Cooperative Education allows students the opportunity to gain work experience along with their college studies. It offers a unique opportunity to combine career, social, and personal growth with the educational process. Work assignments provide a variety of experiences with worthwhile work and increasing levels of difficulty and practice. The University cannot guarantee co-op employment to every student. The student must secure the position through regular search, application, and selection procedures.
During the internship, students are required to maintain an active working relationship with the employer/supervisor and Faculty Cooperative Education (Co-op) Advisor. It is the students responsibility to inform his/her Faculty Co-op Advisor and the Career Services Office when there is a: (1) change of employment status, (2) change in work hours, and/or (3) change of University enrollment status.
Student learning objectives, activities, and progress will be monitored and evaluated by the Faculty Co-op Advisor. An S or U grade will be awarded upon completion of the cooperative work experience.It is the students obligation to know what is expected of them during a cooperative work experience.
II. Qualifying Parameters for Student Participation
The following are the University's minimum requirements for student participation:
- The student is enrolled and pursuing a degree at Central Washington University.
- The student is in good academic standing.
- The field experience is directly related to the student's major field of study and/or career goals.
- The student has completed the appropriate prerequisite courses and possesses the skills and knowledge required for placement in a suitable level of field experience as determined by the student's department.
- The student must have a departmental Faculty Co-op Advisor for enrollment in a Cooperative Education course.
- The student's field experience is a practical position where the student is actively engaged in hands-on learning, and not just observing.
Students are advised to check with their department advisor for the specific requirements of that department.
III. Program Enrollment
For enrollment in the Cooperative Education course, the following are the minimum requirements:
- Students must complete a formal Learning Agreement with a learning plan that contains relevant objectives and activities. The Agreement form includes a description of academic requirements such as term paper/project(s), assigned readings, research project/thesis, progress reports, final (reflective) report, etc. Endorsements on the Learning Agreement must include the employer/supervisor, the student, the Faculty Co-op Advisor, department chair, and the Associate Director of Career Services.
- Before the end of add/drop and prior to the start of the experience, students must submit a TYPED and completed Cooperative Education Learning Agreement form (available here) to Career Services.
- Cooperative Education courses are numbered 290, 490, 590, and 690. Credits are variable: 1-5 for 290, 1-12 for 490, and 1-8 for 590, 1-6 for 690 level courses (If doing a FS 590, please contact your department). The department has the authority to determine credits.
- A freshman should complete at least 45 credits at CWU prior to enrolling in the Cooperative Education course. A transfer student should complete at least 15 credits at CWU and have a total of 45 credits, including transfer credits, prior to enrolling in the Cooperative Education course.
- The student should complete a minimum of 90 total credit hours with 10 or more credits in his or her major to be eligible for enrollment in the 490 level course. Departments may have additional requirements for this level of experience.
- A student who wants a career exploration experience, or who has not declared a major, is limited to enrolling for the Cooperative Education course at the 290 level.
- The student may re-enroll for the Cooperative Education course, but in no case will a student be allowed to count either more than 10 credits at the 290 level or more than 20 total credits toward graduation requirements. No more than 10 credits are accepted in transfer. No more than 8 credits may be applied to a graduate degree (If doing a FS 590, please contact your department).
- Cooperative Education courses may be repeated if field experience learning objectives and activities are distinctly different from previous work or field experience.
IV. Awarding of Credits
- Cooperative Education credits are to be awarded on the basis of quality, magnitude, and the level of learning (learning plan, relevant objectives, and activities) that takes place during the field experience.
- Credits are awarded using a minimum of 40 or more clock hours of approved field experience for each credit hour earned. Clock hours will include time spent to complete the work phase and the academic phase (term paper/project, journal or log, progress reports, assigned readings, final report etc.) of the field experience.
- An appropriate means for evaluation (progress reports, performance evaluations, final report, etc.) of the learning is established between the student, the field experience site, and the Faculty Co-op Advisor.
- The student will be awarded an S/U grade for the Cooperative Education course.
- Credit for the Cooperative Education course will be awarded for the quarter in which the majority of hours for the experience were acquired. (This is applicable for co-op experiences that carry into multiple quarters.)
- If the field experience is terminated by the employer or academic department, the student will not receive credit.
- Credit will not be given for previous field or work-study experience.
V. Student Supervision and Coordination
- Daily supervision of the student is to be provided by the cooperating company/agency work supervisor who will be identified prior to the field experience.
- Cooperative Education courses shall be under the direct guidance, direction, and coordination of a Faculty Co-op Advisor as part of the regular teaching load. The Faculty Co-op Advisor is available to the student in the field. The Faculty C-op Advisor arranges and coordinates visitations/contacts with the field experience site supervisor and the student a minimum of twice each quarter. The Faculty Co-op Advisor maintains a file on each students work (term paper/project, final report, etc) with the department office.
- The Career Services office is an academic support service which facilitates: the advising of students in the placement and cooperative education process; the development and sharing of internship information to students among departments; marketing the program; maintaining program direction; sustaining quality control for the program; conducting program research, assessment, and evaluation; and providing training and opportunities for Faculty Co-op Advisors and staff.
- The Career Services office staff is available for field visitations/contacts when suitable faculty representation is not available or upon request of the Faculty Co-op Advisor or department chair.
VI. Student Placement Process
- The placement process is intended to be a real-life job seeking experience for the student, including competition for positions.
- The Career Services office advises students in the placement process through the maintenance of a database that contains past internship placements and current listings that are submitted by employers. In addition, the staff is available to provide assistance with resumes, cover letters, job search techniques, and interviewing tips.
- The student should check with their faculty advisor for internship leads as many departments have developed their own internship connections.
- Students may propose their own placement site to the Faculty Co-op Advisor who determines the suitability of the placement with a given employer for Cooperative Education credit.
- Students may find a regular position that can double as a co-op experience if there is sufficient challenge and opportunity for learning that can justify university credit. Some students work with their current employer to offer new assignments or responsibilities that could qualify as a co-op experience. Decisions on whether the experience warrants university credit rest with the academic department and the coordinating faculty.
- The placement must conform to affirmative action and EEO/Title IX/ADA guidelines.
VII. The Learning Agreement
- This form has two purposes: (1) It is an agreement between the student, the employer/supervisor, and the University. The form provides each party the information needed to confirm an effective co-op experience worthy of academic credit. (2) It must be submitted to Career Services for final approval and to register the student for the Cooperative Education course.
- The Learning Agreement is an official compact (similar to a contract) between the employer, the University, and the student. It is one of the first professional documents that will come to the attention of the employer. The student is required to prepare a professional looking document. A substandard or incomplete Learning Agreement will be returned for revision before being approved. Hand written Learning Agreements are not acceptable.
- It is the student's responsibility, not the Faculty Co-op Advisor nor the employer/ supervisor, to see that the Learning Agreement is complete, accurate, and submitted for registration on time.
IX. Position Description for field experience.
The cooperating employer/agency must agree to provide a written description of field experience tasks, identify a field supervisor, and submit his/her qualifications to the appropriate university department and Career Services prior to approval of the Learning Agreement.
X. Student Compensation
- Paid field experience positions are sought where possible and practical.
- Unpaid positions may be used but are limited to the equivalent of working a full-time quarter.
- Students should not be placed in a position where they are exploited as a source of cheap labor, replace or are in direct competition with regular employees.
- Participation in Cooperative Education unpaid experiences should not become an undue financial burden for the student or be the cause of the student withdrawing from the University for Financial Reasons.
- Health, accident, and disability insurance are the responsibility of the student, and if not provided by the employing agency, should be purchased individually. In most instances, the group coverage for students available through CWU will provide adequate coverage; however, the student is advised to consider the level of coverage and the exclusions of the policy which may apply to unique co-op agencies, and to seek supplemental independent coverage, if necessary.
- All students must purchase liability insurance from CWU Business Services. Instructions and forms can be found here. (Click on Non-Medical Setting or Medical Setting Student Liability Insurance.)
- Students receiving financial aid must check with the Financial Aid Office prior to accepting a paid placement. A paid placement could impact the financial aid entitlement the following year. Students receiving financial aid must be sure their academic responsibilities for their co-op experience are completed by the end of the registered quarter. Any student with an incomplete grade at the time of financial awards for the next quarter jeopardizes their position to receive their financial aid.
- If the student is receiving financial aid, Federal Law requires that any income be declared. If the student is employed and completes a W-4 form, this reporting will occur through regular employment withholding and a W-2 form at tax time. If the student does not complete a W-4 form for the employer, they must declare their income with the Financial Aid Office through a specific form that is available from the Financial Aid Office.
- Students should be aware that Work Study positions are sometimes eligible for Cooperative Education credit if the position can be approved as appropriate per the students major and career goals.
The student is required to complete a final evaluation of their internship site, which done through Qualtrics. The link is sent via e-mail to each student.
The Cooperative Education Program is subject to periodic review and assessment, completed at least once every five years. Routine review of evaluations from employers, faculty, and students occurs on a quarterly basis along with continuous review of field placement sites.
Revised 12/1/14 klp