Students FAQ

What is Co-operative Education?

Co-operative Education utilizes learning partnerships between the university and valued employer partnerships to provide students with opportunities for relevant, paid employment while they are completing their academic studies. A combination of non-credit courses combined with practical work experience empowers students. They apply and further develop the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their degree program, and are more confident and prepared to enter the workforce.

What are the benefits of the program?

Participants will:

  • Apply academic theory gained in the classroom in a structured work setting.
  • Gain up to 16 months of relevant paid professional experience.
  • Get hands-on training and exposure with the emerging technologies and methods in your field.
  • Clarify career plans and preferred working style. Get exposure to industry options such as corporate, government, non-for profit, and research and development.
  • Become well informed about professional etiquette, business culture, and business communications.
  • Continuously evaluate your own skills, abilities, and knowledge: learn how to promote yourself confidently to an employer.
  • Build business contacts and network to assist in finding employment upon graduation.
  • Set yourself apart from most university graduates – and avoid the no experience/no job cycle.
     
How does co-op work?

Co-operative education utilizes experiential learning partnerships between the university and employer to provide students with opportunities for relevant, paid employment while completing academic studies. The three components of the program include professional development seminars, work terms, and COOP 405. 

Students are eligible to apply to co-op in the fall of their second year. Students in the third year interested in applying to the program should meet with the Co-op Coordinator as they will be able to outline your co-op plan. Students must be registered in a minimum of 12 credits per term in the full academic year to be considered for, and to remain in, the Co-operative Education Program. Once in the program, students will complete the three professional development seminars in the fall. Most new co-op students look for their first work term in the summer. Co-op staff assists students with their job search.  

To apply to the program

Students may apply to the program at any time but must apply before the published deadline in October to participate in professional development seminars in that term. A minimum overall first year average of 65% is required for students joining the program in their second year.  A minimum overall average of 70% in the second and subsequent years is required for students who join and remain in the program.

Professional Development Seminars

Students complete mandatory non-credit co-op courses before going on work terms. The courses are designed to increase student’s success in the program with locating and securing the right work term. Students can register for the seminars the same as how they register for their regular courses. The content covered in the seminars assist students with learning essential workplace skills and job search preparation that students will use throughout their working life. 

Co-op Work Terms

Work terms must occur in at least two of the three semesters and must be preceded and followed by an academic term. "Academic Semesters" are January to April, May to August, and September to December. This is a three-semester model. Eight-month or back-to-back work terms are acceptable as long as they are also are preceded and followed by an academic term. The 12-16 month work term is considered a Co-op Internship and must be with one employer. Typically, students will complete the internship after completing the second or third year of study. The Co-op team and Academic Advising will help you make a plan that right for you.

Like other university co-op programs, while on the work term, students complete various assignments that help facilitate learning and reflection. Assignments include learning objectives, worksite evaluation, reflective essay, and student performance evaluation. A worksite evaluation helps the program, the student and the employer gauge how the work term is progressing. It is a valuable assignment that contributes to student learning. Co-op work terms are paid and full time.  Pay ranges over the last year have been $15-$25/ hr for a minimum of 35 hrs/wk. 

Over the last couple of years, the following work term sequencing option has been popular with StFX Co-op students. The student joins in the fall of the second year. The first work term is in the summer after the second year. Come back for the fall of the third year for studies. Work term 2 is in the winter of the third year. Work term 3 follows work term 2 in the summer semester. The student comes back to StFX in the fall to continue studies. 

COOP 405 (3 credit course)

Students return to the academic setting after the employment experience to share their work experience with co-op peers. After completion of 12 months of work experience, students return to campus and enroll in Co-op 405. Co-op 405 consists of a formal group debrief, presentation and a final paper.  If students complete their last work term in the summer, they will complete COOP 405 in September. If a student completes their last work term in the fall, they will complete COOP 405 in January. 
 

What is my role in the Program?

Your success in the program is dependant upon your level of involvement. You will get more out of your Cooperative Education experience, the more you commit to the program. Attending the non-credit co-op courses, incorporating what you are learning into your co-op work term search, and polishing your own employability will increase your success. Students must personally balance their academic commitments at all time in the program. This program is competitive, rigorous and requires extra time and effort in addition to your degree requirements. Co-op staff are here to help and support. We have seen many students who have achieved their career and educational goals while enrolled in the Co-op Education program. 

Can co-op students arrange their own co-operative work terms?

Yes. Students have successfully secured their own employment.  However, through receipt and approval of the job description, the Co-op Office ensures the experience meets the work term requirements and a formal work site visit. The Co-op Office will also advertise numerous jobs from employers with whom we have developed partnerships. We have many "repeat" employers who love to hire StFX Co-op students. 

What are the limitations of the program?

The following are identified limitations:

  • The Co-op Program requires additional time and effort. Attending the non-credit courses, completing assignments, applying for work terms, and interviews can increase students’ workload. 
  • The Co-op staff does not guarantee work term placements.
  • The Program requires flexibility and adaptability. Often students need to flexible and understanding when applying to co-op positions or participating in interviews. 
  • Students must be aware that securing a work term can be stressful, interviews and commencement of employment offers can occur on short notice. Co-op students need to be flexible and accommodating.
  • Requires an additional year of study (in most cases) as students need to complete 12 months of work experience
  • With the design of the co-op program, Co-op students often attend the X-ring ceremony and graduation with the peers in the co-op program and not with the students who they met in the first year.

Why do students join?

Students join because they make the decision to begin the transition from student to professional. Students learn about themselves through the program requirements, by sharing experiences with other co-op students, and through access to related events. They become informed of different career options available in their field of study, learn to effectively job search, as well as market their education, skills, and experience. Students build professional networks and portfolios that will assist with finding the right employment after graduation. Students can earn money to help offset educational costs. Finally, the StFX Co-op Education program is one of the few universities in Canada that assigns academic credit for Co-op completion. Earn 3 credits towards your degree. 

Who can apply for the StFX Cooperative Education Program?

Second or third year students in the following disciplines:

Bachelor of Business Administration (all majors)
Bachelor of Arts, Computer Science, and Math 
Bachelor of Science Biology, Computer Science, and Math
Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition
Bachelor of Arts and Science in Health
Bachelor of Arts and Science in Climate & Environment
 
If Co-op Education is not in a StFX program that is of interest, please let us know. We will gladly work with other StFX departments in order to expand the program. 

 

Do I have to work in Antigonish?

No. The Co-op Program receives positions from across Canada. Some students have independently secured employment abroad.

 
How much money can I earn? 
How much a student gets paid while completing a co-op work term will vary (role, location, industry, the number of work terms, and etc). However, over the last year, we have had students make between $15/hr to $30/hr.  Our co-op students work a minimum of 35 hrs/wk for a minimum of 14 weeks in a semester.  In a four-month work term, working a 35 hr/wk for 14 weeks a student can make between $7350 to $14,700 before deductions. 
 
 
How much will it cost?

Co-op Programs across Canada will set up their fee schedule differently. At StFX our primary reason for setting fees as a "pay as you go" system was to spread co-op fees over a period of time as students complete the various program components. Students should not place the "dollar value" as it relates to seminars or work terms. When a student registers for a seminar or work term, the Co-op fee will be applied to their account.  For example, if you join the program in the fall and complete all three professional development seminars, your student account will be billed a total of $1800 ($600 per seminar). You don't pay for your work term until you start your work term.   COOP 405 has no charge. By the time you complete the program, you will have paid the total cost of the program ($3300).  StFX Co-op fees have not changed since 2003. In comparison to other university co-op program fees, our fees are not the highest nor the lowest (in the middle). 

Co-op 110 $600
Co-op 120 $600
Co-op 130 $600
Co-op 405 $0
Work term (COOP 401-COOP 403 ($500/workterm) $1500
Total $3300

What does the Co-op fee cover? 

Your co-op fees cover the administration of the co-op program including, but not limited to the following: professional development sessions prior to your first co-op work term; personalized job search assistance, job prep toolkit, interview preparation, mock interviews; worksite visits and ongoing mediation of unsatisfactory work term situations; post co-op work term debriefing; development of job opportunities; access to the co-op job board; interview space; facilitation of job offers; recognition programs; and networking opportunities. 

Does Co-op Education impact my StFX scholarship?
In May 2015, the StFX University Senate passed the following regarding Co-op students on scholarship.

Scholarship Retention Requirements: To be eligible to retain major and entrance scholarships, students must have been registered in a minimum of 24 credits during the previous academic year (with the exception of co-op students on placement) and have met the 80% average requirements.

Regulations as they apply to students in a StFX Co-op programme: Students enrolled in a co-op programme will not lose their eligibility to retain their scholarship as a result of their co-op placement.

Additional info:

Students enrolled in a co-op program will be eligible to retain their full-year academic scholarship in an academic year during which they are on a co-op placement, so long as they have met the normal eligibility requirements from the previous academic year. To remain eligible in subsequent years, students within a co-op program will need to maintain the appropriate average grade with the grade calculated over a minimum of 12 credits taken during the academic year the student was on a co-op placement. The grade will be calculated over a minimum of 24 credits should the placement be during the spring/summer period. Students in a co-op program will be eligible for scholarship funding for a maximum of four years.

Note: If you received a scholarship from an outside agency, please contact the agency that issued the scholarship regarding questions about co-op education and scholarship requirements.