Frequently asked questions

If you're a future student and have questions about any of the Faculty of Science's 17 different majors, admissions, customizing your degree, changing majors, financing your education, etc., this is where you'll find answers.

If you're a current student, visit the Science Undergraduate Office for support with items such as dropping or adding courses, course selection dates, etc.


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How easy is it to change my major?

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Science advisors, Science majors to choose from

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How do Life Sciences and Physical Sciences work if they’re not majors?

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Life Sciences, Physical Sciences

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How does the Science and Business program work, and is it a double major?

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Science and Business, Business jobs of the future

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What's Materials and Nanosciences?

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Materials and Nanosciences, Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, The power of quantum research

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What's the difference between Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, and Pharmacy?

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Chemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, School of Pharmacy PharmD Program, Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Honours Science

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If I like biology and chemistry, is Biochemistry a good fit for me?

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Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry

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How does the Science and Aviation program work?

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Science and Aviation, Aviation at Waterloo, Aviation fees and finances

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What is the process to transfer between faculties at Waterloo?

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Science Academic Advisors, Changing your mind on what to study

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How do specializations work? 

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Minors, options, and specializations in Science, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences

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Can I switch into the co-op program if I start in the regular program? 

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Co-op in Science, Experiential Learning

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What's the difference between Biomedical Sciences and Health Sciences?

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Biomedical Sciences, Health Sciences, Steps to careers in health and medicine

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What's the difference between Environmental Sciences and programs in the Faculty of Environment?

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Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Environment, Environmental degree programs


How do Science programs work at Waterloo?

  • Choose from 17 majors and take courses in your chosen field, beginning from day one of your first year.
  • You're not required to take a general first year, but if you'd prefer to sample different types of sciences in your first year, Honours Science could be a place for you to start.
  • Most majors are flexible enough that you can still switch before your second year if you change your mind. Talk to the Science Recruitment Team if you have questions about the flexibility of your chosen major.

What do the Life Sciences and Physical Sciences entry-level programs mean? How do these work?

  • At Waterloo, we offer 12 majors under the entry-level programs Life Sciences and Physical Sciences.
  • It's important to note that Life Sciences and Physical Sciences are entry programs. We do not offer a general first year labelled Life Sciences or Physical Sciences. Rather, you start in the major that you choose on OUAC when you apply. For instance, if you wish to apply into the Life Sciences entry program, and you select Biochemistry as your subject of major interest (SMI), you'll be starting in the Biochemistry major in the fall of your first year.
  • You'll receive an offer into Life or Physical Sciences, but the subject of major interest that you select on OUAC is your major and is what will appear on your degree. For instance, if you select Physical Sciences as your program, and Chemistry as your subject of major interest, you'll receive an offer to Physical Sciences. However, when you start at Waterloo, you'll be starting in Chemistry (all of your courses will be aligned to that major) and your degree will state Bachelor of Science in Chemistry.
  • For example: If you want to be in the Biomedical Sciences program, you need to choose Life Sciences as the entry-level program and then Biomedical Sciences as your SMI. You will begin courses related to Biomedical Sciences in your first year and you will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Sciences.

How can I customize my degree?

Choose to customize your degree by adding a specialization, option, or minor(s).

  • Specializations: These add additional focus to your major through specific courses and modifications. Specializations are offered in Biochemistry, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Life Physics, and Science and Business. For Environmental Science and Earth Sciences, you must specialize and we'll connect with you to confirm your specialization in June prior to starting in first year. For all other majors that offer specializations, they're optional and you can remain unspecialized if you wish. All declared specializations will appear on your degree when you graduate.
  • Minors: A minor is a set of around eight courses that offer additional concentration to your degree. Not all majors or programs have the room/flexibility for minors, so talk with your academic advisor if you wish to add one. See the full list of Waterloo minors.
  • Options: An option is like a minor, but it's typically offered only to students within a specific Faculty. In the Faculty of Science, we offer one option - Bioinformatics.

What are the admission requirements for my major?

How do I apply to my major?

What's it like to be a Science student at Waterloo?

Science students at University of Waterloo access state-of-the-art labs; inspiring professors and lecturers; and a variety of support resources, cafes, and study spaces. View the student life page.

How many hours of class will I have per week and what is the workload like?

It depends on your major, but you will have around 15 hours of class per week and around 3-8 hours of labs and/or tutorials. Check your program page for a list of first year courses and labs you will take.

Where can I live?

With guaranteed residence for all first year students and nine residences to choose from, you'll have no problem finding a spot. For information on residence and housing, see housing.

How much is tuition? What are the other fees I should expect?

How can I finance my education?

Once you arrive at Waterloo, there are many ways you can gain some extra cash for spending money and to help you pay for school. For information on financial aid, see financing your education.

How do I book a campus, residence, or Science tour?

Book a campus, residence, Science, or other Faculty tour through the Visitors Centre.

How do I order and/or read viewbooks and brochures?

Who can I contact for more information about Science majors?

Waterloo Science students answer frequently asked questions

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Can't find what you're looking for? Not to worry! We have a whole team dedicated to helping you understand your options and reach your academic goals. Connect with Science today!


How do I transfer from another Ontario university?

Applicants will need to provide both a high school transcript and interim transcripts from their current university.

You will also need to meet the minimum admission requirements.

To be eligible, you will need to meet the minimum average for continuing in the program to which you have applied (normally a 65% average, higher averages may be required for some programs, including co-op versions)

Once you have been admitted as a transfer student, we will review your courses in which you have greater than 60% for possible transfer credit (Note: it is a good idea to include course descriptions as part of your post-application package). We will be looking at courses that are relevant to you new program at University of Waterloo and for which we have an equivalent course.

Important: the maximum number of transfer credits you can have is two years towards your University of Waterloo degree.

For more information, visit our Transferring to Science page.

What programs or majors does Waterloo offer?

Visit our programs page to get details on majors available to study, careers, courses, co-op & regular study and over 50 different minors, options, and specializations.

What are the admission requirements for the major that I'm interested in?

View the list of science admission requirements and recommendations, English Language requirements, and admission average ranges.

How do I apply to my major?

We've tried to make the application process as straight forward as possible. For information on the application process, including important dates, visit the How to Apply page.