Experiential Learning

Experiential Learning
The hands-on experiences that turn
knowledge into know-how.

At RIT, experiential learning enables students to apply what they’ve learned through lectures, labs, assignments, and projects to a variety of rich experiences outside the classroom. These meaningful exchanges expand students’ knowledge and broaden their perspectives by refining their professional and intellectual competencies, cultivating their leadership abilities, advancing their career development, and further developing their talents.

Cooperative Education

Cooperative education is full-time, paid work experience in a corporate setting. Students often alternate co-op blocks with semesters of on-campus study. RIT has the fourth-oldest and one of the largest cooperative education programs in the world, annually placing more than 4,500 students in more than 6,200 co-op assignments with more than 2,200 employing organizations. Annually, co-op students generate more than $45 million in earnings through their employment with industry, business, government, and the not-for-profit sector throughout the U.S. and in 40 foreign countries.

Learn More about cooperative education


As an alternative to co-op, many academic programs offer students career-related work experience through internships: practical, hands-on work experience over the summer or coordinated around students’ academic schedules. Other academic programs—including, for example, public policy and international and global studies—offer internship opportunities in addition to co-op. While co-op assignments are full-time paid positions, internships may not pay a salary or require a full-time work schedule. In some instances, internship credit may be substituted for specific courses required in the academic major.

Learn more about internships on the Office of Career Services and Cooperative Education website

International Experiences

Through various international experiences, students can enhance their cultural understanding and broaden their global view. Study abroad, faculty-led international excursions, cultural exchanges, and semesters of study at RIT’s global campuses and at universities around the globe are all designed to immerse students in new cultures and expand their world view.

Learn More about international experiences on the RIT Global website

Undergraduate Research

At RIT, undergraduate research means students will conduct research assignments that their peers at other universities often don’t see until graduate school. By providing undergraduates the opportunity to work directly with faculty members in their labs to investigate, explore, and discover, students learn hands-on skills that become the foundation of scientific research.

RIT’s Undergraduate Research Symposium
Learn more about undergraduate research


Identifying, defining, and building viable product commercialization and business opportunities is the cornerstone of entrepreneurship at RIT. Through courses, academic programs, hands-on projects, competitions, and resources, students can advance and realize their own business and product ideas.

Learn More about entrepreneurship

Service Learning

When students engage in community-based volunteering and service projects, they participate in meaningful experiences that teach civic responsibility and strengthen our global communities.

Learn More about service learning

Clinical Experiences

Hands-on learning in medical and clinical settings for students majoring in RIT’s health and medical sciences programs enable students to engage in a variety of experience required for professional licensing, such as data gathering, physical examinations, differential diagnosis, patient management, maintenance of medical records, performance of diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, and the provision of patient education and counseling.

Rochester Regional Health/RIT Alliance

people setting up their booths at a competition

Competitions, Simulations and Multidisciplinary Projects

Contests, sponsored challenges, and imitating and solving real-world problems provide RIT students with hands-on experience working on teams, responding to a variety of project parameters, meeting deadlines, and crafting responses in real-time scenarios. Working in multi-disciplinary teams, students engage in the exploration and design process, develop and assess solutions, identify and resolve project hurdles, and often design and build a working prototype or process that can be fully tested and evaluated.

Tiger Tank
RIT Business Model Competition

Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program

The Vertically Integrated Projects (VIP) Program is a transformative approach to enhancing higher education by engaging undergraduate and graduate students in ambitious, long-term, large-scale, multidisciplinary project teams, led by faculty. Students earn academic credits, while faculty and graduate students benefit from the design/discovery efforts of their teams.

Vertically Integrated Projects Program

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