Number of Work Terms
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The criteria regarding the required number of work terms imply that a minimum of three work terms is required for university programs to be accredited. How does this work for a two-year college diploma program?
CEWIL Canada's definition of co-operative education indicates that the time spent in work terms must be no less than 30% of the time spent in academic study. Programs with 7 to 10 academic terms require a minimum of 3 work terms and those with 4 to 6 require 2 work terms.
For co-op internships with a single work period, the same 30% rule applies. A four-year program with 8 academic terms needs the equivalent of 3 four-month work terms, which means a cumulative work period of 12 months is required.
The Accreditation Guide and Application says “Co-op work terms occur in different seasons to ensure exposure to the work environment at different times of the year; any exceptions to this rule must clearly show that the type of work is seasonal in nature.” Does this mean co-op programs can have only have two (2) work terms, and if so, can they be scheduled during the summer?
As noted above, programs with four (4) or five (5) academic semesters require a minimum of two (2) work terms. Work terms must not be scheduled during only one season of the year. A minimum of one work term can be scheduled during the summer for programs which have only two (2) work terms.
If a program has six academic terms, is it possible to have an eight-month and a four-month work term?
Yes, it meets the 30% minimum requirement. The program must also meet other accreditation criteria such as beginning and ending with academic terms and work terms must be separated by academic terms.
Is it possible for a co-operative education program to meet requirements with only one work term?
College and post-graduate programs with only one work term must have two (2) academic terms, scheduled before and after the work term.
Does a two-year post-graduate university program with four academic terms and three co-op work terms meet accreditation criteria if the third work term is completed after the final academic term?
Yes, the first two (2) co-op terms exceed 30% of the time in academic terms. The program would not be penalized for having a third co-op term at the end, because it meets accreditation criteria based on the first two (2) work terms—it would be approved with only two (2) work terms, so the fact that it has a third is irrelevant.