The co-op system at Waterloo is now the largest and most extensive such program in the world. Students in every Faculty, Department, and program in the University can participate in co-op. While some faculties also provide conventional programs, all undergraduate students in Engineering must automatically be part of the co-op program.

The Co-operative System of Education at the University of Waterloo provides students with several advantages over their colleagues at other universities:

  • It enables students to earn money, sometimes sufficient to pay the complete cost of the program, during their undergraduate careers.
  • It provides students with invaluable work experience, equivalent to two full years.
  • It enables graduates to choose their career paths in the light of considerable extra information about the working environment.
  • It provides immediate reinforcement and practical application in the "real world" of knowledge gained in the class room.
  • It gives much needed breaks in continuous study periods.
  • The acceptance by Industry and Government of Waterloo's co-op program is such that graduates joining the work force find that they command higher salaries than those from conventional programs.

The 4 and 2/3 year Engineering program is divided as follows:

Fall
(Sept - Dec)

Winter
(Jan - April)

Spring
(May - Aug)

1A

Work Term 1

1B

Work Term 2

2A

Work Term 3

2B

Work Term 4

3A

Work Term 5

3B

Work Term 6

4A

4B

 

Each student must complete five satisfactory work terms and four satisfactory work reports in order to graduate from the program.

The University maintains a special Department of Co-operative Education and Career Placement which administers the co-op program. Each term, representatives from more than 1500 organizations visit the campus and conduct interviews. There is a complex process by which students and employers rank each other, and final job placements are obtained. Even in periods of deep recession, the job placement of students in the co-op program has always exceeded 90% of requirements or more. For example, 94.5% of undergraduate students found employment at the end of the fall 2000 term. In good economy time there is invariably a large surplus of co-op jobs; thus competition for students is intense, and salary levels reflect this.

Here's some statistics of weekly earning of Engineering students for January-December of 2000:

   

Work Term

   

1

2

3

4

5

6


Weekly Earning
(CAN $)

Range

410-580

465-620

497-657

530-700

575-725

580-800

Average

498

551

589

618

655

696