About us

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The Centre for Work-Integrated Learning (WIL)

We design work-integrated learning (WIL) curriculum that enhances student learning before, during, and after WIL experiences and encourages the development of future-ready skills. As WIL practitioners, we deliver academic courses and programs that are complemented by hands-on work experiences inside and outside of Waterloo’s co-operative education program.

We design and deliver WIL curriculum for undergraduate students in co-op and non co-op programs, and as of 2022 we’ve begun designing and delivering WIL curriculum in support of the University’s commitment to provide all graduate students the opportunity to participate in WIL. Our current offerings include:

  • Undergraduate Professional Development (PD) courses
  • Graduate WIL courses
  • EDGE experiential education certificate
  • WE Accelerate program
  • Digital skills fundamentals micro-courses

We collaborate with on-campus partners to design and deliver courses and programs that advance the University’s goals, reputation, innovation, WIL leadership and industry engagement.

Green Office platinum certified

The Centre for Work-Integrated Learning officially holds a Platinum designation with Waterloo’s Green Office program.

What is WIL?

Work-integrated learning (WIL) is a model and process of curricular experiential education which formally and intentionally integrates a student’s academic studies within a workplace or practice setting.

WIL experiences include an engaged partnership of at least these three components:

  • an academic institution
  • a host organization
  • a student

WIL can occur at the course or program level and includes the development of learning outcomes related to employability, personal agency and life-long learning (CEWIL Canada, 2018).

Instructors use WIL to create meaningful learning experiences for Waterloo students through engagement with industry or community partners. Students can complete coursework and/or program requirements while simultaneously making meaningful contributions within organizations.

WIL involves collaboration between Waterloo instructors and the organizations students partner with to enhance students learning and the development of future-ready skills.

Discover types of WIL

*All definitions are based on Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL Canada)

How we create quality WIL curriculum

Our WIL curriculum team is comprised of teaching and learning experts that rely on research and industry best practices to co-construct it with faculty members, industry partners, students and other WIL and/or teaching experts. Our work, guided by the P.E.A.R quality WIL framework, ensures that Waterloo students have opportunities to engage in substantive critical reflection and make meaningful connections between their WIL and academic experiences.

  • We provide opportunities for learners to experience, reflect, theorize and apply new learning in a developmental environment by designing with the concept of productive failure in mind
  • We design assessments and activities that enable learners to develop lifelong learning skills while applying new concepts in a workplace or practice setting.

A core tenet of our approach to designing and developing WIL curriculum is to co-create alongside experts and stakeholders. This highly collaborative approach to WIL curriculum development allows for a continuous feedback loop so we can further improve our WIL curriculum and align it with student needs, industry trends, faculty/program requirements and emerging instructional tools and educational technologies. 

Recent examples of WIL curriculum co-creation

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Our history

  1. 2002
    1. The University of Waterloo grants academic credit for work terms. This necessitates the creation of a complementary co-op curriculum, one that will help address employer needs by developing students’ professional (or “soft”) skills.

  2. 2006
  3. 2007
    1. Two new Professional Development undergraduate courses added.

  4. 2008
    1. Another four additional Professional Development undergraduate courses added and three additional faculties (Applied Health Sciences, Environment, and Science) join the program.

  5. 2011
    1. The Faculty of Engineering joins and PD course enrolment nearly doubles. The department launches several new undergraduate courses while redeveloping and refining its existing courses.

  6. 2017
  7. 2019
    1. The Waterloo Professional Development program department officially becomes known as Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Programs.

  8. 2021
  9. 2022
    1. In collaboration with our partners in Co-operative and Experiential Education (CEE) and Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA), we begin designing curriculum for WIL experiences at the graduate level (GradWIL).

  10. 2023
    1. WIL Programs officially becomes Centre for Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) to better reflect the portfolio and expansion of the department's mandate to also help faculty, staff, employers, practitioners and non-traditional learners benefit from WIL.