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Co-Operative Education Programs

Scope: Undergraduate Students are covered by this policy.


Co-Operative Education Programs

Defined Terms

Cooperative education (“Co-op”)

A formal engagement between students, Miami University, and employers that integrates students’ academic study with work experience in cooperating employer organizations and:

  • Alternates or combines periods of academic study and work experience in appropriate fields as an integral part of the student’s major or degree program;
  • Provides students with compensation from the cooperative employer in the form of wages or salaries for work performed;
  • Evaluates each participating student’s performance in the cooperative position, both from the perspective of Miami University and the student’s cooperative employer;
  • Provides participating students with academic credit from Miami University upon successful completion of their cooperative education program;
  • Counts as a requirement for the overall degree or certificate program for which a percentage of the total program is acceptable to the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

Put simply, Co-ops have the following features: full-time employment, or a combination of employment, and academic courses that are the equivalent of a full-time schedule; compensation; relationship to the student’s discipline or career path; supervision; evaluation; and alignment with the dates of the semester or term.

Co-op Employer

The organization or corporation employing the student for the duration of the term that student is working in a Co-op position.

Co-op Application

System that Miami uses (currently Handshake) to process student applications for credit for Co-ops, review details of the experience, and manage communication between student, faculty/staff supervisor (Miami Co-op Supervisor), and Co-op employer.

Miami Co-op Supervisor

Students completing Co-ops must have a faculty member in the department granting the Co-op serve as the Miami Co-op Supervisor.



Miami University supports and encourages Co-op opportunities for students. The purpose of this policy is to identify the different features of Co-ops available to Miami students and to set forth the responsibilities of the student, the University, and the Co-op Employer.

General Information

Co-ops alternate or combine periods of academic study and work experience in appropriate fields as an integral part of the student’s major or degree program. Co-ops feature: full-time employment or a combination of employment and academic courses that are the equivalent of a full-time schedule; compensation; relationship to the student’s discipline or career path; supervision; evaluation; and alignment with the dates of the semester or term

Cooperative education programs are developed and overseen by the academic department and are designed to meet a degree program requirement.

It is important to emphasize that Miami University awards academic credit for the learning outcomes gained through the experience, rather than for the experience itself. To receive academic credit, the Co-op must be a legitimate learning experience benefitting the student with measurable learning outcomes and not just a work experience in a degree-related field.

While the majority of Co-op employers will be organizations and businesses external to Miami, Miami University may, in rare situations, sponsor Co-ops if the work experience advances measurable learning outcomes and the professional development of the student.

Once accepted for the Co-op program, eligible students should complete the online application for Co-ops in consultation with the faculty advisor and employment supervisor (available on the Miami University Center for Career Exploration and Student Success website). The faculty advisor should also develop a Memorandum of Understanding with the employer and submit it through Buyway for approval by the University.

Minimum Eligibility Qualifications for Students

Students must:

  1. Be in good academic standing with Miami University and have maintained at least a 2.00 cumulative grade point average prior to applying for and enrolling in a Co-op. Individual departments/colleges or programs and/or employers may require a higher GPA;
  2. Have completed a minimum of 24 GPA hours earned at Miami and counted toward the GPA (for continuing students); or completed at least 12 GPA hours earned at Miami (for transfer students). Hours earned through the College Credit Plus program are excluded;
  3. Be currently enrolled at Miami University and approved by the department for Co-op participation.

The department, program, or Co-op employer may require a criminal record background check or a review of the student’s University disciplinary record and take that information into account when awarding Co-ops. The cost of the criminal record background check may be incurred by the student.

International students on an F-1 visa wishing to pursue Co-ops in the United States should consult the guidelines for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Miami’s International Student & Scholar Services. CPT allows students on an F-1 visa to engage in employment in the United States as long as it is an integral part of their curriculum. CPT must be secured for each Co-op experience in the United States. When a Co-op is secured, students must first meet with their advisor at International Student and Scholar Services to begin the CPT work authorization paperwork. If they do not already possess a social security number (SSN) and they are going to work in a paid Co-op position, they must apply for a social security card with the Social Security Office. (Please note: some jobs also require social security cards for background check purposes.) Students cannot apply for a social security card until they have secured CPT and it is within 30 days of their Co-op start date. Resident Aliens (green card holders) have no special work authorization requirements.

Co-op Schedules

Most undergraduate Co-op programs enable students to alternate classes with full-time employment through University-approved Co-op employers. Generally, students are on Co-op for a six-month period, alternating with a semester of classroom study.  However, in some situations, a Co-op may have a shorter duration (e.g., one semester or term).  While the majority of Co-op positions are full-time (32-40 hours per week), to receive credit for Co-op, students must work a minimum of 20 hours per week.

Note: If a student is to be considered full-time for financial aid purposes and enrollment reporting, the student would need to satisfy a minimum number of hours (work and/or courses) equivalent to at least 12 credits per semester. Note: Students in Co-op programs enroll in a 0.5 credit Co-op course (numbered 340C) for each semester or term of the Co-op and only are obligated to pay for tuition for that course. 

Each department that grants Co-op approval determines the scheduling of Co-ops and Co-op cycles. Academic credits will not be awarded retroactively for Co-op duties performed at an earlier time.


Students pursuing Co-ops should be provided a salary and benefits by the Co-op employer.  Co-op salaries are the decision of the employer and vary by major and level of experience, but it is expected that Co-op students will be paid a wage comparable to other employees with similar responsibilities.

Housing and Relocation

Housing and the costs associated with relocation are ultimately the responsibility of the student. While it is not a requirement, some Co-op employers may cover all or part of relocation and/or housing costs. Locating appropriate housing can be a challenge for students; therefore, many Co-op employers do provide some guidance to help prepare the student for relocation.

Consultants and Independent Contractors

Miami University does not support Co-op students being hired as independent contractors. It is in the best interests of Co-op students and Co-op employers to hire students as regular full-time employees. Due to the supervision and relationship implications of the relationship between an organization and an independent contractor as well as the tax implications for students, it is never appropriate that a Co-op student should be considered or paid in this manner.

Benefits and Health Insurance

While engaged in the Co-op, Co-op students remain full-time students, and they can retain their current health insurance plan. Any benefits, such as vacation days or paid holidays, are at the discretion of the employer. Any questions about benefits or eligibility should be directed to the employer's Co-op Human Resources specialist.


Co-op students are considered employees of the company; therefore, all federal and state laws and regulations apply. Co-op employers are responsible for withholding all deductions required by federal and state income tax laws from the wages of Co-op student-employees. Students with an F-1 visa pay all applicable federal, state and city/local taxes. However, they are exempt from paying FICA (Medicare and Social Security) taxes.

General Expectations for Students

Before and during a Co-op, students must:

  1. Work with the academic department to receive a Co-op placement with an employer.
  2. Receive and accept the offer letter from the Co-op employer and meet with their Miami Co-op Supervisor.
  3. Complete the Co-op Application process (in collaboration with the Miami Co-op supervisor on the Center for Career Exploration & Student Success website) which includes the Learning Plan.
  4. Each Co-op discipline has a set of at least two courses, one completed prior to the initial Co-op for preparatory training and then a Co-op course (numbered 340C) during each of the registered Co-op work experiences.  Both courses should carry a minimum of 0.5 credits.
  5. Complete the 0.5-credit Co-op preparation course prior to the student’s first Co-op work experience.
  6. Register and pay for a Co-op course (numbered 340C, typically taken as Credit/No Credit, and carrying at least 0.5 credits) for each Co-op work session (including summer) and during a standard part of term; this secures the student’s spot as a full-time Miami student and serves to aid in students’ professional growth while completing the Co-op work session through a series of course deliverables. The 0.5-credit Co-op (340C) course plus a minimum of 450 work hours ensures that students retain active “full-time” status with the university during their work sessions. 
  7. Once a student has accepted a Co-op offer from a Co-op employer, the student is expected to complete the Co-op work session. Students may attempt to renegotiate the timing or other particulars of their work term, but should not renege on an accepted offer absent unusual and significant circumstances that prevent the student from completing the terms of the Co-op. Reneging on an accepted offer could result in dismissal from this particular Co-op experience. Students are strongly advised to communicate with their Miami Co-op Supervisor and Co-op Employer before reneging on an accepted offer.  
  8. When it is absolutely necessary to resign from the Co-op program, students should communicate with their Miami Co-op Supervisor and then submit a formal resignation to the company. Students should work with the Miami Co-op Supervisor to craft an appropriate resignation letter; this letter should be sent to the employer. Student should also confer with the Miami Co-op Supervisor on the withdrawal or other implications related to the 340C course.
  9. Abide by the Miami University Code of Student Conduct at all times and act in a professional manner that represents themselves, their program and Miami University.
  10. Understand and follow the policies, procedures, rules and regulations of the Co-op Employer.
  11. Perform the Co-op duties for the hours and duration specified. While students are on Co-op, they should abide by Co-op employer policies, procedures and holiday calendar. Students do not follow the Miami University academic calendar during the Co-op work period. Failure to maintain the Co-op hours may result in a loss or reduction of academic credit hours, a reduced or failing grade or administrative withdrawal from the Co-op.
  12. Fulfill all of the academic assignments, reflections and reporting requirements of the departmental Co-op course. Failure to meet the goals of the Learning Plan and course may result in a loss or reduction of academic credit or a reduced or failing grade.
  13. Communicate regularly with the Miami Co-op supervisor mentor.
  14. If the Co-op involves research with human subjects (e.g., interviewing, collecting data) or animals, complete the appropriate Human Subjects or Animal Research Training as required.
  15. Understand they are solely responsible for any financial obligations incurred by the student for their participation in the Co-op; this includes, but is not limited to, background checks, travel and housing arrangements.
  16. Understand they are solely responsible for the payment of any medical care for injuries alleged to have resulted from their Co-op experiences.

Note: Students pursuing a co-operative program may be considered for Title IV Aid if the is credit-based and a required part of the degree program.

General Expectations for Co-op Employers

Co-op employers will be aware of and in compliance with federal, state, and local statutes, including the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), that may govern the relationship between employers and Co-op student employees (including minimum wage and overtime).

For Co-ops, employers should:

  1. Designate a full-time professional as the Co-op Employer Supervisor.
  2. Complete the appropriate portion of the Co-op Application.
  3. Enter into the Learning Plan with the student and the University as articulated in the Co-op Application.
  4. Submit to the Miami Co-op Supervisor a final evaluation of the student’s performance in the Co-op by the deadline specified by the department.
  5. Provide pertinent policies and procedures, including federal, state and local workplace safety regulations, to the student before or at the beginning of the co-operative work experience. Co-op students should undertake the same safety training as full-time employees.
  6. Provide the agreed-upon relevant education/training to the student.
  7. Maintain regular communication with the Miami Co-op Supervisor about the student’s work activities during the Co-op. Any conflicts should be quickly resolved by communication among the student, Miami Co-op Supervisor, and employer.
  8. Provide Co-op student a wage comparable to employees who have similar responsibilities.
  9. Notify the student and the Miami Co-op Supervisor of any decision to remove the student from the Co-op prior to the agreed upon time specifying the reasons for terminating the Co-op employment.
  10. Ensure the student understands where and to whom the student should report any concerns regarding the Co-op experience including but not limited to discrimination, sexual misconduct or harassment.
  11. Fully comply with all applicable state and federal laws including wage and hour laws. This includes withholding all deductions required by federal and state income tax laws from the wages of Co-op student-employees. Co-op students with an F-1 visa pay all applicable federal, state and city/local taxes. However, they are exempt from paying FICA (Medicare and Social Security) taxes.
  12. Contact the Miami Co-op Supervisor if the student is exhibiting signs of psychological or emotional distress, and provide any additional resources available through the company.

Expectations for Miami Co-op Supervising Department and Faculty

If offering Co-ops that meet requirements for an academic program, the Miami academic department should:

  1. Work with the Career Services unit on campus to develop and execute plans for the Co-op.
  2. Designate one or more faculty members to serve as Miami Co-op Supervisors, set up Co-op experiences with employers, and foster ongoing communications with employers to ensure that Co-op experiences meet Miami’s expectations for cooperative education programs.
  3. Create an oversight coordinator or coordinating committee to ensure departmental policies and procedures are in place and effective, advance strong employer relations, and handle complaints and programs.
  4. Collaborate with Career Services to provide a preparatory training course for students to complete prior to the first Co-op experience.
  5. Offer a second course (numbered 340C) for students to complete concurrently during the Co-op work experience to ensure that students are meeting the learning objectives, reflecting on the work experience and are enrolled as Miami students during the work experience.
  6. Complete a fully executed Memorandum of Understanding between Miami University and the employer.

For Co-ops, the Miami Co-op Supervisor (departmental faculty supervisor) should:

  1. Ensure that the appropriate Co-op Application is completed, including the Learning Plan and all portions by the employer and student.
  2. Ensure that the student has completed the preparatory Co-op course prior to the work experience and is enrolled in the concurrent Co-op course during the work experience.
  3. Maintain regular communication about the student’s work activities during the Co-op employment period. Any conflicts should be quickly resolved by communication among the Miami Co-op Supervisor, student and employer.
  4. Be familiar with the MO granting the Co-op Engagement between Miami and the Co-op Employer.

Expectations for Career Services

  1. Maintain Co-op Application (currently Handshake), the software that collects student requests for internship/Co-op credit and enables the workflow to gather Co-op approvals from Co-op Employers and Miami Co-op Supervisors.
  2. Assist departments in Co-op position searches without guaranteeing placements. Career Services will cultivate relationships with new and existing employers in line with student interests and academic program offerings.
  3. Assist departments with developing and offering a pre-Co-op professional development course.
  4. Document communications with the Co-op student and the Co-op employer regarding Co-op expectations and activities.
  5. During the Co-op experience, serve as a resource to students, Co-op employer and Miami Co-op Supervisor. Assist in the completion and collection of evaluations and help resolve any conflicts among the student, employer, and Miami Co-op Supervisor.
  6. Ensure that the student understands where and to whom the student should report any concerns regarding the internship experience, including but not limited to discrimination, sexual misconduct or harassment.

Related Form(s)

Not Applicable.

Additional Resources and Procedures

Center for Career Exploration & Student Success (Oxford Campus)

Career Services & Professional Development (Regional Campuses)

Miami University Internship Application (via Handshake)


Not Applicable.

Policy Administration

Next Review Date


Responsible Officer

  • University Registrar
  • Provost

Legal Authority

Not Applicable.

Compliance Policy


Revision History

New July 2023

Reference ID


Reviewing Bodies

  • University Registrar
  • Office of the Provost
  • University Senate