A tour of the Valpo Solar Energy Research Facility

Co-op Education

The co-op experience strengthens career preparation.

This optional, educationally-based program was founded in Valparaiso University’s College of Engineering in the summer of 1983. Admission to the co-op program requires a minimum grade-point average of 2.4 on a scale of 4.0.

The placement and progress of students are closely monitored by the director of co-op and internship programs. Simultaneously, student academic progress is monitored by a faculty advisor in the student’s major department. Students receive academic credit.

Beginning with the summer after the sophomore year, students spend up to five periods (i.e., three summers and two semesters) with the same employer and function as paid para-professionals. A typical schedule is:

YearFirst SemesterSecond SemesterSummer Session

Numerous variations are possible to meet particular educational objectives. For example, electrical engineering majors usually co-op during the second semester of year three (rather than the first semester) and during the first semester of year five (rather than during year four.)

Co-op Advantages

  • Improves academic performance
  • Increases educational motivation
  • Develops interpersonal skills
  • Provides funds to support and complete college education
  • Integrates academic theory with practical work experiences
  • Enriches total education resulting in a more well-rounded individual
  • Tests career interests
  • Assists participants in making informed decisions about career goals and prospective employers
  • Enhances graduation placement status
  • Establishes a potential post-graduation employer
  • Traditionally results in a higher starting salary as compared to non-co-op graduates
  • Typically results in more rapid advancement as compared to non-co-op associates
  • Allows screening, selection, and recruitment of students for permanent positions
  • Provides a cost-effective source of para-professional staffing
  • Provides a more effective and less expensive recruitment strategy
  • Increases employee retention rate
  • Allows evaluation of students for full-time positions after graduation
  • Improves overall employer-university relationships
  • Creates better prepared, more competitive and marketable graduates
  • Facilitates and improves relations with the employing community
  • Provides better feedback on the adequacy of students’ academic preparation