Co-op Education Q and A

What is co-operative education?
Who is co-op for?
What are the benefits of the co-op program?
Are co-op work terms paid?
Do I earn academic credit for my work terms?
How many work terms do students complete?
When do I complete work terms?
I’m an international student, how can I complete co-op work terms with restrictions on the number of hours I can work from my study permit?
Is there help in finding a job for my work terms?
Where are work terms?
When do I sign up?
How do I sign up?
If I have questions who do I contact?
Are there costs to the co-op program?


What is co-operative (co-op) education?

Co-op offers students opportunities to apply what they have been learning in the classroom into a work environment, and apply what they have learned through their work into their studies, enriching learning in both environments.

Who is co-op for? 

Co-op is an optional program available for undergraduate students studying in the Faculty of Business (General Business, Business Studies, and any Specialization), Faculty of Science (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Studies, Foods and Nutrition (non-Dietetic route only), Physics, and all majors in the School of Mathematics and Computational Science), and Faculty of Arts (Economics, Applied Communication, Leadership, and Culture - ACLC). Not sure if Co-op is available for your program? Reach out to the Co-op Office at co-op@upei.ca to ask!

What are the benefits of the co-op program?

In addition to applying their classroom learning in meaningful ways within a work environment before graduation, Co-op students are able to expand their learning to develop employability and technical skills and knowledge within the work context. Students are able to explore possible career paths through short term placements with a variety of employers in a variety of roles. Expanded professional networks, with opportunities to meet people working within the student’s field and positions of interest, can provide professional references and connections to support seeking after graduation employment. Paid, full-time employment provides income to off-set costs of studies.

Are co-op work terms paid?

Yes, all work terms that students complete through the co-op program are required to be paid, full-time positions that last at least 14 weeks.

Do I earn academic credit for my work terms?

Yes, each work term that is successfully completed confers 3 credit hours (the equivalent of most 1 semester long courses) for a total of up to 9 credit hours toward general/non-business elective requirements, and contribute toward the 120 credit hours required for graduation.

How many work terms do students complete?

Students complete at least three (3) work terms, each lasting about the length of a semester (minimum 14 weeks of work). Cumulatively, students gain approximately a year of professional work experience related to their studies through completing the Co-op program, before they even graduate!

When do I complete work terms?

Students are able to customize the timing of their work terms to fit best within their academic studies, while following some program structure requirements in place due to UPEI’s co-op program being accredited through the national body governing co-op programs, CEWIL. Students’ first work term can be completed as early as the May-August Spring/Summer semester the year they join the program, which is typically the summer between 2nd and 3rd year of studies. The remaining work terms are scheduled through a conversation with the Co-operative Education Office about a student’s plans. Due to CEWIL requirements, all co-op students are required to complete at least one of their work terms during either a Fall or Winter semester, and students cannot finish their time at UPEI on a work term. For some students this does mean that adding co-op into their program may extend their graduation a short time, but the Co-operative Education Office and advising from the student’s academic department work to minimize this amount of time as much as possible. Paid work terms assist in offsetting some of the cost of extended study time at UPEI to complete co-op.

I’m an international student, how can I complete Co-op work terms with restrictions on the number of hours I can work from my study permit?

Students who are studying at UPEI under a study permit accepted into the Co-op program are supported by both the Co-operative Education Office and International Student Office to apply for a Co-op Work Permit. Approved Co-op Work Permits allow students to work full-time in an approved co-op work term for which they are registered in any semester.

Is there help in finding a job for my work terms?

Co-op students have access to a job board to view and apply to positions posted by employers seeking to hire Co-op students. Students are also able to find their own opportunities, which they can submit to the Co-operative Education Office for approval as a work term.

Co-op students complete three professional development non-credit courses with training to build their competitive skills for finding and excelling in employment. This includes workshops focused on: effective resumes, cover letters, interview skills, and job search strategies, as well as interpersonal communication, collaboration, and career development. One-on-one coaching is available from the Co-op Office to support students’ work term search success.

Where are work terms?

The majority of work terms posted to the co-op job board are located within Prince Edward Island and Atlantic Canada, but there are also opportunities available across Canada, and to a smaller extent internationally. Students interested in work outside of Atlantic Canada may need to put extra effort into their independent work term search to find a work term opportunity, with assistance from the Co-operative Education Office.

When do I sign up?

Students are eligible to apply after completing the first year of their program (30 credits), typically students apply in the Fall semester at the beginning of their second year of studies. Students transferring to UPEI may be able to apply right away, if they have transferred from a program similar to their UPEI studies. It is recommended that transfer students reach out to the Co-operative Education Office at co-op@upei.ca for more information on when they are eligible to apply to co-op.

How do I sign up?

Interested students can register for an account at co-opworkterms.upei.ca. Applications are accepted for the program from mid-August to September every year, and are uploaded through this platform.

If I have questions who do I contact?

Students can connect with the Co-operative Education Office through email at co-op@upei.ca to ask questions about the program. For Fall 2020, video meetings are available for students interested in meeting with the Student Coordinator about the program.

Are there costs to the Co-op program?

There is no cost to apply to the co-op program, but if accepted students are responsible to pay the non-refundable acceptance fee. Additionally, as work terms confer academic credit, there is a course fee charged for each cycle of work terms, which is paid when registering into the non-credit professional development courses, Career Skills 1, 2, and 3. In summary, the fees for co-op include: 1 Acceptance Fee, and 3 Course Fees. Details of these costs can be found on UPEI’s Tuition and Fees page, under the co-op program.