Sophomore, junior, senior, or graduate students in good academic standing (minumum 2.5 GPA) may apply for a co-op. (Students on academic probation are not eligible.) Students must return at least one quarter following the co-op assignment, must comply with company policies and procedures, and follow through to completion any assigned projects. A co-op is not available to students who have graduated.
In general, a co-op experience does not earn academic credit toward an undergraduate or graduate degree. Exceptions can only be made when a faculty advisor and industry representative have established a clear statement of work (SOW) that will be part of the co-op experience. The SOW must be approved and signed by 1) the faculty advisor, 2) the industry representative, and 3) the department chair before the student starts the co-op experience. The result of the deliverables from the work completed must be written up in a report within one (1) quarter upon return to Cal Poly. Credit can only be applied toward independent study or senior project and not toward technical electives.
Phase I: Career Services (careerservices.calpoly.edu)
The Career Services staff is responsible for co-op recruitment, which includes working with employers, creating co-op opportunities, and listing positions through MustangJOBS. They will work with students, advising them on the value and benefits of co-op participation and assist them with the job search process.
A student may be recruited by Career Services, or introduced through a corporate partner or faculty advisor.
There are two options for managing the time that they will not be on the campus:
- Request a Leave of Absence: maintains continuous enrollment; no tuition, but may impact financial aid, OR
- Enroll in ENGR 493/94/95: maintains continuous enrollment; pay tution and maintain eligibility for financial aid.
Phase II: Department
Once a student secures a position, they should contact the department. The student is responsible for submitting all related co-op forms.
- Students must fill in a co-op Work Information for (see below) and get the signature from the department chair before they leave for the co-op experience.
- A Leave of Absence form must be submitted to the Registrar by the add/drop date of the term the leave begins. (i.e. student must turn in their form by the add/drop deadline for Winter Qtr. if they will be away Winter Qtr.). Students should consider the effect a leave may have on their loan status, as lenders may count the leave period as part of the total grace period. Students who receive loan disbursements directly may be require to repay portions of their loan. Cal Poly provides enrollment status to the National Loan Clearing House. For questions regarding loan status, please contact the Cal Poly Student Financial Services Office.
- Enroll in ENGR 493 (2 units), 494 (6 units), or 495 (12 units) for quarters the student is working at the co-op (Fall, Winter, Spring, but not Summer); note that these courses are CR/NC and do not earn academic credit toward a degree.
Phase III: Return to Cal Poly
Upon return, students must complete a Student Evaluation Form (see below) and submit it to the department chair before a grades for ENGR 493/4/5 will be assigned.
Academic Leave of Absence Explained
Students on authorized Leaves of Absence are considered in continuous attendence for the purpose of returning to the same curriculum in effect when the leave began. They are not required to apply for readmission or pay an application fee, provided they return to the same major and by the approved returning term. Not enrolling in the approved term requires reapplication for admission, payment of the application fee, and potentially new curriculum requirements.
Students must be eligible to enroll in the term the leave begins. Two leaves with a maximum of eight (8) quarters combined are available to each students and cannot be extended beyond the limit. Summer quarters are included when calculating the length of a leave.