Information for International Engineering Students Considering a Co-Op
International Students / Engineering students on F-1 Visa
Students on an F-1 visa typically receive 1 year of OPT (Optional Practical Training) allocated to work experience. Engineering students who go to work for a STEM, e-verified employer can get up to an additional 17 months. Most students prefer to reserve their OPT until they graduate but many will use three months of OPT time for a summer internship. It takes two to three months to process the OPT application which is processed external to the university.
Students enrolled in the McKelvey School of Engineering have the option to participate in the Engineering Co-op Program. Typically co-op is a summer/semester program lasting about seven months. It must be full-time, paid, and related to your engineering degree. Students enrolled in co-op do not pay tuition and maintain their full-time student status. Scholarships and financial aid eligibility are waived and used at a later semester.
Because co-op is a course, or part of the curriculum, international students can utilize CPT (Curricular Practical Training). The engineering school offers three options for CPT: 1) co-op 2) independent study 3) research
Recently, OISS and the engineering co-op program have allowed students who get a summer internship to qualify their internship through the engineering school by enrolling in the engineering co-op program. This allows the opportunity to use CPT for a summer internship. The internship must be full-time, paid, and last at least 10 weeks. If you are an undergrad, you will be required to write a pre- and post- co-op essay, unless the internship is at least 14 weeks.
If the employment offer meets the criteria of the co-op program, please follow these steps for CPT Authorization:
- Complete Co-op Registration by completing the form below.
- You will receive an email from the Co-op Coordinator, Sue Kruessel requesting an appoint to Complete CPT Authorization. Walk in hours are not available. Instead, an appointment time will be confirmed with the Co-op Office
- The appointment to complete CPT authorization will be in the Co-op Office, located in the Career Center, DUC, Room 110. It will only take 10 minutes. You will need to know your exact start date and end date of your co-op/internship.
- Bring the completed form to OISS. It will take 3-5 business days to process your new I-20 reflecting your employment dates.
- Upon completion of all documents, the co-op office will register you for the Engineering Co-op Course
Undergrads working internships less than 14 weeks
McKelvey School of Engineering is now allowing students to qualify their internship as a co-op term, which allows students to obtain CPT authorization. Because the duration is shorter than a traditional co-op, and if there were to be an audit, we must justify these experiences as “an integral part of the curriculum” as stated in the course description. Therefore, if you are an undergraduate who works less than 14 weeks in the summer, you will be required to submit a pre and post essay.
- The pre reflective essay will provide detail of how the co-op could enhance your academic field of study. The pre co-op essay is due before the start of your co-op assignment. You will need to email it to the co-op coordinator who will upload it to your co-op file. (350 words)
- At conclusion of the term, the post reflective essay will detail how the co-op specifically improved the ability to succeed in your academic field of study. (350 words)
Before applying to co-op positions, first verify that you meet the requirements to participate:
Are you qualified to co-op?
- Enrolled in the McKelvey School of Engineering
- Enrolled at WashU for at least two semesters
- In good academic standing with a recommended GPA of 2.7 or higher
- Confirm with your academic adviser your ability to take a break from your curriculum
Does your co-op qualify?
- Full-time 32-40 hours per week
- Paid at a rate commensurate with experience, typically $19-25/hr.
- Last a minimum of a full semester (16 weeks) or full summer (10-week minimum)
- Co-op is related to your engineering major
How to Get a Co-op
Co-ops are obtained in the same ways internships and post grad jobs are obtained: CAREERlink postings, Career Fairs, STEM SLAM, websites, etc. Contact to find out WHERE to find co-op opportunities and contact a career adviser to find out HOW to land a co-op.