In the fall 2021 semester, the Faculty of Arts & Science (FAS) will be launching a new Arts & Science Internship Program (ASIP). The program will enable second-year students to take 12–20 cumulative months of paid internship opportunities, during which they will also receive professional training. 

While the ASIP will only be open to students in a limited number of programs of study (POST), the FAS plans to expand the list of eligible POSTs in future years. The program will require supplemental fees and a supplemental application to enrol, but participants will remain U of T students during their work terms, allowing access to all of U of T’s student services.

How did this happen?

Students have long been asking the FAS for more co-op, internship, or professional development opportunities that would cater to a wide variety of POSTs. While FAS students previously had access to the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering’s Professional Experience Year (PEY), FAS students beginning with those who entered U of T in fall 2020 will be ineligible to apply for the the recently revamped version of the PEY. Instead, these FAS students will be eligible to apply for the ASIP.

The ASIP was called for by the FAS Academic Plan 2020-2025. During the ASIP’s developmental period from December 2019 to February 2020, the Arts & Science First Year Foundation Council, the Arts & Science Student Union (ASSU), Recognized Study Group leaders, and individual students were consulted through focus groups, one-on-one consultations, and surveys. The resulting program has been designed to meet the quality and accreditation requirements put forth by Cooperative Education & Work Integrated Learning Canada.

“Development of the Arts & Science Internship Program (ASIP) is just one step towards our efforts to expand experiential learning opportunities available to [arts and science] students,” wrote a FAS spokesperson in an email to The Varsity

“ASIP will provide customized support, professional development training, business development, and paid work term opportunities, and will help sciences, social sciences and humanities students prepare for today’s workforce.”

How does it work?

ASIP enrollees will have two options for their work experience. One choice is a short, four-month work term with one employer before another eight-, 12-, or 16-month term with a potentially different employer. Alternatively, students may elect to complete one long, uninterrupted work term with a single employer for up to 16 months.

Work placements may be in the private, public, and non-profit sectors inside and outside of Canada. If a student is unable to secure a placement on their first attempt, they will have the opportunity to try again in the future.

Students will have to complete a minimum of 12 months of work in order to graduate from the ASIP stream of their POST. Accordingly, ASIP students are expected to complete their studies in five years or longer. Over the duration of their combined work terms, students will also be required to complete four professional development courses.

In order to participate in the ASIP, students will be required to pay a supplemental fee. The total cost of the ASIP will be up to $3,600, with each professional development course costing $450 and each work term costing $900. 

Students will continue to pay part-time incidental fees while on their work terms. Accordingly, students on work terms will still be able to access all student services. The FAS plans for financial aid to be available to ASIP students.

Who’s eligible?

For its inaugural academic year of 2021–2022, only full-time students beginning their second year of study in eligible POSTs may apply for the ASIP. These POSTs include certain specialists and majors in St. Michael’s College’s book and media studies program, the Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, the Department of Chemistry, the Department of Computer Science, the Department of Mathematics, the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, and the Department of Statistical Sciences.

Students will be admitted to the ASIP stream of their POST upon enrolment in ASIP. However, space is limited, and students will be required to submit a supplementary application. An applicant’s cumulative GPA will not be judged, but they must be in good academic standing to be considered.

The FAS plans to allow late entry into the program to a limited number of third-year students, with more information to be provided by January 2022. It also hopes to expand the scope of the program to include other POSTs. In its first year, the FAS expects ASIP to accept roughly 450 applicants but will expand intake as employers become familiar with the program.

International students are also permitted to apply but will need to obtain a co-op or intern work permit prior to their first work term. The FAS will offer support for international students through this process. 

The Varsity has reached out to ASSU for comment. 

Editor’s note (March 27): The article has been edited to clarify that the ASIP has been in the works since before the PEY and its eligibility changed.