Job FAQs

Coursework FAQs

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What is a "Co-op"?

A co-op is two full-time work semesters (ideally consecutively, but work terms may be interspersed with academic work semesters) at the same company. One of those work semesters must be a spring or fall semester. A co-op will not consist of just summer semesters.

A Co-op participant is paid and also receives academic credit for the online co-op courses during the semesters they work.

How do I get a Co-op position?

Many co-op positions will be listed in Handshake. Students may find co-op positions outside of Handshake, but employers must meet the requirements as outlined in the employer section of the co-op website. Once you have located a co-op and accepted the position, you will need to apply to the Co-op Program. The Co-op Program uses Handshake to process application materials.

How long will it take to get a Co-op position?

This depends entirely on your job search and varies for each student. As a Co-op student, you are responsible for finding, applying to, and securing relevant positions on your own via Handshake. Therefore, the process is similar to searching for and applying to any job and will vary just as a normal job search would.

What is the difference between a co-op and an internship?

Co-ops and internships both allow students to gain valuable engineering work experience in their intended field. The primary difference is the Co-op Program involves working multiple semesters with the same employer–gaining a deeper understanding and contributing more effectively—while an internship involves working a single semester with an employer, often a summer semester.

Co-op students must register for an online academic Co-op course during each working semester. Please consult with your departmental advisor to determine how these credits may apply to your degree program.

Can I work each Co-op semester at a different company?

You must work multiple semesters at the same company. Working two semesters at the same company allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the engineering work and allows you to work on longer-term projects. We recognize that issues may arise that prevent you from continuing to work at the same company. Please email co-op@umn.edu to discuss your situation in more detail.

What salary can I expect?

Salaries are determined by employers and vary from one company to another.  The average co-op pay for the 2022-2023 academic year was $25/hr. 

I already work at an engineering firm. Can I get credit for it?

The Co-op Program is intended for full-time students to gain full-time work experience. Retroactive credit for a co-op position will not be issued. Please plan your experience accordingly.

I am an international student. Can I still work as a Co-op?

International students in F-1 status are eligible to participate in the Co-op Program and work legally in the United States with Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. 

International students must complete one full academic year of full-time coursework and must be pursuing an academic program to be eligible for CPT. You can read more details at the Co-op's International Student's webpage.

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Will a Co-op delay my graduation?

56.2% of co-op students still graduate within 4 years. 29.5% take either an extra summer or Fall/Spring semester to graduate. Early planning is critical. Please meet with your departmental advisor to determine how a co-op experience may impact your academic progress as well as the ideal timeline for participating in a co-op. Most students tell us the work experience outweighed any delay, and most employers tell us they require relevant work experience of their new hires.

Will I still be considered a full-time student during the work term?

Yes. Once you register for a Co-op course, you will automatically be enrolled as a full-time student. You can read more about this at our Credit Information page.

Do I still pay tuition during work terms?

Yes, but not full tuition. You will register for each Co-op course just as you would any other course; however, you will not be charged full-time tuition. You will only be charged for the credits you are taking, at the current per credit rate. More details can be found in the Credit Information page.

How will my Co-op work terms impact my scholarships and financial aid?

Students should check with One Stop on any financial ramifications this may have. In some cases financial aid might still be dispersed while on co-op, but you need to check with One Stop and/or the office that awarded the scholarship (eg. CSE, Admissions Office, Department, etc). There may be an option to defer a scholarship as well, so please check with the appropriate unit on campus. If you are on external scholarships, be sure to find out how a co-op could impact your award(s).

Will I be able to use the Co-op credits toward my degree?

Most majors that participate in the program will award technical elective credit for the co-op courses. Before applying, please consult with your departmental advisor to determine how these credits will apply to your degree program.

Can I get a Co-op position but not take the courses?

Yes, but you would not participate in the Co-op Program. You have the option of participating in a co-op experience without taking the co-op courses. If you choose this option, you will not earn academic credit for the experience. Additionally, you may need to apply for a leave of absence from the University if you will not be enrolled in coursework. Taking a leave of absence may have implications on financial aid eligibility and student loan repayment. For information on taking a leave of absence, visit OneStop.

Taking the co-op courses allows you to be considered a full-time student while you are working, which has many benefits. Please contact your academic advisor for more information.

Is there a grade given for the Co-op course?

Yes. Each semester requires coursework to be completed in which a grade, A-F will be assigned. The courses are online courses. 

What happens if I forget to register for the Co-op course? Can I receive retroactive credit for a work experience?

Students must be registered for a co-op course in order to be awarded academic credit. If you do not register for a co-op course, your work semester will not count toward your completion of the Co-op Program and you will not receive the academic credit for your co-op experience. Retroactive credit will not be awarded. 

May I take other academic courses during my work term?

Yes, but we suggest only taking one additional course. Taking an additional course during working semesters may help you stay on track to graduate on time; however, the course should not interfere with completing co-op coursework on time and working a full 40 hours per week.