Frequently Asked Questions
About Internships and Co-ops

Below you'll find answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about internships and co‑ops.

What is the difference between a co-op and an internship?

Employers and students can be very confused about the difference between internships and co-ops. The terminology may be used interchangeably by employers and even some universities, but there is an important distinction between the two at UMUC.

At UMUC, a co-op allows a student to get real-world experience and earn university credit at the same time. Students participating in a co-op enroll in a course that involves additional university work. There is also an agreement between the university and the employer about what will be accomplished through the opportunity. In contract, internships allow students to get real-world experience without having to enroll in a class or complete extra university work.

Some employers will call their program an internship program when it is really a co-op program, which can cause confusion. If the employer requires a student to earn college credit for the experience, it is considered a co-op by UMUC, even if the employer refers to the experience as an internship.

Internship and co-ops may be paid or unpaid. Even if the opportunity is unpaid, you will build valuable experience and can make connections that could result in a job offer with the organization. Most employers look favorably on their co-ops and interns when full-time positions become available.

When should I consider doing a co-op or internship?

Students must have completed at least 30 credits to participate in the Workplace Learning Program. Students who have completed fewer than 30 credits can still take part in internships, but no credit will be awarded. Keep in mind that each employer has different requirements; some may only accept upperclassmen as interns.

How do I find an internship?

More information about locating federal, public and private sector internships and co-ops is available at Finding an Internship.

Who should I contact if I have more questions?

If you have additional questions, please request to talk to a career counselor.

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