How co-op works

As a co-op student, you'll alternate your terms in class with paid work terms with employers in your field of study. You'll graduate with relevant work experience, amazing contacts, and strong competencies - you'll be ready to pursue your dream career!

Co-op works a bit differently from program to program, but the main elements are similar. This information provides a general overview to help you get started.

For specific details about your co-op program, including admission requirements and the number of work terms you'll need to complete, please see co-op information by program.

Application requirements and how to apply

All co-op students must read, sign, and abide by the Co-op Terms and Conditions of Participation (NOTE: this PDF is provided as a reference only - completed forms must be submitted through the Co-op and Career portal). 

In general, students are required to achieve an above-average academic standing and demonstrate the motivation and potential to pursue a professional career. Students begin co-op at different stages of their degree; this is dependent on your program of study.

The application process for co-op depends on your academic program. Some co-op programs are optional and some are mandatory (no application required).

Optional co-op programs

Co-op is optional for students studying:

You can apply for co-op beginning in second year, although later entry may also be possible. Most co-op programs accept applications in the beginning of the Fall and Spring terms (September and January). Some programs also accept applications in the Summer term.

You must be a full-time UVic student and most programs require that you maintain a B to B+ average.

Application requirements and procedures vary between co-op programs, so please see co-op information by program for details. If you're interested in co-op, we encourage you to get in touch with your co-op office as early in your studies as possible.

Co-op is also optional for students in most graduate programs, excluding those programs with mandatory co-op or practica. Learn more about graduate co-op.

Mandatory co-op programs

Some undergraduate programs have a mandatory co-op component. In these programs, you’ll be automatically enrolled in co-op and there is no need to apply.

Co-op is mandatory for undergraduate students studying:

Co-op is mandatory for graduate students studying:

What happens once you join (including competency assessments)

Here's what's involved in taking part in co-op:

1) Join the co-op program

If your co-op program is optional, you can apply starting in your second year (undergraduate). See co-op information by program to learn about application requirements for your academic area.

2) Once you’ve been accepted into a co-op program

  1. Sign and submit the Terms and Conditions form (NOTE: this PDF is provided as a reference only - completed forms must be submitted through the Co-op and Career portal).
  2. Participate in the Introduction to Professional Practice course
  3. Discuss your job search goals with your co-op coordinator
  4. Apply for co-op jobs posted in the Co-op and Career portal
  5. Attend interviews for any positions you are shortlisted for
  6. Receive a formal job offer through your co-op office (if you are the successful candidate)

3) During each co-op work term

  • Complete three competency assessments (at the beginning, middle and end of your work term)
  • Participate in a work site visit with your co-op coordinator and work supervisor
  • Complete a work term submission at the end of your work term

WANT MORE? Learn more about co-op work term requirements

4) After completing all required co-op work terms

Once you've successfully completed all work terms, you’ll earn a Co-op designation on your degree*. Completion criteria vary slightly by program.

*Students in the Work Experience Program complete fewer work terms and do not receive this designation.

How co-op affects your academic schedule

Co-op programs usually increase the length of your degree by about a year—but you'll be using this year to gain work experience that will put you ahead. 

Typically, co-op work terms are typically four months long, and you’ll complete three or four work terms during your degree (varies by program). Work terms generally begin in January, May and September just like academic terms, although other options may be possible.

Sample co-op student schedule

A typical undergraduate co-op schedule with four co-op work terms might look like this. This is just a sample—you can talk to your co-op office about a schedule that will work for you.

Year of
Fall term
Spring term
Summer term 
1 Study term 1 Study term 2 Free term
2 Study term 3 Study term 4 Co-op term 1
3 Study term 5 Co-op term 2 Study term 6
4 Co-op term 3 Study term 7 Co-op term 4
5 Study term 8 Graduation

This schedule reflects the traditional co-op format. See the next section for other formats.

Earning academic credit and the Co-op designation

As an undergraduate student, you’ll receive 4.5 units of credit for each co-op work term you complete. These credits do not replace the credits required to complete your academic program. Instead, they contribute towards the Co-op designation you’ll receive on your degree when you graduate.

Students in the work experience program do not receive the Co-op designation upon graduation. Instead, you will receive a note on your transcript for each work term completed.

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.

Workplace insurance

For co-op work terms within Canada

In Canada, co-op students, as part of their employment relationship, are usually covered by their provincial Worker’s Compensation Insurance (WCB), which provides no-fault accident insurance for work-related injuries and illness. UVic does not provide personal (also known as first party) insurance coverage for students on co-op work terms. This means that co-op students’ health and safety incidents are not covered by a UVic plan.

To make sure that you have adequate coverage during your co-op work term, ask your co-op employer about whether you are covered by their first party insurance packages. (A standard employment contract would normally indicate available benefits). Coverage could include Workers Compensation (WCB), extended medical benefits, life insurance, etc. If the employer does not provide first party coverage, then you may need to secure other workplace insurance.

Students may have medical coverage through their student societies’ insurance plans (which is separate from workplace coverage).

It is your responsibility, as the student, to ensure that you have obtained adequate workplace and health care insurance for the duration of your work term(s), whether you are working at the employer’s site of business or remotely.

For international co-op work terms

Employers outside of Canada will have different insurance practices and standards. If you are completing a work term outside of Canada (including working remotely for an employer outside of Canada), ask your co-op employer about what workplace insurance coverage is included as part of your employment. If your employer does not provide coverage, then you may need to secure other insurance.

Students may have medical coverage through their student societies’ insurance plans (which is separate from workplace coverage). Note: it is a requirement that those on international co-op opportunities maintain emergency travel medical insurance for the duration of their work.

It is your responsibility, as the student, to ensure that you have obtained adequate workplace and health care insurance for the duration of your work term(s).

Do you pay for a U-Pass during work terms?

While on a co-op term, you will not automatically pay into a U-Pass as you do while taking classes on campus. The purpose of this is to ensure that you are not automatically paying for a U-Pass if your co-op placement is located outside of the Victoria area.

In order to have a U-Pass while on a co-op term, you'll need to purchase one through the UVSS (undergraduate students) or GSS (graduate students)