Applying for Accreditation & Benefits

Accreditation standards establish Co-operative Education as a valid and valuable educational strategy and provide guidance in ensuring quality Co-operative Education programming across Canada. The accreditation criteria upon which the Council bases its decisions have been developed based on the CEWIL Canada's Definition of Co-operative Education as written in the CEWIL Canada Bylaws.

Co-operative Education Definition

"Co-operative Education Program" means a program which alternates periods of academic study with periods of work experience in appropriate fields of business, industry, government, social services and the professions in accordance with the following criteria:

  1. Each work term is developed in partnership with the employer and approved by the co-operative education program as a suitable learning environment;
  2. The student is engaged in productive work for which the student receives remuneration;
  3. The co-op curriculum supports student learning goals, personal evaluation and reflection;
  4. The student's performance in the workplace is supervised and evaluated by the student's employer;
  5. The student's progress during their work term is monitored by the co-operative education program;
  6. Both work and academic terms are full-time and follow a formalized sequence. The total amount of co-op work experience is normally at least 30% of the time spent in academic study. For programs of two years or less the total amount may be a minimum of 25%. A work term is defined as a minimum of 12 weeks and/or 420 hours full-time paid experience;
  7. Co-op Programs begin and end on an academic term;
  8. The student completing multiple work terms is normally exposed to the work environment during more than one season of the year.


The following was approved at the CEWIL Canada, formerly known as CAFCE, Annual Meeting October 29, 2015:

Whereby the total amount of coop work experience is normally at least 30% of the time spent in academic study, but for programs of two years or less, the total amount may be a minimum of 25%. For programs to meet the 25% requirement, a work term is defined as a minimum 12 weeks and/or 420 hours full-time, paid experience.

Benefits of Accreditation

What are the benefits of having my institution's co-operative education programs accredited by CEWIL?

Institutions should consider accreditation for a number of reasons:

  • Advertising accredited status to students, faculty and employers provides you with the opportunity to enhance your program’s profile and credibility, particularly within professional communities where the concept of accreditation is a recognized standard
  • Accreditation criteria may be used as the vehicle to support policies and procedures established for your operation and as a reference point when dealing with student and employer issues
  • Undergoing a national review process every six years, completed by a three-member team (from different locations across Canada where possible), attests to the quality of your co-operative education programs
  • Accreditation criteria and status can be beneficial in discussions with senior administration to support program structure and provide a benchmark for the development of new programs
  • Completed accreditation application documentation can help to orient new staff in their training
  • Accreditation guidelines may provide evidence of standards aligning with requirements for special funding or tax credit opportunities established by different levels of government
  • Membership within the Accreditation Council provides a forum to engage with colleagues in discussions about best practices, emerging trends, standards and rationales

Testimonials about CEWIL (formerly CAFCE) accreditation:

Mount Saint Vincent University
Sonya Horsburgh
Manager, Co-operative Education

"The Mount's co-op program has been accredited for twenty years and is committed to the process for many reasons. It provides an important opportunity to reflect on our practices and to evaluate our program's performance. Being accredited by an external body gives us creditability both internally with academic departments, senior leadership and students, and externally with employers and community stakeholders including government funding agencies. Accreditation demonstrates that we have met the quality standards set forth by CAFCE which instills confidence in our ability to deliver a strong, reputable program. In today's educational environment it's important to demonstrate a commitment to best practices and CAFCE's accreditation is a great way to do this."

University of Alberta
Stephen Concini
Former Assistant Director Engineering Co-op Department, Faculty of Engineering

"The Engineering Co-op Program at the University of Alberta has been accredited by CAFCE for twenty-four years. The process has efficiently allowed standardization across the many engineering disciplines offered within the Faculty of Engineering. The accreditation criteria provide a strong fundamental framework for establishing program policies. Following these criteria, we have achieved, and continue to provide, a very high-quality program for students, employers and the Faculty."'

University of Guelph
Karen Reimer
Director, Co-operative Education & Career Services

"As the Director of Co-operative Education & Career Services at the University of Guelph, I have found that being a CAFCE Accredited co-op program (since 2005) has assisted me in maintaining the integrity of co-operative education at the University of Guelph. Vice-Presidents, Deans, and Faculty respect the CAFCE Accreditation criteria and are extremely collaborative when we are reviewing existing programs or launching a new program."

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