Best Colleges for Internships and Co-ops: National Universities
Research has shown that participating in an internship while in college leads to better chances of finding a career within six months of earning your degree. Undergraduates who engage in one or more summer internships while in college gain employability skills, make industry connections, and sometimes even land a full-time job with the company where they interned. Some universities also offer co-op programs that seamlessly integrate hands-on learning opportunities within one’s field of study into the undergraduate experience.
The list that follows highlights 20 of the best colleges for internships and co-ops in the United States. All of these schools see a high percentage of undergrads participating in internships, have strong career services offerings that do a stellar job connecting students to industry, and possess unique internship or co-op programs that engage the vast majority of the student body.
For a detailed assessment of internship and co-op opportunities at 200 of the nation’s top institutions, pick up the 2023 edition of our outcomes-oriented guidebook Colleges Worth Your Money.
Best Colleges for Internships and Co-ops
AU does an exceptional job hooking up students with internship opportunities; 90% of grads had such an experience. Being located in DC is a boon to internship opportunities as the leading host agencies include the Department of Education, State, Homeland Security, DC Public Schools, and the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
Discover: How to Get Into American University
Babson boasts a global alumni network of more than 43,000 graduates spread across 115 countries and all fifty US states and the Babson Connector, an online resource that helps connect current students with alumni. As a result of this type of engagement, a staggering 91% of the Class of 2020 embarked on at least one internship during their four years of study. Further, thanks to the diligent, hands-on work of this career services office, less than 1% of graduates are still looking for employment/grad school within six months of graduating.
Learn more about Babson’s sponsored internships.
This school does an incredible job facilitating meaningful internships. Of the 90% of Bentley students who had an internship (70%+ complete more than one) as part of their undergraduate education. Forty percent of 2020 grads landed their first job directly through this experience.
Learn more about Bentley’s credited internship opportunities.
Staff does an exceptional job hooking students up with hands-on learning experiences; 73% of graduates had one experiential learning opportunity and 62% partook in two. Almost 950 students participated in the University Professional Co-op/Internship Program with the school’s 450 employer partners. An additional 1,300 participated in other co-op placements, and 95% reported being satisfied with the experience.
Discover: How to Get Into Clemson University
Carnegie Mellon University
Over three-quarters of undergrads login to Handshake to view the roughly 12,000 job and 5,000 internship postings. Many job search-related events focus on specific sectors such as the Civil & Environmental Engineering Career Fair, Energy Industry Career Fair, or Tepper Meetup (for business students). Multiple members of each class intern at companies that include Amazon, Deloitte, and JP Morgan Chase. In a single year, an impressive 488 companies recruited at the university and conducted 5,900 on-campus interviews. Close to 80% of undergraduates complete at least one internship.
Discover: How to Get Into CMU
99% of graduates report having the opportunity to engage in some type of experiential learning. Those opportunities include both traditional internships (69%) and more structured 560-hour practicums. Two-thirds of students complete at least one internship during their undergraduate years. In a given year, more than a handful of Case Western students land internships at organizations including NASA, Proctor & Gamble, Amazon, and Deloitte.
Discover: How to Get Into Case Western
Staff also does an exceptional job hooking students up with hands-on learning experiences; 73% of graduates had one experiential learning opportunity and 62% partook in two. Almost 950 students participated in the University Professional Co-op/Internship Program with the school’s 450 employer partners. An additional 1,300 participated in other co-op placements, and 95% reported being satisfied with the experience. As a result, 94% of those receiving diplomas believe their resumes demonstrate marketable skills.
Learn more details about Clarkson’s Co-Op & Internship opportunities.
Among surveyed graduates, 88% had a co-op experience that was relevant to their current job, and 89% were satisfied with their positions. More importantly, 53% of students received a job offer from one of their co-op employers. Placements are available in 21 states and 45 countries, and partner organizations include major players like Goldman Sachs, Lockheed Martin, and Exelon.
Explore Drexel’s Undergraduate Co-Op in more detail.
Florida State University
Florida State’s internship participation rate was 68% for the Class of 2020. An impressive 7,700+ students obtain internship/co-op positions, and close to 8,600 students find other opportunities for experiential learning.
Discover: How to Get Into FSU
George Washington University
Internships are completed by two-thirds of undergraduates and over half are either paid or awarded a stipend for their work. Thanks to the university’s far-reaching connections and prime location, internships are procured at thousands of different companies/organizations each year, from the US Congress to the Smithsonian to the NFL Players Association.
Discover: How to Get Into George Washington University
Internships and co-op programs receive some of the highest marks in the country. Thirty-five percent of undergrads choose to enter the school’s three-semester co-op program, which leads to a five-year degree, while many others complete a one- or two-semester internship. In an average year, the Career Center places over 1,000 students in internships and another 1,300+ in co-op programs.
Discover: How to Get Into Georgia Tech
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
With assistance from the MIT Career Advising and Professional Development office, 85% of MIT undergraduates complete at least one internship. Almost one-quarter of those participating in internships received a full-time job offer from that same organization.
Discover: How to Get Into MIT
North Carolina State University
The greatest number of students reported that their internship/externship had been most helpful in their job search (43%) followed by a career fair at NC State (29%). In the Poole College of Management, the co-op/internship completion rate was 85%. Co-op participation is encouraged, and students can complete up to three alternating semesters of paid work experience. NC State offers 1,000 different work rotations, making it one of the largest university co-op programs in the country.
Discover: How to Get Into NC State
500+ students participate in a co-op program overseas. Perhaps the most impactful role of this office is to facilitate co-op placements. Ninety-seven percent of NU graduates spend at least one semester in a co-op placement, and 50% of students receive a job offer from their co-op partner; 3,000+ employers participate each year.
Discover: How to Get Into Northeastern
The Industry Roundtable, held every September, is the largest student-run career fair in the United States, drawing 400 companies and 12,000+ students. Purdue also offers fairs for aviation, civil engineering, hospitality/tourism, aerospace, and construction management. This robust operation brings a total of 1,400 employers to campus each year for recruiting and/or on-campus interviews. Internship numbers are equally impressive—84% of 2020 grads engaged in at least one internship experience during their four years of study; over one-quarter completed more than one.
Discover: How to Get Into Purdue
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI)
Internship and co-op opportunities abound, and large numbers of recent students land co-op positions at Hasbro (27), NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (10), and Walt Disney World (7). Roughly 5,000 students per year utilize the career services offered by RPI which led to 84% of 2021 grads quickly finding their next employment or graduate school endeavor.
Discover: How to Get Into RPI
Rochester Institute of Technology
The co-op program is the fourth oldest in the country, and just about all students complete a one- or two-semester paid learning experience after finishing their first two years of academic study. The co-op program, more than a century old, saw 1,300+ participants participate in co-op last year, even in the throes of the pandemic, with employers from all fifty states and forty countries. The list of co-op and internship partners is incredible—Boeing, the CIA, EY, Fisher Price, Walt Disney World, SpaceX, NASA, Google, and literally dozens of other equally impressive organizations.
Explore the RIT co-op offerings in more detail.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Last year, 94% of seniors had at least one opportunity for experiential learning via undergraduate research, co-op placement (50+ companies participate in the school’s co-op program), or an internship. As a result, top employers of recent graduates include Boston Scientific, Cook Group, Texas Instruments, Caterpillar, Honeywell, Raytheon, and Rolls Royce.
Discover more about Rose-Hulman’s internships and co-op here.
Stanford facilitates internships at over 700 unique sites. Close to half of all students complete two internships as part of their undergraduate education; two-thirds complete at least one. Major companies recruit interns on campus on a constant basis because (a) of the incredible talent pool and (b) the school is located in Silicon Valley, home to most of the world’s largest tech companies.
Discover: How to Get Into Stanford
Stevens Institute of Technology
It is rare for Stevens students to not complete at least one internship over their four years of study. Ninety percent of undergrads in the School of Business land internships. The co-op track is selected by 30% of all students. This experience entails working a forty-hour paid work week beginning in the sophomore year. Graduates find employment or graduate school homes at a 95% rate within six months of receiving their degree.
Explore the Co-op program at Stevens in more detail.
For more information about where graduates of particular colleges most frequently land jobs, visit our Dataverse page entitled Where Alumni Work.
Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).