Experiential Learning Program

As part of the Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers, the Experiential Learning Program offers a continuous approach to bridging formal studies with opportunities for professional, personal and civic growth.

The Experiential Learning Program is more specialized than traditional co-ops, responding to the individuality of students’ needs and goals. Experiential Learning at OCAD U is informed by considered responses, guided self-reflection and critical action. Supported by the Experiential Learning Program team, students learn to take an empathetic and informed approach to building their professional community, gaining valuable experience and skills necessary for a meaningful creative career.

Placement Courses

Opportunities for creative development and professional experience facilitated through placement-integrated courses.

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Field Placements (Independent)

Student-led, self-directed opportunities for creative development and professional experience, facilitated on an individual basis.

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Experiential Learning Toolkit

A set of resources to help students get the most out of an Experiential Learning Placement - designed for students and faculty.

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Upper-­year students work with a range of employ­ment partners and faculty leaders on real-world creative challenges.

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Accessing Placements Fund

Students enrolled in a for-credit learning placement can apply for financial support to reduce barriers to participation.

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Work/Place Program

Transforms on-campus student work into a University-recognized reflection and skill-building experience.

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For Students

Can I do an internship through the Experiential Learning Program?

Yes, internships for-credit (learning placements) are one of many Experiential Learning opportunities at OCAD U. The Experiential Learning Program offers:

  • Placement Courses: Students enroll in a course to do a placement for-credit, with the support of the Experiential Learning Program team, in-class faculty instruction, and group discussion.
  • Field Placements: Similar to Independent Study, students initiate these for-credit, self-directed opportunities and are supervised and graded on an individual basis by a faculty supervisor, with the support of the Experiential Learning Program team.
  • Work/Place Program: The Work/Place Program is a co-curricular, not-for-credit initiative that provides students who are employed on campus with an enhanced learning experience. Students completing the program will receive official university recognition through an exclusive enamelled pin and a co-curricular record of participation.
  • Design4: A unique program piloting in 2018 – 2019 for Design students to work collaboratively with select industry and community partners, to create interdisciplinary projects in response to real-world needs. Design4 is a by-application and not-for-credit paid opportunity with faculty and industry mentorship.
What kind of support does the Experiential Learning Program offer?

Career Advising: Our team supports students to reflect on their skills and goals, do research and connect with industry and community partners. If you are taking a Placement Course, engaged in a co-curricular opportunity, or just thinking about your options, please contact us for professional development and career advising.

Accessing Placements Fund: We recognize that students are juggling in-class and off-campus responsibilities and the costs add up. The CEAD has created the Accessing Placements Fund to support students who are enrolled in a Placement Course or Field Placement, to help with the costs of doing a for-credit placement.

Key Contacts

If you have questions about learning placements or for-credit internships, please contact: Farihah Shah, Placement Program Coordinator: fshah@ocadu.ca

If you would like to know more about Design4, please contact: Zviko Mhakayakora, Special Projects Coordinator, Design4: zmhakayakora@ocadu.ca

If you would like to know more about working on campus through the Work/Place Program or applying for the Accessing Placements Fund, please contact: Alexandra Hong, Project Officer, Experiential Learning: ahong@ocadu.ca

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For Faculty

Overview of Experiential Learning at OCAD U

Recognizing the diversity of careers within the creative sector, OCAD U’s Experiential Learning Program is different from traditional co-ops and internships, emphasizing self-reflection, mentorship, and experimentation, and exposure to professional contexts.

Experiential Learning Placements are for-credit and non-paid and students are required to complete 80 – 120 hours in the field to earn 0.5 credit. The CEAD’s Experiential Learning Program also facilitates co-curricular opportunities for on-campus, work-integrated Experiential Learning.

Ways for Students to Engage:

Academic Information

Eligibility for a Field Placement: All undergraduate students with a minimum 70% average and 10 credits are eligible to enroll in an independent Field Placement; these self-initiated opportunities are best suited to students who have a self-directed and mature approach to their creative and professional practice. Graduate students generally enroll in a Field Placement (Graduate Studies Internship) in the Summer Term between 1st and 2nd year.

Eligibility for Placement Courses: Depending on their program requirements, Placement Courses are open to 3rd and 4th year undergraduate students.

Examples of Placement Courses:

For paid internship or work opportunities external to the for-credit Experiential Learning Program, students can contact CEAD staff for Career Advising.

Download the Experiential Learning Program Policy

I am being asked to supervise a student's Field Placement, what’s involved?

Faculty play an integral role in supervising students enrolled in Experiential Learning Placements. Supervising a Field Placement is more akin to coaching and mentorship. Please refer to the Experiential Learning Toolkit for tools and resources for supervising a Field Placement.

Throughout the Placement, the faculty supervisor and Experiential Learning Program team maintain contact with students to ensure a healthy and productive placement experience. Faculty members are only required to maintain contact with students, but are also welcome to consult with our Experiential Learning Program team.

Contact Serena Lee, Experiential Learning Coordinator, slee@ocadu.ca, to discuss in further detail.

What support and resources are offered when it comes to curriculum?

Our Role:
The Experiential Learning Program team liaises between the Placement Employer, the Student, and Faculty Supevisor. Our team supports students throughout the process, from the early stages of identifying avenues for Experiential Learning, self-reflection and professional goal-setting, and applying themselves through either a for-credit or co-curricular opportunity.

Curricular and Co-Curricular Support:
We work with faculty instructors for Placement Courses by providing support for curriculum development, professional development resources, materials, and mentorship contact base. The Experiential Learning Program team offers in-class professional development workshops, one-on-one advising for students, and supporting faculty with curriculum development.

Responsible Partnerships:
The Experiential Learning Program team grows and maintains ongoing industry and community partnerships with Placement Employers, ensuring and maintaining a rigorous approach to risk management, including institutional agreements and collaboration with OCAD U Safety and Security Services and the Health and Wellness Centre.

An Evolving Network:
We welcome connections and ideas from OCAD U faculty and staff to grow our Experiential Learning Partnership network, as well as paid opportunities facilitated by the CEAD’s Career Development team.

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For Partners

We are continually growing our network of industry and community partners who are looking to connect with emerging creatives by hosting an Experiential Learning Placement.

We are uniquely positioned to connect with students and placement partners, working with both to develop opportunities for students to contribute their skills, ‘test the waters’, and reflect on meaningful work experiences.
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Staff Contact Information

Farihah Shah

Program Coordinator, Experiential Learning Placements
416-977-6000 x2855

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