Lindner to launch universal co-op program

College to integrate co-op requirement beginning fall 2023

Beginning in fall 2023, the Carl H. Lindner College of Business will roll out a new universal co-op program. Once implemented through a phased approach, all undergraduate students will be required to complete a baseline of two co-ops, with the minimum number of experiences needed depending on the students' specific circumstances. 

As the founder of cooperative education and the No. 1-ranked public university for co-op, the University of Cincinnati has exhibited its prowess for connecting students with top-notch employers. Co-op empowers students to explore career options, while building their professional skills, resumes and networks. Lindner is proud to further this powerful tradition.


Lindner Dean Marianne Lewis, PhD.

“Lindner is a leading co-op business school. Through universal co-op, we will become the leader,” said Lindner Dean Marianne Lewis, PhD. “As students and alumni often say: Co-op is transformational, helping develop their skills, interests and opportunities. Students also learn what they don’t want to do, while building confidence and resilience through their challenges.”

Flexibility underlies Lindner’s innovative approach to co-op, fostering students’ professional development and success without delaying graduation. Co-ops will be designed to match employer demand and students’ needs, with full-time and part-time options. By meeting real business needs, flexibility enhances student learning, while enabling choice to meet personal situations. The new program does not impact students currently enrolled at Lindner. Universal co-op will be introduced in a phased rollout to incoming classes over the next four years.  

“No one is doing co-op quite like us,” said Jaime Windeler, PhD, associate dean of undergraduate programs and associate professor of operations, business analytics, and information systems. “Not only does the Lindner approach involve greater flexibility through part-time and any-time options, it also involves varied alternatives to a traditional co-op through international, project-based and entrepreneurship experiences.”

Lindner students and alumni are very familiar with co-op. Showcasing our long-standing commitment to experiential learning, Lindner students have completed more than 8,000 co-ops since 2017. Further, Lindner Business Honors students began test-piloting the universal co-op requirement in fall 2022.

Headshot of Lindner business student Cassidy Hook

Cassidy Hook, BBA ’23, has completed multiple co-op experiences during her time studying at Lindner.

"My Lindner co-op experiences have been transformative,” said Cassidy Hook, BBA ’23, who has co-op experiences at corporations like Kellogg’s, mid-sized companies like Sizemore & Co., as well as non-profits. “I’ll walk away from UC with not only a degree, but also irreplaceable professional experiences and a robust network.”

Lindner Career Services’ award-winning coaches offer students exceptional resources for their job search and professional development, and work tirelessly to build relationships with employers. The college is now expanding Lindner Career Services to elevate its support of Lindner students and employers.

“We want to ensure that this initiative is designed with student success at its core,” said Windeler. “We recognize that many students who currently don’t co-op might face barriers that we will need to help remove. This will require new tools, staff and infrastructure.”

Note: The below FAQ section offers greater detail on the program’s rationale, requirements, implementation timeline and caveats.

Universal co-op will require Lindner undergraduate students to complete multiple, paid, professional experiences before they graduate.

Co-op is what UC is known for. It is part of our DNA. Co-op offers unparalleled opportunities for hands-on learning, business problem solving and career exploration. At Lindner, we believe every student should experience co-op. Required co-op provides these opportunities to all students through embedded institutional support, particularly for students who may benefit from the value of co-op due to challenging circumstances.

The universal co-op program will be introduced in stages and does not impact students currently enrolled in a Lindner degree program. The below timeline is a tentative plan for when the requirement will apply to students, depending on their individual circumstances:

  • Fall 2022: Requirement for Lindner Honors students 
  • Fall 2023: Voluntary opt-in requirement for traditional, first-year students  
  • Fall 2024: Requirement for traditional, first-year students
  • Fall 2025: Voluntary opt-in requirement for transfer and transition students
  • Fall 2026: Requirement for transfer and transition students
The numbers below serve as minimum standards to meet the graduation requirement.
Entering Lindner as:  Number of full-time equivalent co-ops   

Lindner Business Honors students

Traditional first-year students (freshmen) 

Transition or transfer students (coming from other colleges or universities after their first year)





Students are encouraged to and often do complete more co-ops than those listed above.

Full-time co-ops must be a minimum of 350 total hours with start and end dates aligning with the academic semester calendar, or a short-term project with documentation of a minimum of 350 total hours completed. Part-time co-ops must be a minimum of 175 total hours with start and end dates aligning with the academic semester calendar, or a short-term project with documentation of a minimum of 175 total hours completed. 

Two part-time co-ops are equivalent to one full-time co-op. 

  • Co-ops must be paid work experiences (hourly, monthly or stipend). Sales-related co-ops must include an amount of guaranteed compensation.
  • Co-ops must be work experiences related to the student’s business studies, though prior co-op experiences had through other colleges will count toward the requirement.
  • The following experiences will not be approved for universal co-op: 
    • manual labor
    • food service
    • child/youth care
    • security/valet
    • factory production
    • eCommerce order fulfillment/delivery (e.g., DoorDash)
    • student worker jobs
    • campus-based leadership roles (e.g., PACE Leader, Student Government, student organizations), tutoring, teaching assistant, peer teaching, peer leader, or micro-credentials

A co-op completed by a student in a country where they have no previous citizenship or residency status will be counted as twice its co-op equivalent. For example, one full-time international co-op would fulfill the equivalent of two full-time co-ops toward the co-op requirement, and one part-time international co-op would fulfill the equivalent of one full-time co-op towards the co-op requirement.

This includes both UC international (U.S. non-citizen/non-permanent resident) students participating in co-op in the United States or a domestic (U.S. citizen/permanent resident) UC student co-oping in a foreign country. Double counting an international co-op incentivizes students to participate in global experiences and recognizes the increased difficulty of securing an international co-op due to challenges with foreign visa approval, language/cultural differences, housing/living expenses, vaccinations and travel uncertainties.

The Experiential Explorations Program (EEP) offers alternatives to traditional co-op positions and provides students with educational employment options to better prepare students to qualify for future co-op and career opportunities. These experiences can include elements of technical skill development, project-based work, entrepreneurship and travel. EEPs are proposed and must be approved by the college in order to meet the co-op requirement. They are structured, formalized and outline a plan with benchmarks/deliverables and timelines for development. EEPs receive routine oversight through additional policies and guidelines. 

Students continuously working full-time in a professional setting while completing their degree are exempt. 

Flexible pathways are part of what sets Lindner apart from other business schools. Our approach to co-op balances the structure required of co-op with the reality of the modern business student who needs flexibility. Lindner co-op: 

  • Does not require a five-year degree program.
  • Is not part of a lock-step program where students are assigned specific semesters to co-op.
  • Does not require certification in order to co-op.
  • Does not require students to stay with the same company for multiple rotations.

The college is actively exploring different funding models and sources of financial support to expand our co-op infrastructure, including through partnerships and fundraising.

Featured image at top: Exterior of Lindner Hall. Photo by Alex Fradkin.

The Lindner Advantage

The Carl H. Lindner College of Business empowers business problem solvers to tackle the world’s challenges, fueling professional growth through a distinctive combination of academic and hands-on experiences: our problem-solving mindset, cooperative education, flexible pathways, inclusive community and Cincinnati setting.

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Lindner to launch universal co-op program

May 23, 2023

Beginning in fall 2023, the Carl H. Lindner College of Business will roll out a new universal co-op program. Once implemented through a phased approach, all undergraduate students will be required to complete a baseline of two co-ops, with the minimum number of experiences needed depending on the students' specific circumstances.