For Employers


Portland State University is partnering with select local companies to offer a new cooperative education program we are calling PSU CO-OP. PSU CO-OP integrates undergraduate classroom experience with paid, supervised work experience to better serve students and engage regional employers. PSU CO-OP will be available in specific, identified majors to undergraduate students with Junior standing, including full-time, part-time, 4-year and transfer students. PSU CO-OP features include:

  • Students are paid for their work (on average between $15-$22 an hour) without benefits;
  • Students typically engage in PSU CO-OP for 6 (Full time) or 12 (Part time) months;
  • PSU CO-OP is supported, led and administered by the university with consistent and reliable parameters and protocols (on both university and employer sides);
  • Students and employers enter into a binding, PSU CO-OP employment contract with clear roles and responsibilities; and,
  • PSU CO-OP positions are filled through a competitive application and matching process.

Employer Benefits

Employers participating in PSU CO-OP will enjoy the following benefits:

  • They secure a stable source of capable, paraprofessional talent;
  • PSU CO-OP reduces employer's recruitment, orientation and training costs, as well as costs associated with early attrition and turnover of new college hires;
  • Help diversifying the employee talent pool;
  • Employers increase the value of permanent, professional employees by enabling them to focus on more demanding tasks;
  • Employers obtain competent technical assistance;
  • Enables employers to provide input into the educational process; and,
  • Allows senior employees the chance to serve as mentors and trainers.

Timing and Rollout of PSU CO-OP

The academic year 2018-2019 will be a "pilot" year in which academic units, PSU CO-OP advisers and senior administrators will work closely with a select group of approximately 20 employer-partners to develop, test, and refine the program. The program will "scale up" over the next two to five years. 

Available PSU CO-OPS 

The academic departments participating in the pilot PSU CO-OP program during the 2018-2019 Academic Year are:

The School of Business

  • Accounting
  • Advertising Management
  • Finance
  • Human Resources Management
  • Management and Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Supply and Logistics Management

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

  • Geography
  • Mathematics and Statistics
  • English
  • Environmental Science (Science Track)
  • Environmental Science (Management Track)
  • Environmental Studies
  • Creative Writing
  • Communications
  • Sociology
  • Philosophy
  • Psychology

College of Engineering & Computer Science 

  • Electrical & Computer Engineering
  • Mechanical & Materials Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Civil & Environmental Engineering
  • Engineering & Technology Management

FAQs for Employers

Q1: How can employers benefit from PSU CO-OP?

A: A PSU education prepares our students to work in teams, with the latest techniques and technologies in their fields. In exchange for a reasonable wage, they contribute diversity, new ideas and perspectives to your workforce. When you hire a PSU CO-OP student, you have an opportunity to assist students in developing professional practice that aligns with the needs of your specific organizational culture.

Q2: What differentiates PSU CO-OP from a traditional internship experience? 

A: PSU CO-OP is paid employment and students participating in this program take orientation classes to prepare them for the workforce.  Benefitting from the informal exchange of knowledge that takes place in a job setting, PSU CO-OP students learn while they earn.

Q3: How much time does a student commit to PSU CO-OP?

A: PSU CO-OP position is either a full or a part-time program for a period between 1000 and 2000 hours. The employer’s job description explains the actual hour and terms of employment. Most common timelines are six-months on a full-time basis, or 12 months on a part-time basis. 

Q4: How are students selected and prepared for PSU CO-OP? 

A: PSU CO-OP is a limited-entry program for which students must apply. Admission is based on grade point average and progress in the student’s program of study. Once admitted, students complete a CO-OP orientation course in which they produce job search materials and learn best practices for job interviewing. After students have successfully completed the CO-OP Orientation Course, they may apply for CO-OP positions. Our employers make all hiring decisions.

Q5: Are PSU CO-OP students compensated for their work?

A: Yes. The minimum hourly compensation for a CO-OP student is $15. We recommend that students be paid at a rate commensurate with their experience, ability, and overall qualifications. Wages are paid directly to the student. 

Q6: What kind of support does PSU provide for student and employers during the CO-OP experience? 

A: PSU provides support for both the student and the employer during the CO-OP experience. We connect each student and employer with a CO-OP adviser. Should either the student or the employer have questions, please email and an adviser will follow up with you. When you contact PSU CO-OP, please include your name (and company name if you are a employer). 

Q7: What happens if I need to terminate a CO-OP job early after hiring a student?

A: In the situation of a “just cause” termination of employment, a panel of university representatives will convene to determine the academic disposition and resolution of the case. The student will work with their PSU Co-op adviser to identify next steps and reflect on opportunities for continued career readiness and professional development learn from the situation in order to prevent future problems.

Q8: I would like my company to partner with PSU CO-OP, what are my next steps?

A: Follow this link to host a PSU CO-OP, complete and submit the form. Once they receive the completed form, a PSU CO-OP adviser will contact you to discuss next steps.