Cooperative Education Program

Co-Op in the Department of Computer Science

Through the assistance of the School of Engineering’s Cooperative Education Office, formal arrangements are established with industry that permit students to rotate four-month terms between the workplace and the classroom. At the University of Pittsburgh, this rotation begins after the completion of the sophomore year, and extends into the senior year, with the Co-op student completing at least two four-month work rotations. These rotations, which are typically but not necessarily with the same employer, allow job duties to increase as the knowledge and skills of the student progress.

During Co-op rotations, students earn competitive salaries. In 2013-2014 the average monthly salary for a CS Co-op student was $2,809.

Co-Op Capstone Option

Completion of at least 2 four-month Co-op rotations and a summary paper can be used by a Computer Science major to satisfy the Capstone graduation requirement. However, the Co-op does not count in place of any regular Computer Science courses.

In addition to receiving an “S” grade for at least two co-op rotations, students using their cooperative education experience for their capstone requirement must complete an 8-10 page paper as the final requirement. This paper must be completed in the term following your final co-op rotation. The deadlines are as follows:

If the final Co-op term is Fall, then the paper deadline is March 1.
If the final Co-op term is Spring, then the paper deadline is June 30.
If the final Co-op term is Summer, then the paper deadline is October 15.

The topic should be an examination / explanation of your co-op both from a technical point of view (projects you did, things you learned, etc) and from an experiential point of view (workplace issues, organization, etc).

Please use a standard format (.doc, .docx, .pdf) and submit via email to Dr. Ramirez. You are strongly encouraged to have your paper reviewed by the Writing Center prior to submission.

Note: Students cannot graduate in a co-op semester.

Applying and Enrolling

In order to register for the Computer Science Co-op Program, the student must submit the following materials to the Cooperative Education Office in 152-D Benedum Hall:

  1. Evidence that the student has declared his or her major as Computer Science
  2. An Interest Form submitted in person or by email (paub2m@pitt.edu)
  3. An unofficial transcript submitted in person – free to students at G3 Thackeray Hall
  4. A resumé submitted in person or by email (paub2m@pitt.edu) – must be in pdf, word .doc , or word .docx format
  5. A completed Co-Op Schedule form submitted in person or by email (paub2m@pitt.edu). This form must be approved by the CS undergraduate office

Application Dates

Students apply to the Co-op Program at least one semester before they begin their rotations. In order to be eligible for all positions, please see the following dates for paperwork completion.*

Spring Co-op: End of September
Summer Co-op: End of January
Fall Co-op: End of May
*These deadlines are established with the student’s best interests in mind. It is still possible for a student to apply after these dates, however, this student will have missed out on opportunities.

Students on Co-op assignment are still responsible for getting themselves registered for classes in the term following their Co-op term. Some assistance may be provided by the engineering Co-op office. Additional assistance may be provided by the Department of Computer Science.

For more information, see the Cooperative Education Home Page. If you are interested in the Co-op program, your first point of contact should be the Co-op Office, not the Department of Computer Science.

Undergraduate Co-op Education Contact
Maureen Barcic
412-624-9882 | paub2m@pitt.edu

CS Co-op Coordinator/Advisor
John Ramirez
(412) 624-8441 | ramirez@cs.pitt.edu


Co-Op in the Department of Informatics and Networked Systems

Through the assistance of the Swanson School of Engineering’s Cooperative Education Office (SSOE), formal arrangements have been established with industry that permit the School of Computing and Information students to rotate four-month terms between the workplace and the classroom. As a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, this rotation begins after the completion of at least 18 graduate credits across at least two full-time terms of study, with the Co-op student completing at least one full-time four-month work rotation, but no more than two of such rotations. These rotations, which are typically but not necessarily with the same employer, allow job duties to increase as the knowledge and skills of the student progress. During Co-op rotations, students earn competitive salaries determined by the Co-op employer.

Please note: Any of our students who obtain a work experience through SSOE MUST do ONLY Co-op for that experience – they CANNOT switch to a practicum later on (but can certainly do multiple Co-op rotations.)

“Obtaining a work experience through SSOE” is defined as getting the initial contact for the employer either through the SSOE Co-op fair or by being in the SSOE Co-op system as an applicant and obtaining the employer information there.

Applying and Enrolling

In order to register for the Co-op Program, the student must submit the following materials to the School of Computing and Information Cooperative Education Coordinator, Alka Singh (adsingh@pitt.edu):

  • Provide evidence of completion of 18 credits at the graduate level at Pitt while maintaining good academic standing by emailing a transcript to Alka Singh
  • Email a resumé (must be in pdf, word .doc , or word .docx format)
  • Provide a completed plan of study for your chosen specialization that has been approved by your academic advisor (who can either sign their approval on the plan of study or email their approval) and shows exactly when you will be taking each class required for graduation and when you will complete your Co-op rotation(s).
  • If you are an international student enrolling with an F-1 Visa, you will also need to apply for CPT through My OIS.
  • Once you have identified an employer with whom you wish to Co-op, you will need to submit in person or by email a copy of your employment offer letter that must include: a) description of the position; b) the duration of the position (start and end dates for each rotation); c) salary; d) name and contact information for your on-site supervisor; e) a statement that the position is full time (any job stating that it involves 32-40 hours of your time per week will be considered full-time).

Once all of these steps have been completed, Alka Singh will work to confirm that they have all necessary documentation, and will enroll you in a one credit Co-op course entitled INFSCI 2982 Information Science Cooperative Program (Graduate IS) or TELCOM 2982 Telecommunications Cooperative Program (Graduate TELE). The fee for this course is $325 plus the safety and transportation fee, activity fee and prorated computer fee.

  • Registration in INFSCI 2982 for MSIS or TELCOM 2982 for MST will designate you as a full-time student at the University of Pittsburgh while on Co-op. Students on Co-op do not pay the standard University resident or non-resident per-credit charges; the Co-op registration fee outlined above substitutes instead. University tuition charges can be found at: https://ir.pitt.edu/graduate-tuition/
  • Upon completion of the Co-op rotation, students must submit their report to Dr. Tipper (see deliverables section below for details). If a satisfactory grade is warranted for this submission, the student will be assigned an “S” grade and allowed to complete additional authorized work experiences in the future.

Application Dates

Students must apply to the Co-op Program prior to the start of the term in which their rotation will take place, and they must be registered for the Co-op credit by no later than the end of add/drop for the given term.

Students on Co-op assignment are still responsible for getting themselves registered for classes in the term following their Co-op term.

For more information, see the Cooperative Education Home Page. If you are interested in the Co-op program, your first point of contact should be the SCI Co-op Coordinator, not your advisor or the Co-op faculty reviewer.

SCI Co-op Education Coordinator
Alka Singh
412-624-0879 | adsingh@pitt.edu

DINS Co-op Faculty Reviewer
David Tipper
(412) 624-9331 | dtipper@pitt.edu

Deliverables

In addition to receiving an “S” grade for each Co-op rotation upon successful completion of the on-site work (as defined by your site supervisor), students must:

  1. Complete a 4-5 page paper as the final requirement and submit this to the appropriate Co-op Faculty Reviewer by the appropriate deadline* indicated as follows:
    1. The topic should be an examination / explanation of your co-op both from a technical point of view (projects you did, things you learned, etc) and from an experiential point of view (workplace issues, organization, etc).
    2. Please use a standard format (.doc, .docx, .pdf) and submit via email to Dr. Tipper.
  2. Complete a 1-page summary of their work experience both to the SCI Co-op Coordinator and to their academic advisor.

*Contact your Co-op supervisor for the appropriate deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to most of your questions can be found by reading the graduate SCI Co-op Handbook, which is used by Computer Science, Telecommunications, and Information Science.  However, answers to the most common questions asked about Co-op are also as follows:

What work hour and duration criteria must I satisfy for the experience to be allowed as a Co-op experience?
a minimum of 1 rotations, a maximum of 2 rotations
a minimum of 32 hours per week and a maximum of 40 hours per week
15 weeks is preferred per rotation, no less than 12 weeks per rotation is allowed

Can I participate in Co-op in my final term of study?
No – students cannot graduate in a Co-op semester.

Can I telecommute?
No – the experience must be at the employer’s physical location; if the work environment is dispersed across multiple locations, the student must work at the physical location of the on-site supervisor.

Am I able to take classes while I am on a work rotation?
No you may not take classes while on a work rotation.

What is the difference between Co-op and a practicum?
Co-op has to be at least one semester of full-time experience and would only be counted for 1 credit that does not directly apply towards academic degree requirements (meaning this would be in addition to your required 36 credits for MSIS or the 37 credits required for MST); it is a structured and documented outside of the classroom practical experience that is an officially encouraged educational enhancement to a student’s degree program.  This differs from the practicum in that the practicum: a) is a 3-credit practical experience with a strong academic component that directly applies to degree requirements, b) does not have to be paid, and c) does not have to be with an employer with whom we have a formal Co-op relationship.  The SCI Co-op Coordinator can help employers new to working with SCI students determine whether or not a formal relationship can be defined. If the employer cannot develop a formal Co-op relationship, the student cannot take the experience as a Co-op experience.

Can I switch an experience from Co-op to internship or internship to Co-op?
No – this determination must be made in advance of any work done for the employer; once you have committed to a Co-op with an employer, your experience with that employer must remain a Co-op experience.  If you have committed to an internship with an employer, your experience with that employer must remain an internship.

If I am an international student studying in the U.S. on an F-1 visa, what work authorization issues do I need to consider?
Co-op registration must be designated as full-time; the work must be related to the degree; and work authorization can be achieved as CPT or pre-completion OPT, but CPT is most common. However, please note that CPT authorization cannot extend beyond 12 months or OPT is negated.