Cooperative Education and Internships

Contact Information

Faculty Coordinator/Instructor of Record

Prof. Margot McDonald, 
Prof. Andrew Goodwin,  

Staff Coordinator
Arlene Gomez,


Co-operative education (co-op) is a type of field experience. Students doing a co-op receive academic credit while acquiring professional skills and earning an income. A co-op, however, is more than a job; it is a workplace-based learning opportunity that is supported by student observation and reflection. For Cal Poly purposes, the terms co-op and internship are used interchangeably.

Finding a Co-op/Internship

Co-ops and internships have traditionally been self-initiated opportunities, with students approaching employers directly.

Architecture students can find opportunities at the following locations:

Not surprisingly, Architecture students usually do co-ops and internships with architects, but this is not always the case. The department recognizes that work experience with other design and construction professionals — building departments, city planners, construction managers, architectural/structural engineers, and landscape architects — may contribute to a professional education. Students may propose co-ops with such professionals, subject to approval by the faculty coordinator.

Starting A Co-op/Internship

  1. Students proposing to do a co-op or internship should start by reviewed the co-op requirements posted online and select a co-op/internship firm. The resources above can assist students in finding a firm.  If you need further assistance, you are welcome to come into Architecture office or contact Arlene Gomez,, 805-756-1316.
  2. Once the firm has been determined, students complete the Cooperative Education/Internship Application (download and save this form to your computer prior to completing).
  3. Students must download the Experience Areas & Tasks form and review it with their firm supervisor, checking off the boxes that correspond to the categories, areas and tasks that they can expect to address in their co-op/internship. This outline must be attached to their application. Students will be asked to review the outline in their final end-of-quarter reflection.
  4. Download, complete and sign the CP Release of Liability form.
  5. Download the Site Self Assessment Form, have firm supervisor complete, sign; Student signs; Return back to Arlene Gomez - who will obtain Faculty Department signature.
  6. Submit all forms to the staff coordinator, Arlene Gomez (; students will receive an email confirmation. If the faculty coordinator approves, then the student will receive registration instructions.
  7. International students: Please review the Cal Poly International Center's website for student employment guidelines:

To receive credit for a co-op or internship, students must be enrolled in the appropriate course while they are working. Students have until the add/drop deadline of the appropriate quarter to enroll, but they must start work by the first day of class.

Students may repeat the co-op/internship courses or take more than one type of course, but the catalog limits major credit for such courses to 20 units and total credit to 24 units.

Co-op/internship courses are considered professional electives. Because the BARCH curriculum includes only 16 units of such electives, co-op/internship courses are effectively limited to 16 units.

Credit for ARCH 451/452/453

Students doing a full-time co-op or internship may apply to receive credit for ARCH 451/452/453. Students may do this for one quarter only.

During Fall, Winter, and Spring Quarters, students register for ARCH 451/452/453 (5 units) and may add ARCH 485 for professional elective credits. During Summer Quarter, students register for ARCH 485 (5 units) instead of ARCH 451/452/453.

Students electing this option must explain in their application how they will be engaged in significant and responsible work on at least one project under the direction of their co-op/internship supervisor. They must complete all the requirements of the normal co-op/internship (see below). Because they are receiving a letter grade for ARCH 451/452/453, their work is held to a higher standard than students electing to do a co-op or internship option alone.

Co-op/Internship Assignments

Arch 485 is a graded course. To receive credit, students must complete all of the following assignments and post them on CP Canvas: a daily forum, several in-progress memos and online web conferences, an end-of-quarter reflection, a resume, a portfolio of work completed during the co-op/internship, a supervisor’s evaluation, and a self-evaluation.  The course CP Canvas site has the most current course requirements and deadlines.

Students should post all their submittals according to the schedule. The faculty coordinator assigns a grade based on the quality of these submittals and the students’ participation in the two group meetings.

If students need additional time to complete their submittals, or if for some legitimate reason they cannot attend the meetings, the faculty coordinator may record a temporary RP grade until all the requirements of the courses have been met.

Architectural Experience Program

Students who are participating in a co-ops or internships may have the opportunity to apply their work experience by establishing a record with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) towards Architectural Experience Program (AXP) credit. Students can do this for a nominal fee. See the AXP Guidelines at

For more information about the AXP program, contact Professor Greg Wynn, the department’s AXP advisor, and see NCARB’s AXP webpage


Updated 08.27.2021

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