Information Box Group
Congratulations on securing a co-op position!
Let’s start with some quick reminders before you register your co-op.
- Requirements for an eligible co-op experience: Prior to accepting an offer of employment, make sure the role meets co-op eligibility requirements (as follows) and/or contact your Career Educator for any questions related to the position meeting the criteria for co-op credit. For a position to be verified as an eligible co-op experience, it must meet the following minimum requirements:
- The role needs to be related to engineering and/or technology.
- The role needs to be a minimum of 12 consecutive weeks in duration, for every 4-month employment term.
- The role needs to be full-time hours. The minimum requirement is 35 hours per week.
- The role must be paid and the wages/salary need to meet provincial or territorial minimums. The current minimum wage requirement for Ontario employers is $15.50/hour (this will increase to $16.55/hour on October 1, 2023)
- Co-op Prep Course: Completion of the co-op prep course for your program is required in order to be fully enrolled in the co-op option and to accept any co-op work terms with an employer. For undergraduate students, the co-op prep course is ENGINEER 1EE0 or GENTECH 1ET0. For graduate students, the co-op prep course if ENGINEER 701.
- Academic Standing: To be eligible to register a co-op, a student must be designated as full-time status in the academic term that immediately precedes the work term and must be returning to full-time status in the academic term that immediately follows the work term. As defined by the McMaster Academic Calendar – Full Time Student “full time status” is defined as an undergraduate student who is registered in at least 9 units in an academic term (fall, winter or spring/summer). This enrollment status requirement applies to all undergraduate co-op programs.
- Taking Courses While on Co-op: While on a co-op work experience, students are eligible to enroll in one (3-unit or 4-unit) academic course. Requests to enroll in more than one course (up to a maximum of two courses) may be granted with approval of the student’s co-op employer and ECCS. Requests to take capstone courses while on co-op require additional levels of review. Approvals are rare, and for some programs, not allowable.
Now, let’s get your work term registered! It is the responsibility of the student to register their work term, access resources to prepare for the work term, and update their information in OSCARplus prior to starting the work experience. Here’s how to complete each of these steps:
Mandatory Work Term Reflections
Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada, requires that all academically recognized co-op work terms have a mandatory reflection completed to meet National accreditation requirements. Students have two reflections that take place during each 4-month co-op work term. All reflections are administered through a student’s OSCARplus account and connected to their work term record.
Mid-Point Check-In: The mid-point check-in is sent to students about halfway through each 4-month work term. This is an opportunity to reflect on how the co-op work term is going so far, and to connect with your Career Educator to discuss anything that has come up on work term that you could use support and guidance navigating.
Final Work Term Reflection: Students must complete one final work term reflection for each applicable 4-month term of co-op (e.g. if you do a 12-month co-op, that will span three 4-month terms and you will need to complete three reflections).
The completion of the reflection is required for a final grade of “COM” on the co-op course to be added to your Mosaic transcript. ECCS will send a reminder to your McMaster email about completing the reflection.
Update to work-term registration process
Effective Fall 2023, students who secure a co-op job will be required to register the work term by completing and submitting a co-op confirmation form prior to the start date specified in their offer of employment (or employment contract). We have concluded our practice of allowing co-op work terms to be registered retroactively (also known as “backdating co-op”).
Our policy regarding co-op work term registration remains the same; co-op work experiences should be registered prior to the start of your employment. However, our practice of allowing retroactive registration of co-op via a petition process has concluded.
A co-op experience is intentionally designed to integrate with a student’s academic program, to support skill development and learning that is tied to career decision-making, and to complement a student’s experience in coursework. If a student delays the registration of the work term or chooses not to register the work term at all, the following risks and consequences become relevant.
When a student takes a break from academic courses in order to pursue employment that is not registered as a co-op experience, their status as a full-time McMaster University student changes, and this can impact things like OSAP and access to on-campus resources/supports.
If a student encounters an issue during a work experience that is not registered as co-op that impacts their health, safety and/or general well-being, McMaster has limited ability to intervene and/or support the student in any official capacity.
A work experience that is not registered as co-op is not guided by the guidelines/expectations of Co-operative Education & Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada which can impact the experience of the student in terms of supervision/mentorship provided on the job, alignment of job duties/skill development with program of study, as well as compensation and minimum number of weeks/hours needed to qualify for co-op credit.
An employer has zero obligation to report any incidents to the university related to student employees if the student’s employment is not registered as a co-op work term.
In cases of international work experiences, there are steps in the university’s co-op approval process to ensure students have the appropriate insurance coverage, work visas and pre-departure information for the safety and security purposes. When an international work experience isn’t registered as co-op, some or all of these pieces can get missed by the student and put them at risk while travelling and working abroad.
Accepting a position with intent to register it after the start date can result in an experience being completed and then declined for co-op credit if CEWIL Canada guidelines are not met (something that is assessed by ECCS staff when approving co-op work terms).
A registered co-op incorporates critical touch-points with ECCS staff throughout the co-op experience to support the student in all aspects of the experience, including: overall assessment of the student’s experience, ensuring student health, safety and wellbeing throughout the experience, and advocacy on behalf of the student if issues arise on the job or with the employer.
Fees related to co-op enrollment and registered work terms support the annual operation of the program including pre-employment and professional development programming, one-on-one appointments with our team, events and workshops, networking opportunities, curated job board of employment opportunities, and resources that directly support students in securing and succeeding on a work term. We maintain some of the lowest co-op fees in the country in order to maximize participation from a diverse population of students.
Requests for backdating co-op work terms will be reviewed under the guidelines of extenuating circumstances and decisions to approve these will happen on a limited case-by-case basis.