How Co-op Works

Combine Academics and Work Experience

Co-op alternates between semesters of regular academic courses and semesters of paid, full-time work experience, called "work terms." Each work term is a course (making you a full-time student) that is recorded on your transcript.

The successful recruitment of Co-operative Education students is a collective effort of three parties – the employer, the co-op student, and the associated educational institution. Co-op positions, whether posted on the co-op job board or on an employer's website, can only be completed if you are registered in a co-op program.

Eligibility

You are encouraged to join the co-op program in your first year. It is typical to complete your first work term after you have completed at least ten courses toward your degree so that you have sufficient academic experience to fulfill employer needs. Once you are admitted to the co-op program you will be granted access to the private online job board.

 

More information for:

 

Work Terms

Work terms can be four, eight, twelve or sixteen months in duration, beginning in September, January or May. Planning and preparation for a co-op work term can take up to six months, so remember to apply early! Opportunities exist with educational institutions, small businesses, industry, not-for-profit organizations, and all branches of government (local, provincial and federal). In addition to active and successful engagement on the job, critical reflection assignments are also completed in cooperation with your employer.

All co-op work terms are graded on a pass/fail basis.

While on a work term, you maintain full-time student status with regard to:

  • Financial loans and scholarships
  • Students’ Union Health & Dental Plan
  • Registration privileges

The type of work you perform in Co-operative Education will be relevant to your degree. Positions are selected and approved to provide a broad range of experience and to encourage the development of skills and knowledge through increasingly challenging work placements.

Students complete alternating semesters of academics and work terms- see sample co-op sequencing plans below. Co-op work terms must be completed in different seasons to benefit from differences in nature of work, demands and priorities in the work place, and must end on an academic semester.

Sample Co-op Sequencing

Bachelor Degree

Sample 1: Three 4-month work terms

 

Fall

Spring

Summer

Year 1

Academic Term

Academic Term

Vacation

Year 2

Academic Term

Academic Term

Work Term #1

Year 3

Academic Term

Work Term #2

Academic Term

Year 4

Work Term #3

Academic Term

Academic Term

Sample 2: One 8-month and one 4-month work term

 

Fall

Spring

Summer

Year 1

Academic Term

Academic Term

Work Term #1

Year 2

Work Term #2

Academic Term

Academic Term

Year 3

Academic Term

Work Term #3

Academic Term

Year 4

Academic Term

Academic Term

Vacation

Sample 3: One 8-month and one 16-month work term

  Fall Spring Summer
Year 1 Academic Term Academic Term Vacation
Year 2 Academic Term Work Term #1 Work Term #2
Year 3 Academic Term Academic Term Work Term #3
Year 4 Work Term #4 Work Term #5 Work Term #6
Year 5 Academic Term Academic Term Vacation

 

Post Diploma Bachelor Degree

  Fall Spring Summer
Year 3 Academic Term Work Term #1 Work Term #2
Year 4 Academic Term Academic Term Academic Term

 

Certificate Program

  Fall Spring Summer
Year 1 Academic Term Work Term #1 Academic Term

 

Professional Diploma in Accounting

  Fall Spring Summer
Year 1 Academic Term Work Term #1 Vacation
Year 2 Work Term #2 Academic Term Work Term #3
Year 3 Academic Term Academic Term Vacation

Co-op Designation

The Co-operative Education designation is an achievement that goes on both your degree parchment and transcripts. It demonstrates to employers that as a graduate, you are sufficiently prepared to enter the workplace with limited orientation. Co-op graduates are seen to be a proven commodity in the eyes of potential employers, significantly reducing the risk that comes with hiring an entry-level employee.

Work Terms Required for Co-op Designation

Program Minimum Required Number of Co-op Work Terms
BA, BFA, BMgt, or BSc Three 4-month work terms (12 months total)
Eligible MSc or MA Two 4-month work terms (8 months total)
Combined Degree
(e.g., BEd/BSc, BEd/BMgt, BFA/BMgt)
Three 4-month work terms (12 months total)
  • Designation applied to degree with most number of work terms
  • You can receive the co-op designation on both degrees by completing at least 2 work terms per degree program
  • The minimums listed above are required to graduate with the BA, BFA, BMgt, BSc, MSc or MA co-op designation.
  • Canadian undergraduate students can complete a maximum of six 4-month work terms (24 months total).
  • Canadian graduate students can complete a maximum of four 4-month work terms (16 months total).

 

Fees

There are no fees in order to access Career Bridge resources. However, a co-op work term is registered as a course and appears on your transcript, and is therefore assessed a course fee. This fee is based on the current tuition schedule which can be found within the academic calendar.

Co-op fees are due on the last day of scheduled classes for each semester. This means you can pay for your co-op as you complete it!

Please check with the Cash Office or your Bridge account for outstanding balances and due dates.

 

Important Info

If the co-op office acts as the contact for you (e.g. forwards your resume, tells you about the position), that position must be taken as a co-op placement. As a result, you are required to pay the co-op work term fee and complete the co-op assignments by their respective deadlines. This also applies to any subsequent co-op positions offered by the same employer.

The University of Lethbridge does not guarantee employment positions. Successful placement depends upon labour market conditions, mutual cooperation and effort from the student, the University and the employer.