These Are the Top Colleges With Co-Op Programs

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

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These Are the Top Colleges With Co-Op Programs

Colleges with co-op programs offer some excellent opportunities for students who want to gain some experiential education along with traditional academic offerings.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many schools in the country that offer this kind of learning opportunity since most colleges and universities focus solely on a traditional form of education.

When you have a chance to work when pursuing your degree, you gain a wide variety of skills, insights, and knowledge that make you highly competitive when you reach the professional stage. While other competitors have only had theoretical knowledge of their field of study, you will have already had real-world experience.

This practical experience makes you a more sought-after and capable employee. But that’s not the only advantage of attending colleges with co-op programs. You also gain a sense of work ethic and industriousness that you can’t solely get from standard education. This will help improve your productivity in academia too.

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Here, we’ll outline some of the best colleges with co-op programs so you can focus less on research and more on perfecting your application.

1. Northeastern University (MA)

Co-op students at Northeastern University have to undergo an introductory course to develop a variety of skills relevant to succeeding in any given profession including workplace etiquette, interviewing skills, resume writing, and much more.

In addition, participants are assigned to a personal co-op coordinator who will help guide them through the program. Students have to meet with these guides before their first co-op. This usually occurs halfway through the sophomore year or during that following summer.

Co-op participation isn’t a requirement at Northeastern University. However, the vast majority of students opt for it. In fact, the school claims that 86% of students from the Class of 2016 took part in a minimum of one co-op program.

2. Drexel University (PA)

Drexel University is another school earning a spot on the list of the best colleges with co-op programs. Depending on what major students pursue, they might have to take anywhere between one and three co-ops in order to graduate.

Cooperative education at Drexel is a degree requirement for most majors. Drexel offers two co-op programs: the five-year program with three co-op experiences and the four year with one co-op experience.

This coincides with six months of study in between. It’s standard for students to start their co-ops during their junior year unless they’re taking five years to graduate in which case the program would start in their sophomore year.

3. Berea College (KY)

Berea College’s Labor Program, one of the greatest colleges with co-op programs, dates all the way back to 1859. All students attending Berea College have to work from 10 to 15 hours each week to complete their degrees.

These jobs can take place on campus or within the surrounding community. These co-op programs are all completed along with a complete course load, ensuring students don’t get caught behind their counterparts. The best part of the Berea Labor Program is that it allows students to go to school without having to pay tuition.

On top of the co-op programs, students have an opportunity to participate in a wide range of experiential learning opportunities while attending Berea College.

4. University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati has a world-class co-op program specifically for students who pursue majors through the College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Generally speaking, students end up completing anywhere between three to five semesters of co-op experiences before graduation, making it one of the most immersive programs of its kind.

Although students in the aforementioned program are required to participate in the programs, students in a select number of other majors can still join if they so choose.

If students aren’t able to participate for some reason, they could have the chance to undergo another experiential learning opportunity such as an internship or a national service-learning program.

5. Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Tech is a shoo-in for our list of the top colleges with co-op programs. It offers an elective five-year co-op initiative where students bounce in between working full time and studying throughout their junior year.

If you participate in this co-op program, you can expect to end up working a total of three semesters at least. This can sometimes extend to four or even five depending on what you’re doing.

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Georgia Tech states that its co-op program is one of the largest in the entire country, making it a great choice for students who are looking for a well-established, rewarding, and highly regarded program.

6. Elon University (NC)

Every student at Elon University is required to complete an experiential learning program. This requirement includes a wide range of programs including co-ops, internships, service-learning projects, independent research initiatives, study abroad programs, mentored leadership positions, and much, much more.

Unlike other universities that provide co-op programs to students who want to participate in them, Elon University requires it of their students.

This makes the school a great choice for students who enjoy having the extra push to complete this kind of program. If you’re looking for a variety of co-op program options, Elon University is an excellent choice.

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT is highly regarded for offering students a wide range of research opportunities and internship programs. If you’re a student looking for the best colleges with co-op programs, MIT should certainly be high on your list, especially if you’re looking for internships within the realm of science, engineering, and technology.

The MIT International Science and Technology program is a popular program through which students can participate in various research and teaching positions. The entire cost of the program is covered for accepted students.

This is the norm for MIT co-op programs as the school covers most of the costs. However, there are some programs where students will have to cover some of the expenses.

8. Stanford University (CA)

It should come as no surprise that Stanford University earns a spot as one of the best colleges with co-op programs in the entire country. This highly esteemed university offers students a wealth of internships to enrich their learning experience through practical, real-world experience in their desired field.

Students get placed all over the country and the world depending on their specific co-op program with many spots in nearby New York City. Many opportunities focus on scientific research, public service, community engagement, and career education. Co-op programs aren’t required at Stanford, but they’re highly recommended and rich in variety.

9. Endicott College (MA)

Students at Endicott College are required to participate in three different internships while pursuing a four-year degree. For students who are interested in pursuing a co-op program, this is a great way to get rewarded for their efforts beyond what these programs normally provide.

During their freshman and sophomore years, students need to participate in internships for a minimum of 120 hours.

Endicott College provides every student with an internship introductory and preparation class during the first semester so they can gain the skills, knowledge, and understanding needed to succeed in their co-op programs for the rest of their degree.

10. Duke University (NC)

When you’re looking for colleges with co-op programs, don’t look past Duke University. It might not get the same attention as some other universities on this list, but it provides a world-class education for students and a robust co-op program.

The school offers a wide range of internship programs each of which has unique requirements for participants, making it crucial to pay attention to your intended program’s specific rules. A great part of doing a co-op program through Duke University is their generous funding.

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If you end up participating in a low-paying – anything below $1,500 – or entirely unpaid internship, the school will donate anywhere between $600 to $3,000 to contribute to your efforts.

11. Agnes Scott College (GA)

You might not have heard of Agnes Scott College before, but it’s easily one of the best colleges with co-op programs. Every student is encouraged to participate in an internship before completing their studies.

It’s not a requirement to graduate from Anes Scott College, but there’s a community of support for co-op programs. In fact, the college even provides funding to students who decide to participate in an unpaid or low-paying public internship.

However, it’s important to note that the co-op program has to involve a public health or public service role in order to qualify for funds from the college.

12. Rochester Institute of Technology (NY)

The Rochester Institute of Technology has various co-op programs for students who are interested in gaining some real-world experience in their field of interest.

The specific co-op requirements vary between majors and colleges, making it important for high schoolers to determine what’s required for their intended field of study if they would attend RIT.

Every year, around 4,500 students finish a co-op program through the university. To qualify as a co-op, the university requires the program to employ a student for at least 35 hours each week. It’s standard for students who participate in co-op programs to receive payment on top of tuition-free enrollment in the school.

13. Purdue University—West Lafayette (IN)

Known for its world-class engineering program, Purdue University also makes it to the top of our list of fantastic colleges with co-op programs. The primary difference between Purdue’s co-op programs and those offered at other universities is the stress of establishing relationships with businesses.

Two men in smart casual wear shaking hands while working.

Instead of having students bounce around between different internships throughout their studies, Purdue requires students to continue working with the same businesses throughout the three or five-session program.

The purpose of this setup is to help students build a long-lasting relationship with an employer where they can further develop their skills and expertise in their field of interest.

14. Cornell University (NY)

Cornell University’s co-op programs take the form of summer programs. Instead of having students switch between academic-focused semesters and working semesters, Cornell concentrates its co-op programs during the summer so students don’t have to balance their time between professional and scholastic pursuits.

One of the college’s best-known summer programs is the Cornell in Hollywood program that offers students a film-related internship in the heart of cinema – Los Angeles.

There’s also a summer internship program that provides business-minded students with real-world experience at businesses in the area.

If you’re concerned about doing a co-op program in the middle of the school year, Cornell’s summer-focused programs are a great choice.

15. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)

WPI splits its co-op programs into two categories. The first category features internships and other experiential learning initiatives where students can gain credit for their work.

In the other group of co-op programs, you have the opportunities where students earn money in exchange for their work instead of credits.

The specifics vary between majors but these are important distinctions to recognize before applying to WIP. Students can also get valuable real-world experience without leaving the classroom through project-based learning plans at WIP that focus on solving real-world issues through projects.

16. Clemson University (SC)

Clemson University is another school worth considering when looking for colleges with co-op programs. Students at SC will find a wide variety of co-op programs and internships that can provide valuable, real-world, and practical experience in their respective fields of interest.

On top of these programs, the school also offers a unique eight-week internship that takes students across the world to various countries including Spain, Portugal, Ireland, and Australia. The program can cost anywhere between $6,300 and $8,100, however.

So, it’s important to make sure it lines up with your overall academic budget before making any decisions based on it.

17. Carnegie Mellon University (PA)

Carnegie Mellon University is another worthwhile consideration when searching for colleges with co-op programs. Due to its proximity to the country’s capital, it offers a semester-long program where students are immersed in the subworld of Washington, D.C.

The school doesn’t just encourage students to gain experiential learning. It also puts forth funding in some situations.

There’s a summer internship fund through which students can receive funding when taking unpaid or low-paying internships during the summer. This way, you can gain the experience you need in your desired field without breaking the bank.

18. George Washington University (DC)

Another important college with co-op programs near Washington, D.C. is none other than George Washington University – one of the area’s most renowned universities. The university notes on its website that over 12,000 internship opportunities are made available to undergraduate students as well as graduate-level classmen every single year.

Most of these experiential learning programs and internships are made available through specific majors, so students can gain real-world knowledge and experience in their respective fields of study. However, GWU also offers optional internships to students who qualify.

19. Bentley University (MA)

Bentley University is focused on helping students develop essential skills necessary in every career. Instead of having students participate in certain co-op programs during a single semester, year, or summer, the school focuses on spreading out the value of these programs throughout the year.

Through the HIRE Education initiative, students can choose from a wide range of experiential learning programs.

From their very first year, students can take seminars focused on career development, join career-focused communities where connections are built with local professionals, and participate in events catered to professional skills.

20. Bucknell University (PA)

Bucknell University has some great co-op program opportunities for students interested in gaining some practical experience alongside their academic studies. Perhaps the most exciting and unique program sees students joining professionals on Capitol Hill in the one-and-only Washington, D.C. Pretty cool, right?

There’s another special set of co-op programs at Bucknell University where students can job-shadow a wide range of professionals for a day or two. This gives students who don’t know what they want to study, a great opportunity to see what might pique their interest without making a serious time commitment.

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