What is cooperative education?

Cooperative education is an educational program in which you alternate periods of academic study with periods of employment in positions related to your academic, career, or personal interests. The combination of academic study and work produces an overall learning experience that gives greater meaning to your studies and more direction to your career development. Co-op faculty coordinators and co-op courses help you prepare for co-op success and identify opportunities that match your goals and interests. The University will do everything it can to help you find the best opportunities, but it is up to you to ensure your success. That means preparing for interviews, performing well on the job, and drawing on your workplace and classroom learning to sharpen your professional and academic goals.

Who participates in co-op?

The majority of full-time undergraduates participate in co-op. In some colleges and programs, participation in co-op is required.

What is a co-op Pattern of Attendance (POA)?

In general, co-op students are grouped into one of two alternating sections, known as POA AA and POA BA. While one POA is on co-op, the other is attending classes. You will receive your co-op POA assignment your freshman year.

When do I go on co-op and for how long?

This will depend on your POA and the academic requirements of your college and/or major. Typically, full-time undergraduates complete up to three 6-month co-ops during their five years at Northeastern, for a total of up to eighteen months of work experience. Co-op assignments begin at the end of June (for POA AA) and at the beginning of January (for POA BA). There are some exceptions to the co-op schedule within the Bouve College of Health Sciences. Students who enter Northeastern as freshmen usually begin co-op either in the middle or at the end of their sophomore year. Transfer students can start co-op after completing at least one academic semester at Northeastern. Inter-national students on F-1 visas must be in full-time student status for at least nine months before starting co-op. See your co-op faculty coordinator for information about your particular schedule.

Can I change co-op Pattern of Attendance (POA)?

If you are interested in changing POA, you will need to do the following steps in order:

  1. Meet with your co-op faculty coordinator to determine if it is in your best interest, and whether it is feasible to do so.
  2. Check with your academic adviser to make sure that changing POA won’t disrupt any class sequences.
  3. Contact your financial aid counselor (617.373.3190) to have the distribution of your aid adjusted to accommodate your new course and co-op schedule. If you do not complete these financial aid arrangements in advance, you might reduce the amount of some types of federal aid, such as the Federal Stafford Loan and Pell Grant.

Am I guaranteed a co-op job?

Your co-op faculty coordinator will make every reasonable effort to help you find a position, but Northeastern cannot guarantee that you will have a job each co-op term. Because of job-market or other conditions, occasionally even a well-qualified student may not obtain a position. Working closely with your co-op faculty coordinator and meeting all required deadlines will benefit you in your co-op job search process. Also, you will expand your job opportunities by considering a variety of geographical locations and types of positions, including international opportunities. If you are unable to obtain a co-op job, you may be permitted to take courses, do volunteer work, or engage in other appropriate activities as agreed upon with your co-op faculty coordinator. Your options depend upon your college and academic program.

What are co-op courses?

The first step in participating in the co-op program is to take a required one-credit course that introduces co-op and addresses career choices and career management issues. You will develop job search skills, including resume writing and interview preparation, that will maximize your chances of getting the co-op job that best meets your needs.
The title of the introductory course varies depending on the college and major. Meet with your academic adviser if you are unsure which course you will need to complete. If you are a student in the School of General Studies, Ujima Scholars, or Liberal Arts Major Preference (LAMP) programs, you will work with a co-op faculty coordinator in these programs until you declare a major.

How and when do I register for co-op?

It is very important that you register for co-op during the semester prior to the one when you plan to be on co-op. You can register either by telephone or through the self-service Web site myNEU.neu.edu. Students who have not formally registered or contacted the Department of Cooperative Education may be withdrawn from the University by the Registrar. Withdrawal could affect your eligibility for financial aid for up to a full academic year.

What happens if I change my major or concentration?

If you change your major, you will likely be assigned to a new co-op faculty coordinator who specializes in your new major. Notify your former co-op faculty coordinator so your records can be transferred and you can be referred to a new coordinator. You are responsible for meeting promptly with your new co-op faculty coordinator.

What circumstances might affect my co-op eligibility?

To qualify academically for co-op, you must maintain the annual grade-point average required by your college. These are listed in the Northeastern University Undergraduate Catalog (visit www.registrar.neu.edu) or in the individual college’s guidebooks. You may also seek the advice of your academic adviser. Should you fail to make appropriate academic progress in your program, you might not be permitted to participate in co-op. You may also be precluded from interviewing for co-op positions if you experience disciplinary problems or demonstrate unsatisfactory performance on an earlier co-op job, or if you fail to follow the procedures established by the Department of Cooperative Education.
In addition, some co-op employers may require certain pre-employment and/or during-employment screenings, including physical examinations, criminal record checks, and drug testing. Failure to participate in, complete, or pass these types of qualifying screenings may impact your eligibility and/or opportunity for co-op positions.

Can I participate in co-op if I am an athlete?

Yes, student-athletes are eligible to participate in co-op. We encourage those who play fall sports to complete co-op assignments during the January-June cycle (POA BA) and those who play spring sports to utilize the June-December cycle (POA AA). Student-athletes competing in winter sports may participate in co-op in either cycle, but are strongly encouraged to obtain local placements with flexible schedules that allow them to work at their job while practicing and competing in their sport. Winter athletes need to be aware that their co-op options may be more limited because of their schedules. Be sure to discuss your athletic and work schedule with your co-op faculty coordinator.

Where do I live while on co-op?

Planning for your housing needs is important. If you live in a residence hall and accept a local position, you may continue living in the residence hall. If you get a position outside the Boston area, you may transfer your housing deposit to another semester, and you are responsible for finding your own housing and transportation in the other locale. Some companies may provide housing and relocation assistance. Your co-op faculty coordinator will inform you of housing options regarding specific out-of-state employers.

May I work outside of Boston?

Co-op opportunities exist around the country and around the globe for students in selected majors. Discuss your preferences and options with your co-op faculty coordinator six months before your next co-op is slated to begin. Your coordinator may already have established contacts in your preferred region or can advise you on how to develop leads. If your interests go beyond the United States, the Department of International Cooperative Education will advise you of your global options.

What is the process for getting a co-op job?

First, take the one-credit introduction to co-op course. Contact your academic adviser for the exact name of the course as the title varies depending on your major. Then, meet with your co-op faculty coordinator during the semester before you begin working to discuss your career interests and personal and professional goals, develop your resume, and address job-search strategies.
Once you have met your program’s requirements, you will be eligible for referral to prospective employers. The referral process may vary by academic program; your co-op faculty coordinator will advise you of any deadlines for application. For information about co-op outside the United States, please call or visit the Department of International Co-op.

What is myNEU COOL (Co-op Opportunities Online)?

MyNEU COOL is Northeastern’s online database of co-op jobs, which you can access through the co-op section of the self-service Web site (myNEU.neu.edu). This system makes it easier than ever to connect with your assigned co-op faculty, upload your resume, and find just the right co-op job. Here are some of the highlights of what you can do with myNEU COOL.

  • Use the calendar section to schedule an appointment or view your co-op faculty coordinator’s walk-in hours.
  • Search and sort co-op positions based on your major, interests, and skills, and build a preference list of positions that interest you.
  • Post your resume for your co-op faculty coordinator to review.
  • Submit job preferences to your co-op faculty coordinator, who will then review the options, refine the list, and refer you to select employers.
  • Track your placement process.

If you have any questions about the database, log on to myNEU, go to the co-op section, and take the myNEU COOL quick tour.

Can I find my own job?

Northeastern has a range of resources available to help you find a co-op position, including your co-op faculty coordinator, myNEU COOL, the international co-op department, and the career services office. We encourage you to make use of these resources to find a co-op position that matches your interests and needs. You may also choose to make or call upon your own connections to find a co-op job. If you find your own position, keep the following in mind:

  • Be sure to discuss your plans with your co-op faculty coordinator well in advance of the co-op period. Your coordinator must approve your proposal and will verify the position with the employer before you accept employment.
  • It is your responsibility to inform the employer that you are a Northeastern University co-op student and that you will return to the University at the end of your co-op term.
  • Remember that co-op students cannot be employed as consultants or independent contractors.
  • If you are considering co-op positions outside the United States, contact the international co-op department well in advance in order to work with staff members on the job search process.

What is experiential co-op?

Travel, independent study, volunteer work, and internships can be valuable educational experiences. Contact your co-op faculty coordinator well in advance to see if the activities you plan qualify for experiential co-op credit. Your experiential co-op must satisfy the same learning and co-op/academic integration objectives that apply to all other co-op positions.

How do I accept a job?

Your acceptance of a co-op job is considered final when you confirm it with your employer and co-op faculty coordinator either verbally or in writing. Once you accept a position, you must notify all other employers to whom you were referred that you are no longer available. You may not accept more than one job offer. You must remain on your co-op job until you complete the work period that you agreed to with your employer.

What happens first on the job?

At the beginning of your co-op term, you and your supervisor will define the duties involved in your co-op job. These duties need to be listed on the “Co-op Student Performance Evaluation” form, which you can access through the co-op section of the self-service Web site (myNEU.neu.edu). Your supervisor will complete the rest of this form at the end of your co-op term.

How much will I be paid?

Compensation is set by the employer and depends on the industry, the level of the position, and the local economy. Your co-op faculty coordinator can give you specific compensation information for your program. You do not pay tuition while you are on co-op.

Do I get a vacation?

Vacations usually occur only at the end of academic semesters. The University calendar does not allow for vacations at any time during co-op terms. You are expected to work from the beginning of the co-op term to the end of your assignment. Some employers may need you to work beyond the published end dates of your co-op term. Discuss exact start and end dates with your employer and co-op faculty coordinator.

Most co-op students will have a 7 1/2-week vacation in either the sophomore or junior year. You may also take a summer vacation at the end of your freshman year, but once you begin co-op, you will either be in school or on co-op during most of the summer months.

Can I take time off while on co-op?

Employers expect that you will be responsible and that your attendance will be regular and punctual. As an employee, you must arrange for your personal and college-related commitments to take place outside of regular working hours. If you must take time off from work for special circumstances, you must contact your co-op faculty coordinator before requesting permission from your employer. If you have military training obligations or student athletic team obligations that require time off from work, notify your co-op faculty coordinator and your prospective employer prior to the start of your co-op assignment.

May I take courses while on co-op?

Whenever work and student activity conflict while you are on co-op, the needs of your job must come first. You may enroll in classes that take place outside of your regular working hours. However, you should check with your academic adviser in advance or review your individual program’s policies. If you are interested in taking a course that interferes with your co-op commitment, you must petition and receive approval from both your co-op faculty coordinator and your employer prior to accepting your co-op position.

Do I get credit for co-op?

Students who fully and successfully participate in co-op receive eighteen semester-hours of Experiential Learning Credit (ELC) for each six-month co-op experience. Grades of Satisfactory (S), Unsatisfactory (U), and Incomplete (X) are assigned and will appear on your transcript. Although ELC is not added to the academic credit hours required for graduation, your transcript will reflect your grade for each co-op term. Awarding this credit indicates the value of the co-op learning experience and enhances your future career opportunities.

Once I obtain a job, do I keep in touch with my co-op faculty coordinator?

Once you receive and accept a co-op job offer, contact your co-op faculty coordinator immediately to confirm your employment status and complete any necessary paperwork. If you fail to do so, you may be subject to withdrawal from the University by the registrar. While you are on co-op, you should contact your co-op faculty coordinator for assistance if any questions or problems arise.

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