- What is co-operative education?
Co-op, short for co-operative education, is a program offered by many universities that allows students to gain practical work experience related to their field of study while pursuing their academic degree. In a co-op program, students alternate between periods of academic study and paid work experience with an employer relevant to their field of study. The purpose of co-op programs is to provide students with hands-on experience, to help them build professional networks, and to enhance their employment prospects upon graduation. In addition to gaining valuable work experience, co-op students also earn income during their work terms, which can help offset the cost of tuition and living expenses.
Co-op at Trent allows you to graduate with your Honours degree and 12 months of paid work experience in as little as four years with a distinct career advantage. Co-op consists of eight study terms and three work terms which alternate and vary depending on your degree program. Co-op students must follow their program's set Work Term Schedule, which can be found here.
At Trent, you have the unique opportunity to search for a position on our Co-op Job Board or to find your own co-op job. Finding your own co-op experience allows you to explore opportunities that best suit your personal career goals, growth areas, and interests. If you find your own co-op job for one of your scheduled work terms, you will need to ensure the position meets Trent’s standard work term requirements (work term length, full-time hours, compensation, and evaluation criteria). You may contact your Co-op Program Coordinator to learn more about work term options.
What is the difference between a high school co-op program and one at university?
The main difference between a high school co-op program and one at university is the level of complexity and the type of work experiences offered. In high school co-op programs, students typically work in entry-level positions that are designed to provide them with exposure to various industries and basic job skills. High school co-op programs are usually part-time and take place during the school day over a period of weeks.
In contrast, university co-op programs offer more advanced work experience related to a student’s area of study. University co-op programs require students to have completed some academic coursework before they can participate in a co-op work term. The work terms themselves are full-time hours, fully paid, and can range from four to eight months in duration depending on your work term schedule. Additionally, university co-op programs are typically more competitive, which includes a formal job search and application process, with limited spaces available based on employer hiring needs. University co-op programs often require students to maintain a minimum grade point average and complete additional coursework and career preparedness training before they can go out on work terms.
- When do co-op students get access to the Co-op Job Board, and where is the Co-op Job Board located?
All Trent Co-op students have access to the Student Experience Portal (SEP) which can be accessed through the MyTrent portal. After logging into SEP, you will see “Co-op” on the left menu bar. Clicking there will bring you to the main Co-op module, and you must read and accept the Terms & Conditions first, along with submitting your intention for your upcoming work term. After submitting your job search intention, the Co-op Job Board will be visible to you. You can access this training video and a written guide with details on how to navigate and use the Co-op Module on the Student Experience Portal available on the Co-op Resources for Students page.
- What's the difference between a co-op work term, placement, and practicum?
Co-op is a form of experiential learning that allows students to gain paid experience in a professional workplace setting related to their program of study. As a co-op student, you will alternate between full-time academic study terms and full-time work terms. You will complete a total of three paid work terms that are each four months in duration and 35 hours/week over the course of your degree.
A placement is typically unpaid and may only be 8-10 hours/week of work experience which a student will complete while taking other courses. For example, Business students at Trent can enroll in a placement course that is 100 hours of unpaid work experience during a 12-week semester that they will complete a part-time basis scheduled around their other academic courses.
A practicum, on the other hand, is a more intensive and longer-term work experience that is designed to give students the opportunity to apply their academic learning in a real-world setting. Practicums are often required as part of a professional licensed program such as nursing, social work, or teacher education, and involve supervised work experience from a licensed professional in a professional work setting. Practicums can last anywhere from a few weeks to a full academic term and are usually completed during the final year of degree programs.
- Can I transfer into a co-op program when I am already a student studying at Trent?
Co-op at Trent is predominantly a direct-entry program. Some co-op programs do offer a Transfer-In option open only to full-time first year undergraduate students. Not all co-op programs offer a Transfer-In option.
The Transfer-In process is different for different programs but will usually take place in the Winter term of your first year and will require that you meet CGPA requirements for co-op, have taken the required first year courses for the program you are hoping to enter, and have taken a certain amount of study credits. Please contact the Co-op Coordinator of the program you are hoping to enter to learn more about the process.
- Can I use the Change of Major form to move from one co-op program to another co-op program?
No. Students cannot use this form to switch into a co-op program. If you are a co-op student and want to pursue a joint-major, minor, specialization, and/or option OR if you wish to switch into a different co-op program, please connect with your Co-op Coordinator directly to see what is available to you. Some co-op programs are direct-entry only and/or do not allow for program customizations. If you complete the Change of Major form and you are a co-op student, please note that you will be removing yourself from your Co-op program and pursuing whatever you select.
- Is there a cost to participating in the co-op stream?
Co-op students are required to pay a non-refundable administrative co-op fee of $750 as set by the University. This fee will be billed to the student’s account a total of five times during their degree program (during the Fall and Winter semesters in Year 2 and 3, and the Fall semester in Year 4), and must be paid by the regular due date for all course fees at the start of the academic terms. The co-op fee goes towards a variety of aspects involved in the administration of our co-op streams. This includes funding resource development, fostering employer relationships, and new job development. Funding also supports infrastructure and administration of the co-op programs.
Co-op students are responsible for paying tuition for their academic courses, ancillary fees, and levies. All Trent students are charged ancillary fees every Fall & Winter term. Co-op students will experience the same cycle for their ancillary fee payments regardless of when they are out on work terms. Co-op students do not pay tuition during their work terms. Visit our Co-op Program Fees page for more information.
- Can I find my own job for my co-op work term(s)?
Yes! You can choose to apply to jobs outside of the Student Experience Portal Co-op Job Board of approved opportunities. All co-op work term jobs must ensure that the position meets Trent’s standard work term requirements (work term length, hours, compensation and evaluations). You must contact your Co-op Program Coordinator to have the job approved for your co-op work term, and you must seek approval before accepting any formal job offer.
- What happens if I am not successful in securing a co-op work term opportunity?
Every effort is made to post suitable co-op work term opportunities for students enrolled in the co-op programs at Trent, but a work term opportunity cannot be guaranteed for every student. The co-op work term process is competitive across different geographical areas and within certain industries. A variety of factors including changing job market conditions, the academic performance of a student, along with the student’s willingness to apply to posted opportunities while remaining proactive in their job search and preparedness can affect their ability to secure co-op work term(s) each year.
In the event that you are unable to complete three work terms during your four-year Honours degree, yet otherwise fulfill all other degree requirements, you will be awarded an Honours degree without the Co-op designation. You are encouraged to meet with your Co-op Coordinator regularly to confirm that you are meeting co-op requirements.
- What are the deliverables I need to complete to receive a “pass” on my work term?
You must complete learning objectives, a mid-term evaluation, a final evaluation, and a final work term report for each work term. These deliverables will allow you to set work term goals, reflect on your on-the-job experience and summarize your learning, while also providing you with valuable feedback on your skills developed and utilized during your work term. Your employer Supervisor/Manager will also provide mid-term and final performance evaluations of the work term experience. Following receipt of all the work term deliverables and satisfactory evaluations from the employer, you will have successfully passed your work term and a PASS will be indicated on the work term.
- Can I be registered in other academic courses while on a work term?
No. Your degree program has been mapped so that you can take all required courses during your study terms and focus on your full-time work commitments to fulfill the requirements of your co-op employment work term. This rule is in place to protect you and the employer who has committed to offering a full-time job with the understanding that you will not have conflicts with other academic activities during your work term.
- What should I do if I have any questions, concerns or issues with my co-op work term?
Your Co-op Coordinator is here to help you! Connect with your Co-op Coordinator or follow the instructions within your Co-op Student Handbook to find answers to common questions about co-op progression and co-op work terms. You can always email email@example.com if you are unsure of who to connect with at Trent, and we will help to connect you with the right person.
- What student benefits do I have while I am on work term?
Health & Dental Benefits
Peterborough full-time and Durham students are automatically enrolled in and billed for Health and Dental benefits coordinated by the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA). Trent Co-op students are eligible to receive the Health and Dental benefit. If you already have coverage through another plan, you may submit an online request to opt-out through the TCSA. Students who complete a valid opt-out submission will receive their refund as arranged by the association after the start of the term. Please visit the MyTrent Student VIP portal for more information. For other questions or support, please contact Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) | 705-748-1000.
As a Trent student, you are responsible for paying ancillary fees and levies. The transit pass is covered under these fees. As a Co-op student, you are still eligible to have your transit pass for the duration of your undergraduate studies. All First-Year students will receive an email invitation to download their pass. You must have submitted a photo prior in order to receive this invitation. All returning students with the digital pass from a previous year will automatically receive their new pass if eligible. No action is required by the returning student. For more information, please contact TrentUCard at firstname.lastname@example.org
Athletics & Recreation
All Trent Students pay an athletic fee from September - April 30th which provides them with a gym membership through Athletics & Recreation. As a Trent Co-op student, you are eligible to utilize the gym membership. After April 30th, Trent Students wanting to access the Trent Athletics Centre will need to purchase a Student Summer Membership. For more information, please visit trentu.ca/athletics/.
- Will it take me longer to finish my degree in a co-op program?
We know that you will love your time at Trent, but we also know you may be eager to graduate and start your career! At Trent University, the majority of our diverse co-op offerings were designed to be completed within a four-year Honours degree timeframe while following the study and work schedule specific to your program. You can find out more about your specific co-op program and schedule by looking here.
- Can I withdraw from co-op at any time?
You can withdraw from co-op during an academic study term and continue with your degree program without the co-op designation. If you are unable to complete three work terms yet otherwise fulfill all degree requirements, you will be awarded an Honours degree without the Co-op designation. Please contact your Co-op Coordinator first to discuss withdrawing from your co-op program.
Please note: Withdrawal from the co-op program will not normally be approved while a student is on a work term.
- How long are the work terms?
Work terms are four months in duration with a minimum 12-week requirement working full-time hours, and typically you alternate between a study period and a work term during each year of your program. Some co-op programs have back-to-back work terms available which could mean a continuous 8-month employment opportunity (two work terms). The schedule for all programs can be found here.
- Does the co-op team provide any assistance during my work terms?
Yes! We are here to help. If you are having difficulties with your employer or with your supervisor that cannot be resolved, it is best to reach out for support. Students can always reach out for support and advice while on their work terms, and we strongly encourage you to seek assistance if you have any concerns that may impact the successful completion of your work term.
- As a domestic student, can I do a work term abroad?
If you are considering seeking co-op employment abroad for your work term(s), you must first contact your Co-op Coordinator. Some co-op programs will be able to accommodate work terms abroad whereas others may not allow work abroad terms specific to their own program requirements.
- As a domestic student, can I do a semester studying abroad?
If you are considering studying abroad for a specific study term during your co-op degree program, you must first contact your Co-op Coordinator. Some co-op programs will be able to accommodate study terms abroad whereas others may not allow study abroad terms specific to their own program requirements.
- Am I eligible for co-op?
Yes, as an international student, you can apply for the co-op option when applying to a degree program at Trent if you meet the admission requirements stated for that program. Co-op is a competitive option for all programs that offer this option, and there are limited co-op spots available for each program.
- How do I obtain a work permit for my co-op work term?
International students who are required to complete a co-op as a mandatory component of their degree must apply for a co-op work permit (COWP). Your Letter of Admission will note that a co-op is a component of your degree and a COWP will typically be issued with your initial Study Permit. If you are not issued a COWP with your Study Permit, you can apply for a COWP for no cost from within Canada.
Students in this situation are encouraged to visit the Co-op Work Permit page and email Trent International at email@example.com for support with this application process upon arrival in Canada.
- What do I need to legally seek employment for my co-op work term?
International students must fulfill the eligibility requirements and conditions of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) to legally be employed to complete a co-op work term. Visit the IRCC Website to learn more about these requirements.
- Can the co-op team help me with my application for a work permit?
Only the employees of Citizen and Immigration Canada (CIC) are legally allowed to assist you with your application. Visit the CIC website for more helpful information. You can also call the CIC Call Centre from within Canada at 1-888-242-2100 for more information in both English and French languages about CIC programs and services, or about the status of your application. If preferred, you can send the CIC Call Centre an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You may also receive assistance through Trent International by connecting with Trent University’s International Student Immigration Advisor by making an appointment through the Student Experience Portal. Visit Trent International to find out more.
- As an international student, am I eligible for all work positions offered in the co-op program?
Some positions, depending on their wage subsidy funding, may only be available to Canadian citizens, permanent residents and those with landed refugee status. Always read the job posting and eligibility criteria carefully when applying to co-op job postings. There are always positions available that are open to international students through private sector employers, but it is important to ask your Co-op Coordinator or the employer to confirm these requirements while job seeking as an international student with a valid work permit.
- As an international student, can I do a co-op work term in my home country?
You must contact your Co-op Coordinator if you are planning to seek employment in your home country before proceeding to apply to any work term opportunities. While this option may be possible for some programs, not all co-op programs will be able to accommodate work terms outside of Canada.