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Colleges That Connect Work and Learning

Students wearing hard hats at work

Some colleges actively integrate classroom learning with learning from work experience. Sound interesting?

Do you want to investigate a career or do you simply like to learn through practical experiences? If "yes," consider colleges that offer experiential learning programs.

Three Types of Programs That Integrate Work and Study

Cooperative education. Cooperative (co-op) education programs integrate classroom learning and work experiences throughout your college years. Co-op students alternate periods of work in the field with periods of academic instruction on campus. The work is often paid.

Internships. Internship programs help students find temporary work that relates to their studies. Some programs integrate classroom work into the internship and even dedicate blocks of time in which all students participate in internship experiences.

Service learning. Many colleges strongly encourage or even require community service work. Service learning programs link that service to academic instruction. Work experiences may take place during the academic session or during breaks between sessions.

What to Look for in a Program

Almost all colleges offer internships and volunteer programs. Look for colleges where these programs are integrated with the academic curriculum and supervised by professors. The college should evaluate the work experiences as well as encourage and support your participation.

How to Find Colleges with Experiential Learning Programs

Look first for colleges that interest you in other ways and then evaluate their internship, co-op, and service learning opportunities.

  • To find out if a college has an internship or cooperative education program, check its College Profile on CollegeData. Look under "Special Programs" on the Academics page.
  • Search the college's website. At some colleges, you'll find experiential learning programs in certain academic departments, such as engineering and education.
  • Consult the resources below for lists of colleges with experiential learning programs.

Resources for Finding Experiential Learning Programs

What's Next?

Since so many colleges offer hands-on learning experiences, use College Match to search for colleges using your other preferences. Then check the College Profile and the college website to see which ones integrate work experience into their instructional programs.

Look at Is a Combined Degree Program Right for You? to learn about programs that can put you on the fast track to an advanced professional degree.

The information contained on the CollegeData website is for general informational purposes only and may not apply to you or your situation. You should not act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content contained on the CollegeData website without consulting with your parents, high school counselors, admissions representatives or other college counseling professionals. We disclaim all liability for actions you take or fail to take based on any content on the CollegeData website.