For the complete procedures, please go to: www.cwu.edu/career/student-guide.
The Cooperative Education experience is offered through the Career Services department in conjunction with academic departments. The Cooperative Education Program is an educational plan designed to integrate classroom study with planned, supervised, and evaluated employment experience linking academic programs with students’ career goals and interests.
Cooperative Education has a profound effect on the way learning takes place because it is interactive and reinforcing. Students ascribe new value to what is learned in the classroom because, either in principle or practice, they are applying it to the test of a real job. The added ingredient for learning is experience.
- Qualifying Parameters for Student Participation
The following are the university’s minimum requirements (departments may have additional requirements) for student participation:
- The student is enrolled and pursuing a degree at Central Washington University.
- The student is in good academic standing.
- The field experience is directly related to the student’s major field of study and/or career goal.
- The student has completed the appropriate prerequisite courses and possesses the skills and knowledge required for placement in a suitable level of field experience as determined by the student’s department.
- The student must have a department faculty cooperative education (co-op) advisor for enrollment in a Cooperative Education course.
- The student’s field experience is a practical position where the student is actively engaged in hands-on learning, not just observing.
- Program Enrollment
- Students must complete a formal learning agreement with a learning plan that contains relevant objectives and activities performed during the internship. The agreement form constitutes a field study plan that includes a description of academic requirements such as term papers or projects, assigned readings, research projects or theses, progress reports, final reports, etc. The Learning Agreement must be endorsed by the employer or supervisor, the student, the faculty co-op advisor, department chair, dean of the college, and the Associate Director of Cooperative Education.
- The student must submit a completed Cooperative Education Learning Agreement form with attached Student Release Form to Career Services to complete the registration process for enrollment in the Cooperative Education course.
- Cooperative Education courses are numbered 290, 490, and 590. Credits are variable 1-5 for 290, 1-12 for 490, and 1-8 for most 590-level courses. Course credits are subject to change, please verify with department.
- A freshman should complete at least 45 credits at CWU prior to enrolling in the Cooperative Education course. A transfer student should complete at least 15 credits at CWU and have a total of 45 credits, including transfer credits, prior to enrolling in the Cooperative Education course.
- The student should complete a minimum of 90 credit hours with 10 or more credits in his or her major to be eligible for enrollment in the 490 level course. Departments may have additional requirements for this level of experience.
- A student who desires a career exploration experience, or who has not declared a major, is limited to enrolling for the Cooperative Education course at the 290 level.
- The student may re-enroll for the Cooperative Education course, but, in no case will a student be allowed to count more than 10 credits at the 290 level, nor more than 20 total credits toward graduation requirements. No more than 10 credits are accepted in transfer. No more than eight credits may be applied to a graduate degree.
- Cooperative Education courses may be repeated if field experience learning objectives and activities are distinctly different from previous work or field experience.
- Awarding of Credits
- Cooperative Education credits are to be awarded on the basis of quality, magnitude, and the level of learning (learning plan, relevant objective and activities) that take place during the field experience.
- For university standardization practice, credits are awarded using a minimum of 40 or more clock hours of approved field experience for each credit hour earned. Clock hours will include time spent to complete the work phase and the academic phase (term paper/project(s), journal or log, progress reports, assigned readings, final report, etc.) of the field experience.
- An appropriate means for evaluation (progress reports, performance evaluations, final report, etc.) of the learning is established between the student, the employer, and the faculty co-op advisor.
- The student will be awarded an S or U grade (letter grade optional with approval of faculty co-op advisor) for the Cooperative Education course.
- If the field experience is terminated by the employer or academic department, the student will not receive credit.
- Credit will not be given for previous field or work-study experience.
- Credit for the Cooperative Education course will be awarded for the quarter in which the majority of hours for the experience were acquired.
- If the student leaves the field experience prior to completion of the hours, objectives, and/or academic requirements, no credit will be received and a grade of Incomplete or Unsatisfactory will be awarded. Grading and award of credit is based solely on completion of the agreed-upon parameters set forth in the Learning Agreement.
- Student Supervision and Coordination
- Daily supervision of the student is to be provided by the cooperating company supervisor who will be identified prior to the field experience.
- Cooperative Education courses shall be under the direct guidance, direction, and coordination of a faculty co-op advisor as part of the regular teaching load. Credit for faculty load shall comply with faculty code, Part 4, Section 7.20, B, 1, a, (3) of the current (1992) code. The faculty co-op advisor is available to the student in the field. The faculty advisor arranges and coordinates visitations/contacts with the employer or supervisor and the student a minimum of twice each quarter. The faculty co-op advisor keeps a file on each student’s work (term paper/project(s), final report, etc.) with his or her department office.
- The Career Services office is an academic support service which facilitates the advising of students in the placement and cooperative education process; maintaining direction, sustaining quality control for the program; conducting program research, assessment, and evaluation; and providing training and faculty co-op advisors and staff.
- The Career Services office staff is available for field visitations/contacts when suitable faculty representation is not available or upon request of the faculty co-op advisor or department chair.
- Student Placement Process
- The placement process is intended to be a real-life job seeking experience for the student, including competition for positions.
- The Career Services office advises students in the placement process through the maintenance of past internship placements and current listings that are submitted by employers. In addition, the staff is available to provide assistance with resumes, cover letters, job search techniques, and interviewing tips.
- The student should check with their faculty advisor for internship leads as many departments have developed their own internship connections.
- Students may propose their own placement site to the Faculty Co-op Advisor who determines the suitability of the placement with a given employer for Cooperative Education credit.
- Students may find a “regular” position that can double as a co-op experience if there is sufficient challenge and opportunity for learning that can justify university credit. Decisions on whether the experience warrants university credit rest with the academic department and the coordinating faculty.
- The placement must conform to affirmative action and EEO/Title IX/ADA guidelines.
- Position Description for Field Experience
The cooperating employer/agency must agree to provide a written description of field experience tasks, identify a field supervisor and submit his or her qualifications to the appropriate university department and the Office of Cooperative Education prior to approval of the Learning Agreement.
- Student Compensation
- Paid field experience positions are sought where possible and practicable.
- Unpaid positions may be used but are limited to the equivalent of working full-time for one quarter (approximately 400 hours). Please see the Fair Standards Act Guidelines for unpaid internships in the for-profit sector: www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.htm.
- Students should not be put in a position where they are exploited as a source of cheap labor, replace or are in direct competition with regular employees.
- Participation in Cooperative Education unpaid experiences should not become an undue financial burden for the student or be the cause of the student withdrawing from the university for financial reasons.
- Health, accident, and disability insurance are the responsibility of the student, and if not provided by the employing agency, should be purchased individually. In most instances, the group coverage for students is adequate.
- Central Washington University is not responsible for liability or malpractice insurance for individual students. If such coverage is desired but is not provided by the co-op agency, students may wish to arrange individual coverage through Career Services, which is more reasonable than going through insurance agencies.
- Students receiving financial aid must check with the Financial Aid Office prior to accepting a paid placement. Students receiving financial aid must be sure their academic responsibilities for their co-op experience are completed by the end of the registered quarter. Any student with an “Incomplete” grade at the time of financial awards for the next quarter jeopardizes their position to receive their financial aid.
- If the student is receiving financial aid, Federal Law requires that any income be declared. If the student is employed and completes a W-4 form, this reporting will occur through regular employment withholding and a W-2 form at tax time. If the student does not complete a W-4 form for the employer, they must declare their income with the Financial Aid Office through a specific form that is available from the Financial Aid Office.
- Program Evaluation
Routine review of evaluations from employers, faculty, and students occur on a quarterly basis along with continuous review of field placement sites.
The Cooperative Education Program is subject to periodic review and assessment, completed at least once every five years.
Disclaimer: all policies and procedures are regularly updated by the Office of the President.