Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Questions About Co-Op

Questions About International Opportunities

Questions About GEARE

Questions for International Students

Questions About Co-Op

What are the advantages of participating in the co-op program?

  • Students will acquire 12-18 months of actual work experience
  • It provides a significant salary to pay expenses
  • Students learn more about different career opportunities
  • Helps students make career choices
  • Students gain excellent job experience for their resumes
  • Co-op students are more marketable at graduation than students with little to no internship experience

What are the prime objectives of Purdue's Co-Op Program?

Purdue's program is designed to integrate professional work experiences with the classroom training of a four-year college curriculum to prepare students more thoroughly for their future careers. The result is deeper insight into what is learned in the classroom by seeing it put to use in the real world, as well as a large amount of hands-on experience in industry.

What types of employment do co-op students receive?

Co-op employment provides students with the opportunity to supplement their academic experience with meaningful work experiences related to their field of study and career goals. As they progress through their work sessions, co-op students begin to perform jobs they would expect to do after graduation. We require all of our qualified employers to submit work plans that have co-op students working on real projects and gaining real insight into the industry.

Do co-op students pay for five years of tuition?

While the 3- and 5-session co-op programs are on a five-year track to graduation, students still only pay for four years of tuition like a traditional student, as they only pay tuition for the semesters that they are on campus taking classes. While out on their work session, students only pay a small Professional Practice Fee of $400 to maintain their full-time student status for insurance and financial aid purposes. This fee is easily offset by the salary paid to the students by their employer. The fee and its associated course makes the co-op session a transcript-recorded experience that they can show to prospective employers as part of their resume.

Where do co-op students work?

Co-op opportunities exist all over the nation and even around the world! While many of our students work in Indiana, 65 percent of our active Professional Practice Employers operate outside Indiana, including a number of international employers, so there are plenty of opportunities outside the state. You can find a list of all of our active Professional Practice Employers here.

When do co-op students work?

Typically the students start their first co-op rotation after their freshmen or sophomore year but can start as late as their junior year if they are in the 3-session co-op program. They then alternate between work sessions and academic sessions on campus. Unlike co-op programs at most other universities, Purdue co-op students spend all of their work sessions with the same employer.

How does housing work?

Alternating semesters of being either on campus or off campus can be tricky when most housing options are year-long commitments, but fortunately there are plenty of resources available to our students to help them through the process. Because our Professional Practice Programs are offical academic programs, leaving for a co-op rotation is recognized by Purdue University Residences as a legitimate reason for breaking your housing contract early with no penalty. For off campus housing, co-op students can coordinate with other co-op students to share an apartment, they can sub-lease an apartment they have to someone else while they are on their co-op rotation, or they can sub-lease an apartment from someone else for the semester(s) that they will be on campus. Sub-leases are generally negotiated with the rental property management.

There are many online housing databases of available apartments in the Purdue community, such as (third-party website), an off-campus housing database managed by Purdue University Residences, and others. 

Do co-op students earn academic credit for working?

Only the Colleges of Technology and Liberal Arts award direct academic credit for co-op work experience - one or two credits per work session. Many other disciplines have mechanisms whereby co-op students can earn credit as a result of their co-op experiences, but the best way to find out if your current or desired major offers credit is to speak with that program's Co-Op Coordinator.

How much do co-op students earn?

Average monthly salaries for co-op students vary by discipline and employer location and typically increase for each subsequent work session. Some Indiana residents can pay the majority of their college expenses from co-op earnings, though the amount saved to pay college expenses varies with the student and the cost of living at the various co-op locations. Average co-op salaries can be found here.

If I apply to be in the co-op program, am I guaranteed a work placement?

Students apply with our qualified employers to be a co-op student just like any student would apply for an internship, so we cannot guarantee you will be placed. The Office of Professional Practice, Professional Practice Ambassadors, and the Center for Career Opportunities (CCO) all host workshops throughout the year to help students sharpen their resumes and market themselves to employers effectively, so we will help you prepare for your application and interview. After that, it is in the hands of each student to go through the application and interview process to obtain a co-op placement.

Why is the Co-Op Fee so high, and what value do I gain from it as a student?

In May 2013, the co-op fee was reduced significantly from $914 to $400, and this will remain in effect until May 2015 and then follow tuition increases. Since this fee reduction, the Office of Professional Practice is working on a project to further reduce the fee burden on the students and increase the number of students that the office serves.

Although the fee has been lowered, the co-op program requires significant resources within the university to assure that these requirements are met. The faculty recognized that need and stipulated that those students participating in the program bear the major responsibility for funding the program. Consequently, a "registration and service" fee was instituted, which is charged for each work session.

While some co-op programs at other universities are funded through different means, our research and due diligence (Feb. 2013) has found that Purdue’s co-op fee is in the same range (i.e. $421-455) as that of peer institutions with co-op programs of comparative size (e.g. Michigan State, Ohio State, Univ. of Minnesota, Univ. of Wisconsin).

Many OPP activities of great benefits to the students are not readily visible to the students - whether on campus or at work:

    • If OPP did not spend considerable time screening potential employers, students might not get the high quality work experience that employers’ value when recruiting graduating co-op students.
    • If OPP did not contact employers and work out problems, students might find their co-op employment terminated before they complete five work periods with no opportunity for another job.
    • If OPP did not work with the Registrar, Bursar, and Residence Halls, students would encounter extreme difficulties in registering and finding on-campus housing.
    • If the faculty did not value the co-op program and support it, students would not be able to obtain the courses they need each time you return to campus.
    • If students are not registered for a work session course by paying the fee, the guaranteed student loans would become due when students went to work rather than when they graduate.

Many of OPP efforts are not readily visible to the students, but are necessary so they can concentrate on obtaining the best possible experience without having to worry about many of the details. The objective of OPP’s operation is to provide students the opportunity for a quality experience, which would be unavailable unless OPP meets its responsibilities. The only additional element required for a successful co-op experience is the students’ willingness to accept their responsibilities and pursue the opportunities and challenges of the co-op experience.

If students have any questions about the operation of the Professional Practice Programs, they may contact the Director of Professional Practice or their Program's Co-Op Coordinators.

A more detailed explanation of the Co-Op Fee may be found here.

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Questions About Global Opportunities

Why should I participate in Professional Practice Global Opportunities?

Students participating in a Professional Practice Global Program will gain valuable practical experience related to their academic major and future career while living overseas. The experience will enhance student’s understanding of their field of study as well as enhance their understanding of how to communicate and work in a global environment. 

Can I participate in a Global Opportunity and still graduate in 4 years?

Absolutely! The majority of opportunities are offered during the summer allowing students to stay on track to graduate in 4 years.

Do I need foreign language experience?

Students participating in the GEARE program are required to study a foreign language. Foreign language is helpful for the other opportunities offered through the Office of Professional Practice, but it is not a requirement. The working language for the majority of programs is English.

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Questions About GEARE

Can undergrad research experience (E.g., SURF, DURI, etc.) be counted as my domestic internship?

Absolutely! Your domestic experience can be either work- or research-based.

How do scholarships work?

Most scholarships are transferrable provided students maintain full-time status while overseas (12 credit hours). For detailed information, please consult the Division of Financial Aid.

What is a co-sponsored program?

Co-sponsored programs are provided by “third party program providers”, which offer a package price on housing, meals, and tuition. It may be cheaper for out-of-state students to opt for co-sponsored programs. However, the transfer of credits and grades may not be direct. GEARE students should always consider DIRECT EXCHANGE programs first.

How do I get a global internship?

In many cases, students perform well in their domestic internships, and employers invite them to participate in a second internship overseas. Past students recommend starting very early to find the international internship if there is any uncertainty. OPP bundles your resumes periodically and sends them to suitable employers and GEARE corporate sponsors. Therefore, it is important for you to maintain the most up-to-date version of your resume on the OPP database so that we can send employers the best and most accurate information about you.

What is the process of applying to a foreign university?

In your 5th semester, you enroll in a 1-credit hour GEARE seminar taught by Joe Tort. This class will prepare you for your time abroad, including ensuring that you get all documents ready, including visa and housing.

Can GEARE students be co-op students and vice versa?

Absolutely, though it will take some careful planning! Co-Op students have to meet with their GEARE coordinator to organize their plan of study.

How do I find living arrangements overseas?

Typically, it is relatively easy. In many cases, employers offer information on housing. Some students find apartments through local craigslist,, etc. Past students recommend living with non-American students while overseas.

When does the international internship start?

It depends on the country. Different countries have different academic calendar. (E.g., German Summer semester is April – Late July). You can negotiate with your employers regarding start/end dates for a 10-12 week internship.

Do I apply for a student visa or a work visa?

Typically, students apply for a student visa, but some employers may wish for you to have a work permit for liability reasons. You can refer your employers to OPP for more information.

How do I fulfill the Global Design Team Project?

Information about the global design team project can be found on the Global Design Team Project page on our website. Typically, GEARE students in mechanical engineering enroll in a special GEARE division of the ME 463 capstone design course.

Do I get grades or credit for my Study Abroad session?

Consult with your respective GEARE coordinators on this issue, as different schools have different rules.

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Questions for International Students

Can I pursue an internship or co-op in the U.S.?

Yes. International students may pursue internship or Co-op experiences. While studying in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa, international students may apply for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), which will allow them to legally work in the U.S. while in the U.S. on an F-1 student visa.

What is CPT?

CPT is defined as employment which in an integral part of an established curriculum, including "alternate work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum which is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school." Source : [8 CFR 214.2 (f) (10) (i)]. CPT is available only prior to the completion of your degree program and you must have a job offer at the time of application.  

Types of CPT

There are two types of CPT; required for the academic program and non-required. For CPT that is required, the academic program mandates practical work experience in the field of study to graduate. For CPT that is a non-required part of the program, the practical work experience is for credit and directly related to your field of study. Most Purdue students will utilize non-required CPT.

Requirements for Non-Required CPT

    • Student must be enrolled in a CPT course. Students should contact the Office of Professional Practice and their academic advisor to discuss registration for the appropriate course.
    • You must have a declared major and the internship or co-op must be related to your field of study.
    • You must enroll in the CPT during the semester in which you do you internship or co-op.
    • You must enroll for the CPT course each semester.
    • Non-required, full-time CPT, is not allowed during a student’s final term.
    • Failure to complete the CPT course will result in your falling out of legal F-1 status.
    • The cost for appropriate Professional Practice course to meet your CPT requirement is $400.

Part-Time vs. Full-Time CPT

Part-Time CPT: Employment for 20 hours or less per week is considered part-time. There is no limitation upon the length of time you may participate in part-time CPT. However, you must also be enrolled in classes full-time while participating in part-time CPT.

Full-Time CPT: Employment for more than 20 hours per week is considered full-time. Students are only allotted 12 months of full-time CPT. Using more than 12 months of full-time CPT will invalidate the time available for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

What is OPT?

OPT is temporary employment directly related to a student’s field of study. During OPT, a student remains in F-1 status. Students generally utilize OPT to remain in the U.S. for work related to their field of study after graduation. The standard amount of OPT is 12- months; however students in STEM fields may be eligible for a 17-month STEM extension of OPT.

Can I pursue a 5-session Co-op?

International students have completed 5-session Co-op’s in the past. However, completing a 5-session co-op significantly limits the amount of OPT available to the student after graduation. OPT is valuable as it allows an employer to offer an international student a trial period before needing to sponsor a work-visa. International students hoping for long-term employment in the U.S. are advised to save their OPT until after they finished their studies at Purdue. The Office of Professional Practice recommends international students to pursue a 3-session co-op. A 3-session Co-op can be completed in less than 12 months. It will allow students to have the maximum amount of OPT available for work after they have completed their studies at Purdue. Because everyone's situation is different, we strongly recommend that all international students speak with an ISS counselor about their individual situation prior to pursuing any co-op position.

Who hires international students?

There are a number of companies that can hire student visa holders, though it varies from year to year based on individual employers' recruiting needs. List of companies who will hire student visa holders (coming soon)

Can I participate in the GEARE Program?

International students are welcome to participate in the GEARE program. Students will need to study or show proof of intermediate (202-level) proficiency in a foreign language other than English or their native language. International students participating in GEARE may meet internship/research requirements by completing internship/research in the U.S., their home country, or any other country in the world. Internships completed outside the U.S. will not count against the number of months allotted for CPT or OPT. 

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