What is Work-Integrated Learning?

Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) allows you to gain workplace experience and academic credits while you are enrolled in your program. This allows you to apply your classroom learning, develop valuable workplace skills and connect with professionals to grow your network as you complete your studies.

  • Gain valuable work experience in your relevant field of study
  • Self-assess your strengths and clarify your career goals
  • Increase your confidence

What is the difference between co-op and an internship?

Co-op (or co-operative education) consists of alternating academic terms and paid, full-time work terms. Each co-op work term lasts a minimum of 420 hours over a four-month period and takes place in a workplace related to the student’s field of study. The number of required work terms varies by program. For example, a four-year undergraduate degree can include three co-op terms, allowing students to graduate with 12 months’ work experience.

Co-op is available to NIC students enroled in the Bachelor of Business Administration, Business Administration diploma and Tourism & Hospitality programs.

Internships are a more flexible form of Work-Integrated Learning. They can be full or part-time and paid or unpaid. Internships can also take place while students are taking other classes or after all other coursework has been completed. Internships also vary in length. For example, NIC Business internships last a minimum of 180 hours over the course of one semester or four months, but there is no limit on how many hours students can work on an internship. Internships are available to students in the following programs:

Other forms of WIL

Applied Research Projects

Students participating in applied research projects solve workplace problems in partnership with community organizations or industry. Solutions to these problems are typically generated through consulting, design, community-based research or some combination of all three. Students typically spend two to eight months working on an applied research project. NIC’s Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation (CARTI) connects NIC faculty and students with local organizations and businesses to develop innovative solutions to current challenges through research. Learn more about CARTI.


An apprenticeship is an agreement between a student (an apprentice) who wants to learn a skill and an employer willing to sponsor the apprentice and provide paid related practical experience under the direction of a certified journeyperson. An apprenticeship combines about 80% at-the-workplace experience with 20% technical classroom training and – depending on the trade – takes about two to five years to complete. Learn more about NIC Trades apprenticeship programs.


Mandatory practicum/clinical placements are conducted under the supervision of an experienced registered or licensed professional in any discipline that requires practice-based work experience for professional license or certification. Practicums are generally unpaid and, as the work is done in a supervised setting, students typically do not have their own workload/caseload.

Work Experience 

Work Experience intersperses one or two work terms (typically full-time) into an academic program, providing experience in a workplace setting related to the student’s field of study and/or career goals. Similar in many ways to co-op, the primary difference is the amount of time spent on work terms during an academic program.

Service Learning 

Community Service Learning integrates meaningful community service with classroom instruction to enrich the learning experience for students. In practice, students work with a community-based organization to achieve an objective.

Field Placement 

Field placements provide students with an intensive, part-time or short-term practical learning experience in a setting relevant to their subject of study. Field placements may not require supervision by a registered or licensed professional and the completed work experience hours are not required for professional certification.


Entrepreneurship allows a student to leverage resources, space, mentorship and/or funding to engage in the early-stage development of business start-ups and/or to advance external ideas that address real-world needs for academic credit.

NIC is an accredited co-op institution with Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL), the lead organization for work-integrated learning in Canada. NIC is also a member of the Association for Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning BC/Yukon (ACE-WIL), a non-for-profit association of post-secondary, publicly funded institutions within BC/Yukon that offer work-integrated learning programs.