What Is Experiential Learning?

Experiential Learning gives students the chance to turn the theories and ideas they are learning in the classroom into practice. This is education in action.

The term Experiential Learning covers everything from internships and co-ops to community-based projects and organization-partnered research. When you hire or work with a University of Toronto student, you are adding fresh perspectives and diverse skillsets to your organization while building closer ties to Canada’s top-rated university.

Whether you are a community, industry, or research partner, there are myriad ways University of Toronto students can get involved with, learn from, and contribute to your organization. These opportunities offer various levels of commitment from participating students and your organization.

Selecting the Ideal Experiential Learning Opportunity for You

Use this tool to incorporate your personal goals and objectives as you consider which type of experiential learning is right for you.

The University of Toronto is committed to supporting research and innovation. Engaging students in this work offers your organization access to important perspectives and skills as well as a potential pipeline for future hires.

What is it?

There are multiple ways to support entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Toronto. There are courses, entrepreneurship programs (accelerators/incubators), and internships that focus on introducing students to working in social enterprises and tech startups, opportunities to mentor students who are developing their own business ideas, and courses that bring your organization’s business challenges to students who will work to ideate and develop potential solutions.

Important Considerations:

  • You may want to consider issues of intellectual property and confidentiality if you are inviting students to review internal data or other confidential information for your organization.

Learn More:

Entrepreneurship initiatives take place in various departments and divisions across the university. If your organization has a project in mind, you may wish to review the University of Toronto’s Entrepreneurship page or reach out to one of the campus entrepreneurship programs (accelerators/incubators).

What is it?

These opportunities are typically connected to a course or longer-term research project for students. Your organization would work with a faculty member or course instructor who would supervise participating students. Students can be engaged to support specific research-based projects including consulting projects, design projects, and community-based research.

Important Considerations:

  • Research opportunities that are connected to a course are generally unpaid as students receive course credit for participating.
  • You may want to consider issues of intellectual property and confidentiality if you are inviting students to review proprietary data or other confidential information for your organization.

Learn More:

Organization-partnered research opportunities take place in various academic units and divisions across the university. While there is no definitive list of opportunities for organization-partnered research, these opportunities are available in a range of fields.

If your organization has a research project in mind, you may wish to connect with the University of Toronto’s Research & Innovation office or with the Faculty or academic unit most closely aligned with your field of work.

Engaging students to support a specific project within your organization allows you to consider your work and/or research from a new perspective and benefit from the expertise of students in specific disciplines. Bringing students into your organization or connecting with them on-campus allows you to develop a potential pipeline of future hires, introduce students to the important work of your organization, and enhance the learning of future leaders.

What is it?

Community-based projects, placements, and partnerships allow your nonprofit, community, or public organization to engage with students in order to strengthen your capacity to serve your community, develop new initiatives, and enhance existing programs.

Important Considerations:

  • These opportunities are generally unpaid as students’ participation is recognized through course credit. If the opportunity involves a work-term and is not directly connected to a course (i.e. does not count towards course credit), students must be paid by your organization.
  • For unpaid placements, a formal agreement between your organization and the University of Toronto may need to be in place if your opportunity will involve bringing students into your organization. The university representative you are working with will be able to provide you with this agreement, if applicable. This agreement will clearly outline items such as responsibilities, provisions, and policies to be followed for both the university and your organization.
  • For paid work-terms, an agreement or contract between your organization and the participating student(s) will need to be established.

Learn More:

Community-based projects, placements, or partnerships are coordinated by various offices at the University of Toronto. You may wish to reach out to a divisional experiential learning office or to one of the three campus-based offices that support community-engaged learning:

What is it?

An organization-partnered project allows your organization to identify a stand-alone project to which students can contribute. These opportunities are typically connected to a University course, and your organization would partner with a course instructor to determine the appropriate scope and how best to incorporate students into the project. The course instructor typically supports the coordination of the project and supervises participating students. Organization-partnered projects can be design-focused, with students working on a design challenge, performance-based, with students supporting or participating in an artistic project, consultancy-based, where students work with external clients and bring their disciplinary skills and expertise to a real-world project or it can address another specific need of your organization.

Important Considerations:

  • These opportunities are generally unpaid as students receive a course credit for participating.
  • You may want to consider issues of intellectual property and confidentiality if you are inviting students to review proprietary data or other confidential information for your organization.

Learn More:

Organization-partnered projects take place in various academic units and divisions across the University. If you are interested in working with students on a specific project, reach out to one of our experiential learning offices or the academic unit most connected to your area of work.

What is it?

There are many ways to support the student experience and partner with the University of Toronto without a long-term commitment on the part of you or your organization. Hackathons, bootcamps, and job shadowing programs are examples of opportunities that allow you to meet students, introduce them to your organization’s work, identify talented students for future recruitment, and gain from their expertise.

Important Considerations:

  • These types of experiential learning opportunities for students generally include established parameters and expectations for participating organizations. These expectations will be outlined by the course instructor or staff administrator coordinating the initiative.

Learn More:

If you are interested in supporting a simulated work experience, reach out to one of our experiential learning offices or the academic unit that is of most interest to you. While there is no definitive list of these types of opportunities, below are some specific opportunities that you might want to consider:

Hiring students to work with your organization provides you with fresh perspectives, engaged students, and a potential pipeline for future hires. These students will contribute to the mission of your organization while keeping you connected to current research and knowledge.

What is it?

An internship is an opportunity to bring students into your organization for a work term. For an internship to be considered experiential learning, it must be connected to a course or program of study*. The length and structure of the work term will be developed in partnership with the University of Toronto and will depend on your needs and the requirements of the program of study or course to which the internship is connected. Academic internships might be full-time or part-time and the duration can vary from a few weeks to a number of months. Academic internships exist in various programs of study across the institution.

Important Considerations:

  • Academic internships are unpaid if they count toward course credit; if they do not count toward course credit, students must be paid by your organization.
  • For unpaid internships, a formal agreement between your organization and the University of Toronto may need to be in place in advance of welcoming students into your workplace. The university representative you are working with will be able to provide you with this agreement, if applicable. This agreement will clearly outline items such as responsibilities, provisions and policies to be followed for both the university and your organization.
  • For paid internships, an agreement or contract between your organization and the participating student(s) will need to be established.

Learn more:

Academic internships take place in various academic units and divisions across the University. While there is no definitive list of academic internships, these opportunities are available in a range of fields.

If you are interested in hiring students for an academic internship, reach out to one of our experiential learning offices or the academic unit most related to your field of work.

Below is a list of some of the programs that offer academic internships to their students.

* Your organization may choose to hire students for a non-academic internship. Non-academic internships are not connected to a course or program of study, are paid by the employer, and would not have a contact within the University to support internship administration. These types of internships can be posted as a job with one of our on-campus career centres.

What is it?

Bring students into your organization for a 4-, 8-, 12- or 16- month full-time work term through one of the University of Toronto’s co-op programs. Co-op students will contribute to the work of your organization by supporting specific projects and tasks that align with the objectives of their program of study. Co-op students can support the day-to-day work of your organization, help your organization address short-term staffing transitions, and evaluate pilot projects or positions. Co-op placements can also act as a recruitment tool for potential long-term employees; many employers choose to hire former co-op students after they graduate! Students will gain a better understanding of your organization and industry while enhancing their skills and competencies.

Important Considerations:

  • Co-op programs at the University of Toronto are connected to specific programs of study (see ‘Learn more’ below for links to Co-op programs).
  • Co-op students are paid by your organization for their work and the opportunities are full-time over the duration of the work term.
  • If you hire a co-op student through one of the programs listed below, your organization will be eligible for the Ontario Co-operative Education Tax Credit.
  • Co-op students receive academic credit for their work; ideally, these opportunities will allow students to engage with and learn from their experience.
  • A formal agreement between your organization and the respective co-op office will likely need to be in place in advance of welcoming students into your workplace. This agreement will clearly outline items such as responsibilities, provisions, and policies to be followed by both the university and your organization.

Learn more:

Below is a list of the on-campus co-op offices where you can learn more about the specific timelines, expectations and opportunities that exist at the University of Toronto:

What is it?

A professional practicum, also known as a clinical placement, refers to a work experience that students complete under the supervision of an experienced registered or licensed professional in a discipline that requires practice-based work experience for professional licensure or certification.

Important Considerations:

  • These opportunities are generally unpaid and students do not typically have their own workload or caseload.
  • A formal agreement between your organization and the University of Toronto may need to be in place in advance of welcoming students into your workplace. This agreement will clearly outline items such as responsibilities, provisions and policies to be followed for both the university and your organization.

Learn more:

Professional practica take place in various academic units and divisions across the University. While there is no definitive list of professional practica, these opportunities are typically found in clinical and education fields.

If you are interested in bringing students in for a professional practicum, reach out to one of our experiential learning offices or the academic unit most connected to your field of work.

Below is a list of some programs that offer professional practicums to their students:

Drive Research and Innovation

The University of Toronto is committed to supporting research and innovation. Engaging students in this work offers your organization access to important perspectives and skills as well as a potential pipeline for future hires.

What is it?

There are multiple ways to support entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Toronto. There are courses, entrepreneurship programs (accelerators/incubators), and internships that focus on introducing students to working in social enterprises and tech startups, opportunities to mentor students who are developing their own business ideas, and courses that bring your organization’s business challenges to students who will work to ideate and develop potential solutions.

Important Considerations:

  • You may want to consider issues of intellectual property and confidentiality if you are inviting students to review internal data or other confidential information for your organization.

Learn More:

Entrepreneurship initiatives take place in various departments and divisions across the university. If your organization has a project in mind, you may wish to review the University of Toronto’s Entrepreneurship page or reach out to one of the campus entrepreneurship programs (accelerators/incubators).

What is it?

These opportunities are typically connected to a course or longer-term research project for students. Your organization would work with a faculty member or course instructor who would supervise participating students. Students can be engaged to support specific research-based projects including consulting projects, design projects, and community-based research.

Important Considerations:

  • Research opportunities that are connected to a course are generally unpaid as students receive course credit for participating.
  • You may want to consider issues of intellectual property and confidentiality if you are inviting students to review proprietary data or other confidential information for your organization.

Learn More:

Organization-partnered research opportunities take place in various academic units and divisions across the university. While there is no definitive list of opportunities for organization-partnered research, these opportunities are available in a range of fields.

If your organization has a research project in mind, you may wish to connect with the University of Toronto’s Research & Innovation office or with the Faculty or academic unit most closely aligned with your field of work.

Engage Students for Projects or Partnerships

Engaging students to support a specific project within your organization allows you to consider your work and/or research from a new perspective and benefit from the expertise of students in specific disciplines. Bringing students into your organization or connecting with them on-campus allows you to develop a potential pipeline of future hires, introduce students to the important work of your organization, and enhance the learning of future leaders.

What is it?

Community-based projects, placements, and partnerships allow your nonprofit, community, or public organization to engage with students in order to strengthen your capacity to serve your community, develop new initiatives, and enhance existing programs.

Important Considerations:

  • These opportunities are generally unpaid as students’ participation is recognized through course credit. If the opportunity involves a work-term and is not directly connected to a course (i.e. does not count towards course credit), students must be paid by your organization.
  • For unpaid placements, a formal agreement between your organization and the University of Toronto may need to be in place if your opportunity will involve bringing students into your organization. The university representative you are working with will be able to provide you with this agreement, if applicable. This agreement will clearly outline items such as responsibilities, provisions, and policies to be followed for both the university and your organization.
  • For paid work-terms, an agreement or contract between your organization and the participating student(s) will need to be established.

Learn More:

Community-based projects, placements, or partnerships are coordinated by various offices at the University of Toronto. You may wish to reach out to a divisional experiential learning office or to one of the three campus-based offices that support community-engaged learning:

What is it?

An organization-partnered project allows your organization to identify a stand-alone project to which students can contribute. These opportunities are typically connected to a University course, and your organization would partner with a course instructor to determine the appropriate scope and how best to incorporate students into the project. The course instructor typically supports the coordination of the project and supervises participating students. Organization-partnered projects can be design-focused, with students working on a design challenge, performance-based, with students supporting or participating in an artistic project, consultancy-based, where students work with external clients and bring their disciplinary skills and expertise to a real-world project or it can address another specific need of your organization.

Important Considerations:

  • These opportunities are generally unpaid as students receive a course credit for participating.
  • You may want to consider issues of intellectual property and confidentiality if you are inviting students to review proprietary data or other confidential information for your organization.

Learn More:

Organization-partnered projects take place in various academic units and divisions across the University. If you are interested in working with students on a specific project, reach out to one of our experiential learning offices or the academic unit most connected to your area of work.

What is it?

There are many ways to support the student experience and partner with the University of Toronto without a long-term commitment on the part of you or your organization. Hackathons, bootcamps, and job shadowing programs are examples of opportunities that allow you to meet students, introduce them to your organization’s work, identify talented students for future recruitment, and gain from their expertise.

Important Considerations:

  • These types of experiential learning opportunities for students generally include established parameters and expectations for participating organizations. These expectations will be outlined by the course instructor or staff administrator coordinating the initiative.

Learn More:

If you are interested in supporting a simulated work experience, reach out to one of our experiential learning offices or the academic unit that is of most interest to you. While there is no definitive list of these types of opportunities, below are some specific opportunities that you might want to consider:

Hire Students for a Work-Term

Hiring students to work with your organization provides you with fresh perspectives, engaged students, and a potential pipeline for future hires. These students will contribute to the mission of your organization while keeping you connected to current research and knowledge.

What is it?

An internship is an opportunity to bring students into your organization for a work term. For an internship to be considered experiential learning, it must be connected to a course or program of study*. The length and structure of the work term will be developed in partnership with the University of Toronto and will depend on your needs and the requirements of the program of study or course to which the internship is connected. Academic internships might be full-time or part-time and the duration can vary from a few weeks to a number of months. Academic internships exist in various programs of study across the institution.

Important Considerations:

  • Academic internships are unpaid if they count toward course credit; if they do not count toward course credit, students must be paid by your organization.
  • For unpaid internships, a formal agreement between your organization and the University of Toronto may need to be in place in advance of welcoming students into your workplace. The university representative you are working with will be able to provide you with this agreement, if applicable. This agreement will clearly outline items such as responsibilities, provisions and policies to be followed for both the university and your organization.
  • For paid internships, an agreement or contract between your organization and the participating student(s) will need to be established.

Learn more:

Academic internships take place in various academic units and divisions across the University. While there is no definitive list of academic internships, these opportunities are available in a range of fields.

If you are interested in hiring students for an academic internship, reach out to one of our experiential learning offices or the academic unit most related to your field of work.

Below is a list of some of the programs that offer academic internships to their students.

* Your organization may choose to hire students for a non-academic internship. Non-academic internships are not connected to a course or program of study, are paid by the employer, and would not have a contact within the University to support internship administration. These types of internships can be posted as a job with one of our on-campus career centres.

What is it?

Bring students into your organization for a 4-, 8-, 12- or 16- month full-time work term through one of the University of Toronto’s co-op programs. Co-op students will contribute to the work of your organization by supporting specific projects and tasks that align with the objectives of their program of study. Co-op students can support the day-to-day work of your organization, help your organization address short-term staffing transitions, and evaluate pilot projects or positions. Co-op placements can also act as a recruitment tool for potential long-term employees; many employers choose to hire former co-op students after they graduate! Students will gain a better understanding of your organization and industry while enhancing their skills and competencies.

Important Considerations:

  • Co-op programs at the University of Toronto are connected to specific programs of study (see ‘Learn more’ below for links to Co-op programs).
  • Co-op students are paid by your organization for their work and the opportunities are full-time over the duration of the work term.
  • If you hire a co-op student through one of the programs listed below, your organization will be eligible for the Ontario Co-operative Education Tax Credit.
  • Co-op students receive academic credit for their work; ideally, these opportunities will allow students to engage with and learn from their experience.
  • A formal agreement between your organization and the respective co-op office will likely need to be in place in advance of welcoming students into your workplace. This agreement will clearly outline items such as responsibilities, provisions, and policies to be followed by both the university and your organization.

Learn more:

Below is a list of the on-campus co-op offices where you can learn more about the specific timelines, expectations and opportunities that exist at the University of Toronto:

What is it?

A professional practicum, also known as a clinical placement, refers to a work experience that students complete under the supervision of an experienced registered or licensed professional in a discipline that requires practice-based work experience for professional licensure or certification.

Important Considerations:

  • These opportunities are generally unpaid and students do not typically have their own workload or caseload.
  • A formal agreement between your organization and the University of Toronto may need to be in place in advance of welcoming students into your workplace. This agreement will clearly outline items such as responsibilities, provisions and policies to be followed for both the university and your organization.

Learn more:

Professional practica take place in various academic units and divisions across the University. While there is no definitive list of professional practica, these opportunities are typically found in clinical and education fields.

If you are interested in bringing students in for a professional practicum, reach out to one of our experiential learning offices or the academic unit most connected to your field of work.

Below is a list of some programs that offer professional practicums to their students:

If you are interested in hiring students for full-time, part-time, summer, or volunteer job opportunities that do not fall under the ‘Experiential Learning’ umbrella, there are various avenues to do this. We recommend connecting with the career services office affiliated with the students you are hoping to hire: