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Top Colleges, Universities for Internship, Co-Op Programs

Briana Boyington, Josh Moody

Schools that focus on career prep

Getting work experience in college can help students land a job after graduation. One option for students to gain that experience is cooperative education programs, which include paid full-time jobs that typically last three to 12 months, internships or other service-based experiential learning programs. In U.S. News' spring 2019 survey, college presidents, chief academic officers, deans of students and deans of admissions from more than 1,500 schools most frequently nominated the following 23 schools -- listed by rank in descending order -- as examples of institutions with stellar internship and co-op programs. Each administrator was invited to nominate up to 15 institutions for top co-ops or internships. The 2020 edition of Best Colleges marks the first time U.S. News has ranked co-ops/internships.

21. (tie) Bentley University (MA)

U.S. News rank: 2, Regional Universities (North)

Overview: Bentley University's HIRE Education programs help students build on their career development skills every year. Starting freshman year, students have the option to take career development seminars; join career communities that connect students with professionals, students and faculty; and participate in other career-oriented events.

21. (tie) Butler University (IN)

U.S. News rank: 1, Regional Universities (Midwest)

Overview: Butler University offers students a variety of career development options, including the opportunity to participate in career communities that connect students with a network of alumni, employers and parent mentors to help students find, learn and develop their interests.

21. (tie) Creighton University (NE)

U.S. News rank: 104 (tie), National Universities

Overview: Creighton University's EDGE Program provides students with a variety of paths to develop their career interests, including a shadowing program. Students planning to apply to professional programs in health and law have the opportunity to observe someone working in their chosen industry for a day.

19. (tie) Carnegie Mellon University (PA)

U.S. News rank: 25 (tie), National Universities

Overview: Carnegie Mellon University facilitates a variety of internship programs and fellowships, including a semester in the District of Columbia. According to the school's website, a summer internship fund also helps students who take low-wage or unpaid internships pay for their expenses.

19. (tie) Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)

U.S. News rank: 64 (tie), National Universities

Overview: WPI students have the opportunity to participate in co-ops and internships. The school's project-based learning plan also allows students to get hands-on experience in the classroom through required projects aimed at solving real-world problems.

18. Cornell University (NY)

U.S. News rank: 17 (tie), National Universities

Overview: Cornell University has a variety of summer programs to help students build experiences in their desired career fields. These include Cornell in Hollywood, a program that provides film-related internships in Los Angeles, and a 10-week internship that gives students experience at entrepreneurial companies.

17. Claremont McKenna College (CA)

U.S. News rank: 7 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Overview: Claremont McKenna College provides funding for freshmen, sophomores and juniors to pursue domestic and international experiences through its Sponsored Internships & Experiences Program. Accepted students can receive a stipend covering between four to 12 weeks of work. The average stipend for 2018 was $3,700, according to the university's website.

16. George Washington University (DC)

U.S. News rank: 70 (tie), National Universities

Overview: George Washington University uses its central location in the District of Columbia as a launching point for internships, noting on its website that more than 12,000 such opportunities are available in a given year. GWU also makes elective internships available to qualifying students.

14. (tie) Agnes Scott College (GA)

U.S. News rank: 58 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Overview: At Agnes Scott College the goal is for every student to have at least one internship before graduating. The college also makes funding available to students who are interning in public service or public health.

14. (tie) Clemson University (SC)

U.S. News rank: 70 (tie), National Universities

Overview: At Clemson University students will find both internship and co-op programs to help launch their careers. For a fee of $6,900 to $8,800, the school also offers international internships in several different countries, according to its website.

13. Rochester Institute of Technology (NY)

U.S. News rank: 104 (tie), National Universities

Overview: Co-op requirements at RIT vary by college and major and may be optional or required. According to the school's website, more than 4,500 students complete a co-op each year, which it defines as employment of 35 hours or more per week.

11. (tie) Northwestern University (IL)

U.S. News rank: 9, National Universities

Overview: Since 2007, Northwestern University has provided funding to students to offset unpaid internships. According to the school's website, Northwestern disbursed $3,000 grants to nearly 450 students through its summer internship grant program in 2018.

11. (tie) Purdue University--West Lafayette (IN)

U.S. News rank: 57 (tie), National Universities

Overview: Students who participate in Purdue University's three- or five-session co-op program must work with the same employer for all sessions. The goal is to allow students to build relationships with their employer, work on more projects and increase responsibilities, according to the university's website.

9. (tie) Endicott College (MA)

U.S. News rank: 23 (tie), Regional Universities (North)

Overview: All students are required to complete three internships during their four-year program at Endicott College. Students complete an internship preparation course during their first semester in college.

9. (tie) Stanford University (CA)

U.S. News rank: 6 (tie), National Universities

Overview: Stanford boasts a wide range of internship programs, including placement in New York City and abroad. Other opportunities focus on career education, community engagement, public service and scientific research.

8. Duke University (NC)

U.S. News rank: 10 (tie), National Universities

Overview: At Duke University internship requirements vary by program, according to the school's website. For students in unpaid or low-paying internships, the university makes $600 to $3,000 available in competitive grant funding.

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

U.S. News rank: 3 (tie), National Universities

Overview: MIT offers numerous internship programs for students. One program, the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives, matches students with international all-expenses-paid internships and research positions.

6. Berea College (KY)

U.S. News rank: 46 (tie), National Liberal Arts Colleges

Overview: Through the school's Labor Program, all Berea College students are required to work 10-15 hours a week in approved jobs on campus or in the community while maintaining a full academic course load.

5. Georgia Institute of Technology

U.S. News rank: 29 (tie), National Universities

Overview: Georgia Tech offers an optional five-year co-op program. Students alternate semesters between working full time and taking classes.

4. Elon University (NC)

U.S. News rank: 84 (tie), National Universities

Overview: All students must fulfill an experiential learning requirement to graduate from Elon University. The requirement can be fulfilled through internships, co-ops, studying abroad, independent research, service-learning projects or a mentored leadership position.

3. University of Cincinnati

U.S. News rank: 139 (tie), National Universities

Overview: Students with majors in the schools of engineering and applied sciences and design are required to participate in the University of Cincinnati's co-op program. Students complete three to five semesters of co-ops before graduation. The co-op program is also open to students in a few other select majors. Students who aren't able to participate in the university's more than 100-year-old program have the option to get internships or participate in other international or national service-learning programs.

2. Drexel University (PA)

U.S. News rank: 97 (tie), National Universities

Overview: Depending on their major, Drexel University students may have to complete one to three co-ops before graduation. The co-ops are full-time jobs for six months. Students start their co-ops during sophomore year after taking preparation courses as freshmen.

1. Northeastern University (MA)

U.S. News rank: 40 (tie), National Universities

Overview: Northeastern University students are required to take a co-op preparation course to learn resume writing, interviewing skills, professional etiquette in the workplace and career exploration tips. They are also required to meet with their co-op coordinator before they participate in their first co-op. According to the school's website, 96% of the Class of 2016 participated in at least one co-op experience.

Get more career prep advice.

A lot of schools are working hard to prepare students for careers. Discover how to get an internship in college and gain work experience after freshman year. You can also connect with U.S. News Education on Facebook and Twitter to get more advice on researching colleges.

Best schools for internships and co-ops

-- 1. Northeastern University

-- 2. Drexel University

-- 3. University of Cincinnati

-- 4. Elon University

-- 5. Georgia Institute of Technology

-- 6. Berea College

-- 7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

-- 8. Duke University

-- 9. (tie) Endicott College

-- 9. (tie) Stanford University

-- 11. (tie) Northwestern University

-- 11. (tie) Purdue University--West Lafayette

-- 13. Rochester Institute of Technology

-- 14. (tie) Agnes Scott College

-- 14. (tie) Clemson University

-- 16. George Washington University

-- 17. Claremont McKenna College

-- 18. Cornell University

-- 19. (tie) Carnegie Mellon University

-- 19. (tie) Worcester Polytechnic Institute

-- 21. (tie) Bentley University

-- 21. (tie) Butler University

-- 21. (tie) Creighton University



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