PhD Co-op

The UBC Arts Co-op Program has PhD Co-op options available for students in the following programs: English, History, Germanic Studies, Philosophy, and Gender, Race, and Social Justice (GRSJ).

Through Co-op, PhD students will build valuable skills and experience that will extend and enrich their career options in both academic and alternative workplaces.

If you are interested in applying for the PhD Co-op program, please review the details below.

PhD students entering their second and third year are most likely to have time in their academic schedule for co-op work terms. However, if you think you’ll have two years of study available in which to schedule three four-month work terms, you are welcome to apply. PhD students who have achieved candidacy or can reasonably expect to do so by Spring next year can apply for the Fall intake. SSHRC-holders and international students are both eligible to apply.

If you are close to finishing your dissertation, you won’t have time to complete three co-op work terms. Additionally, if you do not feel that you may need the additional work experience, the Co-op program may not be for you.

Review the following 2023/24 Program Guides for detailed information.

English PhD Co-op
Germanic Studies PhD Co-op
GRSJ PhD Co-op
History PhD Co-op
Philosophy PhD Co-op

September/October: Application deadline. Interviews begin.

All PhD applications who meet the application criteria will be asked to participate in a 45-minute interview with a faculty member from their department and Carolyn Veldstra, the Manager, Graduate Work-Integrated Learning Programs, Arts. During this interview, you will be asked about your skills, interests, and ambitions for participation in co-op.

November: Offers to join PhD Co-op.

December: Co-op students will receive one-on-one training and coaching to develop their resume, cover letter, interview, and networking skills from December through January. We will hold a combination of synchronous and asynchronous training sessions, and you will have the opportunity to meet with potential co-op employers.

January: One-on-one training and coaching continues throughout January. You may begin to apply for jobs starting in either the summer or fall. Normally, you’ll be submitting job applications two to five months before the work term is scheduled to begin. Job interviews for positions starting in the summer will occur between the January-April months prior.

May: Start your first co-op work term and/or begin applying for fall jobs. After your first co-op work term is complete, you can alternate between your research and dissertation semesters and your two additional co-op work terms.

Please note that if you are admitted into the Arts Co-op Program, you will be asked to sign and submit a Terms & Conditions document, which outlines the Program’s guidelines.

View the 2023 Terms & Conditions.

How PhD Co-op Works

Co-operative education is a curricular program that allows you to develop career skills for work outside the traditional academic career path. You will have access to various resources to help support your job search and build career skills.

Research on co-op programs has shown that students typically return to their studies after co-op terms highly motivated and increasingly successful in their studies (marks, completion rates, etc.).

PhD Co-op students are required to complete three four-month work terms. This will add one additional year to the length of your PhD unless you can write your dissertation while on your work terms. UBC Graduate Studies has agreed that the length of degree requirements will not be affected by your co-op work terms. While on co-op terms, you will be registered in co-op courses. These courses do not count towards the academic requirements for your degree, but provide additive co-op credits. Upon completion of the program you will have an official co-op accreditation.

The Arts Co-op Program coordinates six hours of pre-employment training for all new PhD Co-op students, some of which is scheduled synchronously, with accommodations for your availability. In 2023/24, training will be facilitated both online and in person, and will include contributions from employers, alumni and current students, and co-op staff. Co-op students will receive additional one-on-one training and coaching on their job applications and interview skills from December through April.

Each PhD Co-op Program is jointly run by the Arts Co-op Office and the respective academic department. In each department, the PhD Co-op option is co-run by:

  • English: Sandra Tomc
  • History: Robert Brain
  • Philosophy: Carrie Jenkins
  • Germanic Studies: Kyle Frackman
  • Gender, Race, and Social Justice: Christopher Patterson

PhD Co-op students will have to cover three types of fees:

Co-op Administrative and Workshop Fee: Students in English, History, Philosophy, and GRSJ will need to pay the one-time co-op administration and workshop fee of $277.25* (the standard amount set by UBC Senate for all UBC Co-op programs). This is due when they are accepted into the program. This fee provides unlimited access to customized career coaching with co-op staff, online career development resources, and the pre-employment conference to prepare you for applying to co-op positions.

For students in Germanic Studies, the department is able to cover this fee for you in 2023. Please note that this fee does not guarantee placement in a co-op job.

Co-op Course Fees: You will need to pay $854.75* per course as a co-op course fee. You will need to pay the fee three times, one for each work term.

Depending on your program, your home department may assist you with this co-op course fee. As of the 2023/24 year:

  • The Departments of English, History, Philosophy, and Germanic Studies have committed to support PhD students paying their co-op course fee for each of the students’ first three work terms.
  • GRSJ has funding to cover the co-op course fees for one student’s first three work terms. The program is still determining the criteria they will use to determine the recipient of this fee subsidy. More details will be made available to GRSJ students in advance of the co-op application deadline.

* As of the 2024/2025 academic year. Visit the UBC Calendar for the latest fee information.

Tuition: While on your co-op work term, you must pay your regular tuition and student fees. You are still considered to be a full-time student and so are eligible for student benefits such as the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, the U-Pass, UBC resources and services such as library material and student housing. You can also use any normal tuition awards for which you are eligible during your co-op work terms. Please note that SSHRC funding can be paused and deferred for up to two work-terms, and that the UBC Four-Year Fellowship must be paused while students are on a work term.

Previous PhD co-op students have been paid $20-30 per hour. Wages vary depending on the sector; for example, some nonprofits pay less than government positions. Wages are based on current labour market realities and are up to the employer to determine.

On your work terms, you can expect to earn $3,000-4,200/month directly by your employer. Teaching Assistant (TA) entitlements will be held for you while you are away on co-op terms.

International students must meet the same eligibility requirements as other PhD Co-op candidates to enter the program. However, once accepted, international students must apply for a special co-op work visa from Citizenship and Immigration Canada. This will entitle you to work in Canada for your three co-op terms. There is no cost to apply for this visa.

Employers & Roles

Co-op employers gear their offers specifically to short-term projects. In the past we’ve had PhD students complete their work terms in the following fields:

  • Communications/ public relations
  • Academic administration
  • Governmental and NGO research positions
  • Training management
  • Project management

A reasonable percentage of the postings will be in other cities, so you will have more employment options if you are able to relocate. As a co-op student, you get the experience of looking for and applying to positions which might be interesting to you from the Co-op Jobs Database. Co-op organizes the interviews for you and employers will decide who they want to hire.

Apply to Co-op

Applications are closed for the 2023/2024 intake. We will announce details for the 2024/25 intake by early September 2024. Please note that there is only 1 intake per academic year.

Background on the PhD Co-op Program

In 2013-14, the Arts Co-op Program and the Department of English launched UBC’s first PhD Co-op Program. This exciting initiative allowed PhD students to widen their range of professional skills through paid work experience in fields such as academic administration, communications, project management, and archival, government, and non-governmental organization (NGO) research.

In 2016-17, the Arts Co-op Program and the Department of History began a pilot for a History PhD Co-op Program; in 2020-21, we piloted PhD Co-op in Germanic Studies (Department of Central, Eastern, and Northern European Studies), and, in 2021-22, we piloted PhD Co-op options for Philosophy and Gender, Race, and Social Justice.

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