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Co-op requirements

student networking with employers


As per the MDSAI (Co-op) Academic Calendar, students in the MDSAI full-time co-op program must complete one work term, which is expected to take place in their third term. They are then expected to return to campus for a final study term. Any exceptions to this standard sequence requires additional approval. Students may also apply for a one-term (4 month) extension of their work term with the same employer. To complete the work report, students must have had a work placement and receive at least a satisfactory evaluation for their co-operative education term. 

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  • Students are required to participate in mandatory co-op workshops. It is highly recommended that you attend the in-person sessions for the most benefit. However, if attendance is not possible, instructions to complete there workshops online will be provided afterwards. For Fall 2020, live online sessions will replace in-person sessions.

  • The standard sequence for MDSAI (co-op) students is below. In extenuating circumstances, a student may request to change this sequence by emailing a completed co-op sequence change form to the Program Administrator before the student's recruitment term (normally in the student's first Fall term). Please note that a request to end on a co-op work term is normally not allowed but a student may complete a petition for exception to academic regulations to make their case.

    • Term 1 (Study) - Fall (September to December)
    • Term 2 (Study) - Winter (January to April)
    • Term 3 (Co-op) - Spring (May to August)
    • Term 4 (Study) - Fall (September to December)
  • Students may request a one-term (4 month) extension of their work term with the same employer for a total of 8 months. A request should be made to the Program Director and copy the Program Administrator. Students may not extend their work term with different employers, nor may they add on additional co-op terms.
  • Students will find co-op opportunities on WaterlooWorks and the exclusive Data Science Job Board (access is provided the term before your co-op term). However, students may also arrange their own job. This job should be related to data science and must meet the specific requirements on the Arrange your own job webpage.
  • Students who are unable to find a co-op job may request to transfer to the regular (non co-op) stream MDSAI program. This request must be made through the Program Administrator by completing and submitting a Graduate Program/Plan Change form. Please note that there is additional support and flexibility offered by the co-op department due to COVID-19.

Work Report

  • Students must complete and submit a MDSAI Co-op work report form (.docx)  through the Work Report Dropbox within 1 month after completion of one work term (or an extended 8-month work term with the same employer) on an approved job OR 2 months prior to completing their degree requirements (whichever is sooner). Therefore, if a student has been approved to end on a co-op term, they must submit their work report 2 months before the last day of final exams.
  • Your co-op work report should not include any material that is deemed confidential by your employer. It does not have to discuss original research or relate to a new technical discovery. You can do one of the following:
    • Choose a topic, discuss the underlying problem encountered on your co-op term, your approach to solving the problem, and the progress you made in solving it. You should identify an analytic component, compare and evaluate several methods or techniques. You can discuss advantages and disadvantages of different approaches in the report.
    • Reflect on specific ways that your co-op working experience has helped you in becoming a better data scientist. What new understanding about which specific aspects of the data science have you gained through your work experience? How has the work experience changed your views on data science? How has the work experience changed your assessment of your skills to work in the data science industry? What are some skills that you need to improve most and why? Connect your reflection to specific experiences and events encountered on your co-op term.
  • In addition, in concrete terms, describe how the courses you have taken so far in the MDSAI program at the University of Waterloo relate to your work. The topic and reflection should be based on your co-op job experience.
  • A report is unacceptable if it is simply a users’ guide or other documentation, or if you simply summarize your work term tasks. Your report should contain conclusions, which summarize key points derived from the work experience. As a guideline, your report should be around 10 pages (15 max).