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Graduate Co-op

Drexel's long tradition in the field of experiential education has been extended into its master's programs in the College of Engineering. This program offers students a unique and proven opportunity to earn relevant and valuable professional, paid experience at top-rated companies while still in school.

Students pursuing MS degree programs administered by the ECE Department have participated in graduate co-op opportunities at such companies as:

  • Albert Einstein Healthcare Network;
  • Alcatel-Lucent;
  • Comcast;
  • Juniper Networks, Inc.;
  • Motorola;
  • PECO; and
  • Qualcomm.

Graduate co-op experiences are full-time employment opportunities, lasting for roughly three or sixth months, that directly relate to a student's academic program. Participation in the graduate co-op program (GCP) is optional and open to all students pursuing MS degree programs administered by the ECE Department who meet all departmental and university eligibility requirements. The information that follows will provide more details about the GCP, including information about GCP eligibility requirements, GCP duration and timing, the impacts of GCP on program planning, as well as guidelines regarding how to apply for participation in the GCP.

Eligibility Requirements

The GCP is centrally managed by the university's Steinbright Career Development Center (SCDC). Students interested in participating in the GCP must meet particular criteria established by the university in order to be eligible for participation in the program. For a complete listing of these university requirements, please visit the SCDC's GCP Requirements page. More information about the departmental requirements regarding academic eligibility approval for GCP participation can be found in the "How to Apply" section below.

Please note that the university does not guarantee co-op placement. Co-op placement is a market-driven process, both for students and employers. The SCDC provides the tools, contacts and guidance necessary to undertake the co-op placement search process; however, students earn placements on their own merits, qualifications and skills.

Program Planning Considerations

Participation in the GCP can have a significant impact on program planning. Students should use the following information to help ensure successful integration of GCP participation into the final program plan.

Curricular Requirements

Participation in the GCP is an option for all of the MS programs administred by the ECE Department; however, incorporation of the GCP into the curricular requirements of the degree varies by program. Students should consult the curricular requirements for the relevant degree program for more information about how credits earned from participation in the GCP are incorporated into the curriculum and how participation in the GCP impacts the degree completion requirements for the degree.

The following links can be used to access the curricular requirements for each of the MS degree programs that the ECE Department administers.

Course Registration

For each quarter in which a student participates in the GCP, the student will be enrolled on a full-time basis; however, only three credits are earned for each term in which a student participates in the GCP. These earned credits are billed using normal graduate tuition billing rates and policies. Registration for these credits during the relevant terms is automatic for all students who have been approved for participation in the GCP.

Additionally, a student may choose to enroll in one additional course during each term in which the student participates in the GCP; these additional credits are also billed using normal graduate tuition billing rates and policies.

Given the above information, quarterly enrollment while participating in the GCP consists of:

  • a mandatory 3-credit billable co-op course;
  • an optional 3-credit billable graduate course; and
  • additional non-billable credits necessary to bring total quarterly enrollment to 9 credits.

Co-op Duration and Timing

University policies govern both the duration and timing of GCP participation. Participation in the GCP program is possible over either one or two consecutive academic terms, resulting in employment experiences over roughly a three- or six-month period. Timing of GCP participation is limited to the Summer, Fall and Winter Quarters.

Although other program plans that incorporate GCP participation are possible, the GCP typically fits into a student's program plan in a limited number permutations as follows:

Typical Single-term Co-op Program Plan Outlines

Term Summer Co-op Fall Co-op
Year 1 Fall Quarter 9 course credits 9 course credits
Winter Quarter 9 course credits 9 course credits
Spring Quarter 9 course credits 9 course credits
Summer Quarter Co-op Vacation
Year 2 Fall Quarter 9 course credits Co-op & 3 course credits
Winter Quarter 6 course credits 9 course credits
Spring Quarter 3 course credits

Typical Two-term Co-op Program Plan Outlines

Term Summer-Fall Co-op Fall-Winter Co-op
Year 1 Fall Quarter 9 course credits 9 course credits
Winter Quarter 9 course credits 9 course credits
Spring Quarter 9 course credits 9 course credits
Summer Quarter Co-op Vacation
Year 2 Fall Quarter Co-op & 3 course credits Co-op & 3 course credits
Winter Quarter 9 course credits Co-op & 3 course credits
Spring Quarter 3 course credits 9 course credits

When putting together a program plan for co-op participation, students should use the above outlines to help guide the program planning process.

Co-op Course Requirements

The co-op course in which a student is enrolled during each quarter of participation in the GCP is graded on a credit/no-credit basis. In order to receive credit for a co-op course, quarterly reporting requirements must be met. In addition, in order to receive credit for the co-op course in the final quarter of GCP participation, the student must submit a co-op report. More information about quarterly reporting requirements and the co-op report is provided below.

Quarterly Reporting Requirements

In order to receive credit for a co-op course, the ECE Department must receive an evaluation of the student's performance from the student's immediate employment supervisor, or other individual designated by the organization in which the student is employed. The student should request of the appropriate individual that a short qualitative evaluation of on-the-job performance be submitted via email to the graduate advisors before the last day of the term in which the co-op course is being completed. The supervisor is welcome to submit any other internal performance documentation or supporting materials as deemed appropriate.

Co-op Report

In order to receive credit for the co-op course during the final quarter of GCP participation, the student must submit a co-op report. The co-op report should be one to two pages in length and should give particular attention to the following: a description of the work undertaken during co-op employment; course content that the student found useful for work undertaken during co-op employment; and changes to future course selection based on the co-op experience. The report must be submitted to the graduate advisors by the last day of the final quarter of GCP participation.

How to Apply

The official application process for GCP participation cannot be undertaken until a formal offer of employment has been received in writing from the prospective employer. Despite this, students interested in participating in the GCP should start creating alternate program plans that include prospective GCP participation as early as possible in preparation for the formal application process. Students are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with the graduate advisors during their employment search process to discuss these alternate program plans.

In addition, the student should meet with the appropriate SCDC representative to discuss the student's interest as early as three months prior to the anticipated co-op start date. This will ensure that there is ample time for the student to understand the program and its requirements; discuss career objectives; review and amend a résumé; conduct practice interviews; and, if necessary, schedule language testing. Information about how to make contact with the appropriate SCDC representative can be found in the graduate co-op section of the SCDC website.

Once a student has an formal offer of employment in writing, the official application process can be undertaken. The first step in this process is to seek academic eligibility approval for GCP participation from the ECE Department. As soon as possible after the formal offer of employment is received and no later than the third day of the quarter in which the first term of co-op is to be completed, the student should meet with the graduate advisors to be reviewed for academic eligibility for GCP participation. In order to receive academic eligibility approval for GCP participation from the ECE Department, a student must:

  • be enrolled in a MS degree program administered by the ECE Department;
  • be in good academic standing;
  • have earned at least 24 graduate quarter credits;
  • not be enrolled in a number of graduate quarter credits that would lead to the student having earned more than 34 graduate quarter credits prior to the first term of planned GCP participation;
  • have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher; and
  • have submitted and received approval from the graduate advisors for a program plan that incorporates GCP participation.

If a student fails to meet any of the above criteria at any point through the end of the first week of the first term of GCP participation, academic eligibility approval will be revoked and the student will be unable to participate in the GCP.

In order to ensure timely completion of the official application process, a student may also seek tentative academic eligibility approval if the student:

  • is enrolled in a MS degree program administered by the ECE Department;
  • is in good academic standing;
  • has earned at least 15 graduate quarter credits;
  • is currently enrolled in the number of credits necessary to reach the 24 graduate quarter credit minimum, but not enough to go over the 34 graduate quarter credit maximum, prior to the first term of planned GCP participation;
  • has a cumulative GPA of 3.33 or higher; and
  • has submitted and received approval from the graduate advisors for a program plan that incorporates GCP participation.

Prior to or when meeting with the graduate advisors to seek academic eligibility approval, the student should provide a copy of the formal offer of employment.

Once academic eligibility approval has been granted, the student may proceed with the official application process, seeking approval from the appropriate representatives from the SCDC, the Office of Graduate Studies, and the International Students and Scholars Services office, if work authorization is required.