Co-op Courses in Canada: Eligibility, Colleges Offering Them, and more.

Co-op Courses in Canada: Eligibility, Colleges Offering Them, and more.

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By Prabhadri Suman|Updated On - 2023-05-17 07:00:03

Co-op courses in Canada: Check co-op program benefits, eligibility, admissions criteria, and how to apply to the top universities in Canada, etc.

Co-op Courses in Canada: Eligibility, Colleges Offering Them, and more.

Topics Covered:

  • What are Co-op Courses in Canada?
  • Understanding the Co-op in Canada
  • Benefits of Co-op Education in Canada
  • Difference Between Co-op Courses and Internships in Canada
  • Eligibility Conditions for Co-op Courses in Canada
  • Eligibility criteria for international students
  • Eligibility Requirements for Co-op Work Permit Canada
  • List of Top Universities with Co-op Programs/Courses in Canada
  • Best Co-op Colleges in Canada
  • Best co op Programs in Canada
  • How to apply for Co-op Course in Canada
  • Cost of Studying Co-op Courses in Canada
  • How Can You Find Co-op Positions in Canada?
  • Conclusion

A co-op course or cooperative education program refers to a system under which a student gains practical work experience simultaneously alongside classroom experience during the course of the program. Canada has been offering co-op programs to its students for the last several decades. 

Some years ago, the government of Canada increased its support for co-op programs through the Student Work Placement Program. The Canadian government pledged to support and subsidize the salary for co-op students who meet the eligibility criteria in STEM and business programs for post-secondary education. 


 What are Co-op Courses in Canada?                 

A typical co-op course entails an alternating pattern where one semester of academic term is followed by one semester of work term. Since students in co-op programs have multiple work terms over the course of the degree, they tend to take an additional year to graduate compared to students in other programs.                  

A co-op program is a unique model that allows students to spend each work term with a different organization in their chosen field. It is like a paid internship where students earn between, with the help of which they can easily pay for their monthly housing and grocery bills.                 

Along with pursuing their studies, students get work experience. This gives them insight into different practical aspects of their subject of study. It also brings them more clarity on what area they would like to pursue in the long run in their career. The work term lasts for around four months, during which time the student gets placed in an organization relevant to their field of study, with a specific role, and reports to a manager.                  

The average salary for work under co-op courses varies according to the student's current education level, previous work experience, and the province in which they work. That said, it usually ranges between $12-$15 per hour. At the end of the work term, managers are required to send their feedback to the university and give a performance evaluation of the student.                 

Students who wanted to study in Canada can look for a wide variety of options. For instance, at the University of Waterloo, students can choose between 13 business co-op programs, including environment and business, arts and business, and information technology management, or enroll in the university's Computer Engineering co-op program. Almost all universities have dedicated staff or departments to assist students in finding program-specific employment. 

Understanding the Co-op in Canada

Co-op students can work full-time for four months in an organization and then attend school. This provides an excellent opportunity to explore different career paths while earning an income. The co-op program alternates between academic and work terms throughout the degree. This may result in an additional year to graduate compared to other programs. However, students are provided with a co-op teacher who can assist in finding a suitable workplace. This is a benefit that sets the co-op program apart from others.

Study Co-op Sequence in Canada

Year of Study September to December  January to April May to August 
First-year  Study term Study term Holiday
Second year  Study term  Co-op Work term  Study term 
Third year  Co-op Work term  Study term Work term 
Fourth-year  Study term  Co-op Work term  Study term 
Fifth year  Co-op Work term  Study term  Graduation

Co-op Work term = Four-month co-op work term,  Study term = Four-month school term,  Off  = work, travel, vacation, etc.)

Benefits of Co-op Education in Canada                 

Let us weigh up the benefits of opting for a co-op education in Canada:     

Co-op Courses in Canada: Eligibility, Colleges Offering Them, and more.             

  • Earning while studying
  • Industry insights
  • Valuable work experience
  • Networking and connections
  • A lucrative break from the monotony of classroom lectures
  • Ability to make better decisions for future career                 

As far as jobs, careers, and employment are concerned, how does a co-op program fare in comparison to internships? Let us have a look at the differences between the two to give a further perspective.                 

Get FREE advice from our experts to study in Canada

Difference Between Co-op Courses and Internships in Canada  

Internships                  Co-op Courses                 
Can either be part-time or full-time Co-op programs mostly include full-time jobs
Can either be unpaid or paid Students get full-time salaries
Internships allow students to work flexibly Co-op students work for a fixed time of bond
Usually lasts for 2-3 months, so less work experience Extensive work experience

All in all, a co-op course has stronger long-term benefits as it prepares students for their specialization by giving them hands-on experience in that field. Additionally, this form of education helps international students decide on future career options.

Eligibility Conditions for Co-op Courses in Canada

Students in the co-op program have to apply beforehand to get selected in the fall of their second year. Even if they get selected, they still have to maintain a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of at least 8.0 and meet all other course requirements before the official start of the co-op program.  If you want to see CGPA to percentage conversion for study abroad, read our blog on CGPA to percentage - How to convert CGPA into percentage?               

Once selected, students can apply for jobs listed on their university website or database. As with any other job interview in the 'real world', students have to wait for callbacks from interested employers for an interview.                 

While the eligibility criteria may vary for each organization, there are some standard requirements which are as follows:

  • The student must be enrolled as a full-time scholar
  • The student must be registered for a co-op course
  • The co-op course must be a validated one registered with the Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL Canada)
  • Student should be above the minimum age requirement as per the rules of the province concerned

Eligibility criteria for international students

According to the Government of Canada, International students need to meet the following eligibility criteria to participate in co-op programs:                  

  • They must have a valid study visa for Canada .
  • Enrolled in a program that requires work to complete their study program in Canada        
  • Have a letter from the DLI (Designated Learning Institute) that confirms all students in that program need to complete work placements to get their degree, and
  • The co-op placement or internship totals 50% or less of their study program

One is not eligible for a co-op work permit if they have taken English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL), general courses, or courses to prepare for another study program. This, however, doesn’t mean that they cannot work in Canada at all; in that case, they would simply have to apply separately for a work permit as well.

Eligibility Requirements for Co-op Work Permit Canada

International students who possess a Canada study permit have the option to request a co-op work permit during their co-op courses in Canada. It is crucial to fulfill the necessary eligibility criteria to be qualified for this permit.

  • Students from this Canadian co-op course must complete job placements, according to a letter from the DLI (Designated Learning Institute).
  • A maximum of 50% or less of the total course is covered by work terms.
  • Being a part of a course that mandates completion of work in order to obtain the degree.

List of Top Universities with Co-op Programs/Courses in Canada

Not all universities in Canada offer co-op courses. Universities may find it difficult to adjust their course curricula with the co-op system and also find industry partners who are willing to hire co-op students in the work term. Here are the top universities for Co-op programs in Canada:

  • University of Waterloo   - It offers the most dynamic co-op program in Canada. Students have multiple options in co-op courses to choose from. At the end of the course, they graduate with at least two years of work experience.
  • University of Ottawa -The University of Ottawa offers four-year undergraduate programs for students opting for the co-op program. The first work term under their co-op program takes place in the summer after completing the second year of undergraduate studies.
  • University of Victoria  -The co-op programs at the University of Victoria give scope to various career options. Almost half of its students opt for co-op education and graduate with a good work profile in their respective fields.
  • University of British Columbia- The University of British Columbia (UBC) co-op program offers various opportunities for students to collaborate with different communities and job networking sites. They help in developing students’ communication and networking skills.

Best Co-op Colleges in Canada 

There are a number of excellent co-op colleges in Canada, giving students real-world work experience that will help them succeed once they graduate.


College Name  Popular Programs  Fee Structure 
George Brown College Commerce, Sports, Human Resources, Digital Marketing, Marketing, Business Administration ( Finance, Accounting, etc.Degrees) $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 Programs in Canada 

There are several top co-op universities in Canada; these institutions are recognized for their exceptional co-op programs and their commitment to providing students with practical work experience that prepares them for successful careers after graduation.

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 program- $1000/per term

University of Alberta Business, Engineering

How to apply for Co-op Course in Canada

The application process begins months before the commencement of classes and is conducted over a period of time. Students must apply through the official websites of their respective universities.                 

Follow this process to complete your application process for universities offering co-op courses in Canada:                 

  1. Shortlist your favorite universities and courses.
  2. Start your application to the shortlisted universities through their respective websites.
  3. Get all your documents, like SOP , essays, certificates, marks, academic transcript , LOR , and exam scores like IELTS ,    TOEFL , GRE , GMAT , etc., in order.
  4. Submit all the applications with the relevant documents before the deadlines.
  5. Start the application process for a student visa, accommodation, and Canada scholarships or student loans.
  6. Once you've received your offer letter, get your visa, and fly to Canada.

Cost of Studying Co-op Courses in Canada 

In Canada, co-op courses are more expensive than regular courses due to their emphasis on practical experience. These courses require separate tuition payments for study terms and work terms, providing students with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in their field of study.

The tuition fee to study abroad typically ranges from $500 to $700 (equivalent to INR 37334-52267), while the cost of a co-op program during work terms falls between $200 and $600 (equivalent to INR 14933-44801). It should be noted that during the work term, university services may still be utilized, thus resulting in a co-op fee. Additionally, international students should also take into account the cost of living in Canada .

Type of Expense          Average Cost         
Accommodation  ₹4.87- ₹6.8 lakhs per year
Food and leisure ₹7.5 lakhs per year
Utilities  ₹60890 per year
Travel  ₹21,230 per year
Books and learning resources ₹85,000- ₹1.27 lakhs per year

How Can You Find Co-op Positions in Canada?

In Canada, when you enroll in a co-op program, the competition for finding a placement during the work term extends to your entire class, making it a highly competitive environment. To secure a desirable co-op position, there are three strategies you can employ.

  • Connect with an advisor – Get in touch with your co-op advisor, who can support you and inform you of co-op opportunities.
  • Use your Networks  – Use your network to communicate with seniors to see whether they can recommend you to their co-op employers.
  • Online listings – Browse through online listings on the university website or third-party portals such as Indeed for job opportunities.


It is clear that even though it requires more organization and planning, co-op programs are worth considering as they offer the double incentive of gaining invaluable work experience and helping pay for school at the same time. It is arguably the best method to integrate academic knowledge with practical work experience. What is more, being a part of a co-op course allows students to create a network of potential future colleagues and employers.

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