The Cooperative Education Program (Co-op) combines academic classroom learning with practical, on-th-job experience. It enables the student to apply the theory and skills learned in the classroom to a job situation. In addition to providing students with a paid work experience in their field of study, Co-ops may have the opportunity for full-time professional employment through non-competitive appointments to government service upon successful completion of their work/study program.


    The program is open to full-time high school, undergraduate and graduate college students in accredited institutions who are working toward a certificate, diploma, or degree. Students must be at least 16 years of age, U.S. Citizens, maintain at least a 2.5 gradepoint average, and pass a background security investigation.

Work Periods

    College students accepted for appointments as accountants work two full-time, six-month periods, alternated with academic study. Co-op appointments in other areas may be on a more flexible schedule. High school students typically work half-days throughout the school year. Upon satisfactory completion of the program, a student may work an additional 120 days during which time appointment to a competitive professional position may take place.

Minimum work Hours

    To complete the program, high school, graduate, and technical school students must work a minimum of 640 hours; undergraduate students, a minimum of 1040 hours. No student may work more than 2600 hours in a 2-year period.


    Participating schools must have a Cooperative Education Program; Students must participate in their school’s program and must apply through their school’s Co-op Coordinator. All applicants must submit a Standard Form 171; college students must include a transcript of grades or OPM form 1170/17 (List of Courses).