Cooperative Education at UC


Cooperative education, or co-op, offers students an opportunity for selected practical experience purposefully intermingled with a gradually expanding academic background. This unique college program originated at the University of Cincinnati in 1906.

Students enrolled in the following programs are required to participate in the Professional Practice Program:

  • Architecture
  • Master of Architecture
  • Communication Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Fine Arts
  • Industrial Design
  • Interior Design
  • Master of Design
  • Urban Planning
  • Master of Community Planning
  • Master of Landscape Architecture

The cooperative education program provides 3.5 months of carefully planned professional practice assignments alternating with 3.5 month study periods. The year-round schedule permits students who are majoring in Communication Design, Fashion Design, Industrial Design, Interior Design, and Urban Planning to have five semesters (about 1.5 years) of meaningful professionally related experience before graduation. The Bachelor of Fine Arts and the Bachelor of Science in Architecture program include three semesters (about one year) of co-op. The Master of Architecture program also includes three semesters of co-op. The Master of Design and Master of Community Planning provide one semester practicum.

The professional practice assignments assist each student in developing an understanding of human relationships and in learning to work with others as a team. Students' individual growth during this practice experience is enhanced by the realization that in addition to demonstrating theoretical knowledge they are learning to become an integral part of the working community and developing an awareness of the interrelationship between the academic and professional worlds.

Thus, during the college years, students obtain firsthand knowledge of professional practices, expectancies and opportunities. At the same time they are offered a realistic test of their career interests and aptitudes. Participation in the program enables students to make more intelligent selections of post-graduate positions. As graduates, their professional practice experience makes them more valuable to employers and increases their qualifications for more responsible career opportunities.


A typical undergraduate year consists of 14 to 28 weeks of study, 14 to 28 weeks of correlated experience, and five weeks of vacation. Full-time classroom attendance is scheduled for the two semesters in the freshman year and for the first semester of the sophomore year. Students with satisfactory scholastic records begin the practice phase in spring of the sophomore year. 

Once students initiate the practice phase of the Professional Practice Program, they are required to complete on a regular alternating basis, all scheduled practice quarters until graduation. Students are placed on professional practice assignments by members of the professional practice faculty and meet with their co-op faculty advisor in a series of individual conferences. Through regular reports, employers evaluate students and students evaluate their work experiences. These evaluations are used as a basis for counseling and advising students and to assess and guide student learning from their experiences.


Professional practice assignments are made in over 1,300 businesses, industries, research organizations, and governmental agencies located throughout the United States. The heaviest concentration of assignments tends to be in the Midwest. Students, while on the job, are subject to all regulations of the company by which they are employed, and all applicable labor and tax laws. Earnings of students are usually determined by location and type of work experience and are received by students directly from their employers. The university makes no guarantee as to practice assignments or earnings, but does make every effort to place students to their best educational advantage.