Career Services


1 What is the difference between cooperative education, internship, and college work study?

Cooperative Education (co-op) is an academic class that offers college credit for learning that takes place in a business or organization, and is related to your educational or career goal. College Work Stud (CWS) is a financial aid program that provides job placements, primarily on campus, with wages that are subsidized by federal funding. The terms Internships and Co-op are, at times, used interchangeably; however, there are several distinctions between the two. These distinctions usually apply to amount of time in a position, the depth of student involvement, and paid vs. unpaid experience. An internship is usually considered a short-term arrangement (one semester or less). Co-op refers to a longer arrangement with an employer (a minimum of tow or three semesters)

2 How is the student involved?

A intern may be in a position or observing or having limited involvement in the work setting, while the co-op is very actively involved; paid vs. unpaid. Both the intern or the co-op may be in a paid situation; however, an unpaid position is usually referred to as an internship, and a paid position is usually referred to as a co-op.

3 Will I be placed where my skills will be utilized?

If your College Work Study job requires skills relevant to your academic/career goals, you may be eligible to also receive Co-op credit for your CWS job. To find out if your CWS job qualifies for Co-op, meet with the co-op coordinator assigned to your academic department. If you are currently employed or seeking employment, you may be able to receive co-op credit for new knowledge and skills, providing it is related to your career or major. Some College Work Study positions also qualify for Co-op credit. Discuss your job with your coordinator to to see if it qualifies.

4 Am I required to take other credit classes while I'm enrolled in a co-op class?

You are not required to take other classes while enrolled in co-op; however, most students find that a co-op class can fit into their schedules. Consult with your academic advisor and the co-op coordinator in your program or area of study to set up a class schedule that fits your needs.

5 How many co-op credits should I take?

For most programs, one co-op credit is awarded for each 36 hours you work. The number of credits you earn each term is determined by the number of documented hours at an approved internship site. A minimum of three co-op credits is usually required each term. Many professional/technical programs require a specific number of credits. Students can use co-op credit to fulfill elective credit requirements in their degree or certificate programs. A maximum of 18 credits may be applied toward your degree or program certificate.

6 How many placements can a student have per school year?

Co-op is available every term, including summer. In some situations you may be encouraged to work two terms with the same co-op employer before considering a new placement and in other situations you may be encouraged to change sites each term. Placement changes must be discussed with your co-op coordinator to establish that the placement meets educational and program guidelines.

7 Are all co-op jobs paid?

Your coordinator continuously works with employers to provide students with co-op positions. Securing a paid placement is dependent upon availability. Paid positions are possible, but not guaranteed. Excellent training and experience is available for students willing to take an unpaid position, particularly in journalism, media, computer technology, and political science. Volunteer positions are also valuable sources for quality work experience.

8 What kinds of co-op placements are available?

Cooperative Education classes are offered in almost all academic and professional technical programs. Many employers/organizations in El Paso County hire co-op students. Co-op placements also extend beyond our local community. Statewide, and national placements are available.

9 Will my current job qualify as a Cooperative Education position?

Under specific circumstances a current job may qualify as a cooperative education position. Your job must relate to your field of study and be flexible enough to allow you new learning experiences. Many students have used full and part-time positions as cooperative education positions. The key to all cooperative education is in the learning that takes place on the job and how that relates to your program of study at EPCC. Cooperative education credits cannot be earned for prior work experience.

10 Must I be currently employed to enroll in Cooperative Education?

No. The Co-op Coordinator works in partnership with you to locate a work-based learning site related to your major or career. You may be expected to do some searching on your own in addition to the effort put forth by the coordinator, especially if you have specific wage requirements. You should expect to go through an interview and selection process. You may be required by the placement site to provide a resume, transcripts, medical information, take a drug test, agree to a criminal background check, or sign a confidentiality agreement whether the position is paid or non-paid.

Students who are required to take Cooperative Education for their degree or who are interested in incorporating Cooperative Education into their college program should discuss it with their program counselor or, and the Cooperative Education Coordinator to plan the best term for registration. You should meet with the Cooperative Education Coordinator in your program area several months before the term you plan to begin working; this will allow time to identify a learning site and for interviewing or other pre-co-op activities to take place.

11 Is cooperative education a graded course?

Yes, co-op is graded and uses the same A-F (as well as plus and minus if the faculty so chooses) system of other EPCC classes. Your term grade is determined by your cooperative education coordinator and is based on your performance at the work site, your site supervisor's evaluation, and your class assignments.

12 Am I required to pay for cooperative education credits?

Cooperative Education courses are approved college level courses. Therefore, students participating in co-op pay for credits in which they enroll.

13 Will cooperative education credits transfer to other colleges?

The number of co-op credits that will transfer varies by college. All four-year public colleges and universities in the State of Texas accept co-op credits as electives. Many private educational institutions will also accept co-op credits. It is advisable to contact the private institution directly to verify its transfer policy. Up to eighteen credits of cooperative education can transfer as electives under the Texas Higher-Education Coordinating Board guidelines. Co-op credits are required for some degrees; for others, they may be used as elective credit and are transferable to most four-year institutions. However, requirements vary and you should inquire if you have any doubts about their applicability.

14 Do VA benefits apply?

Approval of cooperative education courses for veteran's benefits is the same as other courses in your approved curriculum. If co-op is required or an approved elective in your program of study, then it will be approved. Veterans should check with Lane's Veteran's Office if questions arise.