Co-op FAQs for Employers

What is Cooperative Education? Cooperative Education (Co-op) is a formal course which allows students to gain real world work experience in their chosen career field and receive documentation of the experience on their transcripts.

Does the student receive a grade and/or credit? Yes. While the student is required to register for the Co-op course, it is a zero credit course that is graded satisfactory or unsatisfactory. The course will reflect on the students' permanent transcripts as an official Cooperative Education experience. The Co-op Instructor (a member of the Career Services staff) awards the final grade based on the skills development and learning outcomes of the experience and the employer's final evaluation of work performance.

What students are eligible to participate in Co-op? Any undergraduate or graduate student may participate as long as they meet the criteria listed for their degree level. The lists of minimum eligibility requirements can be found here: Undergraduate Co-op Qualifications and Graduate Co-op Qualifications. As an employer, you can always set additional criteria for your Co-op positions.

Can international students participate in Cooperative Education? Yes. Co-op is considered co-curricular training. International students who are approved Co-op applicants have been cleared by International Services as eligible to participate. Career Services will work with International Services to ensure students receive proper approval upon receiving an official Co-op training offer.

What are my organization's responsibilities to a student? Your organization is responsible for interviewing, hiring, providing on-the-job training, and supervising the daily work performance of the student. The supervisor will be asked to meet with the student at the beginning of the semester to set 3 specific learning objectives for the student, as well as to meet with student at the end of the term to evaluate the student's work performance and skills development. The final evaluation form will be provided to you, and the student and supervisor will review the evaluation together before the student submits it as part of the final assignment for the course.

Why do students participate in the Co-op program? Students participate to obtain pre-screened career related experience; receive documentation on their University transcripts; develop skill sets they will use in their future career; learn from professionals; as well as increase their knowledge and understanding of the work culture and their chosen career.

What are benefits of hiring a Cooperative Education student? There are numerous benefits to hiring a Cooperative Education student. Co-op is a cost-effective way to recruit from a pre-screened candidate pool and permits the evaluation of potential hires without long-term commitment. Hiring Co-op students from USF provide your organization the ability to free-up higher-paid professionals for other assignments and can offer fresh ideas for your work environment.

How many semesters does the Cooperative Education student commit to be in the program? The minimum commitment is for one semester, either working full-time (35-40 hours a week) or part-time (15-34 hours a week). However, the employer and student may continue the Co-op experience for additional semesters, if agreeable to both parties and approved by Career Services.

Do I have a commitment to hire the Co-op student when he or she graduates? Hiring a Cooperative Education student for full-time, permanent employment when their Cooperative Education training is completed is not a commitment. However, you can certainly offer full-time employment to a student when they complete their degree program. About 50% of the Co-op students are employed by their training employer upon graduation.

How can my organization participate in Co-op? Contact Diane Mellon, Co-op Coordinator and Instructor at dmellon@usf.edu or call 813-974-9635 to begin the process of becoming a Co-op Employer.