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Eastern Kentucky University

Office of Advising and Career Services

Office of Advising and Career Services 5 Co-Ops and Internships

Co-Ops and Internships

An image of an Eastern Kentucky University intern at the GE Appliance company.

In today’s job market, a degree is not enough. Deliberative preparation for a rewarding career is a must. Internships are beneficial because they help develop your professional aptitude, strengthen personal character, and provide a greater door to opportunity. By investing in internships, you’ll give yourself the broadest spectrum of opportunity when seeking and applying for a job after college

Co-Op/ Internship FAQs

Q: Can I do a co-op or internship in my program?

A: YES! All programs at EKU have a co-op or internship class option. Some programs require so many hours of credit and others have the experience as elective credit. Be sure to check with your academic advisor to clarify what your program requires.

Q: If I’m not required to do a co-op/internship in my major, is there a benefit of doing one anyway?

A: Co-ops and internships are the best way to get real, hands-on experience in your field while still in school. After graduation, many “entry level” positions still require some previous experience. Completing a co-op or internship will allow you to confidently reply that, yes, you have the education AND experience they’re looking for!

Q: When am I eligible to do a for-credit co-op/internship?

A: In most cases, if you meet the following criteria, you are eligible to register for a co-op/internship. Be sure to check with your department to see if there are any special additional requirements.

  • Have completed 30 credit hours and at least one full semester at EKU
  • Be in a declared major program
  • Maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA

Q: Will my co-op/internship experience pay me?

A: Employers who hire interns are not required to pay them for the experience. However, many employers will pay their interns an hourly wage or stipend. You can always work with your employer to negotiate employment terms.

Q: What is the difference between a Co-op and an Internship?


  1. A Co-op is a multiple semester commitment with progressive responsibilities, while an Internship could last just one semester.
  2. A Co-op must include at least one Fall or Spring semester, while Internships can be entirely done in the Summer.
  3. A Co-op must be paid, while an Internship can be paid or unpaid.

Q: Who is my Faculty Coordinator?

A: Your Faculty Coordinator is a Professor in your Department who is responsible for approving your job description as relevant for your major, evaluating your assignments and giving you a grade. An updated list of Faculty Coordinators can be found here.

Q: I want to do a Co-op/Internship but I don’t have a job opportunity to use for it, what should I do?

A: Call the Office of Advising and Career Services at 859-622-1296, or come by our front desk to schedule a Co-op/Internship appointment.

Q: I’m required to do a Co-op/Internship but I am not sure I want to stay in this major, what should I do?

A: Call the Office of Advising and Career Services at (859) 622-1296, or come by our front desk to schedule an appointment on “Choosing a Major/Career”.

Q: How do I request university credit for my experience?

A: After securing your position in your internship and getting approval from your faculty coordinator, you can kick off the registration process by submitting an “Experience” through your Handshake account. Log in to your account by clicking on the “Student Handshake Login” at the top left corner of your screen or by visiting here.

Q: Can I get credit for past work experiences? Can you make exceptions?

A: No. You can only get credit for the hours you have worked during your Co-op/Internship semester, or one week prior/after the semester. This grace period is extended to 3 weeks after the Fall semester and before the Spring semesters. If you want to discuss exceptions, you must talk to your Faculty Coordinator, who will possibly refer you to the Department Chair.

Q: How do I know if I did everything correctly?

A: If you can see your attachments on your Experiences account then so can your coordinator. It is up to you to make sure that you have read and fully understand the directions and completed them accordingly. You can also see if you have submitted your evaluation. If you are unsure if your Job Supervisor has completed your evaluation, please follow up with them that they have completed it. If they haven’t received the email from Handshake, you should contact our office at

Q: Why am I having difficulty with uploading documents or entering information?

A: This issue can generally be resolved by making sure you are following the directions as provided. In some cases, students have had difficulty in uploading documents or filling out information when they are at work and using their work computers or the company network. We cannot control the security features of your employer. Please try again on your phone (do not use the app for this specific issue, but a regular web browser), or your personal computer or network. If the issue persists, please screen shot the issue and contact us for assistance.

Q: How long will it take to get registered?

A: The approval and registration process can take up to 3 weeks. Several factors can contribute to delays, such as not properly filling out all information requested, inputting incorrect information, and having holds on your account.

Q: Do I have to do it again?

A: Yes. Each experience is a new class, therefore all assignments must be completed every semester.

Q: I’m having trouble with Handshake, what should I do?

A: Call the Office of Advising and Career Services at (859) 622 1296, or come by our front desk.

Co-Op/ Internship Guidelines

Co-op & Internship Mission Statement

To provide meaningful, hands-on, practical application of classroom knowledge that will enable students to gain skills and experience needed to become employable in their field of study through appropriate opportunities that maintain the integrity of their academic degree.

NACE Standards

The following NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) STANDARDS should be consulted when considering an appropriate internship. To ensure that an experience is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the NACE definition, all the following criteria must be met:

  • The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  • The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  • The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.
  • There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
  • There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  • There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
  • There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.

If these criteria are followed, it is the opinion of NACE that the experience can be considered a legitimate internship.

Enrollment Information

Students should request credit for the experience through Handshake by the second week of the semester, or within 2 weeks of starting the experience. Every effort should be made to request credit prior to starting the position.

Students must have a minimum of 2.0 institutional GPA to be registered. A declared major, 30 credits hours completed and enrollment at EKU in the semester before the internship are also required. Employers and specific departments/majors may have higher requirements. EX: College of Business requires a 2.25 and 60 completed hours.

Students cannot register for more credit hours than they are able to complete within the semester requested.

Length/Hour Information

Per the Catalog: Co-op is 16 weeks for spring and fall semesters and 12 weeks for summer term. Internships have more flexibility, but must be pre-approved

  •  An internship or co-op experience should encompass the entire semester. A minimum number of hours (80 work hours per registered credit) must be completed, but the experience should last for the entire length of the semester.
  • A student must work a minimum of 8 weeks over the summer semester/terms and 10 during the academic semester and only when extenuating circumstance apply. Experiences lasting less than a full semester should be discussed with the Office of Academic and Career Services and the Faculty Coordinator.
  • Winter Term internship/co-op experiences will be discussed on a case-by-case basis with the Office of Advising and Career Services and the Faculty Coordinator.
  • Credit hours requested cannot be changed during the semester unless unforeseeable instances occur (major illness, leave of absence, employer’s needs change) and require written approval from the Office of Advising and Career Services and the department.

 Experience Eligibility

  • Students cannot use positions in which they are already currently employed in without prior approval of the Office of Advising and Career Services and their Faculty Coordinator. Students given approval to use an already existing employment opportunity must complete additional tasks within their employment to show the additional learned value of the experience.
  • Students can only receive credit for 1 course per semester for each experience.
  • Students cannot be supervised by family members or other students.
  • Experience must be relevant to course of study and give students work experience needed for post graduate employment.
  • Students must be in an environment where they are completing worthwhile, hands-on, industry related tasks and be supervised and mentored by an industry professional who can aid in their professional development.
  • Students should only complete 1 internship or co-op experiences per semester. Should a student wish to complete more than 1, prior approval from the Office of Academic and Career Services and the department must be obtained. A student must be requesting more than 1 credit hour to be considered for this approval.
  • Students cannot use past experiences for credit. Only work completed DURING the semester that the student is registered can be counted for credit. Please consult the time sheet for the semester you intend to co-op/intern for clarification of weeks accepted for counted hours.
  • Positions in direct sales or independent contract work cannot be used for credit.
  • Elected or appointed positions in organizations/clubs/etc. cannot be used for credit

Co-Op/ Internship Employer Handbook

Download a copy of the handbook

The underlying philosophy of the Cooperative Education (Co-op) and Applied Learning (Intern) Programs is that the integration of academic training with professional experience provides for a quality education. Learning to apply theory to the world of work produces a combination of applied knowledge and experience essential to the educational process.


Cooperative Education is defined as a method of study that incorporates career-related work experience into the curriculum. Students may alternate periods of study with full-time paid employment in career-related work, giving you, the employer, an opportunity to test their potential. Since participation is typically optional, the co-op program generally attracts more goal-oriented, motivated students.

Co-op Plans:

Alternating Plan – Under this plan the student will alternate a semester of work with a semester on campus. This will be the basic pattern for co-op students and three or four work assignments may be completed during a four-year period, a minimum of two semesters.

Parallel Plan – The parallel plan allows the student to gain work experience concurrent with enrollment in regular college classes. The basic pattern of this plan is that students will work multiple assignments (3 or more semesters) part-time. Students may also work full-time ( typically 12 weeks unless other arrangements have been made) during the Summer semesters under this plan.

Special Plan – Special calendars may be developed to meet the needs of students and employer.

Students must successfully work a minimum of two full-time or three part-time semesters, the equivalent  of 30 full-time weeks, of Co-op work experience in order to complete the Co-op program.


An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting.  Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.  Internships may be paid or unpaid and students will receive academic credit.  Interns must work a minimum of one semester; however may work more than one semester.

Advantages for Employers

Cooperative education is a “three-way partnership” involving you, the University and the student. Utilizing co-op/intern students can:

  • Provide a cost-effective recruitment and training program with no continuing obligation to students for permanent employment, unless desired by both parties.
  • Aid effective recruitment efforts, as your company has had an opportunity to observe and evaluate the student’s performance.
  • Enable your organization to participate in and influence the educational process and career development of a student.
  • Provide you, the employer, with valuable technical and professional assistance and bring new talents and ideas into an organization.
  • Integrate education and experience into the field to produce potential employees with greater depth of knowledge.
  • Free high-salaried professionals from time-consuming but essential tasks.
  • Provide continuous job coverage since two students can alternate the work assignment – no loss of continuity.
  • Create ambassadors for your organization on the university campus.
  • Enhance the industry-college relationship by creating closer ties between the business world and the university community.
  • Motivate professional staff to take advantage of continued learning opportunities necessary to stay current in their field.

Employer Responsibilities

As a co-op/intern employer, your responsibilities include planning the student’s duties, providing qualification criteria, meaningful training, supervision and evaluation of the student’s performance at least once during the semester. Remember, the first few days on the job are critical.

A thorough orientation and an interested supervisor are essential for initiating, developing and maintaining a successful co-op/internship program.

  • Define the duties and responsibilities of the co-op/intern position.
  • Submit a job description informing the Office of Advising and Career Services of desired qualifications, salary, duties and responsibilities and other pertinent information. Include any available company literature.
  • In order to help the Office of Advising and Career Services in awarding academic credit, all EKU Co-op/Intern employers will receive a letter of understand and will have submitted the Co-op/Intern Job Information form to the Office of Advising and Career Services. Students should receive a broad range of experiences related to their major along with increasing levels of job responsibilities.
  • Permit an on-site visit by a Co-op/Intern Coordinator in the student’s academic major.
  • Provide a safe work environment for student(s).
  • Provide Workers Compensation.
  • Instruct the student with respect to company policy and define expected work tasks, outlining duties and responsibilities.
  • Evaluate the student’s performance by electronically submitting an on-line evaluation or returning the evaluation form to the Office of Advising and Career Services at the end of the semester.

Supervisor’s Responsibility

To ensure the success of your co-op/internship partnership, the following tips should improve the overall experience.

  1.  Orientation of co-op/intern students. All supervisors should orientate the students during the first week of employment. The orientation should include the following:
  • Introduce the student to co-workers.
  • Inform the student of the individuals he/she should contact for information.
  • Explain student’s assignment(s). Explain all aspects of the task and expectations. Explain how performance will be evaluated and how often this will occur.
  • Inform the student of your organizational structure, policies and procedures needed to perform his/her duties more efficiently.
  • Provide tours of facilities and an explanation of the equipment.
  • Encourage the student to participate in agency meetings, classes and decision-making conferences.
  • Familiarize the student with available community resources: housing, churches, restaurants, transportation, recreation, social events, etc.

2.  Job Assignments

  • Make sure the student knows the job expectations and the time frame he/she has to complete each project.
  • Provide challenging, varied, stimulating and measurable assignments.
  • Enhance duties each semester and provide a breadth of experiences related to the student’s major.
  • Have the student provide written and oral reports on his/her assignments if needed.
  • Encourage the student to continually review his/her assignments and suggest methods of improvement.

3.  Evaluation

The supervisor is also requested to evaluate the student’s performance. This assists us in measuring a student’s progress and in helping a student understand what qualities he/she should strive to improve. The evaluation is submitted through Handshake.

Co-op/Intern Responsibilities

There are several responsibilities that cooperative education and internship students have during their periods of employment. They must:

  • Adhere to all policies of the employing firm, including personal appearance requirements.
  • Report to work promptly, and in the event of illness or emergency, notify their immediate supervisor and the Office of Advising & Career Services staff promptly. Attendance is extremely important.
  • Direct energies to the completion of work assignments.
  • Gain the most from their co-op/intern experience and ask for additional challenges to expand their breadth of practical experience. Each semester, employers are expected to increase students’ level of responsibilities.
  • Continue to pursue academic requirements toward a degree.
  • Read and become familiar with the operation of the Co-op/Intern Programs as explained in the Co-op/Intern Student Handbook.
  • Adhere to all policies of the Office of Advising & Career Services.
  • Adhere to all University policies.

Need more help?

Contact the Office of Advising and Career Services at (859) 622-1296 or email

Office of Advising and Career Services

216 Park Dr.
CPO 62, Whitlock Building Room 468
Richmond, KY 40475
Phone: 859-622-1296


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