Paths to EE

Experiential Education Strategies

 What to expect:

Things to Expect 01
The thing is, you’re probably doing experiential education in many of your courses already. Any time you interact with a guest speaker, engage in a role play, analyze a case study, go through a simulation or work in a laboratory, you are applying concepts and theories covered in the course to real life or simulated real-life experiences. That’s EE! And despite its name, course-focused EE can also occur outside of class as a one-off activity such as a field visit to a site that is of particular relevance to your course, an interview with a professional in your field, or participation in a community event that correlates to a topic covered in class. A central part of EE is thinking about your experience in a purposeful way. Your teacher will encourage you to reflect on your experience in light of the course content as well as your own ideas. Of course, what you experience will vary depending on the course you are taking.

Things to Expect 02
 What to expect:

Chances are you have volunteered your time before helping others… just like giving some of your time for a cause, community-focused EE is about civic engagement. In this kind of EE, you’ll have the opportunity to connect course material with experiences outside of the classroom and through interactions with partners in the community.

What to Expect

In community-focused EE, you’ll work with a community partner. You’ll hear from them what they need and work on a solution with them, whether you provide a direct service on site, take on a project that you can manage off-site, or engage in research that is meaningful to the community partner. A key component of EE is thinking about your interaction with the community in a purposeful way, so your teacher will encourage you to reflect on your experience and apply course content to the tasks you’ve been assigned to within the community organization.
 What to expect:

For work-focused EE, think hands-on work experience specific to your discipline. You will either receive credit for your work or get paid, but not both. As in the other types of EE, the key for your learning is to apply the theories and concepts learned in your courses to the professional-like activities you engage in and reflect upon your actions.

For more details about each type of work-focused EE, please read the information below:


In a Placement, you will practice competencies and skills specific to a discipline in an authentic work environment and receive course credit for doing so. You will have an opportunity to apply the theories and concepts learned in academic course settings as you engage in professional-like activities and reflect upon your actions. Placements are also known as fieldwork or field placements (e.g. Social Work, Communication & Culture, Anthropology, Disaster and Emergency Management) or practica (e.g. Nursing or Education).


Internships provide the opportunity to apply the theories and concepts learned throughout your degree and develop competencies and skills through hands-on work experience related to your field of study. Internships are paid, full-time, supervised work experiences. As part of an internship, you will write a reflective work term report to demonstrate your learning, which is then reviewed and graded by a faculty supervisor.

Familiarize yourself with the Learning Agreement Form and Instruction Guide for when you start your internship, and the Work Term Report to be completed at the end of your internship.

Co-op Programs

Co-op programs are designed to integrate classroom learning with an authentic work experience related to your field of study in which you alternate periods of paid, full-time, supervised work experiences with your academic terms. A Co-Op can be either for credit or not-for credit, and is generally noted on the transcript and degree. As a Co-Op student, you are engaged in productive work rather than merely observing and your progress is monitored by the university while your performance is evaluated by the Co-Op employer. Co-operative student positions are most often 4 to 8 months in duration, with a commitment of 12-16 months in total over the course of your program, which tends to be organized in a trimester system to accommodate for its alternative stream.
At York University, what does EE look like in different Faculties?

School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design

In the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, Experiential Education is most commonly offered through Reflective Learning Activities that take place within the studio courses; Community Based Learning in which performers and artists share their knowledge with students and engage them in a variety of activities and; Placements in which students gain exposure to their area of interest through working directly with community partners as part of their degree requirement.

Faculty of Education

All students within the Faculty of Education will participate in two practica (placements totalling 80+ days) that will facilitate Community Based Learning across all other courses as part of their degree requirement.  Three new courses – Theory into Practice, Content into Practice, and Research into Practice provide opportunities for Community Based Research. Students will also have exposure to Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) within their schools’ communities, which will facilitate lesson study and research on the impact of teaching and learning in specific areas.

Faculty of Environmental Studies

Reflective Learning Activities take place across all courses within the Faculty of Environmental Studies as reflection is embedded in the Faculty’s philosophy.  All students have the option of participating in a Placement activity as part of their degree program.

Glendon College

Glendon provides students with the opportunity to engage, in their classes, in the community and in the workplace, in experiential education activities which celebrate the key Canadian values of bilingualism, multiculturalism and internationalism through reflective learning activities, community service learning and work placements. Students are exposed to hands-on learning via case studies, guest speakers, simulations, production work, and field work, in a variety of courses offered (e.g. Marketing and Consumer Economics, Canadian Citizenship, Work in a Warming World, Diplomacy, Approaches to Theatre, Urban Environmentalism and Urban Sociology). Furthermore, students learning French as a second language have the option of doing community service while perfecting their language skills by working in a francophone or bilingual community organization in the Grand Toronto Area. In their final two years, students can also participate in a work placement in Business Economics/Economics, Communications, International Studies, Psychology, Public and International Affairs, or Translation.

Les étudiants de Glendon ont l’occasion de participer, dans leurs salles de classe, dans la collectivité et dans le milieu du travail, à des activités liées à l’éducation expérientielle, activités qui reflètent les grandes valeurs canadiennes que sont le bilinguisme, le multiculturalisme et l’internationalisme. Les étudiants ont la chance de vivre des expériences d’apprentissage pratiques par le biais d’études de cas, de conférenciers invités, de simulations, de productions théâtrales, et de travail de terrain dans divers cours à Glendon (ex. Médias et politiques, Citoyenneté canadienne, Politique et gestion de la diversité, La diplomatie, Par delà le réalisme: l'art dramatique français au XXe siècle, et l’Enquête de terrain). En outre, les apprenants en français langue seconde ont la possibilité de perfectionner leurs compétences langagières tout en faisant du service communautaire, ou en travaillant pour un organisme francophone ou bilingue du Grand Toronto. Les étudiants en 3e ou 4e année peuvent également effectuer un stage pratique en Affaires publiques et internationales, Communications, Économie/Économie et commerce, Études internationales, Psychologie ou Traduction.

Faculty of Health

Experiential Education is available to students across several disciplines within the Faculty of Health focusing primarily on Reflective Learning Activities, Community Based Learning, Community Based Research and Placements.  In the Faculty of Health, EE gives students the opportunity to apply what they learn in community focused projects within schools, hospitals, community health centres, grass roots organizations, and recreation centres, in both Toronto and York Region. Check this example of community-focused EE in the Faculty of Health.

Lassonde School of Engineering

The Lassonde School of Engineering has placed a high priority on the work-focused learning category of experiential education and as such offers co-op in all engineering programs as well as an internship option in Computer, Geomatics, Software and Space Engineering, Computer Science and Computer Security and Digital Media.  Work-focused experiential education gives students an opportunity to test the skills they have learned in the classroom in a real-work environment and to expand their knowledge through work-related experiences.  Co-op provides engineering students with an advantage as they move towards their professional licensure, (e.g. if engineering students are supervised by a professional engineering (P.Eng.), they could be credited with up to twelve months of experience that counts towards the fours years of experience required for application for their P.Eng. License.)  Reflective Learning Activities are Lassonde’s second focus.

Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies

Students in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS), have the opportunity, in the early stages of almost all our programs, to take courses that develop a solid foundation of how to learn experientially and thus prepare for more intensive community-focused and work-integrated learning opportunities later on. Initially, through Reflective Learning Activities (e.g. guest speakers, case studies, simulations, workshops, and interviews with professionals), students reflect on the gaps between theory and real-life situations, and develop collaborative skills. In the third and fourth year, many programs offer intensive forms of experiential education though collaborations with external businesses and community organizations. This can take the form of travel (e.g. field trips and YorkU Abroad courses), Community-Based Learning and Research projects (e.g. policy analysis, program evaluation and strategic plans) Service Learning and other collaborations that simulate the work environment of careers that students may be pursuing. In the area of work-integrated learning, many programs offer courses with field placements, providing students with an opportunity to make connections and gain work-place experience while obtaining academic credit. In addition, a number of programs offer students the opportunity to apply for full-time paid internships in areas related to their field of study. For more information about Experiential Education in LA&PS, please visit our website.

Osgoode Hall Law School

Osgoode Hall Law School is the first law school in Canada to establish an Experiential Education office. As a requirement of graduation, all Osgoode students must complete a designated EE course called a praxicum. Some of the most popular praxicums are our Clinical and Intensive Programs which place students in the community working with real clients to resolve their legal issues.

Schulich School of Business

Experiential Education (EE) runs in the curricular DNA of Schulich programs. It starts with exercises, simulations, case studies, and guest speakers within courses and culminates with community focused EE or internships and placements. The Bachelor or Business Administration (BBA), the International BBA, International MBA and Master of Business Analytics programs offer the possibility of local or international placements where students work in an organization for course credit. Internships are integral parts of various graduate diplomas as well as the Mater of Accounting and Master of Real Estate and Infrastructure. Students in Schulich's globally recognized MBA and IMBA programs tale a community service learning course known as the "(International) Strategic Field Study," where groups of students analyze organizations and their markets and advise them on their strategies and operations. Schulich students are also active in national and international case competitions and student clubs, which offer speaker series, seminars and other platforms for interacting with industry.

Faculty of Science

Extensive experiential learning activities take place in a many courses within the Faculty of Science primarily through lab work. Field courses in Biology and Environmental Science constitute another required experiential learning opportunity in those programs and field courses. Students in Science programs can also benefit through work focused experiential education. Students can opt to take a co-op in Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Chemistry, Environmental Biology and Environmental Science.