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EXPLORE NORTHEASTERN

Undergraduate Co-op

Northeastern’s cooperative education program is one of the largest and most innovative in the world. This form of experiential learning sees students alternating between periods of academic study and work experiences in their fields of interest. Co-op is central to the College of Engineering student experience, helping to build a foundation of skills and experience so students become highly competitive candidates when they graduate and enter their full-time job search.  Co-op students have the opportunity to:

  • Discover and refine short- and long-term personal, educational and career goals
  • Explore the fields of engineering and the range of jobs available in an ever-changing world
  • Apply academic studies to real-world challenges
  • Develop a professional engineering identity

Co-op is not required, although it is highly encouraged. Almost all students participate in co-op, with undergraduates typically completing two or three during their time at Northeastern. Co-op placements are full-time positions with compensation and are available domestically and globally.

Rachael Heiss, industrial engineering student, did a co-op at SpaceX.

Students are fully supported in preparing for and getting the most from their co-op experience. Each student is connected with an academic advisor, co-op coordinator, and if applicable, a global co-op coordinator. The student’s co-op coordinator will guide them through the co-op process and help to identify various positions that best match their skills and career interests.

Preparation:

Students start with a required 1 credit, semester long co-op course that provides them with the tools needed for successful co-op searches. These include resume writing, job search strategies, interview preparation, professional and ethical behaviors, co-op policies and procedures and identifying learning outcomes. Students are also encouraged to identify and describe their skills, work values and motivators and to apply this knowledge to their personal and professional lives.

Flexible Undergraduate Degree and Co-op Options:

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.

Degree(s) Years to
Complete
Number of
Co-op Periods
BS 4 2
BS 5 3
PlusOne 5 2

Coop Patterns

Schedule A
Co-op Jan-Jun
Semester Schedule B
Co-op Jul-Dec
1st Yr Classes Fall Classes
Classes Spring Classes
Classes/Study Abroad Summer 1 Classes/Study Abroad
Vacation Summer 2 Vacation
2nd Yr Classes Fall Classes
Co-op Spring Classes
Summer 1 Classes
Classes Summer 2 Co-op
3rd Yr Classes Fall
Co-op Spring Classes
Summer 1 Classes
Classes Summer 2 Co-op
4th Yr Classes Fall
Classes Spring Classes

Note: there are 8 equivalent semesters of class for Bachelor of Science degree

Job Search:

Co-op students use Northeastern’s internal jobs database NUcareers to identify and apply for jobs during the search process. Students learn how to use the system during their co-op class. Students are also encouraged to search for opportunities outside of NUcareers through networking, LinkedIn, and other jobs websites. Jobs found outside of NUcareers must be reviewed and approved by the co-op coordinator. Employers will contact candidates directly to arrange interviews and to make job offers. Students are asked to stay in close contact with their coordinators throughout the search process.

Reflection and Evaluation:

Students are asked to reflect upon their co-op experience both during and after the completion of their co-op. This provides students with the opportunity to be thoughtful about their experience, their learning outcomes and how the experience integrates with their classroom studies. The reflection process may include on-line reflections as well as one-on-one meetings with the student’s co-op coordinator and writing assignments/or presentations.

Is co-op mandatory in the College of Engineering?

All Northeastern undergraduate students must complete one form of experiential learning: either co-op (domestic or international), research or a course that includes a service learning component.  Although co-op is not required, it is strongly encouraged.  Most College of Engineering students complete two or three co-ops during their time at Northeastern.

How does the co-op process work?

Visit Undergraduate Co-op for information about the co-op process, requirements and guidelines.

When will I be assigned a co-op coordinator?

A co-op coordinator will be assigned to each student at the beginning of the semester when the co-op class is taken.

When will I receive my co-op pattern?

College of Engineering students will receive their co-op pattern by the end of their first year.  This pattern determines when the student will be on co-op and/or classes, and remains with them throughout the degree program.  Students who transfer into Northeastern will meet with their academic advisor to determine their co-op pattern.

What kinds of co-op jobs are available?

Co-op jobs may vary by semester depending on industry demand.  The co-op coordinators evaluate all opportunities to ensure appropriate learning experiences for our students.  Jobs span a wide range of industries including aerospace/aviation, biomedical, consumer products, defense, power/energy, robotics, construction/HVAC, healthcare, consulting, finance, manufacturing and technology.  The NUcareers system also allows students to apply to co-op positions outside of the College of Engineering, as appropriate.

Coordinators work individually with each student to determine the types of jobs that match the student’s skills and career goals.  Eligibility for each job depends on criteria established by the job description and competitiveness of the applicant pool. Previous experience, grades, communication skills, technical aptitude, and professional and emotional maturity also play a factor in eligibility. Students are required to dedicate substantial effort to their job search and work with their co-op coordinator in a professional and collaborative manner.

Where are co-op jobs located?

Many jobs are located in the Greater Boston area, however, students are encouraged to “think globally” by applying to jobs outside of the area as well.  NUcareers has postings all over the country and the world.  We encourage students to work with their co-op coordinator to explore jobs outside of NUcareers as well to widen their job search into different geographic areas.  The College of Engineering has a designated co-op coordinator for global co-op searches to further assist with this process.  All student-developed jobs must be approved by the student’s co-op coordinator.

Can international students do co-op?

Many international students participate in the co-op program.  International students must receive authorization from the Office of Global Services (OGS) before taking part in any co-op experience.

International students should review the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) requirements on the Office of Global Services (OGS) website. Students on F-1, J-1, and other visas that allow curricular practical training (CPT) are permitted to go on co-op under a co-op coordinator’s supervision. Upon acceptance of a job, international students are required to complete a CPT Authorization Request Form and follow the instructions to gain needed work authorization. During the process, students should work closely with their co-op coordinator and the Office of Global Services (OGS).

While many employers hire international students or permanent residents, some (such as government contractors requiring US security clearance) are unable to do so. International students may consider a “home country co-op,” returning to their country of origin during the six-month work period. This does not require CPT authorization, and for some students it provides a welcome opportunity to work closer to home. Students considering this option should discuss it with their co-op coordinator as early as possible.

Am I guaranteed a job?

Getting a job in the real world depends on personal skills, experience, and professionalism, and can also be influenced by external factors such as market conditions and the size of the applicant pool. Co-op coordinators work to prepare students for a competitive job search process by:

  • Requiring a level of professionalism before the job search begins.
  • Working individually to improve job search skills and employability.
  • Forming relationships with employers to develop new job opportunities and improve the quality of existing ones.

Even with those supports, the decision to hire rests with employers. In competitive job markets, students with weaker experience, grades, communication or job search skills may have difficulty obtaining co-op positions. Co-op coordinators will work closely with these students to identify positions that will be the best fit.

What kind of salary can I expect to receive?

College of Engineering co-op coordinators provide salary guidelines to employers, however employers make salary decisions based on the type of position, location, student skill sets, industry and their internal budgets.   Salary is one of many factors students consider when accepting a job offer.  Students are strongly encouraged to discuss all factors of concern with their co-op coordinator.

How many hours should I expect to work while on co-op?

The College of Engineering approves full-time positions that are 35-40 hours/week. Students are expected to work full time throughout the duration of their co-op, and part time positions are not approved. Students are also not allowed to work remotely in order to provide them with the experience of working in a professional environment; exceptions to this should be appealed to the Undergraduate Co-op Committee.

Can I take class while on co-op?

View “Undergraduate Students – Taking a Class While on Co-op” section on the Undergraduate Co-op page.

Can I work for the employer more than once?

Yes. However, before accepting a position with a previous co-op employer, consider the role for potential new learning and professional growth and discuss these with your coordinator.

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.

We have provided this set of job descriptions to first-year undergraduate students to explore the different majors. These examples are taken from actual co-op job descriptions, but are changed to preserve the identity of the company, and do not represent currently available positions.

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, as well as in the College of Engineering Undergraduate Co-op AgreementThe 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, assistant dean for Undergraduate Academic Advising, and associate dean. 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.

  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 the 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 4-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 4-month co-op positions must be self-developed or posted as a 4-month co-op in NUCareers; co-op positions posted in NU Careers for six months will not be approved as 4-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 College of Engineering 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 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.

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.