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Co-op and Professional Development in Public Health

Cooperative Education Programs

Drexel University’s Co-op program—which has been combining classroom learning with work experience for more than 100 years —provides public health undergraduate students with up to six months of valuable, résumé-enhancing experience in their discipline, while building a professional network.

Co-op is essential for career development. There is no better way to gain real-world experience than by working at some of the leading academic and industry labs, acquiring techniques, skills, and contacts 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: An Integral Part of the Drexel Education

A special video featuring 2022 Cooperative Education student award winners gave public health major Fatou Diabira an opportunity to share thoughts on the value of co-op, which "puts what you're studying in action."  

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

"One 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.

Sample Four-Year Schedule for Undergraduate Co-op Students

four year curriculum sample schedule

Examples of Recent Public Health Co-op Employers Include:

  • Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
  • Drexel University (various roles)
  • Foundation for Advancement of International Medical Education
  • Independence Blue Cross
  • Joseph J. Peters Institute
  • Philadelphia Mental Health Care Corporation
  • Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO)
  • Merck
  • SEPTA
  • School District of Philadelphia
  • Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
  • University of Pennsylvania (research assistants)

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. Drexel University is also invested in helping students find international public health co-ops; our students are quick to take advantage of these opportunities.

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.

Learn more about Drexel's Co-op program

Finding a Virtual Public Health Co-op Opportunity

Drexel’s co-op program remains a key part of an undergraduate student’s career development. When some public health co-ops shifted to a virtual format, co-op still provided 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.

“It's a challenge to go into a brand-new work setting and not go on site or be in the same proximity as your supervisor and your new coworkers. I think our students have demonstrated a great deal of resilience as it relates to adapting to virtual onboarding and to a new work environment and to a new learning environment,” said Ian Sladen, vice president of Cooperative Education and Career Development at Drexel.

Read more experiences of undergraduate students who completed their co-op programs remotely in A New Kind of Co-op.

Professional Development for Public Health Students

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

The Office of Student Affairs offers professional and career development programs and events that promote growth and preparation for career success throughout the year. These 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.

Global Engagement in Public Health

See the world differently through Drexel’s study abroad programs.

Public health students have travelled to various countries, including Costa Rica, France, and England, just to name a few.

Program options include intensive courses (generally during break weeks) and full-term study abroad programs.

Learn more about study abroad opportunities for Drexel undergraduates

Public health majors have also participated in international co-op and the Dornsife Global Development Scholars program to engage in global health.


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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Anna Bostwick in Autism Institute lab

Video: A Co-op Combines Public Health and Chemistry to Study Autism

Anna Bostwick's co-op at Drexel's Autism Institute has shown her how science and public health can work together.

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