What is Experiential Learning?

Experiential Learning (EL) is, broadly, learning through reflection on experience. 

Experiential Learning encompasses a variety of programming types that give students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience and develop crucial skills, such as:

work-integrated learning (WIL), co-op, internship, field experience, practicum, community engaged learning, study abroad, or (in some cases) co-curricular programming.

What is Work-Integrated Learning?

Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) is a form of curricular experiential education that formally integrates a student’s academic studies with quality experiences within a workplace or practice setting (CEWIL). 

Learn more about the different types of WIL and find opportunities in your college below.

Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) Definitions

(Co-op alternating and co-op internship models): Co-op alternating consists of alternating academic terms and paid work terms. Co-op internship consists of several co-op work terms back-to-back. In both models, work terms provide experience in a workplace setting related to the student’s field of study. The number of required work terms varies by program; however, the time spent in work terms must be at least 30% of the time spent in academic study for programs over 2 years in length and 25% of time for programs 2 years and shorter in length. 
Offers usually one discipline-specific, supervised, structured paid or unpaid, and for academic credit work experience or practice placement. Internships may occur in the middle of an academic program or after all academic coursework has been completed and prior to graduation. Internships can be of any length but are typically 12 to 16 months long.
Involves work experience under the supervision of an experienced registered or licensed professional (e.g. preceptor) in any discipline that requires practice-based work experience for professional licensure or certification. Practica are generally unpaid and, as the work is done in a supervised setting, typically students do not have their own workload/caseload.
Provides students with an intensive part-time/short term intensive hands-on practical experience in a setting relevant to their subject of study. Field placements may not require supervision of a registered or licensed professional and the completed work experience hours are not required for professional certification. Field placements account for work-integrated educational experiences not encompassed by other forms, such as co-op, clinic, practicum, and internship.
Students are engaged in research that occurs primarily in workplaces, includes: consulting projects, design projects, community-based research projects.
Community Service Learning (CSL) integrates meaningful community service with classroom instruction and critical reflection to enrich the learning experience and strengthen communities. In practice, students work in partnership with a community-based organization to apply their disciplinary knowledge to a challenge identified by the community.
Intersperses one or two work terms (typically full-time) into an academic program, where work terms provide experience in a workplace setting related to the student’s field of study and/or career goals.

USask Work-Integrated Learning

PCP Practicum/Clinical Placement
CSL Community Service Learning
WE Work Experience
FE Field Experience
RE Research Experience
CO-OP Co-op
INTERN Internship
EL Experiential Learning

  • Experiential Learning is integrated throughout the Undergraduate MD Program. To learn more visit the program website.
  • Experiential Learning is integrated throughout the undergraduate Nursing program. To learn more visit the College of Nursing website.

Finding an Experiential Learning (EL) Course

Many programs have EL built in, such as field experiences, labs, or project-based work. Here's how to find these classes:

  1. Visit the Registration page in PAWS and select "Register for Classes"
  2. Select "Browse classes"
  3. Select the term
  4. Select the subject(s) in which you are interested
  5. Select "Advanced Search"
  6. Under Attribute, select "experiential learning" or a specific type of experiential learning: community engaged learning, clinical placement/practicum, field-based instruction, study abroad or undergraduate research.
  7. Select "Search"
  8. The results are classes with an experiential learning component. Read the course description for more information.


Can’t find an opportunity? Meet with an Academic Advisor.

Co-curricular Experiential Learning

The FUSION Skill-Development Curriculum is an interactive and engaging 10-hour online, self-study curriculum designed to wraparound and complement a student’s existing experiential learning opportunity (e.g. internship, student leadership role, research project, part-time job, volunteer placement, or summer work term).

Learn more about FUSION

Log in to the Co-curricular Record website to search for university recognized activities that provide you an opportunity to gain experience and develop skills while getting involved on campus.

Funding For Work-Integrated Learning

Funding opportunities exist through many organizations for Work-Integrated Learning. Students or employers may apply for funds to pay for all or part of a student's salary.
  • SWPP
    • Through the Student Work Placement program, employers can apply for wage subsidies to help them hire post-secondary students across Canada.

Mitacs BSI