Cooperative education (or co-operative education) is a structured method of combining classroom-based education with practical work experience. A cooperative education experience, commonly known as a "co-op", provides academic credit for structured job experience.
Co-op work terms provide experience in a workplace setting related to the student’s field of study. The number of required work terms varies by program; however, the time spent in work terms must be at least 30% of the time spent in academic study for programs over 2 years in length and 25% of time for programs 2 years and shorter in length.
Co-operative Education is a bridge between the employer, the student, and the academic institution. It benefits everyone involved. The employer benefits from the latest theories and fresh ideas from the academic world, the institution gets practical input from the professional community, and the students receive hands-on experience in their chosen field of study.
- Co-op programs alternate study terms with paid work experience terms that are related to the student's academic field.
- Co-op gives students a well-rounded education. It is an opportunity to expand their knowledge and to practice the latest theories and approaches in their particular discipline, and it also allows the student to develop employment skills, explore career options, and network with potential employers, which gives them a competitive edge when entering the workforce.
- Co-op work terms are supervised and evaluated by both the employer and the post-secondary institution.