Masters Co-op Program Questions & Answers

Questions and Answers about the Co-op Education Program for Masters of Applied Computer Science Students

What is Co-operative Education?

Co-operative Education utilizes learning partnerships between the university and 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. Students 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.
  • Obtain 8 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 networking skills to assist in finding employment upon graduation.

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 530 (capstone course). 

How do I apply to the program?

Once MACS students have confirmed that they will be attending StFX, the Co-op office will email students in June information about the program and a deadline to apply. 

What are Professional Development Seminars? (COOP 500 and COOP 501

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 and help students locate and secure the 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 (COOP 510 and COOP 520)

Masters of Applied Computer Science (MACS) co-op students start their work term in the summer following first year. The student continues to work in the fall semester and returns to StFX in the winter semester to finish their program and the capstone course COOP 530. 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. 

COOP 530 (capstone course)

Students return to the academic setting after the employment experience to share their work experience with co-op peers.  Co-op 530 consists of a formal group debrief and presentation. COOP 530 is completed in the winter semester after the student completes their final work term. 
 

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-times in the program. This program is competitive, rigorous and requires extra time and effort in addition to your degree requirements. Co-op staff 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. However, the skills you learn in Co-op will assist with future job searching and career goal setting. 
  • The Co-op staff does not guarantee work term placements. Job searching is competitive and the professional development seminars teach students how to be successful in the job search. 
  • 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.

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 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.

Do I have to work in Antigonish?

No. The Co-op Program receives positions from across Canada. There are very few if any, IT-related roles in Antigonish. Students must expect to relocate in order to complete a work term. 

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, you start your professional development seminars in the fall and your student account will be billed a total of $1200 ($600 per seminar). You don't pay for your work term until you start your work term ($500).   By the time you complete the program, you will have paid the total cost of the program ($2200).  In comparison to other university co-op program fees, our fees are not the highest nor the lowest (in the middle). 

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. 

What is a Social Insurance Number (SIN)?

The Social Insurance Number (SIN) is a 9 digit number that you need to work in Canada or to have access to government programs and benefits.  A SIN is issued to one person only and it cannot legally be used by anyone else.  Students can apply for their SIN once they begin their studies at STFX.  Additional information about SIN, visit the following Government of Canada website . 

Additional questions about the Co-op Education program, please email: co-op@stfx.ca.