Internships, Co-ops, Research, and Extracurriculars
Experiential Learning Opportunities
Relevant engineering experience allows you to apply academic concepts in practice and to explore career options. The skills and knowledge acquired through experiential learning also make you more marketable to companies. Reports from a variety of sources show that, compared to the average, students who participate in these programs:
- Do better in school
- Are ahead in preparation for their field
- Are viewed as better candidates in job interviews
- Receive more job offers
- Earn higher starting salaries
- Are more likely to get a job with their desired employer after graduation
Other benefits of Internships and Experiential Education Programs include developing transferable skills such as: communication, critical thinking, teamwork, change management, information technology, leadership, self-managed learning, interpersonal diversity, ethics, social responsibility, and technical knowledge.
Experiential learning can take a variety of forms including internships, co-ops, service learning, research, projects through student societies, and study abroad.
Internships & Co-ops
An internship is a work experience, usually completed over the summer, related to your major. Most engineering internships are paid, and the terms of payment are worked out between the company and the student. Internships are regularly posted on Handshake.
An engineering co-op is a paid, semester-long position that occurs during the academic year. While on co-op, you will maintain your status as an enrolled UMass Amherst student. All students must fill out a co-op contract through Handshake. All students must fill out a co-op contract through Handshake.
Log in to Handshake using your student NetID and password, click on “Career Center,” then on “Experiences,” and then on “Request an Experience.” Part of the contract includes gaining permission from the appropriate undergraduate designated faculty members. When you complete the co-op and submit the co-op contract, the co-op will appear on your transcript.
For more information, visit the UMass Career Development & Professional Connections' The Co-op Process page.
PDF Forms (NetID login required for access):
- Dept. Permission Form for Student Away on Internship or Co-op [pdf]
- Placement Requirements Form [pdf]
- Dean's Permission Form [pdf] (required for students who wish to go on co-op but have fewer than 45 credits or a GPA of less than 2.0)
Accepting Offers: When you accept an offer for an internship or co-op, both the UMass College of Engineering Career Center and the employer expect that you are acting in good faith and that you will honor your commitment. It is your responsibility to thoroughly evaluate an offer and decide whether the opportunity is right for you before accepting it. Once you accept an offer, you should not continue interviewing or consider accepting another offer.
International students who want to go on internship or undergraduate co-op must complete additional requirements. For more information, see the International Undergraduate Students Interested in Experiential Learning section below.
Many students participate in research projects with UMass Amherst Engineering professors throughout the semester. These research projects may be paid or unpaid. In general, faculty interested in hiring a student look for students with outstanding grades and a demonstrated interest in their specific engineering field. The National Science Foundation sponsors the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program each year. This program supports undergraduate research through projects that are funded through NSF grants. These are paid positions. You must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident to qualify. Last year, approximately 150 academic institutions, national labs and research centers, operated a REU program. To search for specific positions, go to the National Science Foundation's For Students page.
For information about current undergraduate research opportunities at UMass Amherst and in the College of Engineering, visit the Undergraduate Research page.
Student Societies & Service Learning
There are approximately 20 official student organizations in the College of Engineering. The various missions of these organizations include serving humanitarian causes, participating in community service and outreach initiatives, developing leadership skills, and making connections with engineering professionals, faculty, and other students within the College. For more detailed information about Engineering student societies, visit the Student Organizations page.
International Undergraduate Students Interested in Experiential Learning
International students who wish to participate in an internship or co-op must follow specific processes and obtain proper authorization to maintain F visa status. This includes application for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) through the International Programs Office and an EXPERIENCES contract on Handshake. Internships also require enrollment in a one-credit independent study. Learn more about the steps required for authorization on the CPT Guidelines for International Students page and review the International Programs Office CPT application process.
Study Abroad for Engineers
Early planning is the key to making a semester abroad happen!
Engineering undergraduates are eligible to study abroad for a semester, summer, or winter. These opportunities depend on the engineering discipline. Take advantage of this unique and enriching opportunity!
Want to learn more? Visit the Study Abroad for Engineers page.
- Meet with our Engineering Entrepreneurs-in-Residence.
- Compete in the Tech Challenge and in other UMass Innovation Challenge competitions.
- Visit a makerspace.
- Join a student design team.
- Check out the innovation services offered by the UMass Institute of Applied Life Sciences (IALS).
- Contact the UMass Technology Transfer Office for help and direction on patenting an idea.
- Network with other entrepreneurs via the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship in the Isenberg School of Management.