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What is the Co-op Program?

Cooperative education is an educational program that combines classroom theory with challenging work experiences in a field related to a student’s academic studies and career goals.

Thousands of students and employers have realized the benefits of program participation. Students are employed in full-time, paid positions in industry, business, or government that alternate with full time semesters of study at UT.

Work terms are in professional and structured settings with subsequent assignments carrying more difficulty and responsibility. Throughout the experience, a system of evaluation and reporting is in place so all parties—the employer, the student, and the university—are informed of the student’s progress.

The program allows companies to select the students they want and employ them long enough to make a significant contribution to the organization. This allows companies to participate in the education of our students by exposing them to state-of-the-art methods and helping them achieve their goals by receiving an exemplary education not offered in the classroom alone.

After the prescribed number of work terms is complete, companies are under no further obligation. However, experience shows that employers use co-op programs to prescreen students for permanent positions upon graduation, and students often accept offers from their co-op employers upon graduating. View our annual report to read our placement data.

Cooperative engineering students alternate full-time work with full-time study at UT. The work students perform is directly related to their majors. As they progress through the program and gain more confidence in themselves, the contributions they will be able to make to an organization will become more significant.


Everyone benefits from the partnership formed by a co-op program.

  • The opportunity to prescreen our most ambitious and enthusiastic students—the kind who thrive on challenge
  • The opportunity to evaluate temporary employees while deciding whether to make a permanent offer
  • An infusion of new ideas and methods
  • An excellent source of short-term employees
  • The opportunity to train an employee in your particular methods and processes
  • Greater visibility on the UT campus
  • Participation in the educational process
  • A general upgrading of the engineering profession because of the work experience offered early in the educational process
  • Increased opportunities for technology transfer

  • Bridge the gap between theoretical study and the professional world
  • Find out exactly what engineers do in order to decide if they want to spend their lives as engineers
  • Discover why they’re studying math, physics, and theory
  • Become professionals who can take their learning in the classroom and adapt it to the workplace
  • Get a head start on classroom learning by working with engineering principles on the job
  • Have co-op program participation noted on their transcripts
  • Gain self-confidence and motivation and develop expertise in interacting with people
  • Become more attractive to employers because they’re already trained and can be productive immediately
  • Improve significantly the level of job and salary offers they get upon graduation
  • Be able to offset educational expenses with their co-op earnings
  • Develop professional behavior and social skills
  • Receive one year’s credit toward professional licenses in the state of Tennessee upon program completion

  • Better use of classrooms, laboratories and other facilities
  • Better relations with industry, government, and business
  • Better prepared students who are more desirable to employers and are ready to meet today’s challenging work environment.
  • Better educated students with leading edge technology training in the workplace as well as insight into professionalism and proper social behavior
  • Technology transfer
  • Fiscally responsible students
  • Better education to all students by students returning to school and sharing their experiences with professors and classmates
  • Partnerships with students and sponsoring corporations and be able to establish the Engineering Professional Practice program as one that is nationally recognized among students, parents, employers, and peer institutions

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