A co-op is a four to nine-month position related to your major, for which you are working at least 20 hours per week if part-time and 35-40 hours per week if full-time and earning at least minimum wage. During a fall or spring co-op, you will set school aside for a period of time, yet maintain your status as an enrolled UMass Amherst student without paying tuition. You must have at least a 2.0 GPA overall to participate in a co-op field experience. Students secure a co-op in different ways. Some find positions on their own and come to Career Services to process their Co-op contract. Others need more assistance in finding and applying for positions and may seek our help earlier.
No matter how you secure a co-op, once you have accepted an offer, you must contact the Field Experience Office to learn how to process necessary placement details.
While working in a co-op position, you will maintain your full time student status and you will be automatically reinstated to your academic program when you successfully complete the co-op. However, if you resign or if the co-op employer terminates you for any reason, you may need to apply for re-admission to UMass Amherst.
All students who are doing a Co-op will submit a Co-op contract online with Career Services by logging in to CareerConnect with their SPIRE Net ID and SPIRE Password.. Once logged in, scroll down the page in the left-hand column and click on My Account. Then click in Internship/Co-op and click on ADD NEW . Enter placement details in the online contract form.
If the co-op takes you away from campus during a semester, you will need to get a Departmental Permission Form and Placement Requirements Form signed, which are found in the CareerConnect system as you enter your placement data (They are also found on our Forms page in this section). This is important, so that Career Services can request co-op leave status for you from the Registrar’s Office. If this is a summer only co-op, these two forms are not needed, but you need to still enter the data into a co-op contract in CareerConnect.
You will need to have your onsite co-op supervisor complete a final evaluation of your performance and verify your work hours before you leave, and you will have to log your work hours online, so that your co-op experience can be noted on your UMass transcript and endorsed by the University. When you complete the co-op, after we receive the evaluations and you have logged your hours, co-op recognition can appear on your transcript.
International students who have been offered a Co-op position will need to follow the UMass International Programs Office (IPO) procedure for obtaining Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization. Be sure to get CPT authorization before accepting a position. You will need to attach a copy of your authorization form CPT/I-20 to your Co-op contract in CareerConnect.
- Attend a brief workshop for an overview of the Co-Op Field Experience process. We hold these sessions when classes are in session in 508 Goodell on Wednesdays at 4:00pm. See our Calendar to confirm.
- Register and explore co-op listings through UMass Amherst CareerConnect and other internship websites. Go to Finding Internships and Co-ops for help using CareerConnect, as well as other tips for finding positions.
- Visit Career Services during Walk-in Hours (M-F, 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.) for help with your resume or cover letters. Bring a printed draft with you for the first visit, as well as information on any specific field experience opportunity you are pursuing.
- Upload your resume to CareerConnect and other Web sites and begin applying to interesting internships. Check listings frequently as new positions are added daily. For help with this process, call Career Services at 413-545-2224.
- Notify the Field Experience Office immediately when you accept a position. Keep a record of all field experience offers you receive. A Placement Requirements Form and a Department Permission Form are required for fall or spring semester positions.
Please Note: If your co-op is during a fall or spring semester, you must submit both a Department Permission Form and a Placement Requirements Form (see Forms link at left). Once both forms are received, and your online co-op contract is approved, Career Services will put you on co-op status with UMass Amherst. For a summer co-op, neither of these form is required.
Once You Accept a Co-op Position
- Complete an Academic Contract Online: Log onto CareerConnect. From the Shortcuts on the right side, click My Account, then click Internship/Co-Op , then click Add New, and complete the Internship/Co-Op Academic Contract form -- even though you will not be receiving academic credit.
- Generate a Department Permission Form and a Placements Requirements Form: If your co-op is during the fall or spring semester and will take you away from the UMass Amherst campus, you will need to get a Departmental Permission Form signed by your faculty advisor or department head, and you will have to sign a Placements Requirements Form. These forms are generated when you complete the Academic Contract with your placement data. For summer-only co-ops, neither of these form is required.
- Scan both forms into pdf files and attach them to your co-op contract in CareerConnect.
- Career Services will put you on co-op status with the University, once the Academic Contract is completed and the Departmental Permission Form is received. This ensures that you will not get a bill for the time you are gone, and that you will not have to re-apply to Admissions to return from your co-op.
- Track your weekly work hours in CareerConnect.
- Complete final evaluations online. Near the end of the co-op, you and your supervisor will both receive emails with links to final evaluations. You will both need to complete and submit these electronically. Once these evaluations are received in Career Services, your co-op will be listed on your transcript as professional experience.
Other Important Steps
After you accept a semester long co-op position and check in with the Field Experience Office, you may also need to check in with the following campus offices:
213 Whitmore Administration Building
If necessary, change your graduation date with the Registrar’s Office so that you will be able to pre-register for the semester when you will return to campus.
Residential Life Student Services
235 Whitmore Administration Building
Remember to cancel housing for the semester you’ll be away and arrange housing for the semester after your co-op.
Financial Aid Services
255 Whitmore Administration Building
Students who receive financial aid should meet with Sharon Pinkney, the Financial Aid liaison for internship and co-op students.
International Programs Office
70 Butterfield Terrace
International students must contact the International Programs Office to obtain information regarding visas. Domestic students who will be on co-op outside of the United States must contact the International Programs Office for permission.
Education Benefits and Enrollment Verification Questions:
215 Whitmore Administration Building
Students currently receiving veteran’s benefits should contact this office for information about what impact a co-op may have on their benefit eligibility.