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.

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.