About co-op

About co-op at the University of Waterloo

At Waterloo, co-op students alternate study terms with work terms and graduate with up to two years of relevant, paid work experience. This means two years of experience learning how to navigate the hiring process, applying your skills to real-life problems and learning about yourself along the way.

Benefits of co-op

  • Apply what you've learned in the classroom to real-life work settings
  • Get hands-on experience in your field of study
  • Gain up to two years of meaningful, relevant work experience on your résumé
  • Improve your interview skills and learn how to search for work
  • Create connections through networking with employers and coworkers
  • Explore alternate career paths and different work environments around the globe!
  • Earn money to help pay for tuition and costs of living
  • Learn more about yourself and your overall career direction
Location 7,500+employers from more than 60 countries actively recruitWaterloo co-op students

Learn more about our employment statistics

money$9K-$21K+earned on average per co-op work term in Canadaby students across all faculties in 2022

Learn more about student earnings

grad cap96%employed co-op grads find jobs related to skills gained at Waterloo within6 months after graduation

Learn about typical co-op jobs for each faculty

How co-op works

Every student’s co-op experience will look a little different depending on their program, interests, goals and work experiences. You’ll complete between four and six work terms (four months in length) throughout the duration of your co-op degree, which usually takes about five academic years to complete. This largely depends on the requirements for your program, as well as your program's specific sequence of study terms and work terms.

During the study term before a work term, you’ll search for jobs while taking courses, including one professional development course before your first scheduled work term to help you prepare for co-op. During your work terms, you'll be gaining experience, completing work reports and continuing to take professional development courses to help you reflect on your experiences. 

Click on the images below to see what different parts of your journey as a Waterloo co-op student will look like, or access an accessible version with links to further information.  

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Co-op accreditation

The University of Waterloo is a member of Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada. In 1979, CEWIL established the Accreditation Council to regulate post-secondary co-operative education programs in Canada and to accredit those that meet specific criteria in an effort to ensure the quality of the co-operative education program. To date, the University of Waterloo has more than 120 CEWIL Canada accredited co-op programs across six faculties.

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CEWIL accredited program logo


Your responsibilities as a co-op student

To graduate with a co-op degree designation, you must follow our co-op roles and responsibilities and receive credit for the minimum number of work terms, work reports and professional development credits for the co-op program you are enrolled in.

To learn more about what co-op looks like for your specific program and when your next work term is scheduled, visit the co-op section of the Undergraduate Calendar.

Co-op fee

Similar to tuition, students enrolled in co-op programs pay fees to support the cost of running the co-op program at Waterloo. For a deeper look at why you pay, when you pay and where your money goes, visit our co-op fee page.

Co-op student experience project

In fall 2018, we launched the Co-op Student Experience Project to learn more about your experience of our processes and services, and how we can keep improving. Through this project, we've established an ongoing feedback process to better understand your evolving needs as co-op students, and have partnered with students and others across campus to turn your feedback into tangible results. 

To learn more about the project, visit our Co-op student experience page.

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Hear from our co-op students

If you'd like to know more about the co-op life and how to make the most of your co-op experience, check out stories told by our students here

We're here to help!