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Co-op and Work Experience Programs

Co-op plays a major part in the UVic experience! More than one in three students takes part in the program, which allows you to alternate terms in class with paid work terms in positions related to your field of study. We also offer a shorter, more flexible Work Experience Program option.

Beyond co-op: Other experiential learning options at UVic

  • Check out our experiential maps to see many other ways you can gain hands-on experience through your program.

Exceeding national standards

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

Co-op
benefits

Co-op benefits

UVic's co-op program is one of the largest and most respected in Canada, and our co-op grads are more likely to land a job sooner, be promoted faster and earn a higher salary than graduates who didn't take part in co-op.

Through co-op, you can:

  • Try out different jobs working for employers in your field
  • Gain paid, 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 your skills to employers
  • Boost your chances of landing a great job after graduation

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

Co-op offers a unique approach to help you build your career—and your skills—from the ground up. You'll have support from co-op staff who will help you find job opportunities that suit your career goals. Co-op gives you access to exclusive job postings (posted on Learning in Motion) that organizations reserve for co-op students—a major perk during rocky economic times. 

Co-op uses a competency-based model to help you assess, build and market your skills to employers. You'll meet with your co-op coordinator before, during and after each work term, set goals with your job supervisor for each co-op term, and assess your competencies before and after each experience. 

When you graduate, you'll have relevant work experience and a network of contacts. 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.

How co-op
works

How to apply for co-op

How to apply for co-op

Whether you can participate in co-op depends on your academic program. Some programs are optional and some are mandatory. International students with a valid work permit can also participate in co-op—see co-op for international students.

Optional co-op programs

You can apply for co-op beginning in second year, although later entry may be possible. Find your co-op program for application details. Each co-op program has slightly different requirements. Most programs ask that you maintain a B or B+ average. Contact your co-op program as early in your studies as possible to learn about admission deadlines, application requirements and how many co-op work terms are required to graduate with co-op designation.

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

The co-op process

The co-op process

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

  1. Participate in a co-op prep course 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 co-op affects your academic schedule

How co-op affects 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

Not sure if you want to commit to three or four work terms?

Check out our shorter, more flexible Work Experience Program! You can apply to this flexible program at any time during your degree (although the program is best suited to fourth- or fifth-year undergraduate students) and complete one or two paid work terms with employers in your field instead of three or four. You’ll receive all the same benefits and support as a co-op student. You can also choose to switch to the traditional co-op program later and complete additional work terms if you meet co-op requirements.

The Co-op designation and academic credit

The Co-op designation and academic credit

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 upon graduation.

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.

Co-op program
options

Depending on your co-op program, you may have the following options. Contact your program office for specific options.

Co-op

Co-op is the traditional model and is offered in most undergraduate programs. You’ll alternate four-month study terms with four-month terms of full-time, paid work experience. Typically, you’ll apply to co-op in the fall of your second year. Admission is based on your grade-point average (generally a minimum "B" standing) and may include an interview. Upon completion of your coursework and three or four work terms (depending on your program), you’ll graduate with a co-op designation on your diploma.

Parallel Co-op

If you complete a parallel co-op work term, you’ll complete one work term over eight months. Typically, you’ll complete part-time work simultaneously with part-time study.  Application dates, admission criteria and graduation requirements are the same as for co-op.

Co-op Internship

In the co-op internship program, you’ll complete one consecutive 12- to 16-month work term between the third and fourth year of your academic studies. Application dates, admission criteria and graduation requirements are the same as for co-op.

Work Experience Program (WEP)

The Work Experience Program (WEP) is a shorter, more flexible option than co-op. You can join WEP at any point in your studies. You’ll complete one or two work terms, depending on your program’s criteria (if you complete two work terms, you’ll receive a designation of Work Experience on your academic record and transcript). Admission requirements are more flexible than for co-op. Visit www.uvic.ca/coopandcareer/wep for more information.

Internship

In this option, you’ll complete a four-, eight- or 12-month internship before graduation, but after your academic coursework has been completed. Admission is at the discretion of individual co-op programs.

Graduate co-op programs

If you are a graduate student, contact the co-op program in your academic area for information about work-integrated education options (www.uvic.ca/coopandcareer/gradcoop). Your admission will be determined after consultation with your graduate adviser and department.

Co-op salaries
and tuition fees

Co-op student salaries

Co-op student salaries

Co-op salaries can vary according to many factors, including your previous work experience, your year of study and the responsibilities of the co-op job itself.

As of May 2015, the average monthly undergraduate co-op student salary is $2,989 and the average graduate student salary is $3,218. For salary examples by program, see these sample co-op salaries.

Co-op tuition fees

Co-op tuition fees

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 $331.23
  • Business co-op fee installment plan for international students (undergraduate): Six installments of $552.04

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: $662.46
  • MBA co-op program tuition fee for international students: $786.12

For more info, please see Business Co-op.

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 $331.23
  • Engineering co-op fee installment plan for international students (undergraduate): Eight installments of $552.04

For more info, please see Engineering Co-op.

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
$662.46 $1,104.08 $662.46

$786.12

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 May 1, 2015.

Funding opportunities

Funding opportunities

Several options are available to help co-op students cover work term costs. See our co-op funding opportunities and UVic Student Awards and Financial Aid

Employers
and jobs

UVic co-op students work for a wide range of employers, including the federal and provincial governments, large multinational companies, small businesses, non-profit organizations and even the University of Victoria itself.

Employers are located in Victoria, across Canada and around the world—many international co-op opportunities are available.

The kinds of co-op jobs you can do depend 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. You can apply to the many co-op jobs posted on Learning in Motion or create your own ideal work term by approaching an employer on your own and asking if they'll take you on as a co-op student.

Check out our student stories or co-op photos to learn about what UVic co-op students have done on their work terms!

Co-op
FAQ

  1. 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, and cast a wide net!

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Is co-op available for international students?

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

  7. 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.

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