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Cooperative Education

Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services

Experience That Pays

Cooperative education (co-op) is the hallmark of your RIT education and provides an opportunity to put classroom lectures, textbook theories, undergraduate research and your personal initiative to the ultimate test-performance in the work place. Today's top employers are looking for graduates who have professional work experience in addition to a quality academic background. At RIT, you'll get both. RIT has the fourth oldest and one of the largest cooperative education programs in the world. Hundreds of companies-from Fortune 500 firms to smaller, privately owned companies-come to campus each quarter to recruit students for co-op positions. By the time you graduate from RIT, your résumé will reflect not only your academic record but a significant amount of real work experience in your science discipline.

RIT emphasizes career education and our highly respected cooperative education program often motivates students to choose RIT over other colleges. RIT has the fourth oldest and one of the largest cooperative education programs in the world. If you enroll in a program with a co-op component your co-op experience will be an exciting part of your RIT education. By the time you graduate you will be well on your way to achieving your career goals.

What is Co-op?

Your studies take on new meaning when you're working in a lab, performing environmental research in the wilderness, or working with integrated sensing systems. Cooperative education offers you professional experience, and it also provides you with a salary-real income that you can apply toward tuition, books, and living expenses. Co-op is a great way to develop skills that cannot be mastered in the classroom, including leadership, decision-making, communication, professionalism, flexibility, and independence. Your studies take on new meaning when you're working in a lab. Science co-op positions are among the most exciting, diverse and high-paying opportunities available, and many students receive permanent job offers during their co-op experiences.

How Does it Work?

In our cooperative education plan (co-op), a student alternates quarters of paid work with quarters on campus in academic study for two to four years. Co-op employment experience in a student’s field of study has many advantages.

Through co-op, students often gain insights that help them with classroom work. Co-op gives them a chance to find out what working in their field is really like, and acquiring practical experience that is valuable in getting a job or into graduate school is another benefit. Income from this work-study program enables students to obtain a high-quality education at a cost often comparable to that of a public education.

RIT’s school year is divided into four 11-week quarters: fall, winter, spring, summer. Students in the five-year co-op programs in biology, biotechnology, applied mathematics, applied statistics, computational mathematics, biomedical computing, and physics attend classes during the fall, winter, and spring of their first two years. During the last half of the second year, they work with the Office of Cooperative Education and Career Services to obtain a co-op position, possibly starting as early as the coming summer. At the beginning of the third year, students begin alternating quarters of work and study, as shown in the charts below. Students in the five-year chemistry, chemistry (environmental option), biochemistry, and polymer chemistry co-op plans follow the same kind of schedule, except that their co-op experience could start as early as the summer of the first year.

The internship plan

Students in the medical sciences such as diagnostic medical sonography (ultrasound), and physician assistant programs do not participate in co-op. Instead they spend three years on campus in academic work and then gain invaluable clinical experience during the fourth year at a clinical training site.

Sample Employers

With co-op, you'll have the chance to sample many areas of your career field and apply your skills in a variety of situations. Maybe you'll work for the same company for more than one assignment. Or perhaps you'll work for different companies or in different geographic locations each time you leave campus. No matter which way you go, co-op is an essential part of your career exploration and provides critical connections between your education and the real world.

Some recent co-op employers

  • IBM
  • Bausch & Lomb
  • Kodak
  • Novartis Agra Business
  • Xerox
  • Genencor International
  • National Human Genome Research Institute
  • NASA
  • Department of Labor Statistics
  • E.P.A.
  • Polaroid