Cooperative Education

What is Co-op?

Cooperative Education, or co-op, is a unique kind of education at RIT. As the keystone to experiential education, a co-op gives you the opportunity to apply what you’re learning in the classroom through meaningful work experience.

A screenshot from a video showing hexagons on the left and text on the right saying: "What is Co-op?"

An RIT Co-op in Industry is:

  • Full-time (35 hours or more per week)
  • Typically paid employment
  • Directly related to your field of study
  • Single term to two consecutive terms in length
  • Tuition-free
  • Part of your academic schedule
  • An off-campus experience where a student is immersed in the workplace

Co-op gives you the opportunity to:

  • Help define your career path after graduation
  • Apply the theory you are learning in your course work to real, professional situations
  • Earn a reasonable salary, which will help finance your education
  • Develop additional technical skills and enhance vital soft skills
  • Network with team members and professionals in the company to help accelerate your future job search
  • Stand-out to recruiters in your full-time employment search after graduation with an experience that can elevate your starting salary, compared to other entry-level candidates

Did you know RIT has two additional ways to gain co-op experience?

  • Full-time paid work experience at RIT. 
  • Students performing an RIT Co-op are considered RIT employees. 
  • Hire paperwork is processed by the Student Employment Office.
  • Registered full-time experience (unpaid or stipend) offered at RIT. 
  • Students performing an Entrepreneurial Co-op work for themselves rather than an employer, and are not considered employees of RIT. 


Academic Level

Undergraduate students must be in good academic standing with a minimum of a 2.0 GPA. Students are not eligible for co-op after they have completed all their degree requirements.

Graduate students must be in good academic standing with a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and have completed one academic year. Students are not eligible for co-op after they have completed their degree requirements. Exceptions can be made only with departmental approval.


The majority of undergraduate programs at RIT require co-op. Click on your degree in this list of RIT degree programs to learn about your program's co-op requirements, options, and wage data.

College Undergraduate Graduate Doctorate
College of Art and Design  
Saunders College of Business  
Golisano College of Computing and Information Science
Kate Gleason College of Engineering  
College of Engineering Technology  
College of Health Sciences and Technology  
College of Liberal Arts  
College of Science
Golisano Institute for Sustainability
School of Individualized Study  

Before Co-op

Academic Schedule

Dates reflect first day of classes and last day of exams. Students may have the flexibility to begin work earlier or continue their co-op beyond the start and end dates during the RIT semester breaks. View Academic Calendar

Spring Semester

Jan. 16–May 8, 2024

Summer Term

May 15–Aug. 13, 2024

Fall Semester

Aug. 26–Dec. 18, 2024

Semester Break

Dec. 19, 2024–Jan. 12, 2025

Student Co-op Agreement

As a student participating in the RIT Cooperative Education Program, it is expected that you are behaving in accordance to the RIT Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook on and off campus, operating according to accepted business ethics and standards while on co-op, and accepting the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education’s Co-op Student Agreement. By not following the agreement below, you accept the consequences of not obtaining your degree.

  • Primary responsibility for obtaining an acceptable co-op position.
  • Permission to allow the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education to release a copy of my resume and/or unofficial academic transcript to appropriate employers who desire candidates that meet my qualifications and background.
  • To regularly check co-op job postings and on-campus interviews listed in Career Connect 
  • To give serious consideration to all appropriate co-op opportunities when offered by employers, even though the position may not be my first choice for either type of work or geographic location of the assignment.
  • Responsibility to notify the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education of any co-op job offer I agree to take within three days of accepting it. I will register my assignment with your office using the Report Your Job form.
  • Registering for the appropriate co-op course as identified by my academic department. Dependent on my college, I am aware this may require registration through the Student Information System (SIS) or through my academic department.
  • Obtaining approval in advance by both the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education and my academic department should I wish to participate in a co-op assignment longer than two consecutive terms. I acknowledge I cannot register for a third consecutive term without this approval.
  • Completing the total amount of co-op work required or expected by my academic department. I acknowledge all co-op work assignments must be completed prior to my final academic term of enrollment at RIT.
  • Honoring my commitment in accepting a position and work as long as my services are required during the agreed upon period. Accepting an offer of employment is a contract between me and the employer. I cannot back out or renege on an offer of employment once accepted.
  • Acknowledgment that wages earned while on co-op are subject to state and federal income taxes and that, in the State of New York, co-op students are not eligible by law for Unemployment Insurance Benefits resulting from their co-op work experience.
  • To submit the appropriate application for co-op work experience credit report or form to my academic department for each work period completed. I am aware this report must be completed by the deadline date identified by my academic department.
  • Notifying the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education of any change in my academic or employment status or of any problems associated with my job search or co-op work experience. I acknowledge students on a Leave of Absence or suspended from the Institute may not participate in co-op.
  • Failing to comply with this Agreement may affect the awarding of my degree.

Salary and Income

Have an understanding of realistic salary rates for co-op positions in your field. Our Co-op Wages by Degree page has the latest co-op salary data. According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), salaries/wages paid to co-op students are fully subject to applicable federal and state income taxes. Your employer determines your compensation level. Salary rates are based on a number of variables, including your academic plan, year level, prior work experiences and established company policies. There may be some room for negotiation based on circumstances.


A co-op is reported after accepting a new offer and per semester of co-op length. Complete the following actions:

Once you sign your co-op employment offer letter, use this form to officially report your job. If you locate a job on your own, check its acceptability for co-op with your department or career services coordinator before accepting the position.

Report your job form 

Your salary is confidential and will not be seen by other co-op participants and employers. It is important that you let us know what your salary as this information is used to compile average co-op salaries for your specific department and college.

If you already submitted a co-op report and you need to change your supervisor information, make updates through

Most departments require you to prepare a Work Report or Application for Co-op Credit form for each work period. Your department or career services coordinator will provide forms or instructions. These forms must be completed and submitted by the due date to receive co-op credit.

If you are permanently or temporarily laid off, notify your career services coordinator immediately.

If you are placed on academic suspension while working in a co-op position, that block and subsequent blocks cannot be considered as official co-ops. You are obligated to explain your change of status to your employer. Be advised that your coordinator will inform your employer that you are no longer a student at RIT. No evaluation form will be sent for the work experience. See your department if you have questions regarding academic suspension.

During Co-op

RIT does not charge tuition for a co-op enrollment. Accordingly, the financial aid sources available to students during a co-op term are limited to the federal loan programs (Sub, Unsub, PLUS) and the Federal Pell Grant, for those who qualify. Students must register their co-op with BOTH the Registrar’s Office and the Office of Career Services and Co-op in order for financial aid to credit to their student account. Financial aid is paid after the ADD/DROP period for the term. 

Students who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) are required to report the total adjusted gross income they reported on their federal tax return. Beginning in 2024-25, co-op earnings are included in the students’ total adjusted gross income. 

Students who have any questions regarding their financial aid or living expenses during their co-op term are invited to reach out to the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships.

Rochester Co-ops: Students who co-op in Rochester or have a remote co-op may stay in RIT housing.

Out of Town Co-ops: Students who co-op out of town are responsible for finding their own housing near the employer’s location. Most employers will provide a list of apartments or housing options to assist students. Talk with your employer on housing before you move.

A student going on co-op for fall semester outside of Rochester has two options related to securing RIT housing for spring semester:

  1. A student on co-op for fall semester who wants RIT housing for spring semester, may apply for spring semester housing in November while out on co-op at Students coming back to campus from a fall co-op are guaranteed RIT housing for the spring semester. Specific preferences cannot be guaranteed.
  2. A student whose co-op is located 45 miles or more from Rochester and requires the student to relocate during the fall semester, may hold their RIT housing contract and assignment for their return spring semester for an alternative rent rate. This option is also offered to students completing a virtual co-op if 45 miles or more from Rochester. Rent is reduced for the fall semester to one-half the term’s rent of the type of housing the student is assigned to.

Contact RIT Housing for any questions or concerns.

When students report to work, they should have at least the following documentation for on-boarding:

  • An original social security card (to establish eligibility to work)
  • A state issued photo driver’s license (to establish identity)

International students
Go to the International Student Services office prior to starting the co-op position.

The following are expectations both RIT and the employer have of your workplace behavior:

  • Report to work regularly and punctually. If you must be absent from work, call your employer prior to your starting time that day.
  • Abide by work regulations as defined by your employer.
  • Dress appropriately for the work environment and the employer expectations.
  • Conduct yourself in a professional and businesslike manner. Be an enthusiastic and productive employee through your co-op experience.
  • Consult your supervisor if you are unsure of procedures or expectations on the job or about any conflicts or concerns related to the workplace.
  • Periodically seek feedback from your supervisor concerning your job performance.
  • Advise your supervisor and ask for additional work once you have completed a project.
  • Call your career services coordinator if you need advice on how to handle a situation on the job.

Dealing with stressful and uncomfortable situations can be part of the workplace learning experience.

If you encounter a concern, we encourage you to contact your Career Services Coordinator as we can offer advice or assistance in resolving the matter. It is important to address issues as they arise rather than ignore the problem.

We can assist coaching you on issues like:

  • Addressing discrimination and harassment complaints   
  • Communicating with supervisors regarding your work-related concerns
  • Approaching conflicts on your team in a professional manner

While out on co-op, you will receive registration information from your department to register online for the next term. If your next term is part of a double block co-op, you must register for the second co-op as well.

After Co-op

To receive a “Satisfactory” (S) grade for co-op on your transcript, the below evaluation documents must be completed. Student work reports and employer evaluations are sent toward the end of each semester. 

Student Work Report/Evaluation

Students who complete a mandatory co-op must submit a work report on their experience for their academic department to review. Get Started

If you need to change your supervisor information, visit

Employer Evaluation

Career Services sends students' co-op supervisors a link and directions to complete an employer evaluation near the end of the students' co-op term. View co-op evaluation(s)


Co-op Policies

The answer is no. You are not placed into a co-op position, but rather you apply and go through the same hiring process you would when you look for a job after graduation. The Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education does guarantee we will help you in any way we can with your search.

Standard academic credit is not given for co-op. However, you earn “credit” in that your department assigns a grade of “Satisfactory” (S) when you have met all of their requirements and have successfully completed your co-op assignment.

You do not pay tuition or any institute fees while on co-op even though you remain eligible to utilize all the facilities and services of the Institute.

It is ultimately up to the employer, but they often base it upon comparable co-op salaries and a candidate's experience. There may be room for negotiation. Your employer also determines eligibility for benefits, if any.

Check out the latest co-op salary data

Jobs, which are listed through Career Connect, are “approved” co-op positions. If you obtain a co-op position on your own and are not sure if it is acceptable, see your Career Services Coordinator, faculty advisor, or department chair before accepting the job. Keep in mind that if the job meets the criteria, it doesn’t matter if a company calls the job an internship or temporary employment.

A single co-op block is the same length as an academic term. You may, in fact, work longer depending on your exam schedule the preceding term and on your employer’s needs. A double block is two consecutive terms of work, without a break in between. Many students are scheduled for double blocks; others may choose to double block. Confirm with your academic department before committing to a double block to ensure your work does not interfere with courses. You and the employer negotiate the start date and the expected end date of the work period.

Maybe. Some co-op jobs are located in the Rochester area. Depending upon your program, there may be many or very few positions in Rochester. There is high competition for these positions. It is not advisable to limit your job search to any one specific area. You will enhance your chances of landing a position if you are geographically flexible. You should seriously consider all co-op opportunities in your career field for which you qualify, regardless of location.

Many out-of-town employers provide some help in finding temporary housing. The assistance varies: some companies will provide a list of possible apartments and room rentals; some will pay for a hotel for a few days while you are looking; some have co-op housing already arranged. It is a good idea to check with the colleges in the area because residence hall space is frequently available, especially in the summer. It is appropriate to discuss your housing concerns with an employer once an offer has been made.

Yes, but start early! Visit our International Experience page for more information.

Maybe. Some employers, especially those located out of state, will pay for all or part of your relocation expenses. It is important to have a clear understanding of your obligation before accepting a co-op position if extensive travel expenses are anticipated.

Yes. According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, salaries/wages paid to co-op students are fully subject to applicable federal income taxes. They are also subject to applicable state income taxes. Any type of personal income should be assumed taxable unless IRS regulations specifically declare it to be “excludable” (i.e., tax-exempt). There is no exclusion of co-op wages in current regulations. International students are required to pay federal and state income taxes but not FICA (social security tax). It should be understood that the above information/advice is provided only as a convenience for you and is not legally binding. Students seeking further info should contact the Internal Revenue Service.

Cooperative education is for a limited time only and with established start and end dates. Eligibility for unemployment compensation is governed by state law, and in most circumstances co-op students are not eligible for unemployment compensation at the end of their co-op experience. In the event that a student is terminated from a co-op position prior to its originally scheduled end date, eligibility for unemployment compensation, if any, will be determined by the specific facts of the termination and applicable state laws.

Currently, in the State of New York, co-op students are not eligible by law for Unemployment Insurance Benefits resulting from their co-op work experience.

See your career services coordinator as soon as you feel anxious about your co-op job search. We can evaluate your search, make suggestions, and provide additional services that will assist you in meeting your goal. As a last resort, if co-op is mandatory for your program, a discussion with your academic department may be in order. Depending upon the circumstances, it is possible that your co-op will be delayed or waived.

No. Once you have completed all your degree requirements, you are no longer eligible for RIT’s co-op program. Co-op is part of your experiential education while you are studying at RIT.

Some programs do not require completed co-ops as part of their degree requirements, but there may be an option to co-op if students wish to get this experience, and it does not interfere with a student's sequence of classes. For example, most of the programs in the College of Art and Design offer co-op as one of their Experiential Learning Options. Click on your degree in this list of RIT degree programs to learn about co-op requirements or options.

Yes, fill out the student work report the best you can, this will also give you a reference point when completing the December evaluation. Most departments will grade the first block at the end of the summer and the second one in December.

Yes, you may continue to work for the employer part-time. If you would like to receive additional co-op credit for the part-time status, you may need to talk with your academic advisor to make sure you can register the experience and earn additional credit towards co-op completion. Some departments have a part-time co-op registration code in SIS, which will allow students to register for coursework and a limited number of credits. If you do not need additional co-op credit, you can continue to work for the employer.

Yes, please update any changes to your supervisor, salary, and/or start and end date in Career Connect. Career Services must have the correct supervisor to send the employer evaluation so that you will obtain credit for the experience. Co-op salary is important, especially if you are doing a double block and receive an increase after completing the first block.

If you need to change your supervisor information, visit

Regardless of your individual end date, student work reports and employer evaluations are sent toward the end of each semester.

Note: If the Co-op Evaluation System says “Company Opt-Out,” it means your employer does not complete RIT’s co-op evaluation form. There is no negative impact on you due to their company policy.

On-the-job Challenges

Sometimes co-op students finish projects much faster than their supervisor anticipates. Other times projects are delayed for reasons out of the employer's control. Some ideas are to talk with your supervisor about additional projects that you can work on or ask if you could shadow or help out in other areas. Proposing a project to your supervisor is another great way to show initiative. Finally, you may consider asking your supervisor if there is an additional skill set that you could teach yourself that may be helpful to the company. LinkedIn Learning is a great resource for adding to your skill set. If you need help navigating your situation please schedule an appointment with your career services coordinator.

This can be a challenge as co-op supervisors are often very busy. You may wish to start by letting your supervisor know that you are unsure of who to go to with questions when they are not available. Your supervisor will likely provide you with another person to go to when they are not available. You can also ask your supervisor to have regular, brief check-in meetings to keep you on track. Finally, is there another manager or teammate that you are comfortable asking for assistance? If you need help navigating your situation please schedule an appointment with your career services coordinator.

Work-related Policies

Great question and glad you asked! Vacation time will need to be requested in advance and approved by your co-op supervisor. Vacation time, when approved, would be without pay.

Talk with your supervisor and follow the employer's vacation request policy. You do not have to report time off to Career Services. This does not count against you in regard to the number of hours/weeks you need to fulfill your co-op requirements.

The first step is to let your supervisor know. Your supervisor will let you know which department to reach out to. Depending on the size of your company you may have a payroll office otherwise you will most likely be directed to reach out to human resources for assistance. If you continue to need help navigating your situation after you have done this, please schedule an appointment with your career services coordinator.

Typically if an employer is asking you to help out on a few weekends it is because they are in need of assistance: a big project coming due or are short-staffed. If your schedule allows for you to do so and you are willing to, it would reflect positively. It is OK to ask if this is a one- or two-time occurrence. If they are looking to change your schedule permanently and you are not interested in this option, it would be best to have a conversation with your supervisor about your availability. If you need help navigating your situation please schedule an appointment with your career services coordinator.

Not What I Expected

The first thing you should do is talk with your supervisor. Sometimes assignments change due to the needs of the employer, so to get a better idea of your role, start by talking with your supervisor and coming up with a plan. When you meet with your supervisor, please have a copy of the job description or what you thought your responsibilities would be so you can review it with him/her.

Unfortunately, the cost of living and your expenses doesn’t constitute a raise. Most companies budget a co-op salary ahead of time, so it may not be in the budget to give you a raise based on that reason alone. However, you may talk to your supervisor about a salary increase during your review period. At this time, you need to prove why you earned a raise based on the quality of work you have done for the employer thus far. If you are on a double block at the end of the first period, you can demonstrate the projects you have worked on and the value you have added to the team.

Of course, the decision to quit should not be taken lightly. Your career services coordinator can help you work through any issues you may have that are causing you to want to quit before the agreed-upon end date and possible ramifications. Often we can work together to improve a work situation so you can complete your co-op. In rare instances, it may end up being the best course of action.

Available RIT Services and Resources

When you are registered for co-op in SIS, you are considered a full-time student. You have access to many of the same services and resources as you do when not on co-op. Access to the RIT Health Center services is an exception as it is fee-based and covers office visits and many of the basic services students may need from Counseling and Psychological Services and the Student Health Center. You can choose to pre-pay the fee for the semester you are on co-op by submitting a request directly to the Student Health Center, or you can choose to get charged for individual visits. (Please note you need to physically be in New York State to receive services).

Counseling and Psychological Services will work with students to the best of their ability while you are on co-op. In the event that they are not able to meet with you for support, Case Management can assist you in finding services that meet your needs. 

Accessing Services:

  • Students who are on co-op in New York State and have the ability to get to campus can use Counseling Services at RIT. Appointments are available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Schedule, change, or cancel an appointment using a secure message on the RIT Wellness Portal or contact us at 585-475-2261. (Please note the Student Health fee only covers the fall and spring semesters. To access services during the summer, students may need to pay additional fees)
  • Students who are out of state or cannot get to campus can contact Case Management at 585-475-3963 or for assistance with identifying services in their local area. Case Management can also assist students with finding financial support to access services.
  • Students can contact the after-hours line at 855-436-1245 for immediate assistance. 

For more information, visit the Counseling and Psychological Services website at

Interpersonal or Personal Challenges

You have a few options. Every employer has policies against discrimination and harassment. You should be able to find these policies by contacting your employer's human resources (HR) department. This information is often located online but feel free to contact HR if you can't locate it. If you have concerns about what may happen to your complaint and you are uneasy, you can contact the Title IX Office at RIT. You can share what is happening without providing identifying information (who, where, when) and staff in the Title IX Office can review options with you. You may also reach the RIT Ombuds Office if you are looking for a confidential resource.

Dealing with a challenging co-worker or supervisor can be difficult, but there are steps you can take to address the situation effectively. The most important thing to do is to remain calm and plan a professional response. Schedule a time to speak with someone in Career Services who can assist you in creating a plan of action. Check out our Building Professional Relationships handout with additional information.

Feeling like you're not being taken seriously due to gender bias in a male-dominated field can be disheartening, but there are steps you can take to address this issue and assert your value and expertise. Assertive communication practices may help you advocate for yourself. Our Building Professional Relationships handout offers some strategies to boost your confidence. To practice the communication techniques provided or to discuss ways to navigate your specific situation please schedule an appointment with your career services coordinator.

We understand that internships and co-ops can be demanding, both professionally and personally. Navigating a new environment and routine can be a challenge for anyone, especially when you are also separated from your familiar support systems. Seeking support is the best first step you can take.

  1. Reach out to RIT’s Counseling and Psychological Services for support. They can inform you of resources available to you or direct you to Case Management where they will help you connect with local resources.
  2. Consider reaching out to your supervisor if you feel comfortable. Your employer may be able to provide resources through an employer wellness program or assist you in identifying support services in your new community.
  3. Stay connected with your support network as much as possible. Connections with family and friends are important for our well-being. Schedule regular check-ins with your support network or invite your friends to a special online get-together. You have access to Zoom–use it to help you stay connected. Consider inviting friends or family to visit or plan a weekend to visit home. Make sure to work with your co-op supervisor and follow employer policies if you need to take days off to travel or take a mental break.
  4. Practice healthy routines and self-care: Make sure you build time to relax, exercise, and engage in activities you enjoy. Develop a routine that allows for eight hours of sleep each night and make sure your diet includes healthy options to give your body the nutrients it needs to be your best self.

Please remember that it's OK to ask for help and that you're not alone in facing these challenges. Your well-being matters and we are here to support you throughout this experience.

Making friends in a new city can be challenging. There are many strategies you can try to find new friends closer to your age. That being said, as you enter your professional life you are more likely to be entering spaces that are multi-generational. Don’t underestimate the value of becoming friends with professionals in your workspace. Developing relationships with your older co-workers could lead to invaluable connections and mentorship opportunities that could help you advance your career.

Here are some tips to help you build friendships in and out of the workplace:

  1. Workplaces are more multi-generational than the classroom but don’t underestimate the value of making connections with your co-workers. Ask people to connect for lunch in order to learn more about them and their roles.
  2. Stay connected with your existing network. Your friends and family can help ease feelings of loneliness as you adjust to a new environment. Schedule phone calls, virtual hangouts, or plan weekend visits. 
  3. Join a structured activity. Look for events in your community that meet on a regular basis like a yoga or fitness class. 
  4. Look for young professional networking events. Local chambers of commerce often run or collaborate with young professional groups that offer events to promote social engagement in the community and skill development for new professionals.