Cooperative Education and Internships
An internship is a work-related learning experience for individuals who wish to develop hands-on work experience in a certain occupational field. Internships are usually temporary job assignments and are categorized by the way they compensate the student. The three most common types of internships are employer-offered internships, cooperative education (Co-op) and volunteer.
- Employer-offered internships are pre-professional experiences that provide opportunities to gain relevant knowledge and skills prior to starting out in a particular occupation.
These internships pay the student.
- Cooperative education (Co-op) provides students with practical experience related to their major that will enhance and complement their classroom learning.
Co-op students receive academic credit for their work experience.
- Volunteer experience can be just as helpful in getting a job as paid or for-credit experiences. It provides the opportunity to explore a career, gain practical experience and acquire skills to include on your resume.
Getting Started with Cooperative Education
- Step 1. Watch the presentation
- Step 2. Complete the required forms/documents
- Completed by all Co-op students: Student Developed Job Description Form
- Completed by faculty advisor or dept designee: Departmental Approval Form
- Completed by employer: Job Description (Required for all Student Development Positions)
The job description or employer letter of hiring should be submitted on a company letter-head. This document will provide an overview of what tasks and duties the intern will complete. This should include the title of the internship, location, description of the company/organization, job summary, reporting structure (supervisor/s to whom the intern will report), primary job duties, and time commitment for the internship. View sample employer letter.
- Step 3. Meet with a CSAM Career Representative
- Connect with a CSAM Career Services representative to discuss your Co-op internship intentions further. Please plan to attend the Cooperative Education Information Session.
Questions About Cooperative Education
- What is Cooperative Education?
- Cooperative Education (Co-op) is a University-wide, credit bearing, work-based learning program that provides students with preparation, counseling, academic projects and the opportunity to reflect on what is learned.
- How do I qualify for co-op?
- Generally, students must have a 2.0 minimum GPA and have earned 30 credits before applying. Computer Science and Information Technology require prerequisite courses and major GPA above a 2.75 to be eligible.
- Students who transfer into Montclair State University with an associate or bachelor's degree, do not have to obtain any course credit at Montclair State University to be eligible for co-op.
- Students who transfer into Montclair State University without a degree must complete at least 9 credits at Montclair State, have at least 30 accumulated credits (including Montclair State and transfer), and have a 2.0 minimum GPA.
- Am I guaranteed a co-op?
- No, you are not guaranteed a co-op. It is a highly competitive process. You should be actively involved and stay on top of the process. Following-up in a timely and professional manner is essential throughout the job search to ensure your success.
- Can I find my own position and use it for co-op?
- Yes, this is called a student-developed position. Your position may be approved if the work is related to your major or your career goals and if the work experience provides new learning.
- Your CSAM Career Services representative and/or your major department, must approve these positions.
- Can I use my current job/employer for co-op?
- Yes, if you can demonstrate new learning through a promotion, different position within the company, or evidence of a project or tasks that will compromise at least 50% of the time spent at the work site.
- Are there any guidelines for my co-op to ensure I am treated fairly?
- Review the Fair Labor Standards Act to help determine whether your unpaid internship meets program guidelines.
United States Department of Labor Internships Programs Under the Fair Labor Standards Act
- How will my co-op experience be scheduled?
- Co-op participation is for an entire semester. Typically, a semester is 15 weeks during the fall and spring; co-op is 14 weeks during the summer term. While participation in more than one semester is not required, it is encouraged.
- How much credit can I earn for co-op?
- A maximum of 16 credits can be earned through co-op.
- During one semester, a student has the following options:
- Part-time: 3-4 credits (Biology and Molecular Biology Majors)
- Part-time: 3 credits (Information Technology and Computer Science)
- How do I earn a grade for my co-op experience?
- You earn your grade by fulfilling ALL of these requirements:
- Successfully completing your co-op position;
- Submitting academic projects that are assigned by your Co-op Faculty Advisor as part of the learning agreement;
- Attending co-op seminars, when required.
- Is withdrawal from a co-op course possible?
- Yes, it is possible but you need to discuss this with the employer, your Co-op Faculty Advisor and your advisor. Guidelines for course withdrawal established by the Registrar must be followed.
- Can I choose the Co-op Faculty Advisor?
- Specific faculty participates in the co-op program. This varies by semester/term. While students may specify specific faculty supervisors for the co-op program, this request is honored on a first-come/first-serve basis by submittal date of completed co-op paperwork.
- Do I pay for my co-op credits?
- Yes, you pay tuition and fees just as you do for any other course.
- Are there any additional fees?
- Yes, there is a commercial liability insurance fee and a processing fee for each co-op course.
- Will I earn enough money to pay my school expenses?
- Salaries vary widely depending upon location and nature of the work performed. Some positions are paid, some are unpaid and others provide a stipend.
- In any case, you should not count on a co-op position to support all your college expenses. Co-op is designed to emphasize academic and professional experiences rather than to provide financial support.
- Am I obligated to work for my co-op employer after graduation?
- No, and while many co-ops do lead to a permanent job offer, it is best to do a thorough job hunt that includes many potential employers.
- Are there any deadlines for co-op application?
- Yes, deadlines vary each semester. Ask about current deadlines when you meet with your advisor.