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Co-operative Education

About Co-operative Education

Cooperative Education (Co-op) is an academic program that allows students to apply classroom theory in practical work settings and gain personal, academic and work skills over multiple semesters. Cooperative education at UCF is one of the largest programs in the country and assists more students in more disciplines and colleges than any other university in Florida.

Cooperative Education is:

  1. Multiple semesters, starting as early as sophmore year
  2. Progressively responsible experiences, usually with the same employer
  3. Structured for learning
  4. Major-related
  5. Off-campus
  6. Always paid
  7. For credit if it will count in a students degree program
Mission, Goals, and Objectives
Mission:

To enhance academic study and student competency development, promote regional economic vitality,and build ongoing partnerships with employers locally, nationally, and internationally through curriculum-specific applied learning experiences for UCF students.

Goals and Objectives:

To ensure that all students who participate in co-op apply course content and gain relevant academic, personal, and professional knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to become work-ready citizens upon graduation.

Objective 1a)

Offer progressively responsible experiences lasting multiple semesters, often with the same employer

Objective 1b)

Create real-world experiences that are structured for learning, paid, and related to the curriculum

GOAL 2:

Build strong partnerships with employers to produce strong learning environments for students while meeting workforce development needs.

Objective 2a)

Communicate on a regular basis with employers to develop a relationship that supports education

Objective 2b)

Maintain adequate documentation to ensure co-op positions are appropriately supervised, evaluated, and structured for learning

Co-operative Education Course Benefits

Success depends on all constituencies benefitting from the process. Student's benefits include:

Goals of the Course
  1. clarifying academic and career goals
  2. developing personal, academic, and work skills
  3. applying classroom theory to realistic work settings
  4. providing major- or career-related work experience
  5. increasing professional relationships
  6. granting access to state-of-the-art techniques and equipment
  7. enhancing prospects for employment upon graduation
  8. offering competitive salaries
Employer benefits include:
  1. attracting motivated and talented student employees
  2. creating a pipeline for future workforce needs
  3. providing cost-effective recruiting
  4. allowing participation and influence in the educational process
  5. broadening company visibility and reputation on campus
Faculty benefits include:
  1. revitalized teaching
  2. enhanced student learning
  3. infusing real-world examples into the classroom
  4. access to student learning outcome data
  5. providing community connections for research
University benefits include:
  1. greater student persistence to graduation
  2. access to student learning outcome data from employers
  3. use of outcome data for accreditation and curriculum reviewinterpersonal skills, and obtain earnings to support college expenses.
  4. increased rate of students working in their major field upon graduation
  5. productive and sustainable community partnerships for joint efforts
  6. higher degrees of loyalty to the university as alumni


Co-operative Education Course Description

The statements below explain both the contents of this course and your responsibilities as a UCF co-op student.

Goals of the Course

The co-op course provides a means for students to achieve academic, professional and personal outcomes as follows:

  1. Academic - integrate classroom theory with workplace practice and clarify academic goals;
  2. Professional - clarify career goals, understand workplace culture, gain workplace competencies, benefit from professional networking, and have better access to after-graduation employment opportunities;
  3. Personal - determine strengths and weaknesses, develop and enhance interpersonal skills, and obtain earnings to support college expenses.
Co-op Grades

An "S" grade is awarded when you satisfactorily complete your LEARNING OBJECTIVES and SEMESTER REPORT (plus other assignments if you are getting credit) on time, and successfully complete your co-op work assignment, reflected in a satisfactory EMPLOYER EVALUATION and satisfactory assessment by your co-op coordinator.

  1. An "I" will be given when you do not submit these items on time, and will revert to "U" when the above is not resolved in a timely manner.
  2. A "U" will be assigned when you do not complete written assignments, receive an unsatisfactory EMPLOYER EVALUATION, or prematurely terminate your work assignment without consultation and agreement from both the Cooperative Education Program and your employer.
Academic Credit

It is possible to earn academic credit hours for information you learn on a co-op assignment if the credit will count toward your degree program. The cost for co-op credit is the same as credit for any other credit course at UCF. To be registered for credit you must have the approval of your co-op coordinator prior to going on assignment. Students taking co-op for credit will be given additional assignments based on the number of credit hours earned, such as journals and special projects, in additional to the basic requirements listed below. These requirements are agreed upon at the beginning of the term and must be completed by the end of the term to receive a satisfactory grade.

Course Components on the Web

During the term, your coordinator may communicate with you by email as well as by letter, fax or phone. The syllabus for the co-op course is available both in hardcopy and on the web so you can complete the course assignments in whichever format you prefer. The web assignment forms are interactive and can be accessed through the co-op web page. Also, the co-op web course includes a forum in which you can interact with your co-op coordinator and other co-op students in your major about questions, issues and problems you encounter during your work term. Ask your coordinator for more information about how the web components will be used during your co-op assignment.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • What is internship and co-op?
  • How does internship and co-op work?
  • Who qualifies?
  • What are the benefits of internship and co-op?
  • Does internship or co-op delay graduation?
  • How do I apply for an internship or co-op?
  • What do I do once I get a job?
  • What is CPT?
  • What is the difference between CPT and OPT (Optional Practical Training)?
  • How is co-op an academic program?
  • May I earn academic credit for co-op-sponsored CPT?
  • Do I pay anything for co-op?
  • Do I need to complete a minimum of 20 UCF semester hours to qualify for co-op?
  • What salaries do co-op (CPT) students usually earn?
  • How long does it take to get hired?
  • Do employers offer their co-ops or interns professional positions when they graduate?
  • How do I join the co-op program?
What is internship and co-op?

An academic program. Work in a student's major field of study. Co-op: Paid experience-Multiple work terms (At least two consecutive semesters). Internship: Paid or unpaid experience-usually one semester.

How does co-op work?

Students participate in co-op in one of two methods: Parallel: Students work part-time year round while attending school full time. Alternating: Students work as full-time co-ops/interns every other term, alternating terms of full-time work with terms of full-time school.

How does internship work?

Generally, students intern part-time while attending school full-time. Sometimes students intern full-time during summer or via special internship programs (e.g., The Washington Center Internship Program).

Who qualifies?

Enrolled full time at UCF as degree seeking graduate or undergraduate. Completed a minimum of 20 college semester hours demonstrating a readiness to add another commitment to student's schedule. Maintain a 2.5/4.0 GPA. Co-op: Able to work at least 2 full semesters. Internship: Able to work at least 1 full semester prior to graduation.

What are the benefits of internship and co-op?

Clarifies career goals. Provides major-related work experience. Offers competitive salaries. Enhances prospects for employment upon graduation. Applies classroom theory to a realistic work setting. Grants access to state-of-the-art techniques and equipment. Opens opportunities for professional networking.

Does internship or co-op delay graduation?

Most students who participate in an internship or co-op graduate in the same time period as those who do not by including summers in their academic schedule. In the case of co-op, those who do take an extra semester find that they save time in job searches after graduation because they are offered professional positions with their internship or co-op employer or employers who give preference to students with professional experience.

How do you apply for an internship or co-op?

Complete the Application online, or come to the Experiential Learning office to fill it out. You will receive an email informing you that we have set-up a webpage for you and how you can access that page to enter your information and upload your resume. The email also guides you to the next step: meeting with your faculty coordinator.

What do I do once I get a job?

Contact your Experiential Learning faculty member and let them know the good news. At your registration interview your Experiential Learning faculty member registers you in the internship/co-op course and introduces you to the course assignments. Maintain contact with Experiential Learning faculty member throughout the semester. Complete all assignments..

What is the difference between CPT and OPT (Optional Practical Training)?

CPT allows you to work -- with certain restrictions -- either part-time or full-time in your major field while completing your degree program; OPT permits you to work without restrictions for one year, in your feild od study.

What is the difference between an "internship" or a "co-op" position?

Though the terms sometimes are used interchangeably by employers when referring to students working professionally in their major, there are some differences. Internships occur over a single semester, usually towards the end of a degree program, allow for earning degree credit for the experience, and may be paid or unpaid. Co-ops work multiple semesters, are always paid, and may or may not receive academic credit, depending on their major.

How is co-op an academic program?

CPT requires academic commitment and is a part of your educational program. The co-op program is responsible for verifying the "curricular practical training" aspect of your paid work experience, which is validated and confirmed through the Learning Objectives you design and describe in writing after you've begun working, and in the Semester Report and the Employer Evaluation you'll submit at the end of each semester you work.

May I earn academic credit for co-op-sponsored CPT?

Co-op for credit is available for students when it will count in their degree programs, either as a general elective or a departmental elective. This is decided in each academic department, usually by an advisor, so getting co-op credit depends upon your major or study program. Students may earn from one to three hours of degree credit for what they learn during each semester they work.

Do I pay anything for co-op?

When you are in co-op, you are registered for a co-op course each semester you work. If you are enrolled for one or more credit hours during the semesters you opt for CPT and are not taking co-op for credit, you do not pay a fee for your co-op course. If you take co-op for credit however, you do pay a fee for the credit as you would for any other credit course. If you are taking no other classes except co-op, you must pay a fee comparable to one hour at the in-state fee level. For instance, you are always enrolled for classes or thesis hours during fall and spring semesters in order to maintain your F-1 Visa status. During those semesters you would not pay a fee for co-op unless you were taking co-op for credit. Over summers however, you may wish to work full time and take no classes, since you would be charged a fee equal to one hour at the in-state fee level for co-op supported CPT. GTAs GRAs and GAs with summer appointments must confirm their eligibility for full time CPR with the ISC office.

Do I need to complete a minimum of 20 UCF semester hours to qualify for co-op?

If you are entering UCF as a freshman or as a first time student in the U.S. in a graduate program, you must complete 20 hours at UCF to qualify. However, if you have already earned 20 semester hours in the U.S., in any higher education institution, you already have enough credits to qualify. Employers prefer students to have completed a year of college work before they offer them professional work experience. USCIS requires students to wait nine (9) months before being eligible for CPT.

What salaries do co-op (CPT) students usually earn?

Hourly salaries vary both by major field and class standing.

How long does it take to get hired?

Some students get hired within the first week of applying for a position, while others may wait weeks or months, depending upon how quickly employers act upon the referrals they receive. There is no guarantee that a student will obtain a co-op position, but given enough time, most students find an appropriate position.

Do employers offer their co-ops or interns professional positions when they graduate?

Oftentimes, they do. While your CPT experience will give you a clear job-search advantage for employment elsewhere, the opportunity to remain with your CPT employer may also be possible. Most co-op employers use their co-op program to identify and train students for career-track positions within their companies.

How do I join the co-op program?
  1. Complete the co-op application online, or come to the Experiential Learning office to fill it out.
  2. Review the account setup page and obtain the required documents.
  3. Meet with your co-op coordinator.
  4. Meet with ISC advisor regarding legal employment authorization.

STUDENT APPLICATION

Please complete the following application to be considered for the co-op/internship programs through the Office of Experiential Learning at UCF.