Co-op Programs in Canada

Co-op Programs in Canada

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Co-op programs in Canada are quite a trend nowadays. These types of programs allow students to integrate their studies along with practical work experience.

Updated on:  25 Oct 2023  | Reviewed By: 
| 3.77K | 6  min read
Co-Op Programs in Canada 

Most of the time, undergraduate or postgraduate students in Canada tend to apply for courses where they can get practical field work related to their studies. These are the reasons why co-op programs in Canada are a trend nowadays. But wait...

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What exactly is a Co-op Program?

Co-op or co-operative education is one of the best program systems in Canada, where there is always a win-win situation for a student.

Along with pursuing your studies, you get real-world experience.

A co-op program is a three-way partnership between a university, employer, and student. It is like a paid internship where students earn handsomely $12-$15 per hour, and with the help of this amount, they can easily pay for their monthly housing and grocery bills.

This type of program also helps you know what kind of job you are looking for once you graduate.

Co-op programs follow an alternating pattern, meaning one semester or term of schooling alternates with one semester or term of work.

Let's make it more clear by understanding an example: Under the co-op program, you will alternate between five months of school and five months as a full-time employee of the organization you work for.

In Canada, almost all universities offer a co-op option with their academic programs. Even your campuses have co-op teachers who are helpful and friendly as they encourage students to work and coordinate with employers to offer placements to students.

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Eligibility Criteria

As an international student, you need the following eligibility criteria list for a Co-op work permit: 

- You must have a valid study permit.
- You are enrolled in a program that requires work to receive the degree.
- You have a letter from your DLI (Designated Learning Institute) confirming that students from this co-op course in Canada must complete work placements to get the degree.
- Work terms cover a maximum of 50% or less of the entire course. 

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Why should you apply for Co-Op Courses in Canada?

Co-op is one of the best methods to integrate your class knowledge with practical work experience. Apart from practical learning, it also builds your communication skills, networking skills, and connections. This way not only do you build your relations with your employer but you also get multiple chances to attend networking and job events. While applying for different jobs you get in-depth knowledge of the industry, resume, and cover letter building skills that make you stand out from the rest of normal graduate students.


Merits Vs Demerits

Now, let's look at the top universities for Co-op programs in Canada.


Top universities for Co-op Programs in Canada

University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo helps Co-op students alternate studies and work, so they can easily manage both things.

Students graduate with at least two years of work experience.

  • list items Times Higher education ranking: 201–250th world ranking
  • list items Popular Courses: Biology and Biochemistry Chemical Engineering Economics and Business Energy and Fuels Environment/Ecology Computer Science
  • list items Biology and Biochemistry
  • list items Chemical Engineering
  • list items Economics and Business
  • list items Energy and Fuels
  • list items Environment/Ecology
  • list items Computer Science


University of Ottawa

The University of Ottawa offers four-year undergraduate programs for the Co-op option. For undergraduates, in most cases, your first work term takes place during the summer after your second year.

  • list items Times Higher education ranking: 162nd World University Rankings
  • list items Popular courses: Arts and Humanities Biology and Biochemistry Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems Cell Biology Chemical Engineering
  • list items Arts and Humanities
  • list items Biology and Biochemistry
  • list items Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
  • list items Cell Biology
  • list items Chemical Engineering


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University of Victoria

Co-op programs at the University of Victoria help you choose various career options and build your work profile. According to the university, half of the students take part in Co-op education and graduate with a good amount of work experience in their respective fields.

  • list items Times Higher education ranking: 301-305th World University Rankings
  • list items Popular Courses: Atmospheric Science Business Administration Computer Science and Engineering Earth Sciences Electrical and Electronic Engineering Geography
  • list items Atmospheric Science
  • list items Business Administration
  • list items Computer Science and Engineering
  • list items Earth Sciences
  • list items Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • list items Geography


Centennial College

Centennial College is one of the preferred colleges for Co-op programs because they provide a holistic learning environment with full support in placements. Their programs mostly are according to market demand.

  • list items Times Higher education ranking: 301-305th World University Rankings
  • list items Popular Courses: Business Computer Science Mechanical Engineering Software Engineering Marketing, International Business Accounting Biotechnology Hotel Management
  • list items Business
  • list items Computer Science
  • list items Mechanical Engineering
  • list items Software Engineering
  • list items Marketing, International Business
  • list items Accounting
  • list items Biotechnology
  • list items Hotel Management


University of British Columbia

University of British Columbia (UBC) co-op program offers various opportunities for students to collaborate with different communities and job networking sites.

These kinds of communities help students in developing communication as well as networking skills.

  • list items Times Higher education ranking: 47th World University Rankings
  • list items Popular Courses: Astronomy Atmospheric Science Biology, Physics Mathematics  
  • list items Astronomy
  • list items Atmospheric Science
  • list items Biology, Physics
  • list items Mathematics  

Students are often confused about the major differences between Co-op programs and internships. Well, we understand you guys. We prepared this table for you all.

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Co-op Program VS Internship

Co-op Program Internship

Co-op programs mostly comprise full-time jobs.

Internships can either be part-time or full-time.

Students are paid full-time salaries under the Co-op program.

Internships can either be unpaid or paid.

Under Co-op, a student works for a fixed time of bond.

Internships allow students to work flexibly.

Under Co-op program jobs, students get an extensive amount of work experience.

Internships are usually for 2-3 months, so the work experience is less.


A Co-op program will prepare students for their specialization by giving them hands-on experience in that field. Additionally, this form of education helps international students with future career options. 

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