Co-op, short for cooperative education, is an experiential learning program that balances classroom theory with multiple periods of practical, hands-on experience prior to graduation. Co-ops allow students to alternate semesters of academic study with semesters of full-time, paid employment positions related to their academic and career interests. Co-ops are common for, but not limited to, majors in business, chemistry, computer science, engineering, information systems, and information technology. Qualities of a co-op include:
Goals and Benefits of Internships
By participating in a co-op through the Georgia Southern University Experiential Learning Program, students will:
- Gain practical work experience related to your chosen major
- Further clarify your academic focus and career goals
- Integrate practical knowledge into classroom learning
- Gain an understanding of professional cultures and expectations
Students who participate in co-ops are able to work on longer, more important projects and are able to take on increasingly responsible and diverse roles in their work sessions. Students also earn a significant and competitive salary while working. While not guaranteed, many co-op students are offered interviews or full-time positions with their host employer upon graduation.
Students must maintain a 2.5 GPA and remain in good academic standing with the university prior to starting and throughout their co-op experience. Incoming first-term freshmen are requested to complete one complete academic year before the start of a co-op experience. Freshmen are encouraged to begin their search during their second semester and may reach out to the Office of Career and Professional Development staff for assistance in the co-op job search process. Transfer students may begin a co-op experience after completion of one academic term at Georgia Southern University. For special consideration or questions, please contact the Assistant Director of Experiential Learning.
Overview of Co-op Work Terms
Academic credit internships are provided and approved by your major’s department by a supporting faculty member. Work terms are often called “rotations” due to their rotating nature between work and academics. The Experiential Learning Program supports three plans for cooperative education: Parallel Co-op Rotation Plan, 3-Session Co-op Rotation Plan, and Extended Co-op Rotation Plan.
- 3-Session Co-op Rotation Plan: Students begin their co-op in the fall, spring, or summer semester of their sophomore or junior year and complete three work rotations with the same employer. This program is a transcript-recorded experience and provides a certificate upon completion. See below for potential course and work term sequences for this plan.
- Extended Co-op Rotation Plan: Students start their co-op positions after their first year, or in the fall semester of their sophomore year, and complete four or five work rotations with the same employer. As they progress through their rotations, students begin to perform jobs they would expect to do upon graduation. This program is a transcript-recorded experience and provides an academic certificate upon completion. See below for potential course and work term sequences for this plan.
- Parallel Co-op Rotation Plan: Students will work full-time for an employer during their first summer work rotation, and then part-time during the fall and spring semesters. Students will take a reduced academic load (6-11 credits) during the fall and spring semesters.
Prior to starting your co-op, it is critical that you contact the Office of Career and Professional Development to register for the appropriate tuition-free, audit-credit co-op course in order to remain enrolled full-time at Georgia Southern while you are working. This course will allow the co-op to be officially recognized by the University on the student’s transcript and prevents gaps in enrollment (for insurance purposes, housing, student fees, student loans, etc.) The number of audit credits depends upon the number of hours worked per week.
To register, you’ll need to:
- Complete an experiences application by going to Handshake and selecting “Request an Experience.” If you are unsure of the answers to anything, simply put “n/a.”
- Provide a copy of your offer letter as an attachment to your Experiences application
For more information about internships, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page, make an appointment with your Career & Internship Advisor, or email the Assistant Director of Experiential Learning, Caitlyn Cofer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last updated: 3/18/2022