize breadth and flexibility, fostering teamwork, collaboration and a holistic approach to health. One of the key fundamentals is that health care can and should be personalized to the individual as much as possible.

Students in Waterloo’s Pharmacy program have the benefit of the latest knowledge and learning in pharmaceuticals and as well as patient care. They are bright, highly motivated and have practical experience in primary and institutional health care, working in an integrated environment with other health-care professionals.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • communication skills
  • leadership ability
  • team players
  • health-care related or research experience
  • flexible and adaptable

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The Physics program at the University of Waterloo is one of Canada’s finest. Its students select from a wide variety of options in astrophysics, biophysics, condensed matter physics, electronics, mathematical physics, nanophysics, optics, and quantum computing. Courses are accompanied by a strong emphasis on laboratory experience, so that students develop the practical skills and analytical capabilities required in today's work environment.

Physics students are talented, highly motivated and hard-working. They will bring additional skills and demonstrated expertise in many areas of pure and applied physics.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • computational and analytical analysis skills
  • adaptive approach in problem solving
  • strong knowledge base in many areas of science and technology
  • creative skills applied to technology development
  • demonstrated ability in pure and/or applied research

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Physics and Astronomy

Waterloo’s Honours Physics and Astronomy academic program is intended for students with a strong interest in astronomy. The program provides depth and breadth in physics equal to our current Honours Physics plan, and  offers students a variety of astronomy-related courses.

Students will have conceptual and analytical knowledge spanning the full breadth of physics, with additional depth in astronomy. Graduates will have the flexibility to pursue jobs or graduate study in either discipline.

Students in Waterloo’s Physics and Astronomy program are prepared with a strong foundation of scientific knowledge, are especially valuable due to their programming, image and data analysis, and modelling and simulation skills. These attributes are useful in a variety of scientific, engineering and medical imaging contexts.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • in-depth theoretical and practical knowledge
  • training in quantitative thinking
  • ability to group, analyze and model experimental data
  • strong analytic skills
  • ability to integrate and apply key concepts 

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Waterloo’s Psychology Department is one of the strongest in North America, with the leading number of research citations in Canada and an international reputation for excellence in cognitive neuroscience and clinical, cognitive, developmental, industrial organizational and social psychology.

The program emphasizes a balance of theory and research methodology and offers an especially solid grounding for careers in cognitive neuroscience, forensic and cognitive psychology or medicine with a specialization in neurology, psychiatry or paediatrics.

Students start their first year in Life Sciences and then apply to Honours Psychology before second year. A Bachelor of Science (Psychology) is awarded upon graduation.

Due to the program’s emphasis on research and computer skills and the many opportunities for student involvement in research labs, employers find that our students are valuable team members who quickly learn new techniques and are able to problem solve.

Psychology students’ valuable skills and attributes include:

  • advanced research training
  • data analysis
  • independent problem-solving
  • quick learners – adaptable
  • computer skills

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Science and Business

In today’s intricate global economy where technological developments are introduced at an ever-increasing pace, there is high demand for individuals with a strong foundation in science and its implementation in the world of business and government. Decision makers often need to appreciate the underlying scientific issues as well as the economic ramifications of their decisions.

Waterloo’s Science and Business program is the only one of its kind in Canada. The program takes an interdisciplinary approach, providing students with a unique blend of knowledge in science technology and business, as well as information technology, creative problem-solving and decision-making skills. It is designed to prepare students for a career in management in the technology-intensive global market place.

Waterloo’s vision for the program entails making our students the most sought-after resource in the market, equipping them with a unique blend of scientific outlook and strong business fundamentals. Cutting-edge workshops infuse an ability to critically scrutinize business problems of technical companies. This includes detailed product knowledge, using analytical thought.

Students in this program are of a very high calibre. In addition to strong knowledge of science and business fundamentals, they bring hands-on practice and real-world skills gained from a broad spectrum of workshop-format courses. They may also bring perspectives from previous work terms.

Valuable skills and attributes include:

  • business communication skills
  • data gathering and handling skills
  • team players
  • problem-solving skills
  • time-management skills
  • project presentation skills
  • highly motivated
  • strong analytical skills

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