The University of Waterloo was the first university to offer the co-op system of study. Today over 50 percent of our full-time undergraduate students participate. Partnerships with business and industry are anchored in one of the world's largest collection of co-op programs, with connections to over 3,500 employers.
Whether you're in the co-op or regular system, you'll learn from the same dynamic professors and take the same required courses.
In most Science majors, you can choose either a regular or co-op system of study, with a few exceptions:
- Co-op only: Medicinal Chemistry, Biotechnology/Chartered Professional Accountancy, and Biotechnology/Economics.
- Regular only: Honours Science, Biomedical Sciences, and Science and Aviation.
The regular system provides continuity
- Study from September to April each year.
- Plan your own summers to work, volunteer, or travel.
- Focus on your academic, campus, and personal life.
- Graduate a year sooner than a co-op program.
- Move more quickly into a career or graduate studies.
- Access over 1,200 on-campus, part-time job opportunities through Co-operative Education & Career Action.
The co-op system provides on-the-job experience
- Graduate with up to 2 years of relevant and diverse work experience.
- Discover the range of available careers within your field.
- Earn a salary to help finance your education.
- Network and gain experience with different types of employers.
- Develop a competitive career edge and valuable skills before you graduate.
- Apply science concepts from the classroom in real-world settings.
Co-op work and study schedule
As a Science student, your first work term begins in the second term of second year. Students who participate in the co-op system of study will alternate 4-month terms at university with 4-month terms at work in business, industry, or government. Most majors have 5 work terms, with the first work term starting in second year, and take just under 5 years to complete.
When you're finished your degree, you'll have the same number of academic terms as a regular student, plus up to 2 years of work experience, depending on your major. Refer to the chart below for details about your specific Science major.
Co-op work and study terms
|Year in major||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Year 4||Year 5|
|Term sequence||F W Sp||F W Sp||F W Sp||F W Sp||F W Sp|
Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry,
Biotechnology/Economics, Earth Sciences,
Environmental Sciences, Science and Business
|S S O||S C S||C S C||S C C||S S -|
|Biotechnology/Chartered Professional Accountancy||S S O||S C S||S C S||C S C||S - -|
|Materials and Nanoscience||S S O||S C S||C S C||C S C||S S -|
|Physics, Physics and Astronomy, Life Physics,
|S S O||S C S||C C S||C S C||S S -|
|Psychology||S S O||S S C||S C S||C S C||S - -|
Waterloo's Professional Development program
The University of Waterloo’s Professional Development program (WatPD) offers a unique opportunity designed to equip University of Waterloo co-op students with the employability skills that are essential to becoming integral members of the workforce. In fact, according to a survey of 150 Canadian employers, the competencies covered in WatPD courses such as communication, problem solving, and teamwork rank as the most desired skills when hiring entry-level candidates.
WatPD courses were created with the recognition that students have many other commitments during their work terms. As a result, courses require approximately 20 hours over 10 weeks to finish, and are completed online, entirely outside of work hours. All WatPD courses are for academic credit, and after the first two courses, students can choose which others they wish to take, depending upon their areas of interest. As a result, students can further customize their education, helping them to foster the skills that will benefit them most in the future.
Co-op support for you
The Centre for Career Action will work with you to develop your resume, polish your interview skills, and help you with your job search. Before your first work term even begins, you will complete Co-op 101, a workshop designed to show you the ropes of the co-op system. Over the past 6 works terms, Science students have posted a 97%-100% employment rate, so your chances of securing employment are excellent.
Average salaries vary with your level of education and experience. Visit Co-operative Education to see average earnings for Waterloo co-op students from various programs and faculties.
For examples of co-op jobs in the Science major you're interested in, click through to your major from the programs page.
International visa students
As an international student you're eligible for Waterloo Science co-op programs. The only exception is Biotechnology/Chartered Professional Accountancy.
As an international student in co-op, you'll need to complete required applications before arriving on campus as well as throughout your studies at Waterloo:
- To study in Canada, you must apply for a Study Permit through a Canadian embassy, consulate, or high commission in your home country. The cost to apply for a Study Permit is $125 CAD. See Citizenship and Immigration.
- You'll also have to apply for a Work Permit once you've arrived at the University. We'll help you with this process and will request that the length of your Work Permit continue for the duration of your studies here. To help you obtain your Work Permit for your 5 years of study at Waterloo, we suggest that you renew your passport prior to coming to Waterloo. If your passport expires during your studies, you'll have to reapply for a second Work Permit. The cost of each temporary Work Permit is $50 CAD.
- As an international student studying in Canada, you're required to secure appropriate health insurance coverage for the duration of your stay. The University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) is mandatory for all international students. The cost of UHIP coverage per 4-month term is currently $228.00 CAD. You must have UHIP coverage during both academic and work terms. To have health coverage during your work terms, you'll have to apply for 2 terms of UHIP coverage during your academic term. Once you arrive on campus, you can visit the International Student Office to apply for UHIP.