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Get paid to gain in-depth experience in industry while a student

Co-Op Program

Co-op experiences are full-time jobs, typically two semesters long, where you’re expected to work 40 hours per week. During this time, you’ll remain a full-time student, but you’ll only register for one to three credits each semester.


Co-op registration

Download and complete the Co-op registration form.pdf


Program Features

Academic: A co-op is an academic program in which students earn credit for 2+ semesters of employment related to their majors.

Structure: Co-op experiences are typically two semesters long (Summer+Fall or Spring+Summer). Students are registered for 1-3 credits of SC295 during the first semester and 1-3 credits SC395 during their second. Academic advisers can help determine the best way to use the credit. Depending on major, co-op courses may fulfill practicum or elective degree requirements.

Full-time: Co-ops are full-time jobs; typically students work 40 hours/week for the duration of the experience. Students participating in co-ops remain full-time Penn State students, though they are only registered (and pay) for 1-3 credits/semester.

Paid: Students are paid for their experiences – employers determine the rate of pay based on the job and level of skill.


  • Completion of at least 30 credits, 2.0 overall grade point average
  • Enrollment in one of the following:
    • an Eberly College of Science major; all science majors at all Penn State locations are eligible
    • a science-oriented major (ex. Toxicology, Immunology, Animal Bioscience, Biobehavioral Health, etc.).

English 202C option:
Interested co-op students have the option of compiling a portfolio of technical writing samples to submit to the English Department during completion of the second co-op assignment (SC 395) to earn credit for the English 202C requirement.

If you are interested in participating in the co-op program, please contact Dr. Ann Marie Daniel ( for more information.


You will receive an hourly salary or stipend during your co-op that is equivalent to your level of experience and the job responsibilities. Salary rates vary from organization to organization, as well as from region to region.

Regardless of your intended educational or career path, participation in the Co-op Program will provide an opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience in a specific discipline, and exposure a professional environment with access to learning opportunities. Many co-op supervisors will provide letters of recommendation to graduate and professional school programs.

Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology: Centocor, GlaxoSmithKline, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Morphotek, VaxInnate, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Emerson Resources, Global Biological Supply Chain (J&J)

Government Agencies: National Institutes of Health, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, FBI

Non-Profit Organizations: Fox Chase Cancer Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy

Private Sector Organizations: IBM, Lutron Electronics, Lockheed Martin, U.S. Steel

This is only a sample of the employers who have participated in the Science Co-op Program. You can view the complete current list when you register with the program.

Since you retain your full-time student status while on co-op, you still should be considered a dependent for health insurance coverage purposes. If an insurance carrier requires verification of your full-time student status, you can request an Academic Verification.

If you’re a first or second year science student, then you should participate in the Science Externship Program to begin building a professional network and to get ideas about various career options for science graduates. Our office is also able to assist you in your search for summer-only internships.

If you’re a first or second year science student, then you should participate in the Science Externship Program to begin building a professional network and to get ideas about various career options for science graduates. Our office is also able to assist you in your search for summer-only internships.

Yes, but hiring policies for non-U.S. citizens vary from organization to organization. You must indicate your citizenship status in your on-line profile so employers with any hiring restrictions will be aware of your status before contacting you for an interview. Once a position has been offered, you will need to complete all of the necessary Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and request documents to obtain approval for CPT before starting your assignment.

As a co-op student, you’ll acquire the necessary skills and experience to excel in a variety of work environments. If you are seeking full-time employment after graduation from Penn State, you may find that your co-op experiences and contacts will open employment doors that may be closed to those who have no practical work experience related to their discipline.

The Office of Science Engagement will drop all of the classes and schedule you for the co-op courses. If you have already paid full tuition, a refund will be made with no fees or charges for the late notification. You will be released from your dorm contract for the semester you are completing a co-op, you are obligated to the remainder of the contract when you return to campus. It is your responsibility to notify the Housing Office of your plans.

Yes! Any Penn State student who meets the eligibility requirements (2.0 GPA, 30 credits completed, etc.) may participate in the Co-op Program. With web registration and on-line job postings, it’s easy for students at non-UP locations to participate. All correspondence with the Office of Science Engagement can be conducted remotely so we can ensure your needs are being met. Students in science-related majors in other colleges also are eligible; contact us if you have questions about whether or not you’re eligible to participate!

We are happy to work with you to determine if the assignment is appropriate for co-op credit. Contact our office to have your assignment reviewed. If your position is approved as a co-op, then you will need to provide all of the usual application materials and comply with the program policies.

You must be enrolled for the appropriate co-op course for one, two, or three credits during each of your co-op semesters, including summer semesters. You only pay tuition for the number of credits you take.