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Co-op and Professional Development in Public Health

What Is a Cooperative Education Program?

A cooperative education program—also commonly referred to as “co-op”—is a professional work experience that is completed during college and is relevant to a student's major. Drexel University’s co-op program has a track record of combining classroom learning with real-world experience for more than 100 years.

Drexel Co-op at the Dornsife School of Public Health is a paid internship that provides public health undergraduate students with up to six months of valuable, résumé-enhancing experience in their discipline.

Why Is a Co-op Program Important in Public Health?

A co-op program is essential for career development and advancement in a professional setting. It helps students discover what they love to do (and don't love to do) with their future career plans. There is no better way to gain real-world experience than by working at some of the leading academic and industry labs, acquiring techniques and skills, and building a professional network for their public health careers after Drexel.

An article in Inside Higher Ed said that the co-op model has made institutions like Drexel "more desirable than ever before with graduates, who are more likely to have multiple job offers than none at all."

Co-op at Drexel Dornsife: An Integral Part of a Drexel Education

Cooperative education gives public health majors an opportunity to put what they're studying into action.

Dornsife alum Mariah Menanno talks about the benefits of co-op in Drexel's "Preparing for a Changing World" video below.

"Once I went on co-op, I was able to connect concepts that we would learn in class with real-life examples...Even though I don't yet have any letters behind my name I still feel comfortable in a work setting speaking up and giving my opinion," said Menanno.

Drexel's Public Health Co-ops By the Numbers


of Dornsife students were employed on co-op in 2021–22


of Dornsife graduates are working or enrolled in graduate or professional education


of Dornsife co-op participants were satisfied with their position's level of responsibility

View more Drexel Dornsife co-op and career fast facts compiled by the Steinbright Career Development Center.

Why Is Professional Development Important in Public Health?

Professional development assistance is a key strategic priority of the public health program at Drexel Dornsife.

College is about learning, growing as a person, and developing our critical thinking and reasoning skills. But it is also about preparing for the world after college, whether that involves a job, a graduate degree, or other adventure. The wonderful thing about a degree in public health is that it prepares students for a vast range of professions and graduate studies. But choosing from that range is not always easy, and in the modern world, it never hurts to do everything to prepare for the job market or to get the most information for graduate school.

Drexel Dornsife's Office of Education offers professional and career development programs and events that promote growth and preparation for career success throughout the year. There are opportunities to receive resume reviews, interview tips, headshots, and more. Other events connect students to employers, alumni, and community resources that help them build a network that supports their career aspirations.

Visit Career Services for an overview of programs and services for students.

Visit Events for a complete list of upcoming events at Dornsife.

How Long Are Co-Op Programs?

Generally, Drexel public health students are on co-op for a six-month period either on a full-time or part-time basis during the spring and summer of the third year.

Sample Four-Year Schedule for Undergraduate Co-op Students

A sample photo of the four year-curriculum at Drexel University Dornsife with a one year co-op portion

How to Find a Public Health Co-op Opportunity

We encourage our undergraduate students to find co-ops related to their public health interests but also to experiment with other fields; co-op is an opportunity to try new experiences and find a career path that fits. One student might choose a co-op with a non-profit development agency, while another chooses a co-op with a pharmaceutical company.

Thinking of medicine as your career? Co-op is essential for further graduate studies, benefiting students prior to participating in Applied Practical Experiences while in graduate school. Gaining an understanding of public health is invaluable for anyone contemplating medicine. The benefit of co-op is also more immediate. Medical schools are looking for applicants who have real-world public health experiences. Drexel co-op sets pre-med students apart by focusing on skill development, critical thinking, and communication.

Examples of Recent Public Health Co-op Employers Include:

  • Aveanna Healthcare 
  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
  • CSL Behring
  • Drexel University (various roles)
  • ELAP Services
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Independence Blue Cross
  • Organon
  • PatientWing
  • Merck
  • RWJBarnabas Health
  • University of Pennsylvania (research assistants)
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Drexel's public health students receive one-on-one guidance in order to find a co-op that matches their overall career goals.

Global Engagement in Public Health

Drexel is also invested in helping students find international public health co-ops; our students at Dornsife are quick to take advantage of the opportunities through the Steinbright Career Development Center's international co-op program.

Public health majors have also participated in international co-op through our Dornsife Global Development Scholars program in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Drexel’s co-op program is a key part of an undergraduate student’s career development. Co-op provides valuable real-world experience and a competitive edge over those at other universities who may graduate without full-time job training in the field of public health.

Learn more about Drexel's Co-op program

Are There Requirements to Qualify for a Co-Op Program?

Students must have successfully completed a co-op intro class (COOP 101 or COOP 001), which prepares them to succeed in their co-operative education experience. Topics include resume development, interview techniques, job search strategies, and more.

Review more about Drexel co-op eligibility.

How to Apply to a Drexel Dornsife Co-Op Program

Drexel's Steinbright Career Development Center (SCDC) helps students coordinate the steps to find and apply to co-ops. View SCDC's Undergraduate Co-op Calendar for the important dates in each co-op cycle. 

If you are interested in learning more about Drexel Dornsife’s undergraduate public health degree programs and co-op opportunities, request more information to speak with a member of our admissions team.

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Arya Amaro looks at data on a laptop

Student Recognized as 2023 Cooperative Education Award Winner

A Dornsife public health major was recognized as one of this year's Co-op Education Award winners and featured in a new Drexel video about the value of Co-op.

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