The Co-op Cycle

The CSSH co-op cycle runs year-round and at any time during the year, hundreds of CSSH students are out on co-op.

Students can decide to co-op during one of two six-month terms: January – June or July – December. They also have the option of graduating in four years with up to two co-op placements, or in five years with up to three co-op placements. The sample four-year and five-year plans below are a couple of ways students can choose to organize their class semesters, co-op placements, and global opportunities.

Sample Four-Year Plan

Sample Five-Year Plan

The co-op cycle includes three phases: Preparation, Activity, and Reflection. An overview of each phase is provided below, but all of this information will be covered in much greater detail in the “Co-op Preparation” courses that are mandatory for all CSSH students before going on co-op.

Co-op coordinators walk students through the co-op cycle. Any student who is ready to begin a co-op cycle, or any student who is considering co-op, should contact their co-op coordinator. Students must repeat the co-op cycle each time they go on co-op.


In order to be cleared for co-op, all students must complete the co-op preparation process. Some parts of the process are slightly different depending on class year and when a student begins, but fundamentally the steps are the same. They consist of:


The Activity phase starts once the student has been offered the job. In addition to gaining professional experience or research tools, students on co-op will learn the skills of long-term career management, including:

Students and co-op coordinators communicate with one another during the placement so that the coordinators know how things are going. If there are issues or concerns that they aren’t able to resolve with their manager, students should let their coordinator know immediately. Students are expected to work until the end date that they and their supervisor agreed upon and any exceptions must be approved by the coordinator. The co-op coordinator is a resource with whom students can discuss issues and concerns they may encounter while on the job.


The last day of work is not the end of the learning. The Reflection stage encourages students to think back on the experience to understand what they have learned and to begin applying this knowledge toward their academic study and future career goals.


Students must complete a student evaluation survey through COOL. This evaluates the co-op experience from the student’s perspective. The student’s manager will also complete an employer evaluation survey of the student’s performance on the job.

Reflection Meeting and Reflection Report

Once students return from co-op, they must complete the Reflection requirement assigned by their coordinator in order to receive credit for their co-op experience.