You are here


Co-op (Cooperative Education) is an integral part of our program. Professional preparation includes work in a variety of organizations, where you can both apply skills learned in the classroom and acquire new skills from real-world projects. Through co-op you can enhance your technical, communication, interpersonal, and networking skills.

Co-Op Frequently Asked Questions

What is a co-op?

Definition from the Office of Co-op and Career Services:

Cooperative education at RIT is full-time, paid employment directly related to a student's field of study, for a minimum period of 14 weeks. Co-op begins after students have completed the first two years of coursework in their academic program. Students alternate terms of coursework with terms of co-op during the last three years of study.

Cooperative education is a unique kind of education. It is different from summer employment, and different from an internship. Here's why:

  • Co-op employment is related to a student's field of study
  • Co-op employment is full-time, productive work
  • Co-op employment is paid
  • Co-op employment increases in complexity and challenge according to academic level
  • Co-op employment includes formal evaluation and documentation of performance
How many semesters do I have to co-op?

Undergraduate students must complete two semesters and one summer of co-op before starting Senior Project. Co-op is optional for graduate students.

What is the length of a co-op?

A co-op block is 14 weeks of full-time employment (35-40 hours per week). You may, in fact, work longer through RIT breaks and holidays, depending on your arrangement with your employer. Additional weeks are great experience, but cannot be pieced together to fulfill an additional block.

How do I register for co-op?
Who evaluates my co-op?

You and your employer must both complete online evaluation forms for each term you work. The Co-Op Office will email links for the form toward the end of the term.

How is a grade assigned for Co-op?

After you and your employer submit online evaluations, you should arrange a meeting with your faculty co-op coach. Your coach will review the evaluations, and assign a pass/fail grade after meeting with you.

For more information, please refer to Co-op Grading.

Does the co-op have to be paid?

Yes. RIT defines co-op as paid work. Wages vary by employer and by region, but the average for SE students is $20/hour.

Do I pay tuition for co-op?

You do not pay tuition or any institute fees while on co-op, but you remain eligible to utilize all the facilities and services of the Institute.

How much do I get paid?

There is no set rate of pay - compensation is decided by the organization that hires you. Currently the average wage for an SE co-op is $20/hour.

Check the co-op website for the latest co-op salary data.

What type of work qualifies for co-op?

Your co-op should give you hands-on experience that relates to the software engineering skills you acquired in your courses. Job opportunities listed by the Office of Co-op and Career Services are "approved" co-op positions. If you obtain a co-op position through another source, and are not sure if it is acceptable, see your academic advisor before accepting the job.

Am I guaranteed a co-op job?

The Office of Co-Op and Career Services will help you find job opportunities, but seizing the opportunities and interviewing for them is your responsibility. Expect to go through the same hiring and interview process for a co-op as you would for any full-time position.