Cooperative Education (Co-op)

Cal Poly's Co-op program is a dynamic plan for professional development that integrates academic learning with practical work experience. Through Co-op, Cal Poly develops and supports cooperative working relationships with business, industry and government. Employers can benefit from year-round access to a work force of highly qualified and motivated students. In addition, Co-op participation increases your company's on-campus visibility and creates a pool of experienced candidates for future employment.

  • Co-op participation is aligned with the quarter system.  Most employers have Co-op students working one or two quarters in duration.  The extended duration of a Co-op allows students to become more fully integrated into the organization and many students are able to see projects through to completion.
  • Students receive academic credit for Co-op.  A faculty Co-op advisor reviews and evaluates required Co-op assignments, which may include monthly reports, a formal report, and an employer evaluation.
  • Students may combine their Senior Project with Co-op.  The Senior Project is a capstone experience required for all Cal Poly students receiving a baccalaureate degree. It integrates theory and application from across the student’s educational experiences.

Employer Requirements for Co-op

  • A thorough position descriptions is required to assure that the assignment is consistent with the academic nature and goals of Co-op.  It is understood that some flexibility is to be expected based on current company needs and student interests.
  • Adequate supervision and mentorship to assure student success. Completion of a supervisor evaluation form will generally be required at the end of the assignment.  This form will be provided to you by your Co-op student(s).
  • Students register and pay quarterly fees for each Co-op quarter.  It is essential that position start/end dates should coincide as closely as possible with Cal Poly’s quarterly schedule, and that employers commit to honoring the full duration of the position.
  • Co-op positions are paid, typically at 80-85% of entry level.  Benefits such as relocation or housing assistance and/or academic fee reimbursement are optional.  These arrangements should be clearly defined when job offers are made.
  • Refer to our Tips for Establishing an Effective Co-op Program for suggested guidelines.

Student Requirements for Co-op

  • Sophomore, Junior, Senior or Graduate Student standing is required, although most positions require Junior and/or Senior standing. Students must be in good academic standing (minimum 2.0 GPA).
  • Co-op is not available to students who have graduated; students must return to Cal Poly for at least one quarter following the Co-op assignment.
  • All academic requirements of the Co-op program must be met by the student.  Students must comply with company policies and procedures, and follow through to completion assigned projects or portions of projects.

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