Cooperative Education

University of South Alabama Career Development welcomes opportunities to partner with companies and organizations through our Cooperative Education (Co-op) and Internship Program.  Our Co-op & Internship program offers multiple work plans to accommodate the needs of our employer partners.  

Cooperative Education and Internship Program - Alternating Co-op

Cooperative Education is a formal program integrating multiple terms of work and academics. Students work in paid, professional assignments directly related to their major.  Students on the alternating Co-op plan rotate semesters of full-time work with semesters of full-time school. The alternating option is highly recommended for students in engineering and other technical fields.  

For program eligibility, students must meet specific criteria including, being classified as a full-time student upon participation in the program, the completion of 24 credit hours, and maintaining an overall institutional GPA of 2.3 or higher, as determined by the student's academic department.  Prior to students being approved for the alternating plan, a work/school schedule must be reviewed and approved by the student's academic advisor and department chair.  The work/school schedule should be approved prior to the employer making an offer of employment.  

Employers can benefit greatly from the Co-op program. The following list contains some of the employer benefits for participating in Cooperative Education:

  • Lower labor costs. Fringe benefits can account for 25 to 35 percent of payroll costs. These can be minimized by utilizing co-op students where appropriate.
  • Lower recruitment costs. Co-op is an excellent means of pre-screening for career employment. Students are known quantities since they have already shown what they can do for the company.
  • Increased retention rates. Co-op students have more realistic job expectations and tend to remain longer with an employer when hired for career employment after graduation.
  • Improved work performance. The knowledge gained by co-op students allows them to begin at a higher level of performance, if hired for career employment after graduation.
  • Fosters effective relationships with colleges and universities. Support from the academic community contributes to a company's research and development efforts. In addition, such a relationship enhances the corporate reputation in the community and fosters goodwill.
  • Enables the employer to influence the curriculum. Employers act as a partner in curriculum development and help mold courses to meet its specific needs.
  • Students are an excellent source for temporary staffing. Co-op students are capable of efficiently and effectively meeting short-term, temporary or seasonal employment needs.
  • Provides employers with a supply of students from which permanent personnel can be hired. This further reduces recruitment and hiring costs. It also reduces the cost of training new, unknown personnel.

Source: "Factors Which Influence Employers to Participate in Cooperative Education Programs", David C. Ballinger

Please contact USA Career Development at (251) 460-6188 for more information regarding the Co-op program.