The University of Waterloo was founded in a time of immense economic growth and disruption and global conflict. Canada was in need of engineers to turn those opportunities into action and our founders saw that Waterloo could play a significant role in meeting that need through the implementation of something new to higher education: co-operative education.

In today’s environment of change due to the global pandemic and the ongoing societal challenges such as climate change, AI, aging and cybersecurity, we need our students and new graduates to be able to hit the ground running faster than ever. Co-op can do just that and so much more.

What is Co-op?

Co-operative education, or simply “Co-op” as we call it, blends the classroom and real work experience like never before seen. Waterloo has the largest co-op program in the world with more than 21,000 Waterloo undergraduate and graduate students taking part every year.

Waterloo students move from four months of classroom instruction to four months of work term experience and back again throughout their education creating a virtuous cycle of learning. This process allows students to see their education in action out in the workforce and also helps our university stay connected as they bring back valuable industry insights and trends. By the time our students graduate they do so with two years of real work experience under their belts and are highly sought after by future employers.

Our students pursue co-op jobs with more than 7,000 of our employer partners ranging from Google, Microsoft and the Government of Canada to research labs and startups around the world. Our students apply, interview and integrate with their new organizations building essential skills like articulating their strengths and adapting to change.

Developing Future Proven Talent

Waterloo students have shown that our form of co-op develops leaders that are life-long learners and built for a changing, evolving world. We call this future proven talent. They have the resilience needed to face a disruptive future because they have the foundational skills desired by employers that go beyond technical experience and instead incorporate creativity, communication skills and teamwork. All essential skills for future leaders.