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Internships, Co-ops and Undergraduate Research

Hands-on experience give students the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom in a real-world environment.

Within engineering, hands-on experience can take a variety of forms including internships, co-ops, research, and study abroad.

An Engineering internship is a paid position within an engineering-related organization, that provides you with a professional-level training experience. Engineering internships occur during the summer.

An Engineering Co-op is a paid, four- to nine-month position that occurs during the academic year.  While on Co-op, you will maintain your status as an enrolled UMass Amherst student without paying tuition. When you complete the co-op, it will appear on your transcript. All students must fill out a Co-op contract through CareerConnect. Login to CareerConnect using your student NetID and password, then click on My Account, then Internship/Co-op (add new). Part of the contract includes gaining permission from your department’s undergraduate program director.

Research is engineering-related work done in an academic laboratory — whether at UMass, or at another educational institution or national lab.

Resources for Internships and Co-ops [pdf]

Resources for Research [pdf]

Study Abroad (UMass IPO office)

Going Global is an eRecruiting resource available to UMass students seeking international internships. You can access Going Global by signing in using your UMass OIT username and password.

Guidelines for International Students

If you are on an F-1 student visa, you must fulfill certain requirements in order to gain practical training through either an internship or co-op so that you don’t violate the terms of your visa.

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is off-campus work experience (training) that is an integral part of an established curriculum. In practical terms, this means an opportunity must be required by the curriculum, or if not required, the student must receive credit for the training.

Because the UMass College of Engineering does not require practical work experience in order to graduate, international engineering students MUST register for a 1 credit independent study course in order to complete either an internship or co-op experience.

How Do I Know if I am Eligible to Apply for CPT?

To be eligible for CPT, you must:

  • Be in lawful F-1 status
  • Have been enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year (i.e. two full, consecutive semesters before applying for CPT), and be in good academic standing
  • Have a job offer
  • The position must be relevant to your field of study
  • Not be enrolled in an intensive English language training program
  • Have UMass approved health insurance
  • * Note: students are NOT ELIGIBLE for CPT once you have completed all degree requirements.

The Application Process

  • You must first have an internship or co-op offer from an employer within your field of study: Resources in finding internships and co-ops [pdf]
  • You must bring a copy of the job offer from the employer to the Undergraduate Program Director (if you are an undergraduate student) or Graduate Program Director (if you are a graduate student) in your academic department. The letter with the offer must:
    • Be addressed to you
    • Written on the company’s letterhead (no emails)
    • Provide a job description and a job title
    • Specify whether the position is part-time or full-time (students may work full-time (40 hours/week) during vacation times—summer or winter break, or up to 20 hours during the academic year unless you are going on co-op and have completed the necessary forms with Career Services (see above).
    • Specify the start date and the end date of the internship or co-op
    • Include the complete address of the site that the work will take place (street, city, state and zip code)
  • The academic advisor will complete a form to enroll you in a 1-credit independent study and will sign the completed the CPT Authorization Form (must be filled out in advance) [pdf]
  • Bring the completed CPT Authorization Form, your unofficial transcripts, a legible copy of your current I-20 and a paper copy of the Form I-94 to the UMass International Programs Office (IPO), located in 467 Hills South, 4th Floor.  The IPO office will send your completed CPT request to SEVIS electronically to generate a new I-20 and the CPT work authorization will appear on page 2 of the new SEVIS I-20.
  • Make sure you have updated your address in SPIRE within 10 days of any change while you are on F-1 status.

Other Important Information

Please view the International Programs Office's CPT Application Packet [pdf] for a more comprehensive understanding of how going on CPT may affect your eligibility for future post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), travel considerations, and social security card information.