About the Cooperative Experiential Learning Program (Co-Op)

Our co-op program is designed to provide engineering and computing students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience related to their degrees. Participating students alternate between periods of full-time work in industry (co-op rotations) and periods of full-time study on campus.

During their rotations, students receive mentorship from experienced professionals while applying their technical and professional skills to real-world projects and challenges. Co-op students enroll in a tuition-free course (ENGR 3910) each semester they are working, allowing them to maintain student status while away from campus. With each subsequent rotation, students are given progressive responsibility over projects and duties, which allows them to experience what it is like to work for a particular company.

This in-depth work experience allows students to gain insight into career paths and industry best practices, and to develop a strong resume or portfolio of work that will help them stand out professionally.

To be eligible for the co-op program, students must have:

  • Completed 30 credit hours of coursework
  • An overall 2.8+ GPA

Looking to gain experience through the co-op program?

View the information below to learn more and get engaged with the program.

Co-Ops vs Internships

Both co-ops and internships offer optimum experiences and opportunities for students looking for additional preparation in the engineering workforce. Co-op students and interns graduate with more than a degree. They have practical knowledge and a competitive advantage in today’s job market.

Co-ops and internships differ in a few important ways.

  • Co-ops are full-time work experiences. Co-op students are expected to work 40 hours a week for their employer. Internships can be either full-time or part-time positions, and are often more flexible or temporary.
  • Co-op students work 3 semesters with the same company. Ideally, a co-op involves students working at the partner firm or company for three or more semesters during their undergraduate program at UGA, although an exception of only two semesters will be considered when the situation warrants. There are no multiple semester requirements for an internship, although we have had students invited by their employer to intern multiple semesters.
  • Co-ops should be formally registered with the College of Engineering. During each co-op rotation, students must register for ENGR 3910 to account for their work experience. Students participating in co-op are required to submit a few deliverables each rotation, including performance evaluations from their supervisor. Internships do not necessarily require students to be in contact with the college or university about your experience.
  • Co-ops are designed to be more representative of a full-time job in the industry. Through working at the firm full-time during the semester, students are fully immersed in their work and operations. Students are able to increase their work load and take on additional responsibilities over their semesters participating in a co-op. Internships, while similar to co-ops, are shorter and less in-depth. Interns typically do not receive as much training as co-op students do since they will not be putting in as much time with the company. The scope and complexity of the work completed in an internship may be more limited based on the shorter duration of the experience.
Finding an Opportunity

There are numerous job search resources available for students through the UGA Career Center and the College of Engineering Office of Student Success.

Getting Started with your Co-Op Search:

  • Connect to co-op job postings and announcements in Handshake and through weekly emails to the college listserv.
  • Develop a strong engineering resume and take advantage of opportunities for resume reviews.
  • Meet with the College of Engineering Career Consultant for career exploration, job search strategies, practice interviews, etc.
  • Attend recruiting events like the Engineering and Computer Science Career & Internship fair, Employer of the Day, Engineering Expeditions.
Enrolling in the Program

For First Rotations

Once you have received an offer for Co-op employment, you will need to submit two items to the Office of Student Success:

These items must be submitted before the 3rd day of Drop/Add for the semester in which you are completing your first co-op rotation.

After submitting, the Director of Experiential Learning & Outreach will process your application and follow up with you with additional information and instructions for registering for the ENGR 3910 course.

For Subsequent Rotations

If you are looking to enroll in the co-op course for your 2nd or 3rd rotation, you do not have to complete the program application again, as long as you have maintained co-op eligibility. Simply contact the Office of Students Success with the semester and start date of your next rotation. You will then be cleared to register for the co-op course again for that term.

It is the student’s responsibility to make sure they are enrolled in the co-op course during each rotation semester.


Frequently Asked Questions

When should I start looking for and working in a co-op position?

Students are generally eligible to start working in a co-op after they complete their first two semesters of university coursework (30+ credit hours). It is recommended that students interested in the Co-Op program begin seeking positions in their 2nd year of study. However, many begin to work in co-op roles during their 3rd year.

Will participating in the Co-Op program delay my graduation?

Yes. In most cases, participation in the Co-Op program will delay graduation by at least 1 year. All situations are different and the impact of co-op on a student’s graduation timeline depends on many factors such as when a student begins in their co-op role, rotation schedule, and course timing and availability. Your engineering academic advisor can provide guidance on your specific situation.

Is it required to work for specific employers or companies in order to be eligible for the co-op program?

No. Students are not restricted to work only for specific employers. Students are able to work for any employers they are interested in, as long as the organization agrees to follow the structure and requirements of the Cooperative Experiential Learning Program. The Office of Student Success will determine whether each student’s employment complies with program expectations.

How are rotation schedules determined?

The semesters in which students will be expected to work in a co-op rotation are determined by employer needs as well as student availability. The program does not require students to work on any particular rotation schedule- it is flexible. However, it is very common that employers will expect students to work an alternating rotation schedule where they alternate between work semesters and classes in Athens each semester. Students are highly encouraged to work at least one rotation during the fall or spring semesters.

View more Co-Op Program FAQs

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