An optional co-op subplan is available for certain undergraduate majors in the College of Arts and Sciences. Students in these majors can complete a series of co-op work experiences and have this appear on their transcript.
The optional co-op subplan provides an opportunity for students to engage in compensated, career-oriented work experiences and to reflect on and integrate the experience within their undergraduate degree program.
By engaging in meaningful, career-related work experiences before graduation, students can develop transferable skills and a competitive edge for entering the workforce.
Created with maximum flexibility, an optional co-op subplan combines academic coursework with one or more full- or part-time, paid work experiences (often called “co-ops”). Specific requirements vary by department; students should refer to their major map for details.
A optional co-op subplan is available for the following undergraduate majors in the College of Arts and Sciences:
- Cosmetic Science
- Environmental Affairs
- International Affairs
- Law and Society
- Political Science
Frequently Asked Questions
Engaging in meaningful, career-related experiences prior to graduation gives you an opportunity to develop transferable skills and a competitive edge as you enter the workforce. It also allows you to learn about professional pathways, grow your professional network and earn money while you are still a student.
College of Arts and Sciences students who are pursuing a co-op subplan will typically enroll in the PD2170 or PD2070 course during their second academic year. The course will help you prepare a professional resume and profile and develop skills you’ll need to search for and obtain your first co-op position.
You may co-op during any semester: fall, spring or summer. You should discuss your plans with your academic advisor to ensure you complete the co-op requirements and make adequate progress toward your undergraduate degree.
In most cases, no. You should work with your academic advisor to make progress toward your undergraduate degree alongside the co-op requirements. You may need to complete a co-op or take classes over a summer in order to graduate on time. You can also make intentional choices between full- and part-time co-op experiences.
Students who register for a full-time co-op will pay a fee in lieu of a semester of tuition. Students who register for part-time co-op will be encouraged to register for the number of credit hours that will keep them between 12 and 18 credit hours for the semester and avoid paying for additional credit hours. If a student enrolls in more than 18 credit hours, they will pay the standard tuition fee per credit hour over 18.
During the PD2070 or PD2170 course, you will develop resources (resume, cover letter, online profile) and skills (interviewing, networking, job searching) to launch a job search. You’ll use Handshake and your own networks to search for opportunities. You are also encouraged to attend university-sponsored career fairs and networking events. It is your responsibility to lead and engage in a robust job search to secure a co-op position.
To ensure that a co-op or internship experience is educational, according to standards set by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), all the following criteria must be met:
- The experience must be an extension of the classroom and career-oriented: a learning experience that provides for applying knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
- The experience must be compensated. (Note: Students may earn internship credit for experiences that are not compensated; in unique circumstances, students may qualify for an experiential exploration credit without compensation.)
- The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
- The experience has a defined beginning date, end date, and a job description with desired qualifications.
- There are clearly defined learning objectives or goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
- There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
- There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
- There are resources, equipment and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives or goals.
When you secure a co-op, report it in Handshake as an “ELCE Internship/Co-op Experience – Full-time OR Part-time” and register for co-op credit during the semester you will complete the work experience. You should register for the credit by the term census date (typically two weeks into the semester but up to week eight).