About EDGE

Program overview

EDGE is an opt-in experiential education certificate program for undergraduate students in traditional (non-co-op) programs of study. Students who complete EDGE will develop their professional skills, explore their career options and learn how to market themselves to employers.

Students complete six milestones as part of the EDGE certificate:

  • a skills identification and articulation workshop, in which students practice recognizing their skills and expressing them to employers in a confident, concise fashion;
  • a career development course, in which students develop core career-seeking skills and align their career goals with their values, skills and interests;
  • three work or community experiences, in which students explore a wide variety of opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom and reflect on their personal growth
  • and a capstone workshop, in which students tie everything together and develop an action plan for post-graduation success.

EDGE is designed to be flexible, so students can complete these milestones during any term and in almost any order depending on their schedule and interests. Students can also mix, match and combine experiential learning courses, employment and volunteering opportunities to find the EDGE that's right for them.

EDGE is committed to ensuring all students can access, and meaningfully participate, in our program. If at any time you would like to discuss your ability to fully participate in and complete the EDGE program, please connect with AccessAbility Services.

Our history

EDGE's roots lie in the "experiential education for all" theme of the University's 2013 strategic plan. The certificate makes Waterloo's world-leading experiential education expertise available to students on learning paths that don't include a co-op program. The provision of EDGE is specifically intended to address graduate outcomes for students in non-co-op programs of study.

EDGE's design was spearheaded by the University's experiential education strategic plan theme group, and the program was approved by the University's Senate in May 2016.

While EDGE lives within Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Programs, the certificate is the product of a collaborative effort between many of the University's faculties, offices, and services. The Centre for Career Action's expertise in career development theory was an essential part of EDGE's content development process.

EDGE opened for registration on July 17, 2017, and the program officially launched in September 2017.

Why experiential education?

Lewis and Williams1 (1994) write that, "in its simplest form, experiential learning means learning from experience or learning by doing. Experiential education first immerses learners in an experiences and then encourages reflection about the experience to develop new skills, new attitudes, or new ways of thinking."

Common examples of experiential education include field work, internships, practicums, industry projects, full- or part-time employment, volunteering, service learning and teams/clubs. At Waterloo, students' collection of experiences both inside and outside the classroom impact their development and their employability.

When students engage in experiential education, they complete significant tasks with tangible, real-world outcomes, and their learning is deeper as a result.2 Experiential education also helps students create links between their academic study and professional practice that would take longer to develop (or may not exist) otherwise.3 Finally, experiential education gives students a chance to try out a variety of different career paths before making major decisions about their livelihood and adult pursuits.

While experiential education can create plenty of positive outcomes for students on its own, its benefits can be amplified through the implementation and use of a solid surrounding framework.4 When students' experiences are supplemented with evaluation and reflection, those experiences can facilitate even deeper learning.

That's why all of the experiences students use to earn EDGE credit need to satisfy a set of criteria — we want to make sure students' experiential education is as rich and engaging as possible.

Want to learn more?

Read about EDGE's milestones in greater detail.

Read about the types of experiences students can complete as part of EDGE.


1 Lewis, L.H. & Williams, C.J. (1994). In Jackson, L. & Caffarella, R.S. (Eds.). Experiential Learning: A New Approach (pp. 5-16). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

2 Harris, I.M., Denise, P.S. & Thomas, R.M. (1989). In Harris, I.M. & Denise, P.S. (Eds.). Experiential Education for Community Development (pp. 3-19). New York: Greenwood Press.

3 Tumin, M. (1976). Valid and invalid rationales. In M.T. Keeton (Ed.). Experiential Learning. Rationale, Characteristics, and Assessment (pp. 41-48). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

4 Gonczi, A. (2013). Competency-based approaches: Linking theory and practice in professional education with particular reference to health education. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 45(12), 1290-1306.