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Co-op and work experience FAQ

Co-op image - shoesAt UVic, learning extends beyond the classroom. Our co-operative education program (co-op) lets you gain up to 16 months of relevant work experience by alternating terms in class with paid work terms in jobs related to your field of study. > See co-op options available in your program area

Exceeding national standards

CAFCE logoAll 224 UVic co-op degree programs are accredited by the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education (CAFCE).

What are the perks? Let's see some numbers.

What are the perks?

Through co-op, you'll:

  • try out different jobs working for employers in your field
  • graduate with a great résumé packed with relevant work experience
  • build a valuable network of contacts and references
  • earn income to help pay for tuition
  • clarify your strengths, interests and goals
  • build competencies and learn to market yourself to employers
  • boost your chances of landing a great job after graduation

Let's see some numbers.

  • One in four UVic students takes part in co-op.
  • Co-op grads are more likely to land a job sooner, be promoted faster and earn a higher salary than non-co-op grads.
  • The pay is great! (see co-op salaries)
  • UVic's co-op program is one of the largest and most respected in Canada. All our co-op programs are CAFCE-accredited.

Is co-op worth it? How is it different from finding your own job?

Is co-op worth it?

Absolutely. As a co-op student, you get to gain experience working in your field before you graduate. You'll get amazing support from co-op staff who will help you find job opportunities that suit your career goals. And while there's a tuition fee for co-op, co-op work term salaries are great (see samples here). That means you'll earn that money back and then some!

How is co-op different than finding your own job?

Co-op offers a unique approach to help you build your career—and your skills—from the ground up. You'll work with your co-op coordinator before, during and after each co-op term to reflect on your learning and plan your next steps. You'll set learning goals with your work supervisor for each work term and assess your competencies before and after each experience. Plus, co-op gives you access to exclusive job postings that organizations reserve for co-op students—a major perk during rocky economic times.

When you graduate, you'll have relevant work experience and a network of contacts and references. You'll have a better sense of your passions, strengths and goals, and you'll know what it takes to find satisfying work in your field.

Who can join co-op?

Whether you can participate in co-op depends on your academic program. Some programs are optional and some are mandatory.

Optional co-op programs

Know what you want to study? Find the co-op program for your degree, bring your enthusiasm and apply! Admission is based on your GPA (generally a B standing) and may include an interview. Contact your co-op program as early in your studies as possible to learn about admission deadlines and application requirements.

Mandatory co-op programs

Some undergraduate programs have a mandatory co-op component, so you’ll be automatically enrolled in co-op when you’re first admitted to your program. Co-op is mandatory for:

Undergraduate programs Graduate programs

How does co-op work?

Most UVic co-op programs are optional, meaning you'll need to apply to join (choose your co-op program to learn how to apply) in your second or third year of study. Some academic programs include a mandatory co-op component.

Once you’ve been accepted into a co-op program, you’ll:

  1. Attend workshops to improve your résumé writing and job search skills.
  2. Discuss your job search goals with your coordinator.
  3. Apply for jobs posted online by submitting your cover letter and résumé.
  4. If an employer shortlists you, you’ll be interviewed. Interviews may take place in person, over the phone or through Skype.
  5. If you're the successful candidate, you’ll receive a formal job offer. You’ll have 24 hours to accept or decline.
  6. Normally, your co-op coordinator will visit you and your employer at your workplace halfway through your work term. This work site visit is your chance to talk about how your work term is going.
  7. At the end of your work term, you'll be required to reflect on your experiences and your competency development in a work term report or other work term submission (blog, oral report, etc.—this depends on your program)
  8. If you successfully complete the co-op program, you’ll earn a Co-op designation on your degree. Each co-op program has different completion criteria.

How does co-op affect your academic schedule?

Co-op programs usually increase the length of your degree by about a year, but you'll use this year to gain work experience that will put you ahead. Most co-op work terms are four months long, and you’ll usually complete three or four work terms during your degree. Work terms generally begin in January, May and September, but other options are possible.

A typical undergraduate co-op schedule might look like this:

Year Fall (Sept–Dec) Spring (Jan–Apr) Summer (May–Aug)
1 Study Study --
2 Study Study Work term
3 Study Work term Study
4 Work term Study Work term
5 Study Graduation

What if you don’t want to commit to four work terms?

Check out our shorter, more flexible Work Experience Program! You'll complete two work terms instead of three or four and still receive the same benefits and support as a co-op student.

Who will you work for?

Where you work is up to you! Co-op students work for a wide range of employers, including the federal and provincial governments, private companies, not-for-profit organizations and even UVic. Employers are located in Victoria, across Canada and around the world. You can apply to co-op jobs posted in the Co-op and Career portal or create your own ideal work term by approaching an employer on your own. Check out our student stories to learn about possible co-op opportunities.

Does co-op give you academic credit?

Yes. As an undergraduate student, you’ll receive 4.5 units of credit for each work term you complete. However, these credits won’t replace the credits required to complete your academic program—they’ll go towards the co-op designation you’ll receive on your degree.

During your work terms, you'll also be considered a full-time student and have access to student services, like the UVic bus pass and health care coverage.

How much does co-op cost?

All co-op students pay a tuition fee for the co-op program. This fee supports the operational costs of the co-op program and helps us maintain the Co-op and Career job portal. Depending on your degree program, you'll pay your fee in one of several ways.

BUSINESS

As a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) student, you must complete three co-op work terms. You'll pay your co-op tuition fee on an installment plan, with one installment per term.

  • Business co-op fee installment plan for Canadian students (undergraduate): Six installments of $324.73
  • Business co-op fee installment plan for international students (undergraduate): Six installments of $541.22

As a Master of Business Administration (MBA) student, you'll pay a graduate co-op tuition fee for each co-op work term.

  • MBA co-op program tuition fee for Canadian students: $649.46
  • MBA co-op program tuition fee for international students: $770.70

For more info, please click here.

ENGINEERING

As a Bachelor of Engineering (BEng) or Bachelor of Software Engineering (BSEng) student, you must complete four co-op work terms. You'll pay your co-op tuition fee on an installment plan, with one installment per term.

  • Engineering co-op fee installment plan for Canadian students (undergraduate): Eight installments of $324.73
  • Engineering co-op fee installment plan for international students (undergraduate): Eight installments of $541.22

For more info, please click here.

ALL OTHER PROGRAMS

All other co-op students pay a co-op tuition fee for each work term. It's free to join co-op and attend the prep workshops—your fee will be only collected once you've secured a work term. Your fee is due at the end of the first month of each co-op work term.

Undergraduate co-op program tuition fee Graduate co-op program tuition fee*
Domestic student International student Domestic student International student
$649.46 $1,082.44 $649.46

$770.70

NOTE FOR GRADUATE STUDENTS

The graduate co-op tuition fee is different than the graduate installment fee. If you are a grad student and register for a co-op work term, you'll pay the (1) grad co-op program fee and (2) grad ancillary fees during that term.

If you register for a course (e.g. thesis 596 or 598) and a co-op work term in the same term, you'll pay the (1) grad co-op program tuition fee, (2) grad ancillary fees and (3) grad installment fee.

Fees effective as of May 2014.

How much do co-op students earn on work terms?

Co-op salaries depend on many factors, including your previous work experience and the job itself.

As of May 2014, the average monthly undergraduate co-op student salary is $2,849 and the average graduate student salary is $3,478. See detailed breakdowns by program here.

Are there any funding opportunities?

You have several options to help cover your costs—check out our funding opportunities and UVic’s Student Awards and Financial Aid

Co-op FAQ

  1. What are the three Co-op and Career resource "kits"?

    As a UVic student, you have access to unique Co-op and Career resources. We've organized these resources into three kits:
    • Journey kit: Use this kit to plan and research your career options, match your interests with the right job, approach your career goals effectively and more.
    • Competency kit: Use this kit to develop and practice "competencies," which are professional skills and behaviours that will help you succeed in any career. Co-op and Career's ten core competencies are:
      • personal management
      • communication
      • managing information
      • research and analysis
      • project and task management
      • teamwork
      • commitment to quality
      • professional behaviour
      • social responsibility
      • continuous learning
    • Tool kit: Use this kit to help you write standout résumés and cover letters, learn successful interview skills and discover job search strategies.
  2. What are the benefits of the UVic Co-op Program?

    Through co-op, you can:

    • enhance your academic studies
    • benefit from personal guidance from co-op coordinators
    • explore job opportunities with employers in Canada and around the world
    • reflect on your work experience to understand your strengths, passions and goals
    • help pay for your education
    • establish valuable connections in your field
    • graduate with professional competencies 
  3. How do I apply for co-op?

    Each co-op program has a slightly different application process. For details, find the co-op program connected to your area of study.

  4. What kinds of co-op jobs can I do?

    This depends on your program and your level of experience. More than 45 academic departments take part in co-op, and there are jobs to fit every program area. Check out our student stories to learn about possible co-op opportunities.

  5. Where can I work?

    That depends on you! You can apply to posted co-op jobs or arrange your own work term by approaching an employer. Want to travel the world while you work? Apply for a job with one of our international employers, or find a job with an organization elsewhere in Canada.

  6. How much time will I need to spend looking for a job?

    That depends on the number of jobs you apply to, whether you’re willing to relocate for a work term, and when you decide to apply. Co-op work terms begin in September, January and May. Many employers begin posting jobs two to three months before the job starts. The best way to land a job is to apply to many different jobs, and to consider opportunities outside Victoria. Apply early and apply often!

  7. Once I become a co-op student, will I have help searching for jobs?

    Absolutely. You’ll take part in workshops to learn how to write résumés and cover letters, and how to excel in interviews. You’ll also be assigned a co-op coordinator who can help you search for co-op positions.

  8. Are there any academic requirements for co-op?

    Each co-op program has slightly different requirements. Most programs ask that you maintain a B average and a professional attitude. If you plan to graduate with co-op designation, check with your co-op program to find out how many co-op terms you’ll need to complete.

  9. Can I use co-op work terms from other post-secondary institutions as transfer credit at UVic?

    Yes, as long as UVic Co-op is satisfied with the merits of the work term. Transfer credit is determined on a per-case basis and cannot count for more than 50 per cent of the total number required to complete your co-op requirements. Contact your co-op program for more information.

  10. Can I apply to more than one co-op program?

    Normally, you should apply to the co-op program connected to your degree. If you haven’t settled on a degree program, you could apply to one co-op program area and later transfer into another co-op once you’ve declared your major. If you haven't settled on a degree program, you can apply to one co-op program and transfer into another one later, once you’ve declared your major. If you’ve declared a double major, you can complete co-op work terms in two different co-op programs.

  11. Is co-op available for international students?

    Yes, but you must have a valid work permit. Find more information about international co-op here.

    • Can I get financial help with moving expenses if I take a co-op work term outside Victoria?

      If you’re a full-time student and are moving more than 40 km from Victoria, you may be able to claim certain moving costs on your income tax return. Learn more from Revenue Canada here. 

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