Cooperative Education and Internships

Cooperative Education and Internships:
The Perfect Complements to Your Degree

There’s a classic conundrum that recent college graduates have to untangle: Employers want candidates who have work experience. But how do you get experience without a job?

That’s easy. Get a co-op or internship.

There’s a reason RIT is ranked 5th among top schools for co-op and internship programs by U.S. News & World Report (2024). Our cooperative education program is designed to provide you with career experience–early and often–in a variety of industries and environments. And, with cooperative education and internships built into most programs, and available and encouraged in all majors, you’ll gain the experience that sets you apart–experience that employers look for in their next top hires.

Learn more about RIT co-op and how it can provide an unparalleled career experience that sets you apart.

Learn from students about their co-op experience and how it prepared them for outstanding careers even before they graduate.

At RIT, our students earn more than a degree. They graduate with real, relevant career experience. And that’s because of RIT’s co-op and internship program.

RIT has one of the best university co-op programs in the world. We have built relationships with thousands of companies and organizations in nearly every type of career field. Last year, more than 4,500 students participated in co-op and internship positions with more than 3,400 hiring organizations, from large Fortune 500 companies and industry leaders, to small start-ups and world-class not-for-profits.

A cooperative education program combines classroom learning with hands-on experience gained in industry. At RIT, co-op is built into most programs. You’ll alternate blocks of co-op with semesters of on-campus study. On co-op, you’ll work in industry learning the ins and outs of professional life in your degree field. RIT’s co-op program is designed for you to gain real career experience by completing meaningful projects and assignments for your co-op employer, work that contributes to a company’s objectives and goals. Your co-op is also supervised, which provides mentoring opportunities and one-on-one collaboration with professionals in the field.

Like co-ops, internships are hands-on experience in your career field. They can range from a few hours a week to full-time employment, and everything in between. Some internships may be paid and some may be unpaid, depending on the employer and the career field. While most RIT majors require co-op, a few encourage internships because in some degree fields, internships tend to be more common. While internships may differ in length from co-ops, they are equally as valuable in providing career experience, hands-on learning, and professional exposure.

Co-op vs. Internship. It’s a common question we’re always asked. So what’s the difference between the two? Both co-ops and internships are immeasurable in providing hands-on career experience.

In general, cooperative education is more significant than your typical internship. Co-ops are full-time employment and range in duration from one semester or one summer term to longer back-to-back co-op blocks (e.g., summer term plus fall semester; spring semester plus summer term). In some industries, such as engineering and computing, co-op is more common. At RIT, all co-op positions are paid.

In general, internships can range from a few hours a week to full-time employment. In some industries, such as communication and journalism, internships are standard. Not all internships are paid.

In both cases, you will earn credit for your co-op or internship experience. And both give you the experience you need that sets you apart from competitors.

At RIT, students are responsible for identifying and applying to co-op and internship positions. However, RIT has built partnerships with more than 3,400 hiring organizations and we assist in connecting you to thousands of employers who are looking to hire students for co-op and internships. Two campus-wide career fairs–one in the fall and one in the spring–welcome hundreds of employers to campus. At these career fairs, employers meet directly with students and conduct hundreds of on-campus interviews. In addition, several academic programs host specialized career fairs. These smaller, major-specific events present opportunities for one-on-one conversations with employers who are looking to hire students from particular degree programs.

In addition, many employers seek out our students specifically for co-ops and internships, knowing that they will be hiring a prepared, well-rounded student who can make meaningful contributions to their organizations.

A World Leader in Co-op

There’s a reason RIT has one of the best university co-op programs in the world. We have been offering a college co-op program for more than 100 years. We value the preparedness and practice co-ops and internships provide, and the myriad ways that it benefits all. Simply put, cooperative education and internships are the career experience that converts knowledge into know-how, skills into expertise, and thinkers into doers.

Career experience is the crucial element that makes an RIT education exceptional.


Total earned annually by RIT students on co‑op


Students participate in co‑op and internships


Hiring Organizations


Of co‑op employers said they would hire their RIT co‑op student for a full‑time position

A person running tests on a motherboard

8 Reasons Why Co-op and Internships are the Keys to Success

1. High employment outcome
RIT has an overall 95 percent outcomes rate. Students gain experience early and often, apply their learning in meaningful ways, contribute to real-world problems, and build resumes that aren’t the least bit padded.

2. Career experience before you graduate
Through your interaction with industry experts, exploration of professional work environments, understanding of perspectives, and application of skills in real world settings, you’ll amass solid, career-focused experience. You are well-positioned for outstanding employment opportunities.

3. Test drive career options
Co-ops and internships are a great way to explore different jobs, industries, and types of organizations with no risk, helping you make a more informed decision about the types of careers and work environments you most enjoy working.

4. Earn a full-time salary
You’ll earn a full-time salary as you gain experience on co-op. This can be used to support your tuition and help offset college expenses, or it can set you up for financial independence after graduation.

5. No fees or tuition
You won’t be charged fees or tuition for your co-ops or internships, because we believe you should be able to focus on developing your skills, gaining hands-on experience, and exploring your professional future without worrying about extra expenses.

6. Extraordinary employer and alumni partnerships
Industry partnerships provide unmatched opportunities at influential, innovative companies worldwide. And, with 135,000 alumni working around the globe, you’ll benefit from a network of professionals ready to advise and support your career aspirations.

7. Unparalleled support
RIT’s career services advisors do more than help you identify and apply to co-op and internship positions. They continually check in, provide guidance and support, and are an invaluable resource for all of your professional inquires while you’re off gaining career experience.

8. Develop the critical skills that lead to success
RIT can teach you the technical and analytical skills that make you a valuable employee. But the critical success skills–leadership, judgment, attitude, self-confidence, etiquette awareness, professionalism–those are the competencies that truly set you apart, and the skills that can only be learned on the job.

RIT’s Outstanding Hiring Partners

We couldn’t possibly list all 3,400 of our hiring partners. It’s a list that keeps on growing.
But here’s a sample of some of the places around the world where you might find yourself working.

Amazon's logo
Apple's logo
EA's logo
Facebook's logo
Fidelity Investments logo
Google's logo
Honda's logo
IBM's logo
Johnson and Johnson's logo
Lockheed Martin's logo
Microsoft's logo
MoMa's logo
SpaceX's logo
Tesla's logo
Disney's logo
RIT students in business attire standing in line to enter the career fair


Learn more about co-op requirements and connect with an advisor who can help you identifying and apply to co-op positions in your major.

The exterior of an L-shaped building with a glass wall on the right and many windows on the left


Become a hiring partner.