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 Learning in Motion 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 Learning in Motion 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 on Learning In Motion
  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
study
Fall term
(Sept–Dec)
Spring term
(Jan–Apr)
Summer term 
(May–Aug)
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.

Co-op formats offered

Co-op offers a range of format options to help fit your schedule and situation. Depending on your co-op program, you may have the following options. You can contact your co-op office to discuss which format would be the best fit for you.

Co-op (traditional format)

Co-op is the traditional model and is offered in most undergraduate programs. You’ll alternate several 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 parchment.

Work Experience Program

The Work Experience Program (WEP) is a shorter, more flexible option than traditional co-op. You can join the WEP at any point in your studies. You’ll complete one or two work terms depending on your program’s criteria. Your work terms will be recorded on your transcript but you will not receive the co-op designation on your parchment. > Learn more about the WEP

Parallel co-op (part-time)

In a parallel co-op work term, you’ll complete one work term over an eight-month period. Typically, you’ll complete part-time work and part-time study at the same time. Application dates, admission criteria and graduation requirements are the same as for traditional co-op.

Co-op internship

In a co-op internship, 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 traditional co-op.

Post-Study Internship

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

Entrepreneurial co-op

This option is available in all programs, but is most common in business, engineering, computer science and math co-op. In an entrepreneurial co-op work term, you must do one of the following for a four-month period starting in September, January or May: 

  • Work for clients on a self-employed or contract basis
  • Develop a product of your own design or provide a service 
  • Develop a business venture

> Learn more about entrepreneurial co-op

Work term transfer

Have you completed a co-op work term through another post-secondary institution before attending UVic? You might be eligible to earn transfer credit for one to two work terms completed at other institutions. The transferrability of work terms from other institutions is determined by individual co-op programs. This option is not available in all programs.

Work term challenge

Have you completed relevant work experience that you think could count as a co-op work term? You may be eligible to apply for a work term challenge.  Normally, you should make your work term challenge before starting your first co-op work term at UVic. This option is not available in all programs.

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.

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)