Work Semester Details

Setting Up the Student's Work Schedule

The starting semester and duration of the Co-op are decided by the employer and student upon hiring. Immediately after a job offer is accepted, the student notifies the Co-op office of the starting semester by submitting a Job Status form to the Co-op Program.

The standard Co-op sequence is to have alternating work and academic periods for a total of three semesters of work. However, in some cases, it is advantageous to have two of the three work periods back-to-back. For example, there could be a Summer-then-Fall work period or a Spring-then-Summer work period, with a third work period the following spring or summer.

It is up to the student and the Co-op employer to negotiate and document a plan specifying whether the student will work two or three semesters, and which semesters those will be. It is the student's obligation to document this plan by completing the Work Assignment Plan with his or her supervisor.

Working 3 Semesters in a Row

Working three semesters in a row is discouraged because it can seriously disrupt a student's academic planning and it isn't as effective a learning situation; however, it is occasionally allowed with approval from the Co-op Director.

Part-time Work during the Student's Academic Semester

Co-op students are discouraged from working for their Co-op employer during their academic semesters, so they can focus on their course work and GPA. However, circumstances sometimes arise in which students are needed for their special skills, knowledge, or experience on a specific job.

Students who work during academic semesters should have a somewhat better than average GPA and should not exhibit a decline in performance. Work hours during the academic semester should not exceed 10 hours per week. If grades start to suffer or if these guidelines are exceeded, the student should talk to his or her supervisor and, if not resolved, should contact the Co-op Director.

Semester Dates

The breakdown of dates that the students can work at their Co-op employer is determined by the University of Minnesota's semester dates. The starting and ending work dates do not need to exactly match the University's semester dates but they should fall within the following ranges:

Spring Semester is between January 1 to mid-May. The latest start date should be first day of the spring semester, which is the day after the Martin Luther King holiday. The end date should be in May.

Summer Semester is between mid-May to the end of August. The latest start date should be the second week of June, the start of the University's summer semester. The end date should be between mid-August and Labor Day.

Fall Semester is from the Tuesday after Labor Day to the end of December. The latest start date should be the first day of the fall semeser, the Tuesday after Labor Day.  The end date should be between mid and late December.

Student's Work Responsibilities

Co-op students are expected to behave professionally.

  • During the work period, students must observe all the rules and regulations of the employer and not expect special treatment. For instance, University holidays do not apply, and students should not expect to be released for the University's Spring Break.
  • Any misunderstanding that a student might have with an employer should be discussed with Co-op Program staff.
  • Layoffs or enforced absence due to illness or other situations should be reported immediately to the Co-op Program.