Co-op FAQs

Q: What is cooperative education (co-op)?

Co-op is an educational program in which students alternate periods of academic study in the classroom with periods of full-time co-op employment in positions related to their academic and/or career interests. This combination provides an integrated learning experience that enhances both the academic experience and career development.

Q: When do students start co-op?

Students start their first co-op the second semester of their sophomore year or during the summer after their sophomore year.

Q: What is the difference between an academic advisor and a co-op coordinator?

An academic advisor works with the student to develop their academic schedule and ensure that graduation requirements are met. The co-op coordinator works with the student to prepare them for co-op and the interviewing process. They help the student identify co-op jobs that best fit with their academic, professional and personal goals. Coordinators and advisors collaborate together to ensure that the student integrates their classroom and co-op experiences.

Q: How are students assigned a co-op coordinator?

Students will be assigned a co-op coordinator based on their major. Students will be required to complete a “co-op preparation course” which will be given (more often than not) by their assigned co-op coordinator.

Q: What does Northeastern do to prepare students for co-op?

For starters, students are required to take a mandatory co-op preparation course, taught by the co-op coordinators, that covers topics such as career exploration, resume writing, interviewing skills, and professional etiquette in the workplace. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of the Department of Career Design, which provides workshops, mock interviewing sessions, daily drop-in hours and individual one-hour counseling to graduating seniors, alumni, and students preparing for co-op as well as a variety of other topics (e.g. choosing a major, career/life planning, and interviewing techniques). In addition, Career Design will try to help students find a summer internship (usually the summer after the freshman year) to build their professional skills in preparation for co-op.

Q: How do students get a co-op job?

Once the student has completed the co-op preparation course, they will begin working with their co-op coordinator, meeting individually with them to review appropriate positions and apply for jobs that are of interest to the student and for which the student is qualified. Similar to any job search, the employers review resumes and select students for interviews. Employers (not the co-op coordinator) make the final hiring decision.

Q: Do students work full time and take classes at the same time?

Most co-op positions require full-time work. It is possible to take a class (on-campus or online) during co-op. The co-op coordinator will assist the student in determining whether it is possible to balance coursework with specific co-op positions. It’s not possible to take a full load of classes and also do a six-month co-op.

Q: Are students required to work in Boston?

Co-op jobs are available in over three dozen states and in approximately 90 countries. While many students work in the Boston area, we encourage students to be flexible about the location in order to ensure the best possible experience and future career paths. We encourage students to take advantage of doing an global co-op as another way to gain a different perspective on their work experience and to take that opportunity to explore the world.  We highly recommend students ask their co-op coordinator about these options and the requirements needed.

Q: What happens if a student doesn’t get a co-op?

Northeastern has a large number of co-op jobs available to students (domestically and internationally), and the co-op coordinator will work closely with the student to help them secure a suitable position. However, in rare cases, due to market conditions, economic circumstances or other factors, a student may not get a co-op job in a given semester. In that case and depending on their field of study and program, they may return to classes and begin the process of applying for co-op jobs for the next semester.  Again, the student needs to speak with their co-op coordinator to ensure they are fulfilling their co-op requirements.

Q: Are students required to participate in co-op?

Co-op is the cornerstone of a Northeastern education, and the majority of students participate in co-op (for the class of 2016, 96% of graduates participated in at least one co-op, 78% participated in two or more co-ops), but it is not required for graduation. Undergraduates who choose not to pursue co-op are required to fulfill Northeastern’s experiential learning requirements by participating in at least one of the following: research, service learning, or study abroad programs.