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What is co-op?

Cooperative Education-- often called "co-op"-- is an experiential learning opportunity in which students work at a company for one academic semester (15 weeks) in a job related to their field of study and appropriate for their skill level and experience. Students receive a grade and course credit for their co-op work and are expected to be a paid, contributing part of the company while getting on-the-job training at the same time.

Co-op is the Competitive Advantage

Co-op offers the competitive advantage of paid work experience related to a student’s field of study. Other benefits of co-op include:
  • Exposes the student to workplace and career options
  • Promotes professionalism and increases career opportunities after graduation
  • Lets students “earn as they learn” to offset the cost of education
  • Helps clarify career goals
  • Research shows that students who complete a co-op experience have greater success in completing their degree

How does a co-op position differ from an internship?

While some schools and employers may use these terms interchangeably, at Cincinnati State "co-op" applies to full-time or part-time paid positions, while "internship" is used to describe part-time, unpaid assignments related to a student’s academic and career goals.

Is co-op mandatory?

Cooperative education has been a distinguishing feature of Cincinnati State's academic program since its founding in 1969. Our nationally recognized commitment to co-op is a key reason that many students choose Cincinnati State over other colleges, and has proven instrumental in helping our students find jobs in their field after graduating. Our goal is for all students to experience the benefits of co-op, and for most academic programs co-op credits are a graduation requirement. In rare instances when it is not possible to fulfill co-op requirements, students may meet with their co-op coordinator to determine alternatives.

When will I be ready to co-op?

When you are first admitted into an academic program you will meet with your academic advisor, who will explain the co-op prerequisites for your major. After you complete the required courses you will be able to schedule a meeting with the co-op coordinator for your program, and begin the co-op process. Depending on the program, some students may qualify to begin co-op work in their second semester. Other programs require that students wait until their third or fourth semester.

Prerequisites to Co-op
  • Completion of Academic Foundations coursework.
  • Fully admitted to degree program.
  • Satisfactory completion of co-op pre-course requirement or current enrolled in the course (such as BUS 190, CET 100, CIT 190, CPDM 190, HUM 190, or MID 190).
  • 2.0 minimum GPA – which must be maintained while you are on co-op.
  • Programs may have other specific requirements or coursework. Please see your co-op coordinator for more information.
  • Students must attend a campus-wide co-op orientation session and then meet individually with their co-op coordinator to begin the co-op pathway.

When is Co-op Orientation?

Co-op orientation sessions typically take place in the third, fourth, and fifth week of each academic semester on the Clifton and Middletown campuses. Students who are taking the majority of their coursework at Middletown, for a program/major located at Middletown, should attend those orientations. See your co-op calendar or check on CState CareerLink (below) for the dates, times, and locations of orientation sessions. 

How Do I Register for Co-op Orientation?

RSVP for Orientation at CState CareerLink:
Login: Your Cincinnati State E-mail
Password: Your MyCStatePassword

Bring your Surge Card for Orientation Check-in


Do I Automatically Get Placed in a Co-op? 

No-- co-op is a competitive job search process. You will work with your co-op coordinator to connect with potential co-op employers.

  • Employers
    • Employers post opportunities with co-op coordinators
    • Coordinators refer resumes to employers for review and selection
    • Coordinators work with employers to schedule interviews
    • Employers interview candidates and make the final selection of the student they will hire
  • Students
    • Students need to have a resume prepared
    • Students need to be prepared for job interviews
    • Students need to be available for interviews with employers
  • During the job search, be sure to communicate frequently with your co-op coordinator.  Keep them advised of your interviews, job offers, and when you accept a position.

Background Checks and Other Employer Prerogatives

  • The employment process sometimes includes pre-employment screening and/or aptitude tests.
  • Employer background checks can include, and are not limited to, examining criminal, driving, drug, and credit records.
  • Alerting your co-op coordinator to potential concerns will help both of you determine the best options.

What should I do if I’ve found my own co-op position?

Students who have found their own co-op position should meet with their co-op coordinator to discuss the position and verify that it can qualify for co-op credit.

Can I use my current job to earn co-op credit?

A student who currently has a job related to his or her field of study may complete a petition to have that job count for co-op credit. Petitions are subject to the approval of the co-op coordinator in that field.

What if I have a related job or previous work experience in my field?

Students may complete a petition for advanced standing credit based on their prior work experiences related to their field of study. Petitions are subject to the approval of the co-op coordinator in that field.

Are there tuition costs or other fees required to co-op?

A student who accepts a co-op position will register for a co-op course, just like any other course, and pay the associated course and lab fee in order to earn credit. Your co-op coordinator can help you if you aren't sure of the co-op course number.

Will co-op work affect my financial aid eligibility?

In most cases co-op earnings do not have a negative effect on financial aid. But all students should contact the Office of Financial Aid to discuss their specific registration status and eligibility.

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