Career Center

Cooperative Education Program

What is required of you as a co-op employer?

To form a co-op partnership with Tennessee Tech and/or keep a co-op partnership in good standing, you as an employer need to make the commitment that when you hire a Tennessee Tech student for a co-op assignment, you will:

  • Complete the Employer Agreement Form and email it to career@tntech.edu if you have not already done so.
  • Notify the Center for Career Development when you make an offer to a student and confirm the student's eligibility to co-op with our staff. There are certain university requirements that must be met for a student to be able to co-op. Those requirements are listed below.
  • Require the student to register for the appropriate co-op course through the Center for Career Development each semester the student is out on co-op, including summer semester, and make this requirement clear to the student when recruiting for positions.
  • Require the student to show proof that they are enrolled in the co-op course before they begin employment and do so every subsequent semester the student is employed by your organization.

The Center for Career Development reserves the right to discontinue the co-op partnership with organizations who do not adhere to this policy. This may include not activating job postings in our Handshake job database and limiting on-campus recruiting activities.

What is cooperative education (co-op)?

Cooperative education is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Co-op is a voluntary, independent education program available for all undergraduate and graduate students in any academic area. Students have the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths. The cooperative education program provides careful supervision with timely evaluation of performance, attitude, and ability of the student on the job. The goal is to help students improve their capabilities and prepare them to be successful in the workplace.

How are co-ops different from internships?

A co-op position:

  • Is always paid.
  • Usually involves multiple semesters.
  • Always gives a student one hour of add-on credit each semester the student is out on co-op assignment and shows on the student's transcript. This credit hour does not count toward graduation requirements but does keep the student enrolled at Tennessee Tech while out on assignment. The student's experience must be related to the student's major of study and future career goals. Future co-op terms must build on experience gained from the first term with increased responsibilities and increase opportunity for learning.
  • May involve different scheduling plans.
    • Plan A - Student works full-time for an employer for 12 months
    • Plan B - Student works alternate semesters at the employer's site (work, return to school, work, etc.)
    • Plan C - Student will attend college and work approximately 20 hours per week for the employer
    • Plan D - Summer only assignment (two or more summers)

An internship:

  • May be paid or unpaid. Unpaid internships must adhere to the Department of Labor's Primary Beneficiary Test
  • Involves only one semester of work (usually 120 days or less).
  • Involves academic credit obtained through a student's academic department.

The Center for Career Development is not an academic department and, therefore, does not grant academic credit for any internships. The Center for Career Development's primary role is the posting of internship opportunities to the Handshake online resume and job database.

Who is eligible to participate in Tennessee Tech's cooperative education program?

Students must meet the following requirements:

  • Have a minimum 2.0 overall GPA (must be maintained while in the program), be in good academic standing, and have at least sophomore status (31 or more credit hours).
  • Complete co-op orientation through the Center for Career Development and enroll in the appropriate co-op course each semester they are out on assignment (including summers). Each course provides one hour of add-on credit and does not count toward graduation requirements.
  • Complete one semester at TTU prior to completing a co-op application.
  • Transfer students from another college or university must complete two full semesters at TTU prior to beginning a co-op assignment.

How can the cooperative education program benefit your organization?

  • Reduction in cost of recruitment and training personnel
  • Selection and education of quality students who could become permanent employees
  • Observation and evaluation of students' on-the-job performance before the possibility of offering permanent employment
  • Elimination and/or reduction of time needed to train new graduates
  • Retention rate is higher among co-op students who become permanent employees