Answers to your top questions about hands-on learning at DC

At Durham College (DC), we know the best way for you to learn what it takes to succeed in your chosen field is to experience it first-hand. By doing this, you’ll enhance the skills you learn in the classroom, network and make industry contacts, and gain valuable real-world work experience.

There are different forms of experiential learning, including work-integrated learning (WIL) which combines your academic studies with quality experiences within a workplace or practice setting. And it’s not just a valuable addition to your educational experience – it’s an essential component of preparing you for success in today’s rapidly evolving workforce as it provides hands-on experience in your chosen field – before graduation!

To help you understand work-integrated learning better, we’ve answered the top five questions we hear most!

  1. What are the benefits of WIL?

By providing opportunities for real-world application, skill development, career exploration, networking, and increased employability, work-integrated learning plays a vital role in shaping you as a well-rounded, career-ready graduate! DC offers a wide range of hands-on learning to help you lead the way in your future career.

  1. What are the different types of WIL offered at DC?

DC believes in the power of WIL to transform your educational experience and prepare you for success in your future career. That’s why we offer a variety of hands-on learning opportunities tailored to meet your specific needs and interests, including co-operative education programs that integrate academic studies with paid work terms, field placements, practicums that provide supervised real-world experiences, applied research and capstone projects, as well as volunteering.

  1. Do I have to pay for WIL?

Most forms of WIL at DC are built into the curriculum, so additional payment is not required. However, students transferred into their program’s co-op option will be charged an administrative fee of $475 for each work term. This is not a placement fee, meaning you are not guaranteed to be hired for a co-op position, rather it provides access to all the services administered by the Experiential Learning team, which are in place to assist you in your co-op job search.

  1. How long are WIL opportunities?

Different forms of WIL vary in length and scheduling based on industry needs. You are typically expected to work full-time hours aligned with industry standards and there may be shift work or weekend work required.

  1. Will I receive a paycheck?

Field placements are typically unpaid; however, co-op positions usually pay at least the provincial minimum wage. Beyond this, pay rates for co-op vary depending on your program of study, your employer, and the scope of your work term role.

Have more questions? Explore your future or current program to learn about its work-integrated learning opportunities.

Bringing the workplace to the classroom: How DC students gain real-world experience before graduation

At Durham College (DC), gaining hands-on learning in your chosen field isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’ – it’s a must. Offering creative and engaging work experience opportunities ensures you have the hands-on expertise required to lead the way in your career, and the options are impressive.

Check out some of the opportunities to work with and serve real clients and members of the public while offering benefits to our community as well. A true win-win.

  • Bistro ’67

    Students from the Faculty of Hospitality and Horticultural Science have the opportunity to work collaboratively at Bistro ‘67, DC’s full-service, green-certified teaching and learning restaurant, which is also considered one of Canada’s most scenic restaurants. Here, culinary management students prepare flavourful dishes inspired by fresh ingredients from DC’s own gardens and other local suppliers across Durham Region. Members of the community who are looking for a unique field-to-fork dining experience can book a reservation at Bistro ‘67 online

    Culinary Management and Event Planning students also have the opportunity put their skills to use for special events on and off campus, as well as raising funds for a Faculty Classroom Led Abroad trip to Italy each January.

  • Collaboragency

    Students from DC's Faculty of Media, Art & Design have the chance to work together to serve real clients inside the college’s full-service communications agency, Collaboragency. From social media strategy development, creative advertising and brand strategy to media planning and promotion, future advertising and marketing professionals have a unique opportunity to put their skills to use in the real world while supporting local business owners through communications and marketing help at a reasonable cost.

    Interested in hiring the Collaboragency team? Schedule a free consultation online.

  • Dental Clinic

    DC’s Dental Hygiene and Dental Assisting students gain first-hand experience working with clients in the college’s working dental clinic at Oshawa campus. The clinic is open to the public and accepts patients of all ages. Students provide dental hygiene care to clients under the supervision of registered dental hygiene faculty members and a licensed dentist.

    For a low one-time fee, clients can receive services including X-rays, dental cleanings, periodontal scaling, oral cancer screenings, topical fluoride treatments, an examination by a dentist, plus so much more.

    To learn more and to book an appointment, visit the Dental Clinic online.

  • Justice Hub

    The Justice Hub (the Hub) at the Durham Community Legal Clinic provides a field placement opportunity for DC’s Paralegal diploma and Paralegal Graduate Certificate students to offer legal services to members of the community who have limited resources, under the supervision of a licensed lawyer or paralegal. Students in DC's Paralegal Bachelor’s Degree program will have access to the Hub in 2026.

    The Hub helps the community reduce poverty and homelessness rates, improve clients physical and mental health, as well as increase collaboration between social service and justice agencies.

    Community members can apply for legal services through the Justice Hub by completing the online intake form

  • DC Spa

    Students in the Massage Therapy, Cosmetic Techniques and Management and Esthetician – Spa Management programs gain real-world experience in a professional working spa open to the public at Oshawa campus. Accompanied and supervised by trained professionals, students perform a number of treatments and services while clients benefit from a lower cost as DC Spa prices are set to correspond with the developing skill levels of student practitioners.

    Interested in booking a treatment? Visit the DC Spa online to explore a comprehensive list of services.

    At DC, we believe the best way to succeed in your chosen field is to immerse yourself in it. This will help you develop the skills you’ve learned in the classroom, network with others in your industry and gain real-world work experience to give you a competitive advantage in the workforce.

Discover the different types of experiential learning at DC online.

Gaining on-the-job skills before graduation sets DC students up for success

Future fitness professional and Durham College Fitness and Health Promotion student, Josh Malbon, is getting on-the-job experience before he even graduates from college.

He is one of a number of students participating in a collaborative project* with students in the Firefighter – Pre-Service Education and Training program who are measuring the vital physiological responses of future firefighters as they perform real-life fire simulations to help learn how to improve their health, safety and performance.

“Working with students in the firefighter program is strengthening my ability to connect and communicate with clients in a professional setting,” said Malbon. “And the chance to work with a special population and learn specific procedures and protocols related to occupational testing is a huge benefit.”

Providing opportunities like this for students to participate in hands-on learning – also known as experiential learning or work-integrated learning – is a focus and priority for Durham College. Whether it is field placement, applied research, apprenticeship or co-op, they all have the shared objective to strengthen the skills students learn in the classroom by applying them to real-life settings.

And the result is undeniable that it gives students the skills employers are looking for and helps set them apart from the competition at graduation.

For Russell Waring, a third-year Computer Programming and Analysis student at DC, the opportunity was a co-op experience with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation that he says has helped boost his employability in the competitive field of information technology in advance of his graduation this spring.

“The Experiential Learning office supported me throughout the entire co-op experience,” said Waring. “Without the opportunities provided by DC’s work-integrated learning, I would not be graduating with the experience and confidence that I have today.”

Hands-on learning opportunities can also be student-led. In the Faculty of Media, Art & Design (MAD), a collaborative project lets students test out entrepreneurship and gain first-hand business experience.

Project Founders Drive*, a series of podcasts launched by DC’s Enactus Team, is helping student entrepreneurs realize their dreams and materialize business opportunities. With 18 jobs created for students across six MAD programs, the project has helped young professionals start seven businesses and exposed 780 people to entrepreneurship, not to mention the experience gained by the team.

No matter the form of learning, it’s all about gaining valuable experience while completing your studies to be job-ready on graduation day. And DC is here to help you get there.

To learn more about hands-on learning at DC, visit

*These projects are funded in part by the Government of Canada’s Innovation Work-Integrated Learning program and Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada’s Innovation Hub.