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Cooperative Education and Experiential Learning

Gold-plated Careers.
Forged from orange and brown.

Students learn best by doing. As a career-focused university, RIT academic programs feature distinct and diverse opportunities to apply classroom education to real-world problems and projects.

100 years of co-op (1912-2012): RIT has the fourth oldest and one of the largest co-op programs in the world.

Experience that makes a difference

At RIT, cutting-edge academic programs, outstanding faculty, and first-rate classroom and laboratory facilities provide you with a great educational experience. But today’s world demands more. You need to be prepared for the real challenges and opportunities you will experience once you’ve graduated. Your education must be real. It must be relevant. It must be tested in real-world settings and on real-world problems before you graduate. Experiential education allows you to do that—and more. Taken all together, this means positive outcomes from your RIT experience. Ninety-five percent of RIT graduates enter either the workforce or graduate study within 6 months of graduation.

Cooperative education

Cooperative education (co-op) is the most extensive and intensive of RIT’s experiential education opportunities. Co-op is full-time, paid work experience directly related to your course of study and career interests. Many academic programs require co-op, while others make it available on an optional basis. Each year more than 3,500 students complete more than 5,500 work assignments with nearly 2,000 companies and organizations from small startup firms to Fortune 500 corporations. Last year, those students generated more than $30 million in earnings through their employment with industry, business, government, and the not-for-profit sector in the U.S. and in 40 other countries.

Undergraduate student research in mathematics at RITStudy abroad students in Croatia


Many academic programs offer students the opportunity to gain career-related work experience through internships. Other academic programs 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. Also, in some instances, internship credit may be substituted for specific courses required in the academic major.

Learning through research

As the roles of research and innovation—the driving forces in our world economy—continue to expand, the importance of a university that gives you opportunities to participate in creative projects and faculty-guided research can’t be overlooked. You might work on an original research project in collaboration with a faculty member, or on a project funded by industry. Depending on your major and your interests, you might work on an academic paper; market research project; scientific experiment; film, art, or photo exhibition; or engineering project.

See the world

There’s no better way to gain an understanding of another culture than to experience it first hand. To prepare you for success in our global society, RIT offers a range of exciting study abroad opportunities that expands your horizons in every sense. You can immerse yourself in another culture through our Study Abroad programs offered in cooperation with RIT’s American College of Management and Technology (Croatia), Queens University (England), University of Osnabrück (Germany), or Kanazawa Institute of Technology (Japan). In programs affiliated with other institutions, RIT students also have the opportunity to study in Italy, Spain, France, Ireland, Australia, China, Kenya, New Zealand, Germany, Greece, and other international locations.

A sampling of our nearly 2,000 co-op and internship partners includes:

  • 1st Playable Productions, LLC
  • Adidas
  • Anheuser-Busch
  • Apple Inc
  • Bank of New York Mellon
  • Bausch & Lomb
  • Boeing
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • CIA
  • Cisco
  • Corning
  • Cunard Line
  • Deloitte & Touche
  • DuPont
  • Ernst & Young
  • ESPN
  • Fidelity Investments
  • General Dynamics
  • General Electric
  • Goodrich Corp.
  • Google
  • Harris Corp.
  • Hearst Magazines
  • Hewlett-Packard
  • Honda
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • ITT Exelis
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Marriott International
  • Microsoft
  • NASA
  • Northrop Grumman Corp
  • Paychex
  • SpaceX
  • The Richard Avedon Foundation
  • Thomson/Reuters
  • Time Inc.
  • Toyota
  • Turner Broadcasting
  • United Technologies
  • Walt Disney World
  • Wegmans Food Markets
  • Xerox
  • Yahoo
  • Zynga

3,500 students placed in 5,500 co-op assignments with nearly 2,000 employing organizations in all 50 states and in 40 countries.

View salary information from RIT co-op students and graduates