Forbes recognizes value of the
Cincinnati Co-op

UC's cooperative education opportunities help improve work readiness for graduates

The University of Cincinnati’s leadership in the area of cooperative education or co-op has been recognized by Forbes magazine for improving work readiness for college graduates. 

UC invented cooperative education in 1906 and has remained a leader in experience-based learning ever since. UC ranks No. 4 in the nation for co-op, with Cincinnati’s hands-on classroom extending to nearly every corner of the globe, from Fortune 500 companies to trailblazing experiences in places like China, Tanzania and South America.

UC students earn a collective $75 million annually working for thousands of employers including GE Aviation, Disney, Toyota, Kroger, Procter & Gamble and many more. UC has nearly 2,000 global partners for the co-op program with students participating in over 7,500 co-op opportunities each year.


“As the global founder of cooperative education...UC provides thousands of students valuable real-world education through co-op experiences...on-the-job and in the classroom.”

— Neville G. Pinto | UC president

Leadership at UC understand the value of co-op.

"As the global founder of cooperative education — established 116 years ago — UC provides thousands of students valuable real-world education through co-op experiences — where students rotate semesters — on-the-job and in the classroom,” UC President Neville Pinto explained in his State of the University Address earlier this year.

“We operate one of the nation’s largest co-op programs, which is consistently ranked in the top 5 nationwide by U.S. News. Annually we typically make 3,500 co-op placements with more than 2,000 employers in 46 states and 22 countries. We continue to expand the co-op model to all students, with the goal of providing experience-based learning opportunities to all students who desire these.”


Three UC students shown during their coop experience at AtriCure in Mason in 2020.

UC students on co-op with ArtiCure. Photo/Joseph Fuqua II/UC Marketing + Brand


Isaac Smitherman knows first-hand how valuable co-op can be — he’s currently finishing his fifth co-op experience. The fifth-year environmental engineering student has plans for law school and hopes to someday practice environmental law.

Smitherman, undergraduate student body president at UC, has completed co-ops at Cincinnati law firm Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL, Duke Energy and through UC’s leadership program and its experiential explorations program designed to assist students when COVID-19 limited co-op experiences nationally. 


“It is an opportunity to learn what you want to do, and you get a chance to see what it actually looks like in the field with a co-op experience.”

— Isaac Smitherman | UC undergraduate student body president

UC Student Body President Isaac Smitherman

UC Student Body President Isaac Smitherman. Photo provided.

“As a future engineer, I really liked the science co-op experiences, but my time in student government showed me I do like public policy as well,” says Smitherman. “When I did co-op what I really enjoyed was looking up policies and determining why we do the things the way we do them.”

“It is an opportunity to learn what you want to do, and you get a chance to see what it actually looks like in the field with a co-op experience. I listened to my older brothers talk about their work experience and I am thinking I am so glad you experienced all these wonderful opportunities, but I experienced all these things during my sophomore year of college. 

“I feel like I have a lot of professional development that my brothers didn’t get in college, but they are getting it now and doing well now. I just got a head start.”

Learn more about co-op opportunities at UC.

Read the full article in Forbes.

Beyond the Classroom

UC invented cooperative education more than 100 years ago, and we continue to innovate all aspects of experience-based learning, including internships, service learning, virtual co-ops, community projects and industry partnerships.

Find more co-op information for students and employers.

Featured image at top: UC students on co-op with Messer Construction Company. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Marketing + Brand

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