Cooperative Education

Biology Cooperative Education

Biology coop is an optional academic program that combines classroom-based education with structured, practical, work experience. It is the result of partnerships between the University and employers in business, government, and social services.  It gives students a taste of real work in their field of study, which can help them deepen their commitment to their chosen career or redirect their career choice. The work experience is usually a full-time, paid endeavor, which alternates with semesters of classroom-based academic work.  Its duration can be one or two semesters. Because students spend one or more semesters in the work force, away from school, the program extends the time a student participant stays in college, usually by a full year. This is a significant difference between a coop and an internship. Other differences are: (1) a coop is always a paid position, while an internship can be paid or unpaid; (2) a coop is always a full-time temporary position, while an internship can be a full or part-time temporary position; (3) a coop is always credit-bearing, while an internship may or may not be; (4) a coop usually offers more training than an internship; (5) coop positions usually offer higher starting salaries and higher levels of responsibility than internship positions.

To be eligible for coop, MU students must have done the following:

  1. Completed 24 credits of coursework (Transfer students must have completed 12 credits at M.U.)
  2. Declared a major and/or minor
  3. Attained a major GPA and overall GPA of at least 2.0
  4. Obtained signed approval from the major/minor department’s Faculty Coop/Internship Coordinator
  5. Signed the agreement to complete the requirements and pay for the credits

While most coop opportunities are arranged by the university and its partners, some opportunities are arranged by individual students who independently contact a prospective employer. When they do, they obtain a detailed job description of the desired position and present it to their department’s coop and internship coordinator for signed approval.

Evaluation of a coop is done by both the employment supervisor and the department’s coop/internship coordinator. For participation in the program, students can earn up to 6 academic credits, which can be applied to fulfillment of graduation requirements. A stepwise guideline for participating in coop is found here.