A female student poses next to a robot and her poster from her co-op and a campus event.

How Professional Co-op Works

How Professional Co-op Works: A Three-Phase Process

Three discinct phases of the UMass Lowell co-op program

During the sophomore year, students in good academic standing and who are approved by their academic department may elect to join the professional co-op program.

The professional co-op experience is comprised of three REQUIRED phases: professional preparation, the actual industry experience, and the integration of on-the-job learning into the student’s program of study.


To ensure student readiness to successfully participate in co-op employment, all professional co-op students enroll in a graded, one-credit, full-semester Professional Development Seminar.

Work Experience

The co-op work periods are structured to offer you flexibility and a consistent structure for hiring student employees. Depending upon the requirements of their academic department, students may undertake a combination of two, three-month summer co-ops or two, six-month co-op work experiences. It is the expectation of the co-op program that students are challenged to take on more demanding assignments over the course of these two work periods. Some employers are eager to employ students for both work periods and a student may elect to remain with the same employer. To see how the professional co-op program is structured into a particular program of study, please refer to the academic curriculum in the appropriate College.


Upon the completion of each co-op work experience, students enroll in a one-credit co-op assessment course. These courses, which often include guest lectures from our employer partners, are designed to assist our students in evaluating, reflecting, and presenting on their work experience, while gaining an understanding of professional ethics and the dynamics of the workplace. A special emphasis is also placed on preparing for future employment opportunities.