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How co-op works

Several students walking outside glass and brick building

Waterloo is home to Canada’s largest university building dedicated to co-op education and career services, with 120 staff ready to help you find a great summer job, co-op work term, or career.

  • For most programs, your co-op work terms start in second year.
  • Typically, you'll alternate school and work terms, spending 4 months at Waterloo as a full-time student and then 4 months working full time in a job relating to your program. 
  • You'll take the same number of courses and school terms as students who are not in co-op, but graduate with up to 2 years of paid work experience!
  • At Waterloo, because you alternate school and work terms, you'll see how your classroom learning is used in the workplace, and you'll discover that what you learn on your work terms provides an extra dimension to your school work.

Getting hired

  • Waterloo's co-op program is a true job application process. You apply to jobs that interest you rather than being placed in a job.
  • When it comes time to find a job, you'll take part in the co-op job process.
    1. Employers who hire Waterloo co-op students submit job descriptions to our co-op department.
    2. You'll review job descriptions and apply to jobs that interest you.
    3. Take part in interviews with employers who select you based on your résumé and academic/co-op experience.
    4. Rank the jobs that you interviewed for in order of preference. You're also ranked by the employers who interviewed you.
    5. Our ranking system will then attempt to match you with a job. Our co-op employment rate is generally 97%.
    6. If you're not matched, you continue the application and interview process until you find a job.
  • You can also look for work on your own, but if you'd like to receive academic credit, you must have your job approved by your Co-operative Education & Career Action advisor.
  • Your co-op advisor can help you with any questions you have.

Applying to co-op programs

  • Most Waterloo programs are available through co-op and/or the regular system of study, which follows the traditional September-April school year. Some programs are available only in co-op.
  • To apply to a co-op program, select co-op when you apply to Waterloo through the Ontario Universities' Application Centre.
  • At Waterloo, unlike some other universities, you're admitted directly to a co-op program when you receive your Offer of Admission. You don't have to compete for spots once you're here and risk not being admitted to co-op.
  • International (visa) students are eligible for most co-op programs.