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Forms and Resources | Engineering: Cooperative Education Working Rules - Policies and Procedures

Engineering: Cooperative Education Working Rules - Policies and Procedures

Cooperative Engineering Program

Cooperative Education is a program, which formally integrates a student's academic studies with discipline-related work experience. The work experience is designed to enhance students' understanding of engineering concepts and practices as taught in the academic program.

Disclaimer: Although every effort is made by the University to find a sufficient number of work term positions for students enrolled in all co-op programs, no guarantee of employment can be made. The employment process is competitive. Academic performance, motivation, maturity, attitude, potential and other factors all determine whether a particular student is offered a job.

Program Description

Graduating with a degree with a cooperative education designation requires satisfactory completion of both the study and work components. The work component consists of work terms spent in an engineering environment. A work term consists of a four-month period, at least 14 weeks in duration, with a minimum of 35 hours per week (or equivalent). Work terms and study terms must be completed in the sequence specified by the department in question. Some programs include two or more consecutive four-month work terms.

Graduates who have successfully completed a minimum of three work terms will receive a 'Cooperative Education Program' designation on their degree certificate.

Admissions and Eligibility

All engineering students are eligible to apply to Co-op which can be done before students have been accepted into a specific engineering program. Engineering students require a GPA of 2.3. All computer science students are eligible to apply provided they have taken or will have taken the Computer Science Required Courses and have GPA of 2.0.

All applicants to the program are admitted on an individual basis. Acceptance is based on the following:

  1. Completion of the Co-op Program Application form
  2. Completion of the online Co-op Orientation Workshop (details will be sent to you once your application is processed)
  3. Completion of the appropriate number of courses in your degree program i.e. you should be entering third year
  4. You must be in academic good standing with no deficiencies
Visa students may obtain Work Permits for co-op work terms, provided that a responsible official of the university has informed Human Resources and Development Canada that work experience for cooperative programs is mandatory.

Status and Appeals


In order to administer the cooperative education process and to account for the activities of each co-op student, the Co-op Office has established status codes to document these activities. Status codes govern the participation, or not, of a co-op student in some, or all, aspects of the co-op process. Status codes also enable students to receive, or not, recognition (credit) for the completion of some part of the co-op process. Status codes and their rivileges are as follows:

Eligible - permits a student access to the co-op interview process in order to seek employment. A student who secures employment through this process and completes the work term successfully will receive credit for that work experience.

On Own - assigned by the appropriate Faculty Co-op Advisor and/or the Co-op Office to a student who has not complied with a program regulation or procedure. Reasons for this notation include, but are not restricted to, missing interviews without jus cause, failing to obtain approval to decline (sign-off) an employment opportunity. The student remains eligible for credit for the work term but does not have access to the Co-op Office Job Competition.

Ineligible Temporarily - assigned by the appropriate Faculty Co-op Advisor and/or the Co-op Office to a student who is on academic probation or dismissal. Students who have secured a work term prior to the Senate Marks Approval meeting at which they are placed on probation, are eligible to complete the work term(s) and to receive credit. Students who are on probation are ineligible to participate in the co-op program. Students who can complete teh required number of work terms may reapply to the co-op program once they are in good academic standing.

A student who is academically dismissed while on a work term, must advise his/her immediate supervisor (the Co-op Office will advise the supervisor as well) who then has the option to terminate the work term employment. The student is not eligible to receive credit for the work term and will be de-registered from the work term by the University. Students who are academically dismissed are ineligible to participate in the co-op program. Students who can complete the required number of work terms may reapply to the co-op program once they are in good academic standing.

Ineligible Permanently - assigned by the apropriate Faculty Co-op Advisor and/or the Co-op Office to a student who has not met the requirements of the job competition or the work term. This notation may be assigned for reasons including, but not limited to: failing a work term, reneging on a previously agreed upon offer of employment, failing to honor a commitment to work for an employer or to return to an employer, terminating employment without prior approval from the employer and the Co-op Office or dismissal with cause from employment. In all cases, students with this notation will not be granted credit for the work term in question and will be permanently removed from the co-op program.

Opted Out - assigned by the Co-op Office to a student who has opted out of the co-op program. Once a student has Opted Out; readmission is only for just cause and requires approval of both the Faculty Co-op Advisor and the Co-op Office.

Students are required to register each work term as per other academic courses with the University. This applies to jobs which are self-found and to work terms taken after the co-op requirements have been met.

A student who has registered for the work term and accepted co-op work term employment is not permitted to withdraw from the work term course .

Appeals of Co-op Program Status

In the event of change of status as in 5.3.1, the Co-op Office, which administers these Regulations and Procedures, will first notify a student of a status change to On Own or Ineligible. Students are encouraged to approach the Co-op Office to report any extenuating circumstances and the Co-op Office will make every effort to accommodate all students. Students may appeal the decision of the Co-op Office to the Associate Dean of Engineering for Undergraduate Studies through the normal appeal process.

Recommendations by the Co-op Office to record a work term as Failed will be made to the Associate Dean. The Associate Dean will notify the student of the final outcome and the reasons for the decision.

Program Administration

University Responsibilities

The Co-op Office has the following responsibilities:

  1. To broadly manage the overall employment process;
  2. To prepare students to participate in the job competition;
  3. To seek out and advertise appropriate employment opportunities for co-op students;
  4. To coordinate recruiting activities such as interviews, information sessions and job offers; and
  5. To ensure that students are academically eligible to participate in a co-op work term.

Academic departments are responsible for establishing criteria for acceptable co-op jobs at all levels and to evaluate the students' co-op work term experience.

The Office of the Associate Dean of Engineering is responsible for enforcing all academic aspects of the co-op education experience.

Employer Responsibilities

  1. Function as an educator by providing challenging and career-oriented work experience;
  2. Orient the students to the workplace so that they feel at ease with the environment and other staff;
  3. Provide ongoing direction and feedback to ensure that the student is working to expectations;
  4. Review student work term reports for accuracy and confidentiality;
  5. Conduct a performance evaluation interview prior to the end of the work term to discuss the student's work performance and future plans;
  6. Provide an opportunity for a Student Development Coordinator to conduct a site visit with the supervisor and the student during the work term either in person or by telephone;
  7. Treat students in the same way as other employees in matters of rules, regulations and discipline;
  8. Contact the Co-op Office if there is a problem with a student which the employer believes the Co-op Office can help solve;
  9. Maintain Comprehensive General Liability coverage appropriate to their operations including Employer's Liability and are to be covered by Worker's Compensation, where applicable;
  10. Maintain a workplace which adheres to legislated occupation health & safety policies; and
  11. Have, and abide by, discrimination and sexual harassment policies and procedures.

Employers and the Faculty of Engineering Cooperative Education Committee provide feedback to the Faculty on all aspects of the co-op program.

Student Responsibilities

Cooperative Education Regulations: Each student must complete and sign the Cooperative Education Student Regulations form.

Communication with Co-op Office: Each student must maintain communications with the Co-op Office on all matters pertinent to participation in the co-op program. Students must consult with a Student Development Coordinator where regulations and procedures for the co-op program are an issue. The student must ensure that his/her student file is current and correct. A student may review his/her file at the Co-op Office at any time.

Online Co-op Orientation Workshop: Completion of the Online Co-op Orientation and Job Competition Preparation Course is a prerequisite to the job competition. The status of students who miss the Online Co-op Orientation and Job Competition Preparation Course will be recorded as On Own until they satisfy the requirements of the Online Co-op Orientation and Job Competition Preparation Course.

Job Applications: Students are normally expected to apply to the lesser of 25% or ten of the jobs posted to their discipline during Round 1 of the job competition. Students who do not comply with this rule may be withdrawn from the job competition and have their status changed to On Own.

Missing Interviews: Students are expected to attend all individual interviews granted to them. Students who anticipate missing an interview for just cause should inform the Co-op Office at least 24 hours before the interview so that other arrangements can be made. Students who miss interviews without just cause may be removed from the job competition and their status changed to On Own.

Failure to Report to Employer: Barring exceptional circumstances, failure to report to an employer will be recorded on the Cooperative Student Record as Failed Work Term - Refusal to Honour Previous Agreement. Normally, withdrawal from the program will be required, and a status of Ineligible Permanently assigned.

Leaving Employer Without Prior Approval: Students must seek assistance from the Co-op Office if there are difficulties in the work place that cannot be resolved without terminating employment. Terminating employment without prior approval from the Co-op Office, Faculty Co-op Advisor and the employer may result in the Cooperative Student Record having the notation Failed Work Term - Terminating Employment Without Prior Approval. Withdrawal from the Co-op Program would be required, and a stutus of Ineligible Permanently assigned.

Dismissed With Cause: the Co-op Office and the Faculty Co-op Advisor will investigate dismissal of a student by an employer. If the dismissal is found to be justified, it will normally be recorded on the Cooperative Student Record as Failed Work Term - Dismissed With Cause, and a status of Ineligible Permanently assigned.

Co-op Requirements Already Met: Once a student has fulfilled the requirement of three co-op work terms, then that student's status will be changed to On Own.

False Information: Knowingly furnishing false information to the Co-op Office or a recruiter will result in that student's status being changed to On Own, and may result in disciplinary action being taken.

Declining Job Offers: During Round II, students are entitled to decline up to two job offers from employers in a term with reasonable justification. Any student who declines more than two employment offers will be given On Own status.

Taking Courses While on a Co-op Work Term: Students are not permitted to take classes during working hours while they are on work terms. In exceptional circumstances a student may be permitted to take a maximum of one course if permission is provided by both the employer and the Faculty Co-op Advisor.

Administration of the Job Competition

  1. Employers are asked to classify each job according to student discipline and level. The Co-op Office and Faculty Co-op Advisor screen job descriptions to ensure that a quality work experience is being offered at the right level.
  2. Students are also encouraged to conduct their own job searches outside the competition organized by the Co-op Office. Students who find their own jobs must have them approved by the Co-op Office and, depending on the job, the Faculty Co-op Advisor, by submitting a Job Approval form before the student commences work. See Arrange Your Own Employment.
  3. For those students seeking employment through the Co-op Office's competitive process, copies of their academic record and resumes are made available to prospective employers.
  4. Ranking Employers: The student/job matching process, hereafter referred to as the Match, occurs halfway through the term preceding the work term. It requires employers to rank the students who have been interviewed for their jobs, and students to rank the jobs for which they have been interviewed by employers.
  5. Students who change their mind about a job after the interview can 'sign off' on that job if the employer hasn’t ranked them for it. Rankings can be made the following day so students must sign off immediately following the interview.
    If students do not sign off, and are matched to a job, they are obligated to accept it.
    Students must email askcoop@dal.ca and give their reason for signing off so that we can pass it along to the employer.
  6. During the Match, students are advised of any job offers by the notation offer on the Match form. The remaining jobs, for which the student has been ranked, will show ranked on the form. Students are required to enter a unique numerical ranking for all jobs for which they have been ranked. Students who rank an offered job as number one are automatically matched to the job.

The status of a student who declines to rank a job during the Match is recorded as On Own.

Ranking a job during the Match indicates an agreement to work with that employer if matched by the program. Refusal to accept the job offered normally results in the co-op student record being changed to Failed Work Term - Refusal to Honour Previous Agreement and a status of Ineligible Permanently is assigned.

Work Term Academic Requirements, Evaluation and Promotion

Academic Requirements

For each four-month work term, or two or more consecutive work terms in the same position, each student must achieve a satisfactory evaluation in the following:

  1. A written technical report;
  2. Monthly work experience diaries verified by the work supervisor;
  3. A performance appraisal completed by the work supervisor; and
  4. Additional requirements as determined by the academic department.
The Faculty of Engineering provides written guidelines on the preparation of submissions: Guidelines for Writing a Work Term Report (Engineering).

Work Term Evaluations

Work terms receive a grade of Pass (P) or Fail (F).

A grade of Pass requires successful completion of all of the requirements set out in Academic Requirements. The deadline for all submissions is one week following the commencement of the next study term.

Departmental faculty advisors have two weeks to evaluate the material submitted and notify students whose work is deemed unsatisfactory that they have one week to remedy their deficiencies. Faculty advisors then have one week to notify the Faculty Co-op Advisor with the Final Evaluation of the Work Term Diary and Technical Report. Reports that are not made available to the Faculty for evaluation will not be accepted.

In the case of an unsatisfactory performance appraisal by the employer, the Co-op Office will investigate on behalf of the student before a final determination is made.

Requests for reassessment of a final grade are addressed as outlined in Academic Regulation 16.7 in the University Calendar.

Promotion within the Co-op Program

Students who have failed a work term are ineligible to continue in the co-op program.

Students who are unable to find work by the beginning of the work term, and who have declared themselves to be in the co-op program at the beginning of upper division, may:

  1. approach a faculty member to see if they can be hired to work on a research project;
  2. opt out of co-op and proceed with a non-co-op degree; or
  3. apply to continue in the co-op program if they can show that they have been making an effort to get a job and if they can reschedule their work and study terms such that their remaining work terms are completed in same sequence as their class. A Informatics Application Form form must be submitted by the student and signed off by both the Faculty Co-op Advisor and the Co-op Office.

No retroactive credit is given for employment prior to admission into the co-op program.

Transfer students who have work term credit from a recognized co-op program at another university may be eligible to receive advance standing with the approval of his/her Academic Department.