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Types of Work-Integrated Learning

Work-integrated learning (WIL) is a model and process of curricular experiential education, which purposefully and intentionally integrates a student's academic learning within a workplace or practice setting. WIL experiences include an engaged partnership between an academic institution, a host organization and a student. 

There are five types of Work-Integrated Learning at Sheridan: Apprenticeship, Field Placement, Mandatory Professional Practice, Cooperative Education, and Internship.

Work-Integrated Learning Definitions


Apprentices enroll in academic programs after securing employment with a sponsoring employer in a trade discipline that is recognized or regulated by the Ontario College of Trades. After registration the apprentice is required to spend approximately 10-15% of their time in the classroom with the remainder gaining on-the-job experience under a journeyperson. This process typically takes two to five years before the apprentice receives their credential in the form of a Certificate of Qualification. 


  • Paid
  • Academic credit for in-class portion only
  • Mandatory for completion of an apprenticeship
  • Hours: Generally 2,000 hrs/level for three levels to completion 

Field Placement

Field placement provides students with hands-on practical experience in a workplace setting to prepare for professional or occupational fields of work. The completed hours are a requirement for program progression and for graduation, but the hours do not get used toward licence or certification. Supervision by a registered or licenced professional may or may not be compulsory. 


  • Typically unpaid
  • For academic credit  
  • Program requirement
  • Hours: Part-time, short-term or integrated during academic terms 

Mandatory Professional Practice

Mandatory professional practice is a work arrangement where students gain experience to meet professional licensure or certification requirements. Students typically work under the supervision of a registered or licensed professional (e.g., preceptor) and usually do not have their own workload/caseload. Criteria for mandatory professional practice is provided by the regulatory body (i.e., College of Nurses of Ontario) and is often based on competency models.


  • Unpaid 
  • For academic credit  
  • Program Requirement  
  • Hours: Part-time or full-time supervised activity between or during terms 

Cooperative Education

Cooperative Education (co-op) engages students in program-related productive work that is supervised in an employment setting and typically provides remuneration. Work-term semesters alternate with academic semesters, and the number of required work-terms varies by program curriculum. Advanced diplomas typically offer three work-terms, Ontario college graduate certificates include one work-term, and degree programs can vary in length from one to three work terms. Generally, students are required to apply to co-op and must maintain minimum academic standards. 


  • Mostly paid; occasionally unpaid/honorarium  
  • For credit; Successful/Unsuccessful (S/U) grade
  • Generally optional (students choose to participate & must complete all work terms for co-op certificate)
  • Time spent in work terms vs academic study must be: 25% for programs 2 years or less; 30% for programs longer than 2 years  
  • Hours: 360 minimum  

Internship (degree programs only)

Internship is typically a discipline-specific, supervised workterm semester. Internship occurs between academic terms, either in the middle of the program or near the end of the program, and prior to graduation. Students engage in program-related tasks in a professional industry or practice setting. The internship model at Sheridan satisfies PostSecondary Education Quality Assessment Board (PEQAB) requirements for degree programs offered by Ontario colleges. 


  • Compensation varies by industry and employer; may be paid, unpaid or honorarium 
  • For credit; Successful/Unsuccessful (S/U) grade
  • Mandatory for degrees 
  • Can vary in length, minimum of 4 months
  • Hours: 420 minimum