How Co-op Works

Students start with a required co-op course that prepares them to succeed in their co-op experiences.  For undergraduates, the first co-op opportunity typically begins in the second half of sophomore year, and there are options to complete up to two co-ops in the course of a four-year program or up to three co-ops in the course of a five-year program. 

Northeastern provides a broad-based network of support that helps students prepare for and get the most from co-op, including an academic advisor, a co-op coordinator and if applicable, a global co-op coordinator.  Your co-op coordinator will guide you through the co-op process and help to identify various positions that best match your skills and career interests.  After you’ve completed your co-op assignment, you will be asked to reflect upon your experience and explain how it integrates with your classroom studies. The reflection process may include a variety of options such as one-on-one meetings with your co-op coordinator, writing assignments/or presentations, and online reflections throughout your co-op.

Performance Standards 

Undergraduate Co-op Performance Standards encourage professional and ethical behaviors throughout the co-op process, and clarify procedures required for continued success of our students and the co-op program. The College of Engineering Undergraduate Co-op Performance Standards are communicated to all students in the Introduction to Cooperative Education course as part of their preparation for the first co-op experience. The standards establish co-op professional expectations of the student throughout the co-op search process and during the co-op term, and address co-op related issues that may involve performance and the expected duration of co-op.  In the event that a situation arises that requires special consideration, the College of Engineering Co-op Standing Committee may be consulted. 

The College of Engineering Co-op Standing Committee consists of five co-op faculty members appointed from the College’s Co-op Faculty, Assistant Dean for Departmental Co-op (ex officio), Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Academic Advising (ex officio), and  Associate Dean (ex officio). This committee will review all cases concerning requested exceptions and co-op performance that does not meet the standards referenced above. The committee may be petitioned by the student, Co-op Coordinator and/or Assistant Dean for Departmental Co-op and will determine the future eligibility of the student for subsequent co-op assignments, and if the behaviors warrant referral to the University Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution. The decision of the committee will be considered final.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to be eligible for co-op, undergraduates students must have:

  • successfully completed the Introduction to Co-op course with a grade of D or higher;
  • earned 32 semester hours of credit; 
  • a recorded GPA on their transcript;
  • a minimum 2.0 GPA for domestic co-op and 2.5 for international co-op;
  • no outstanding disciplinary or academic probation issues;
  • at least one semester remaining in their degree program, after completing their final co-op.

Undergraduate Co-op Guidelines

  1. Students are permitted to participate in up to three co-op experiences as a 5-year undergraduate student or up to two co-op experiences as a 4-year undergraduate student.
  2. Students enrolled in the “Plus One” accelerated master’s degree program are permitted to participate in up to two co-ops during their undergraduate program, and the term(s) following bachelor's completion are to be used only to fulfill graduate course requirements.
  3. Students are expected to participate in co-op activities full time for six month periods, and co-ops must be aligned with academic terms (fall/summer 2 and spring/summer 1).  After a co-op offer has been accepted, petitions to reduce co-op length will not be approved.  Co-op start and end dates are set by the employer at the time of hire; co-op start and end dates must fall within two weeks of the co-op term start and end dates.  Any exceptions must be approved by your Co-op Coordinator prior to accepting a co-op position or initiating any change in start or end date after accepting or starting a position.
  4. Students with a demonstrated academic need to participate in a reduced length 4 month co-op must receive approval from their Co-op Coordinator prior to starting a co-op search.  The four month co-op must align with the fall, spring, or summer1/summer 2 terms with a minimum length of twelve weeks.  Specific start and end dates must be approved by their Co-op Coordinator to align with registrar requirements.  All four month co-op positions must be self-developed or posted as four month co-op in NUCareers; co-op positions posted in NU Careers for six months will not be approved as four month positions without pre-approval from the student’s assigned Co-op Coordinator at the start of the co-op search.  Additionally students must include their co-op availability on their resume.
  5. Co-ops are required to be full-time at 35-40 hours per week. An exception to 32 hours per week may be permitted if the reduction is required by the co-op employer and approved by the assigned Co-op Coordinator.
  6. Co-ops are required to be onsite at the employer to maximize immersion in the professional work environment and provide consistent engagement with a supervisor, to include regular assignment of work and evaluation of deliverables.  In rare circumstances second or third time co-op students not utilizing CPT may be permitted to work remotely (for example if returning to a prior co-op that had been performed onsite); such cases must be approved by both the Co-op Coordinator and co-op employer, and further review by the COE Co-op Standing Committee may also be required.
  7. Co-ops are an integral part of the educational experience for Northeastern students.  As such, co-ops following a leave of absence or in a student’s final semester are not permitted.  Students must return to campus for at least one term following their final co-op to take courses prior to graduating.
  8. Students may develop their own co-op opportunities using external resources outside of NUCareers, in accordance with co-op eligibility requirements and co-op guidelines.  Any self-developed positions must be approved by the assigned Co-op Coordinator prior to accepting a job offer.
  9. A student in the process of seeking a cooperative education experience who violates the co-op performance standards as outlined in the COE Undergraduate Co-op Agreement (link to co-op agreement form), will be deemed ineligible to participate in co-op.  Students in violation of the co-op performance standards may also be ineligible for future co-op experiences.
  10. Students who are dismissed from or resign from a co-op job for circumstances under their control will receive a U (unsatisfactory) grade for the co-op work experience.  Students may also be ineligible for future co-op experiences.
  11. Policies for Global Co-op follow the same standards as co-ops in the U.S., regardless of location, and academic or other disciplinary action may result from early dismissal or resignation from a global co-op.
  12. Final decisions regarding any exceptions to the above requirements need to be approved by the student’s assigned Co-op Coordinator and/or by petition to the COE Co-op Standing Committee. 
  13. Students who wish to petition for an exception to an established policy due to an individual situation or circumstance may appeal to the COE Co-op Standing Committee in writing. To begin this process, contact Assistant Dean of Cooperative Education Lorraine Mountain, with your completed appeal petition. Upon receiving your appeal, the committee will recommend an appropriate course of action, which is final and binding for all parties.

Undergraduate Students – Taking a Course While on Co-op

Co-op jobs are full-time (35+ hours per week) demanding positions, and as such it is not recommended that students enroll in classes during co-op.

To enroll in one course, the following requirements must be met:

  1. Discuss with your co-op coordinator, and communicate the reasons for taking a course during co-op.  Students must provide the course meeting time, as well as the job supervisor’s name, phone number, email address, company name, and whether the supervisor has given approval. On campus courses that meet earlier than 4pm Monday-Friday will not be approved.
  2. Inform and gain approval from your co-op job supervisor, particularly if the class impacts regular work hours. If approved, work out a plan to fulfill work responsibility.
  3. Talk to your financial aid counselor to determine additional cost/semester and how this may affect your personal award situation.
  4. If your manager has approved one course on co-op, you can register on-line without a petition. You must complete “I Am Here” at the appropriate time. 

To enroll in two courses* during co-op (Fall or Spring semester only)**, you will also need to:

  1. Receive approval from your co-op coordinator, academic advisor and co-op job supervisor
  2. Fill out a Petition Registration Form
  3. Complete “I Am Here” at the appropriate time

*Due to of the demands of full-time co-op work along with two academic courses, such approvals are rare, and the decision to approve will depend on the manager’s input, your co-op progress, past employer evaluations, and your academic record.

**Please note that students are not permitted to enroll in two classes during a summer session while on co-op.  Taking two courses during a summer term is the equivalent of a full time course-load, comparable to enrollment in four courses in the fall or spring semester.