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How It Works & How To Start

About Our Program

Rensselaer’s Co-op program offers a way to apply classroom experience in a business setting. That’s important for two reasons:

  • As you apply newly-learned technical skills, you will gain an understanding of office dynamics that can only be learned through experience.
  • Just as important, you will gain experience that will look good on your resume. 

Two things you should consider when planning your co-op assignment are the type of co-op that best suits your needs, and where the co-op assignment fits in your academic plan. 

There are two co-op options — full time co-op and parallel co-op.  

Students on full time co-op work full time for an employer recognized by the Co-op program as able to provide the student with a work experience that will reinforce career objectives.

A parallel co-op is usually worked locally, and is comparable to a part-time job.  Parallel co-op students generally enroll for two or three courses (but no more than 12 credits) while on co-op.

Program Requirements

Undergraduates must have completed their freshman year and have at least a 2.0 GPA to be eligible. In addition, undergraduates must work for two co-op tours, one of which must be a semester (tours may be back to back or separated by a term of study).  When you apply for co-op, your records must show that you will have at least 12 credits remaining in your academic program.

Graduate students must have at least a 3.2 GPA to to be eligible. You may work for one term (semester or summer) up to one calendar year. Also, you must have at least one term of full-time study remaining in your academic program, unless you are enrolled in Environmental Management & Policy, Electric Power Engineering, or Technical Communication. Please note that some departments may impose other restrictions as well.

After returning to college, most undergrads work another summer - or even another semester and summer. Graduate students have the option of working one term (semester or summer) or more up to one calendar year. Once a student enrolls in the Co-op Program, all future work terms are reported to the Center for Career and Professional Development and appear on the student's official college transcript. (Please note that undergraduate students are generally not permitted to work consecutive semesters, except in Chemical Engineering.)

Getting Started

As with everything else in your college career, you'll get the most out of the co-op program if you display initiative, manage your time well, and plan your job search. Follow these steps to success:

  • Update/activate your account on JobLink;
  • Have your resume critiqued and post it on JobLink;
  • Review the Co-op Timeline for important events;
  • Monitor co-op job opportunities frequently and apply for co-op positions;
  • Attend an Interview Techniques workshop;
  • Schedule interviews with employers;
  • Accept/decline offers;
  • Download the Co-op Guide
  • RSVP for a Co-op Briefing through JobLink.

The decision to apply for co-op is a good one, but it requires careful academic planning.  Since you must take time away from your studies to get involved in the program, you may not be able to complete your degree in the normal period of time. This will depend on the timing of your co-op assignment and the schedule of courses offered in your department.

If you are an undergraduate, and if it is important that you graduate in four years, you may be able to do so by working the minimum number of co-op tours (one semester and one summer) and going to summer school. If you have any questions, be sure to discuss them with your academic advisor. Together with your advisor, you can select the best time in your degree program to be away from campus.

A number of departments have set up Co-op Information by Major, guidelines that provide information on the best time to go on co-op. These guidelines may be very useful to you in the planning process.

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