A Co-op (Cooperative Education Experience) is a four to nine-month position related to your major, in which you are working at least 30-40 hours per week and earning at least minimum wage during a fall or spring semester, or a combination of summer/fall or spring/summer. While on Co-op you are away from campus and not taking any regular classes. Students on Co-op may enroll in up to two online courses offered by UWW and will pay the UWW rate. Co-ops can be during a semester or a semester plus a winter/summer break period. A summer-only job is not a co-op, as an academic leave is not necessary in the summer. You don’t earn academic credit for a Co-op, but Co-ops can be noted on your transcript after successful completion. You CANNOT work for family members if you are seeking Co-op status or recognition on your transcript. You must also have an on-site supervisor at your placement site who is a professional. Students on Co-op DO NOT WITHDRAW from the University.
Students secure a Co-op in different ways. Some find positions on their own and come to the Career Development Hub for assistance in processing their Co-op contract. Others need more assistance in finding and applying for positions and may seek help from their college’s Career Centers earlier. No matter how you secure a Co-op, once you have accepted an offer, you must contact the Career Development Hub’s Field Experience Office to learn how to process necessary placement details.
While working in a Co-op position, you will maintain your full time undergraduate 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 Undergraduate students who are doing a Co-op will submit an Undergraduate Co-op Experience Contract online by logging in to Handshake with their SPIRE Net ID and SPIRE Password.
If the Co-op takes you away from campus during a Fall or Spring semester, you must submit a signed Departmental Permission Form and Undergraduate Placement Requirements Form. You will also need to submit a signed Field Experience Risk Acknowledgement Form, all of which are found on our Forms page. These are required so that our Field Experience Program staff can request Co-op leave status for you from the Registrar’s Office.
You must have earned at least 45 credits and have at least a 2.0 GPA to participate in a Co-op field experience. If you do not have a minimum of 45 credits completed or do not have a minimum GPA of 2.0, you will need to get permission from your Academic Dean to participate in a Co-op. You will need a signed Undergraduate Academic Dean's Approval Form also found on our Forms page.
Undergraduate International students who have been offered a Co-op position in the United States must follow the UMass International Programs Office (IPO) procedure for obtaining Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorization: https://www.umass.edu/ipo/node/18162. Students must contact their academic department to be sure the work experience is suitable for CPT. Be sure to get your department’s permission for CPT authorization before accepting a position. Undergraduate international students will need to attach a pdf copy of their Job Offer Letter to their Undergraduate Co-op Experience contract in Handshake.
All undergraduate students must get approval for an international Co-op from the UMass International Programs Office (IPO) at least six months in advance. This applies to both domestic undergraduate and international undergraduate students. You will have to attach a signed copy of the Undergraduate International Internship and Co-op IPO Approval Form to your online Co-op Experience contract. You can find that form on our Forms page.
At the end of your Co-op, you will have to complete an Evaluation online, and you will have to log (track) your work hours in an Internship and Co-op Weekly Work Hours Log which will be provided by the Field Experience Office. Your onsite Co-op supervisor will also be asked to complete an Employer Evaluation of your performance and verify your work hours at the end of your Co-op; this request will be sent to your supervisor from The Career Development Hub’s Field Experience Office. After we receive the evaluations and you have logged your hours, Co-op recognition can appear on your transcript.
- Look for Co-op listings in Handshake and other internship websites. Go to Finding Internships and Co-ops for help using Handshake as well as other tips for finding positions.
- Visit the Career Services Center for your college for help with your resume or cover letters. Have a printed draft of your resume or cover letter with you as well as information on any specific field experience opportunity you are pursuing.
- Upload your resume to your Handshake profile and other Web sites and begin applying to interesting internships and co-ops. Check listings frequently since new positions are added daily. For help with this process, email the Career Development Hub at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once You Accept a Co-op Position
· Notify the Field Experience Office and your Academic Advisor immediately when you accept a position. Keep a record of all field experience offers you receive.
- Log into Handshake and complete an online Experience form for a Co-op. Click on the Career Center tab on the top right, then click Experiences, then Request an Experience. Under Details, for Experience Type, select Undergraduate Co-Op Experience Contract; select a Term, and then include your placement details.
- Generate a Department Permission Form, an Undergraduate Placements Requirements Form and a Field Experience Risk Acknowledgement Form. These forms are available on our Forms page.
- Scan all three signed forms into pdf files and attach (upload) them to your Co-op Experience contract in Handshake.
- If you do not have a minimum of 45 credits completed or do not have a minimum GPA of 2.0, you need to attach (upload) a signed Undergraduate Dean's Approval Form.
- If you are an international student, for a Co-op position in the United States you must attach a pdf copy of your offer letter to your Co-op Experience contract in Handshake.
- If you are an undergraduate student and your Co-op is outside of the United States, you must attach (upload) a signed pdf copy of an Undergraduate International Internship and Co-op IPO Approval Form to your Experience contract.
- IMPORTANT: When filling out your online Experience contract, you should Save As Draft before you can attach (upload) all of the required forms or files. Then after you have attached required forms you may submit your Experience contract.
- Once you complete and submit your Experience contract form with any applicable attachments (see above), Field Experience Program staff will review the form and notify the Registrar to place you on Co-op if it is during a fall or spring semester.
- If you have any questions about the process or what forms are required, please send an email to the Field Experience Office at email@example.com.
- Career Development Hub Field Experience Program staff will put you on Co-op status with the University, once the Co-op Experience online contract is completed and the signed Departmental Permission Form, Placement Requirements Form and Field Experience Risk Acknowledgement Form (and any other applicable forms or files) are received. This ensures that you will not get a tuition bill for the semester you are on Co-op, and that you will not have to re-enroll with the Registrar to return from your Co-op. DO NOT WITHDRAW from the university.
- Log (track) your weekly work hours in an Internship and Co-op Weekly Work Hours Log which will be provided by the Field Experience Office.
- Complete final evaluations online. Near the end of the Co-op, you and your supervisor will both receive emails with final evaluations. You will both need to complete and submit these electronically. Once you have logged your work hours and these evaluations are received by the Field Experience Program Office, your Co-op can 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:
Undergraduate Registrar's Office
213 Whitmore Administration Building
Phone: 413-545-0555; email firstname.lastname@example.org
If necessary, change your graduation date in SPIRE with the Registrar’s Office so that you will be able to pre-register for classes for the semester when you will return to campus.
Residential Life Student Services
235 Whitmore Administration Building
Phone: 413-545-2100; email email@example.com
If you are living in on-campus housing, remember to cancel on-campus housing for the semester you’ll be away and arrange for on-campus housing for the semester after your co-op.
If your Co-op will be in the Boston area, and you would like to live at the UMass Mount Ida Newton Campus during your Co-op, see https://www.umass.edu/mountidacampus/internships for details.
UMass Dining Services
Phone 413-545-2472; email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you currently have a meal plan, cancel it. This can also be done in SPIRE.
Financial Aid Services
255 Whitmore Administration Building
Phone: 413-545-0801; email@example.com
Students who receive financial aid should meet with Sharon Ruth, the Financial Aid liaison for internship and co-op students to discuss how being on Co-op will impact your financial aid.
Education Benefits and Enrollment Verification Questions:
215 Whitmore Administration Building
413-545-5792; email firstname.lastname@example.org
Students currently receiving veteran’s benefits should contact this office for information about what impact a co-op may have on their benefit eligibility.