Everything You Need To Know About CO-OP
What is CO-OP?
Co-operative education at the University of Ottawa allows you to apply concepts learned in class during paid work terms. After about four years of study, you will have not only a diploma that indicates you participated in a CO-OP program but also approximately 16 months of experience in your field of study and a network of valuable contacts. All of these factors will contribute to helping you find a job more easily after graduation.
Why choose CO-OP?
- Gain valuable paid work experience in your field of study.
- Develop professional skills and gain a better understanding of the workplace.
- Discover the careers that best suit you by exploring different job opportunities.
- Meet key people in the job market who can be instrumental in you securing a position after you graduate.
- Travel and have unique experiences.
Why choose the Co-operative Education Program at the University of Ottawa?
- The University of Ottawa CO-OP program has been in existence for over 30 years.
- Our program is among the top five in the country.
- CO-OP is offered in 75 programs.
- Available in 68 undergraduate programs and seven master’s programs
- We maintain regular contact with over 4,000 employers in the public and private sectors across Canada and abroad, resulting in a 94% placement rate.
What’s the difference between a high school co-op program and one at university?
The University of Ottawa’s CO-OP Program differs in that:
- Your study sessions alternate with four-month work terms.
- You work in an area directly related to your field of study.
- You earn a salary during your work terms.
- You have to submit a report at the end of each placement.
What’s the difference between a CO-OP placement and an internship?
In co-operative education, the program is approved and implemented by a university and study sessions alternate with paid work terms. An internship, however, is a work placement that is not necessarily connected with or overseen by an educational institution.
How does CO-OP work?
At the University of Ottawa, the CO-OP option is available in the four-year undergraduate programs (honours with specialization, double major and major with minor) and in some master’s programs. In most cases at the undergraduate level, your first work term takes place during the summer after your second year. From then on, your placements and study sessions alternate until the end of your program.
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Where can I do a work term in my field?
You can do placements with a variety of employers, depending on your program. They can include private businesses, educational institutions, Crown corporations, federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as high-tech companies.
Will I find employment more easily by completing the CO-OP Program?
Chances are very high that this will be the case. It’s much easier to find full-time employment when you’ve acquired experience and skills through CO-OP placements. In fact, sometimes our students find a full-time position even before they’ve graduated.
How many programs offer the CO-OP option?
In 2016-2017, the CO-OP option was available in more than 75 programs. It is offered in the four-year undergraduate programs at the faculties of Arts, Law, Engineering, Science and Social Sciences as well as the Telfer School of Management and certain master’s programs.
How many people are admitted to CO-OP each year?
Roughly 1,000 students are accepted each year.
How do I apply for CO-OP?
There are two ways to apply for CO-OP.
- When you apply for admission to the University of Ottawa, submit an application to the CO-OP program of your choice (excluding translation and biomedical sciences programs). In order to be considered, you must have a minimum admission average of:
- 80% if you’re applying directly from high school and are accepted into first year or
- 75% if you’ve completed at least two years of CEGEP.
* Once your CO-OP application has been approved, a spot will be reserved for you. However, you must have the minimum average required in order to be officially accepted into the program.
- Once you’ve started your studies at uOttawa, submit an application to the CO-OP Program via uoZone.
You must have begun your studies at uOttawa before you can apply to a CO-OP program. You must have an average of 75% (B+) or higher to be admitted.
Check the admission requirements and application deadlines as they vary from one discipline to another.
A spot has been reserved for me in CO-OP. Do I have to re-apply once I start my studies?
As soon as you start at the University of Ottawa, Check the COOP Navigator to ensure you are listed in CO-OP. If you aren’t, please contact the CO-OP Office right away.
What do I need to do to keep my spot in the CO-OP Program?
In most programs, you have to maintain an average of 80% (8.0) or higher in your first year (or in your first and second year for programs where the first placement will be in your third year). You must subsequently remain in good academic standing (as determined by the requirements of your program).
If I don’t have a spot reserved for me in CO-OP, when can I apply?
- In master’s programs, students must apply before September 30 of their first year.
- In most undergraduate programs, students must apply before September 30 of their second year.
- In accounting, physics and biopharmaceutical science programs, students must apply before March 1 of their second year.
- In biotechnology, chemistry and translation programs, students must apply before September 30 of their third year.
What happens when I’m on a waiting list for the CO-OP program?
We review your application to see what your marks are in the current session. Depending on whether your CGPA has increased or decreased, we may change your position on the waiting list. Be aware, however, that a limited number of CO-OP students are accepted into each program. Your position on the waiting list may also change as a result of the number of applications we receive.
Do I need to maintain a particular average in order to remain in the CO-OP Program?
Yes. If your average drops below the minimum required to stay in the CO-OP Program (usually a CGPA of 6.0 for undergraduate programs and 7.0 for master’s programs), you’ll have two sessions to bring your average back up before you may be asked to withdraw from the program. In order to obtain a CO-OP attestation on your diploma, you must finish your degree with an average equal to or higher than the admission average.
If my application was declined because of my average, will I have another chance to get into the CO-OP Program?
- For programs where the first placements takes place in the Summer session:
- If you bring your CGPA up to at least the minimum required for the program by the end of the Fall session, you’ll automatically be placed on a waiting list. If a space opens up and you still meet the admission criteria, your application will be considered for four work terms, starting in the summer and then according to the regular schedule for placements.
- For programs where the first placement takes place in the Winter session:
- If you’re successful in bringing your CGPA up by the end of the Summer session to the minimum required for the program, or higher, you will automatically be placed on a waiting list. If a space opens up and you still meet the admission criteria, your application will then be considered.
If my application was declined because I’m missing one or more prerequisite courses for the program, will I have another chance to get into the CO-OP Program?
If you’re admitted into the CO-OP Program, you must follow specific course and work term sequences and remain enrolled full time in the courses related to your program during the entire sequence. If you’re missing any prerequisite courses, you won’t be able to follow the mandatory sequence and can’t be admitted at another time.
Can I get into CO-OP if I’m doing a second university degree or if l already have university credits?
It depends on how many credits you need to complete once you’re granted equivalences for your prior studies and on whether you’ll be able to follow the required work-study sequence for your program. In addition to having the necessary grade point average, usually you’ll have to have completed a certain number of compulsory courses before doing a work term and have enough courses still to complete so that you retain full-time status in the remaining study sessions of the work-study sequence. Should you have any question regarding your courses, please contact your faculty.
What happens if I decide to change programs before I’m officially admitted to CO-OP?
If the change involves programs in the same faculty, usually there’s no problem. However, if the change involves different faculties, your first work term may be delayed. If you do decide to change programs, make sure you check the compulsory course and admission requirements of your new program very carefully.
My first placement will be during the winter term. Should I register in my courses for the winter term if I haven’t received an offer of admission yet (for example, in accounting)?
Admission offers from the University are usually sent out at the end of June. So, you can go ahead and register for your winter courses while waiting for an answer from the CO-OP Office. If you are accepted into CO-OP, simply cancel your registration in the winter courses. If you do cancel your course registration for the winter term, be sure to cancel your course registration before the deadline for paying tuition fees.
I have questions about my schedule or the classes I have to take, who should I contact?
Contact the Academic Advisor at your faculty.
Do I have to follow the study-work term sequence set by the CO-OP Office?
Do the credits I earn for my CO-OP work terms count as part of the credits I earn towards my degree?
The credits count only towards meeting the requirements needed to have the CO-OP mention on your diploma. They don’t take replace any of the academic credits you need to meet the requirements of your discipline program.
Does the grade I obtain for CO-OP work terms affect my overall grade average?
You will receive either a Pass or a Fail grade, which is determine based on the employer’s evaluation of your work and your faculty’s evaluation of your work term report. Your average won’t be affected if you receive a passing grade. However, if you receive a failing grade, your CGPA will be negatively affected.
What happens if I decide to change programs once I’ve started CO-OP?
You must contact the CO-OP Office and your faculty before you make any changes. Admission requirements and compulsory course requirements vary from one discipline to another.
Can I withdraw from CO-OP at any time?
As with regular courses, there are specific but different CO-OP deadlines that must be met. For example, if you decide to participate in the placement process (interviews, etc.), you cannot withdraw until after you’ve completed your work term. This particular rule is in place so that we can honour our commitment to employers, without whom the CO-OP Program wouldn’t exist. To withdraw from CO-OP, please come by the CO-OP Office.
I’m doing a joint degree. Which of the two disciplines is CO-OP linked to?
It is linked with the first program that will appear on your diploma. If the disciplines are in two different faculties, CO-OP is linked to the program in the faculty you registered with.
Will it take me longer to finish my degree when in CO-OP?
In the regular honour’s programs, students finish in the spring of their fourth year. In most programs, students in the CO-OP option finish eight months later, that is, in December of their fifth year. At the master’s level, CO-OP adds one additional session to the program.
What if I want to go on to do my master’s degree?
It’s possible to do your master’s after doing CO-OP. Keep in mind, however, that the CO-OP Program delays your graduation from your undergraduate program, so you won’t be able to start your master’s until the following fall. That being said, some graduate programs require work experience as a prerequisite, something you would gain in the CO-OP Program.
What if I’m considering going to medical school?
It’s possible to go to medical school after doing CO-OP, but keep in mind that doing CO-OP will delay your graduation. In addition, some medical schools require uninterrupted studies; students in CO-OP, however, alternate between work and study terms. Be sure to check the admission requirements for each medical school you’re going to apply to.
Can I take any courses during a work term?
Yes. However, you can take only one evening course at a time as long as it doesn’t prevent you from following the required course sequence in the academic session after your work term (because you’re now further ahead in the sequence or because you don’t have enough courses left to remain full time). Any exceptions to this must be approved by the CO-OP Office.
Do I have to remain registered full time if I’m in CO-OP?
Yes. You must be registered in at least 12 credits per session (definition of full time). Be aware, too, that your last session in the CO-OP Program must be a full-time academic session, not a work term.
Are there any additional fees for the CO-OP Program? If so, what are they?
Yes. CO-OP students must pay an additional fee beginning with the session prior to their first work term and for every subsequent work term thereafter. However, when you’re doing a placement, you only pay the CO-OP fees, unless you’re registered in a course as well. The CO-OP fees are set each spring by the Registrar’s Office.
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Why do we have to pay additional fees and what are they for?
The fees allow students to participate in the CO-OP program and benefit from the value-added services provided by the CO-OP Office.
If I find my own placement, do I still have to pay the CO-OP fees?
CO-OP fees are like membership dues and give you access to numerous services. These fees are mandatory regardless of how you go about finding a placement.
Do I have to pay the CO-OP fees if I don’t get a placement?
The CO-OP fees preceding the first work term is not refundable. However, during a work term, you don’t have to pay the CO-OP fees if you are not matched.
Can I do placements abroad?
Yes. Many CO-OP students have completed work terms outside Canada. These placements require extra planning but they’re worth it. See the Mobility section of our website for more information.
Can I do placements elsewhere in Canada?
Yes. Many CO-OP students have completed work term placements elsewhere in Canada. In fact, some programs lead to positions in job markets available only outside the Ottawa area. To get the most out of your CO-OP experience, be sure to look into placements in other cities and countries.
Am I eligible for international CO-OP placements?
You’re eligible for an international CO-OP placement if you’ve paid your CO-OP fees, met with a professional development specialist at the CO-OP Office and completed all necessary pre-departure activities.
Can I take part in an international study exchange while I’m in CO-OP?
Yes. However, you must get approval in advance from the CO-OP Office to be absent during a work term or the placement process. Generally speaking, if the exchange is approved by the University and counts towards meeting the requirements of your program, you’ll be given approval to do the exchange. Every case is evaluated individually and the approval depends on many different criteria. If you plan to participate in the international study exchange program, be sure to get approval from the CO-OP Office before applying for the exchange.
How does the interview process work?
Interviews take place Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 pm. You may have to miss classes to attend interviews. By choosing to participate in the placement process, you also agree to be available to attend all scheduled interviews. If they’re scheduled during one of your midterms or labs, the CO-OP Office will make an effort to change the time for you. Faculties are aware that some students may be absent or late as a result of CO-OP interviews. During the second round of interviews, you may need to attend interviews during reading week.
How many CO-OP placements do I need to complete throughout my degree program?
You need to complete all the work terms required by your program unless the CO-OP Office grants you an exception. There are four placements in most programs, except accounting, civil law, translation and master’s programs.
When is my first work term?
In most programs, the first work term takes place in the summer after your second year, but exact start dates vary from one program to the next. Programs for which you apply by September 30 of your second year usually require you to complete your first work term in the summer following your second year.
Programs for which you apply by March 1 usually require you to do your first work term in the fall or winter of your third year.
Graduate programs for which you apply by September 30 of your first year usually require you to do your first work term in the summer following your first year.
How long are the work terms?
Full-time work term placements usually run for 16 weeks (four months). However, shorter work terms may be possible in special circumstances.
How do I find a placement?
There are three ways to obtain a placement:
- You can do a placement organized by the CO-OP Office.
- The CO-OP Office posts all job offers and arranges interviews on campus. The CO-OP Program coordinators make every effort to find you placements in your field of study.
- You can find your own placement.
- You must have the job description approved by the CO-OP Office. The employer must provide written confirmation they would like to hire you. In order for the placement to be admissible, it must be a paid position, be related to your field of study and involve a minimum of 16 weeks of full-time employment.
- You can do another placement with a previous employer.
What is the average salary for a CO-OP position?
Your wages depend on the salary range of the employer. Generally, they vary from $450 to $750 per week, depending on the employer and the field.
How is my placement graded?
Your grade is based on the employer’s evaluation of your work and on your faculty’s evaluation of your work term report. You will receive either a Pass or a Fail grade at the end of each placement.
Does the CO-OP Office provide any kind of assistance during placements?
Yes. We schedule mid-term evaluations halfway through the session to meet with you and your employer. We also follow up to make sure the goals you and your employer set are being achieved.
Do I have to attend all mandatory workshops?
Yes. Workshops are part of all accredited CO-OP programs. They are critical to your success, and you must take part in all of them.
Do I have to write work term reports?
Work term reports are required in order to “pass” your CO-OP placements. Think of it as your final exam.
Where can I get more information on the CO-OP Program?
Are you an international student?
Am I eligible for CO-OP?
Yes. As an international student, you can enroll in the CO-OP option if you meet the admission requirements.
Do I need a work permit to do a CO-OP placement?
Yes. You will need a work permit in addition to your study permit. You can apply for this permit only after you’ve been officially accepted into the CO-OP Program.
How do I obtain a work permit for my CO-OP placement?
Visit the Student guide page of Citizen and Immigration Canada for all the necessary information and application forms. Be sure to apply as soon as possible and submit all required documentations.
How do I obtain a letter stating my intended employment is an essential part of my program?
Prior to each placement period, our office will send you this letter by email. Apply for your permit as soon as you receive this letter.
Can the CO-OP Office help me with my application for a work permit?
Only employees of Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC) are legally allowed to assist you with your application. Visit the CIC Call Centre website for helpful information. You can also call the CIC Call Centre from within Canada at 1-888-242-2100 for information, in French or English, about CIC programs and services or about the status of your application. If you prefer, you can email your questions to the CIC call centre.You can also get help from a consultant if you go through the International Office.
As an international student, am I eligible for all work positions offered in the CO-OP program?
Some positions, such as those with the Canadian government, require security clearances. It’s difficult, however, for international students to obtain these clearances. In addition, the Canadian government usually hires Canadian citizens in CO-OP positions. As an international student, you would instead do your placements with a private sector employer or the University of Ottawa.
Are there jobs in the private sector for all programs?
There are many private-sector opportunities for students in certain faculties—Engineering and Science, as well some programs at the Telfer School of Management. Note that these opportunities may be at the national or international level. In faculties such as Arts and Social Sciences, most employment opportunities are with the federal government.
Can I do a placement in my own country?
Yes. However, be aware that if the Canadian government advises against travel in your country, we cannot approve a placement there (consult the federal government travel advisories by country).
If I have a high average, am I guaranteed a placement or one related to my field of study?
We cannot fully guarantee any placement. Having a high average may help when you’re looking for a placement, but it isn’t always the deciding factor. See the next question for information on skills employers look for.
What skills are most employers looking for when hiring CO-OP students?
Employers attach great importance to skills such as fluency in both official languages, good time management skills, ability to be a team player, good interpersonal skills, ability to use technology tools and Microsoft software as well as good problem-solving skills. Students who have these skills will have a higher chance of success.
What services does the CO-OP Office offer to help me find a placement?
The CO-OP Office offers resumé critiques, mock interviews and sessions to help you develop job-search strategies. By taking advantage of these services from our team of professional development specialists, you’ll gain a competitive edge.
What can I do to set myself apart as I begin my first year at university?
The University offers a number of resources that can help you really make a difference during your time at university. For example, you can gain valuable volunteer experience through the Centre for Global and Community Engagement, improve your English and French with courses at the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute (OLBI) or get career counselling at the Career Development Centre.