Graduate Cooperative Education Program

A graduate student working on an art project at Virginia Tech

Spring 2020 CPTs may not begin before 12/24/2019 and must end no later than 5/22/2020 to comply with immigration restrictions on employment.

The co-op experience is intended to be an integral part of a graduate student's academic program, providing on-the-job experience that satisfies academic requirements such as a practicum, or allowing students to apply knowledge they have acquired through course work or research as they progress to degree completion.

Eligibility Criteria for Graduate Cooperative Education

  • Have completed at least one semester of academic work at Virginia Tech in their graduate degree program.
    • International students may qualify after two academic semesters (9 months) in F-1 status.
  • Have an approved plan of study with co-op course included (it is sufficient to have the POS entered and approved by the academic department).
  • Be in good academic standing with a GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Have a full-time employment offer, related to your field of study, for one full academic term (fall, spring, or summer):
    • No less than 6 weeks during summer (generally 6-12 weeks)
    • No less than 14 weeks during fall and spring (generally 14-16 weeks)
    • Start/end dates largely overlapping with academic terms
  • Have the approval of your academic advisor as indicated on the signed Academic Advisor's Recommendation form.
  • F-1 students must carry health insurance that meets university requirements.


  • No part-time co-op will be approved.
  • Employment as an independent contractor does not qualify for co-op.
  • Co-op  employment is authorized for one semester at a time.
    •  Approval for a co-op extension is not guaranteed; requests for extension will be considered only if there is a compelling academic reason for an extended co-op period or the co-op work is essential to completing degree requirements.
  • Co-op employment is generally not approved in a student’s last semester, unless there is a compelling academic reason and the proposed employment is essential for the completion of degree requirements.
  • Co-op employment is not to be considered a form of financial aid and may not be used to facilitate employment.
  • Co-op employment may not overlap with an assistantship or other on-campus employment.
    • Co-op engagements in the summer may start after May 9 (standard assistantship contract end date) or the official end of the semester, whichever comes later, and must end by Aug 9 for those who will have a fall assistantship (standard assistantship contract start date is Aug 10).
  • International students who accumulate 12-months (365 days) of full-time Co-op (CPT) will forfeit the Optional Practical Training (OPT) benefit.

Procedures for Participation in a Graduate Co-op Program

  • Contact prospective employers and discuss the suitability of a job offer with your academic advisor.
  • Complete the Co-op Application and attach the following documents to the form:
    • Academic Advisor's Recommendation form
    • Employment offer letter stating the terms of employment, including start/end dates, job duties, location, and supervisor's name and contact.
    • A copy of your approved plan of study (International students must submit a plan of study that includes the Co-op course GRAD 5944 or GRAD 7944 or the required course for the practicum)
    • A copy of all previous I-20 forms, if you are an international student.
  • Submit application and supporting documents at least 3 weeks prior to the proposed start date.
  • If you work beyond a 50 mile radius of Blacksburg, your department may request a waiver of your comprehensive fees by contacting the Bursar's office. View guidelines and deadlines for submission
  • The Graduate School will add the co-op course (GRAD 5944 or GRAD 7944) to your transcript, which will designate you as a full-time student while on your co-op assignment.
  • You will be billed for the one-credit co-op course and you must pay the associated tuition.
  • You will be issued an evaluation form to be completed by your co-op supervisor at the end of your employment; this form must be returned to the Graduate School.
  • International students will be issued a new I-20 with Curricular Practical Training (CPT) approval.

Application Deadlines

Fall or Spring Semester:
Monday, one week before classes begin  

Summer Semester:
Applications will be accepted until June 30.

Submit applications at least 3 weeks before the proposed start date to allow sufficient time for processing.

For further information, please call 540-231-8486 or email