Your Co-op and Career Journey at the School of Accounting and Finance


SAF students train hard and fast for the business world. Being in a co-op only program means that you'll test-drive your professional qualities by integrating your knowledge and skills in 4 (AFM, SFM, Biotech/CPA, Math/CPA) to 6 (CFM) paid co-op work terms.

Coursework and case studies give you the knowledge to perform in business. The experience you get in the workplace makes a critical difference. The entrepreneurial, communication, and real-world problem-solving skills you gain accelerate your professional development and make you eminently more employable. As you hone your skills, you're discovering your interests and passions. Altogether, you'll have an amazing competitive advantage.

Learn more about SAF's Student and Graduate Employment (PDF) successes.

Co-op Requirements

Co-op is a mandatory benefit of the SAF programs.  All students enrolled in a SAF program are enrolled in a co-op program. See how Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning Canada (CEWIL) defines co-op.

Academic/Work Sequencing Paths for AFM, SFM, and Math/CPA students:

  • Successful completion of four work terms is required.*
  • Students are expected to follow only prescribed academic/work-term sequencing paths through to graduation.  Prescribed paths for each program can be found at: 
  • Students may not end their sequence with a work term. All students are assigned to Sequence 1 as their default sequence at admission.  
  • Requests to change sequence are considered individually before the second and/or third work terms. The SAF co-op advisor team will notify you by email of the specific timing of when sequence change requests will be accepted.
  • Sequence change requests must be accompanied by a completed Sequence Change Form.  

* Students who have attempted, to the satisfaction of the School of Accounting and Finance, Co-operative and Experential Education (CEE) and Centre for Career Action (CCA), and their Faculty's Examinations and Standings (E&S) Committee, to gain employment for all four available work terms, but are successful in so doing for only three work terms, will be considered for a co-op degree, provided they have received credit for all three of their work terms and the necessary professional development and work term reflections/reports (for the programs that require them), and they have successfully completed all academic graduation requirements.

Academic/Work Sequencing Paths for CFM and Biotech/CPA students:

Sequencing paths for CFM and Biotech/CPA students are fixed and can be found in the relevant undergraduate calendar for your year of entry:

Any questions about your sequence should be directed to your program advisor.

Professional Development (PD) Courses and Work Term Reflections/Reports

Professional development courses and work term reflections/reports requirements are specific to each faculty.  Math/CPA, CFM and Science Biotech/CPA students should refer to the undergraduate calendar links above for your specific degree requirements and direct any questions to your program advisor. AFM/SFM degree requirements are described below.

AFM/SFM students admitted in Fall 2015 and thereafter:

Professional Development (PD) Courses

  • AFM/SFM students are required to complete a minimum of four Professional Development (PD) courses. PD1 must be taken in the term prior to the first work term and PD12 (formerly PD2) must be taken during the first work term. A third PD course of the student’s choosing must be taken in the second work term, and a fourth in the third work term.

Professional Development and Designation

Throughout their time at SAF, students can take advantage of professional development activities including events, workshops, and networking opportunities. SAF coursework prepares students to take on any of five professional designations:

  1. Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA)*
  2. Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)*
  3. Chartered Business Valuator (CBV)*
  4. Certified Internal Auditor (CIA)
  5. Certified Analytics Professional (CAP)

*SAF is acredited and recognized to provide designation exemptions and advance standing for the CPA, CFA, and CBV professional designations.

Other university-wide co-op resources include:

  • Co-operative Education: Explore careers, gain experience and earn money through North America's largest co-op program.
  • Work Abroad: Experience a work term in your field of study outside of Canada. Learn more about co-op work terms abroad.
  • WaterlooWorks: Online system designed to guide students and employers through the co-op process. Login to find a job, schedule interviews and connect with your co-op advisor.
  • Centre for Career Development: Supporting all students, alumni and employees with career planning, career management strategies, graduate and professional school preparation, work search methods and setting meaningful career goals.
  • Career Development e-Manual: Take your next steps to planning your future career!

Sample co-op jobs

Students in AFM, SFM, Biotech/CPA, Math/CPA typically work in financial management roles in major corporations, start-ups, public agencies and not-for-profit organizations; student accountants in public accounting firms and a variety of roles in financial services.CFM students typically work in financial management and computer science roles in major corporations and professional services firms (including financial services), start-ups, public agencies and not-for-profit organizations.

These are all real examples of co-op jobs that Accounting and Financial Management students have had the opportunity to apply to and be chosen for in the recent past:

Note: job postings are put forth by employers based entirely on their staffing needs. Hiring decisions are made exclusively by employers. The School of Accounting and Finance or the University does not “place” students into co-op jobs.

Students must apply to jobs on the University job posting system and be chosen to participate in the job application and candidate selection process administered by the University. Factors that contribute to students’ employability are the quality of their:

  • tailored covering letter
  • professional résumé
  • virtual and/or face-to-face interviewing skills
  • academic performance
  • transferrable skills honed in previous employment and employment-like environments.

Junior students take on very junior co-op jobs. Senior students have the opportunity to apply to more senior co-op roles that may approximate the type of job he/she may be qualified for upon graduation. Co-op students do not manage people while on co-op. They are typically individual contributors to teams.