The Undergraduate Co-op (Co-operative Education) Program is a non-credit, paid work experience that complements and reinforces classroom learning while allowing undergraduate students to maintain active student status. It differs from an internship in that students work full time at a company for 4-8 months, including part of the academic year. Co-op increases awareness of the day-to-day operations of career opportunities and exposes students to professional standards and the methods used to accomplish objectives in a business environment. Co-op is not for academic credit.  Co-op is a valuable career experience which benefits students seeking employment after graduation. Many employers recruit full time hires from their Co-op and intern pool. In addition Co-op experience can be a great basis for negotiating a higher starting salary due to the substantial work experience that students acquire.

When to do a Co-op

Co-op is recommended for undergraduate students in the spring of their sophomore year or in the junior year around IQP. If a first year student or senior is interested in doing Co-op they need to work with their faculty advisor and the Office of Academic Advising to determine if a Co-op is a feasible option. Seniors must have undergraduate classes to take upon returning from their Co-op. A Co-op during senior year is very complex; therefore, it is important to meet early, plan and gain your advisor’s support and approval. Students who participate in a BS/MS program and are in the MS portion are ineligible to participate in Co-op as this is an undergraduate program. Students who begin at WPI with college level credit, reach sophomore standing early in their first year, want significant work experience, or wish to earn extra money to support overseas IQP opportunities or other educational experiences should consider a Co-op. 

Am I Eligible for Co-op?

  • Must be a current, full time, undergraduate WPI student in good standing. If any of the following conditions apply a student may petition for eligibility.
    • Not in good academic standing (i.e. on academic warning or probation)
    • Have financial holds on their account
    • Have a judicial record.  Note: having a judicial record does not automatically preclude you from participating in a Co-op.  
    • Want to register for up to 1/3 unit of course while on Co-op.
  • International students must complete one full academic year at WPI before being eligible for Co-op, due to US Federal Government regulations.  In addition, the Co-op must be related to the major (not minor). For questions, please contact International House.
  • Understand the impact Co-op would have on your federal and institutional financial aid through a required meeting with the Office of Student Aid & Financial Literacy.
  • Understand the impact your Co-op will have on your course schedule and outline your four year plan, including projects, Co-op, etc. and have it reviewed through a required meeting with your Faculty Advisor.
  • Approval will be needed from your Faculty Advisor, Office of Student Aid & Financial Literacy, Supervisor at your Co-op, Bursar, Dean of Students Office, Career Development Center, and International House (if applicable).  Approvals are done electronically through Handshake, beginning with you entering your Co-op information in your Handshake Account’s Experiences section.  The deadline for fall Co-ops is August 1; the deadline for spring Co-ops is December 1.  Co-ops received after deadline are reviewed on a case by case basis.  Submissions after the add/ drop deadline will not be approved.
  • To be considered, the Co-op must be full time (at least 30 hours per week), paid, 4-8 months in duration and related to your major and career goals.
  • Understands and accepts the Terms of Agreement

Co-op Student Profile: Guillermo R.

 A co-op experience at Tesla Motors in California showed Guillermo, a robotics engineering major, just how valuable hands-on experience is in the real world. 

Co-op Student Profile: Emily M.

Participating in a co-op with Mercury Systems allowed Emily, a mechanical engineering major, to use her experiences from classes and projects in the workforce, while also making connections and learning more skills she wouldn’t have been able to perfect in the classroom.

Petition Criteria

Students who are on academic warning or probation, have financial holds or a judicial record, and want to go on Co-op must petition for exemption by the Co-op petition committee when submitting forms in Handshake. 

Students who would like to register for academic activity (up to 1/3 unit) concurrent with their Co-op must also petition the committee.  The Co-op petition committee is comprised of Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Director of Academic Advising, and Director-Career Services & Professional Practice.  For further information on the petition process, please e-mail coop@wpi.edu.

Disability Disclosure and Support

Many students with disabilities who have successfully adapted to WPI’s academic environment may find themselves facing new challenges in their Co-op assignment. Because of this, students with disabilities are encouraged to meet with a staff member from the Office of Disability Services and/or a CDC staff member during the co-op search process to discuss how to best self-advocate. Whether or not to reveal a disability and what kind of accommodation the employer may be asked to make can be discussed in a confidential manner. If the student prefers not to reveal his/her disability to the employer, the staff members can help the student identify personal strategies to ensure success on the job.

For Questions :

Office of Student Aid & Financial Literacy:

Phone: +1-508-831-5469
Fax: +1-508-831-5039
Email: finaid@wpi.edu

Office of Academic Advising:

Phone: +1-508-831-5381 
Fax: +1-508-831-5846 
E-mail: academic-advising@wpi.edu

Office of the Registrar:

Phone: +1-508-831-5211
Fax: +1-508-831-5931
E-mail: registrar@wpi.edu

Career Development Center:

Phone: +1-508-831-5260

Email: cdc@wpi.edu

Residential Services:

Phone:  +1-508-831-5645
Fax:  +1-508-831-5870
Email: res-services@wpi.edu

International House:

Phone: +1-508-831-6030
Fax: +1-508-831-6032
Email: ih@wpi.edu