Co-op Courses in Canada: Colleges, Eligibility Criteria and Jobs

Just acquiring knowledge with the core modules won’t suffice if you want to carve a niche. In Canada, you can leverage the chance to learn and earn simultaneously. Co-op courses in Canada are a surefire way to bolster your resume. 

Tracing the Roots of Co-op Courses in Canada 

For more than 60 years, Canada has been offering co-op programs to its students. The University of Waterloo has been operating the most extensive co-op program in the country/region. In a co-op diploma program in Canada, co-operative education refers to an educational program where a student’s classroom experience is supplemented with practical work experience. It is popular in Canada; other regions/countries have not been able to incorporate the same into their curriculum.

Understanding the Co-op in Canada

Co-op students usually alternate between four months of full-time employment in an organization and school. It is a fantastic way to explore careers, and earning while you learn is an unparalleled chance to balance your study abroad journey. Moreover, a typical co-op program alternates academic terms and work. Since students have many work terms throughout the degree, they tend to take an additional year extra to graduate, juxtaposed to students in other programs. Moreover, you will get the assistance of a co-op teacher who will help you enter a workplace, which might be different in many other programs. 

Sample Work/ Study Co-op Sequence 

September to December  January to April May to August 
First year  Study term  Study term Off 
Second year  Study term  Work term  Study term 
Third year  Work term  Study term Work term 
Fourth year  Study term  Work term  Study term 
Fifth year  Work term  Study term 

Work term = Four-month co-op work term

Study term = Four-month school term 

Off = Make your own plans (work, travel, vacation, etc.)

* Reference from University of Waterloo 

Top Benefits of Co-op Education

  • Develop marketable skills indispensable for workplace success
  • Earn practical experience crucial in your field of study
  • A medium to earn money to help pay for tuition and the cost of living
  • Explore different work environments and alternate career trajectories
  • Apply classroom theory to real-life work settings
  • Enhance your network with future co-workers and employers
  • Build an evidence-based career portfolio to support your work applications or study

Top Benefits of Co-op Education

Courses with Co-op in Canada: Earn While You Learn 

Co-op students receive an average salary depending on the province in which they work, current education level, and previous work experience. The minimum wage per province varies; the minimum wage is CAD 14.00 in Ontario and CAD 13.85 per hour in British Columbia. At the end of the work term, it is indispensable for managers to share feedback to the university via a questionnaire or form. 

Students interested in co-op programs have a plethora of options to choose from. For instance, students can choose between 13 business co-op programs at the University of Waterloo, including environment and business, information technology management, or arts and business.

Moreover, the University of British Columbia offers co-op programs where students can work abroad for a work term. It is a no-brainer that the criteria and requirements for work abroad programs may be distinct from other co-op programs. 

Top Co-op Courses in Canada for International Students 

The desire to study abroad stems from the fact that a student is looking to gain valuable industry experience in tandem with theoretical knowledge. Courses with co-op in Canada make for the right choice. Students have various options, from co-op diploma programs in Canada to master’s.   

Thus, to help you make the right choice, we have bifurcated the details into two categories: 

  • Best Co-op Colleges in Canada 
  • Best Co-op Universities in Canada 

Best Co-op Colleges in Canada 

College Name  Popular Programs  Fee Structure 
George Brown College Business Administration ( Finance, Accounting, etc), Commerce, Sports,Human Resources, Digital Marketing, Marketing $15000-$14000/ 2-3 semesters
Humber College Engineering (Computer/Programming/Systems), Mechanical Engineering/Technology, Electrical, Technology/Engineering, Sustainable Energy and Building Technology
Seneca College Accounting and Finance, Civil Engineering, Tourism, Aviation, Computer Systems,Business Administration, Environment, Business $20,000/year
Centennial College Business, School of Transportation, Applied degrees, School of Engineering Technology, Applied Sciences $15,385 – $19,484/ 2 semesters

Best Co-op Universities in Canada 

University Name  Popular Programs  Fee Structure 
University of Waterloo Arts, Health, Engineering, Environment, Math, Science $745/year
University of Victoria Graduate Education, Public Administration, Law, Health Information Science, Humanities and Fine Arts, Exercise Science, Social Science, Physical and Health Education $681.77- $1363.54/ per work term
University of Ottawa Law,Engineering, Arts,Management Co-op mandatory program- $750

Co-Op optional programme- $1000/per term

University of Alberta Business, Engineering – 

Eligibility Requirements for Co-op Work Permit

Students with a Canada study permit can apply for a co-op work permit as international students while pursuing their co-op courses in Canada. In addition, these eligibility requirements are indispensable: 

  • A letter from DLI (Designated Learning Institute) confirms that students from this co-op course in Canada require work placements.
  • Work terms cover a maximum of 50% or less of the entire course.
  • Enrolled in a program that requires work to receive the degree. 

How do Students Get a Job during the Work Term?

Students who wish to participate in the co-op program must apply in the fall of their second year at the University of Ottawa. Even if they have a reserved slot, if chosen, students still need to maintain a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of at least 8.0 and fulfill all course requirements until the formal commencement of the co-op program. They will forfeit their reserved seat in the program if they cannot achieve this requirement. The student can submit applications for employment posted on the university website or database once they have been chosen. The process of finding co-op employment is comparable to finding employment after graduation.

However, the eligibility criteria may differ for each organization, but there are a few requirements that remain the same:

  • The student should be a full-time student
  • The co-op program must be validated and registered with the Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL Canada)
  • Based on the province, the student should fulfill the desirable minimum age requirement
  • They must be registered for a co-op program
  • International students need to follow additional steps — apply and get a co-op work permit or co-op work permit. Students can apply for this work permit if they meet specific criteria, including a valid study permit, if the co-op job accounts for 50 percent or less of the study program, and if an appointment is required to complete their program. 

Internship VS. Co-op Courses in Canada 

Many international students can feel baffled as to why they should pursue courses with co-op in Canada when they can seize the opportunity of internships We have encapsulated the difference between the two: 

Basis  Internships  Co-op 
Duration  Internships last 2 or 3 months. Work terms in co-op courses can vary from 8 to 12 months.
Pay Scale  Students may or may not get paid.  Co-op employers will pay you based on the number of hours devoted. 
Eligibility  Anyone is eligible to apply for an internship.  Students enrolled in co-ops courses are eligible for it. 
Learning Experience  Internships only offer work experience. Co-op courses give students a chance to learn during study term and implement theoretical knowledge during work term. 


Do students get paid in a co-op job?

Yes, college and university students placed in other organizations or companies for their work terms get paid by their employers.

What is the process by which students get their co-op jobs?

Institutes offering the facility of co-op programs have specific departments that scour available options. Students may also look for suitable jobs via a slew of online portals. So, if a student finds a place where they decide to work, their institution’s co-op department makes an informed decision if this job fits the bill (as per the co-op arrangements of your program or not).

Do students need to pay extra for co-op programs?

Yes, co-op programs might be a slightly expensive option for students. But, it will provide students extra perks like industry contacts, higher employability, and industry expertise. Juxtaposed with the benefits, the cost is nothing.

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