Work while studying

Work while study

Do you want to work while you study in Canada? Do you have a spouse or common-law partner who would like to work during your time here? Both of you may be able to work while you study in Canada. Working in Canada can help you get practical work experience and build your network. It may even help you stay and work in Canada after your studies.

Most international students are eligible to work while studying. There are different requirements for working on campus and off campus.

“On campus” refers to all the buildings on your university or college campus. You can find information about working on campus from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).

“Off campus” means the parts of your town or city that are not part of the university or college campus.

Generally, international students can work off campus up to 20 hours per week:

  • During regular school sessions or while you are studying as part of an intensive program with no planned breaks.
  • If your studies are part-time because you are finishing the last session of your program.
  • If you are a graduate student who has finished the required courses for your degree.


From November 15, 2022, until December 31, 2023, some international students in Canada can work more than 20 hours per week off campus.

Find out more from IRCC:

Generally, you can work full-time:

  • During official school breaks, such as the winter and summer holidays or spring break.
  • After you finish your studies if you have applied for a non-student work permit.

Find out more about working off campus from IRCC.

A co-op placement or program involves working as part of your program of study. You may work on or off campus.

For example, you may be enrolled in a co-op degree program in environmental studies. This differs from the standard degree in environmental studies because it allows you to spend 3 or 4 months (or more) each year working in your field of study. It’s a great way to get hands-on professional experience in a Canadian work setting.

When you are part of a co-op program at a college or university, you can apply for a co-op work permit if:

  • You have a valid study permit.
  • Working is integrated into your study program in Canada.
  • You have a letter from your designated learning institution that confirms all students in your program need to complete work placements to get their degree.
  • Your co-op or internship is 50% or less of the total program of study. 

You are not eligible for a co-op work permit and you will need to get a valid work permit if you are studying:

  • English or French as a second language (ESL/FSL)
  • General interest courses
  • Courses to prepare you for another study program

An internship provides you with on-the-job training. When you are an intern, someone in the workplace supervises you. By working as an intern, you gain knowledge and skills to help you succeed in a trade or profession.

The work permit you need for an internship is the same as the work permit for co-op students.

Do you have a spouse or common-law partner who would like to work in Canada while you study? Find out who can get a work permit as the spouse or common-law partner of a student from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Get experience with Mitacs

Gain experience beyond your academic institution and increase your employability and professional networks with Mitacs. Through Mitacs’s programs, post-secondary students and recent graduates can find:

  • Paid collaborative projects with Canadian companies and non-profit organizations
  • Research opportunities and connections
  • Professional skills training programs
  • Career development opportunities
  • Funding for student-led eligible start-ups

For over 20 years, Mitacs has nurtured talent through innovation internships allowing students and postdocs to apply their academic skills to solving real-world problems.


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