Internship? Co-op? Practicum? Clinical? Part-time Job? Some ways to know the differences

Internships in your field of study are career- connected work experiences that provide hands on learning experiences that are often more substantial that a part-time job. Students may either design, deliver, manage, or evaluate a specific project as part of their work experience or partake in and contribute to the regular day-to-day activities of the workplace. Internships are varied and can be paid or unpaid, for credit or non-credit, part-time (usually during the semester 5 – 10 hrs or more a week) or full-time (usually 10 – 12 weeks during the summer).  Each academic department at UMass Lowell oversees the diverse opportunities available for internship credit in their major.  Students can also do internships independent of the university.

Review more detail about the variety of ways a student can do internships at UMass Lowell on the Career & Co-op Office internship website. 

Cooperative Education (co-op) is a full-time, job, in your field of study that enables you to apply classroom learning to professional work experience. The co-op program is a supervised, career- oriented structured program.  The most popular option is six contiguous months (July – December or January – June). However, two summer work experiences are an option. A co-op is always paid and must be about 35 – 40 hours per week. On average, students on a 6 month co-op have earned $24,000.  Students are not typically enrolled in any courses during their co-op semester, but they maintain their full-time equivalent student status.  While students are out on co-op, tuition is waived since they are not enrolled in any credits. 

See the UMass Lowell’s undergraduate Professional Co-op Program site for more detail about how the program is structured, who can participate, and how students can earn credit. 

Mandatory Professional Practicum/Clinical Placement involves work experience under the supervision of an experienced registered or licensed professional (e.g. preceptor) in any discipline that requires practice-based work experience for professional licensure or certification. Practica are generally unpaid and, as the work is done in a supervised setting, typically students do not have their own workload/caseload. This type of career-connected experience is most often seen in education and nursing.

Part-time Jobs are often primarily viewed as a way to earn income.  Many part-time jobs can range anywhere between 5 – 20 hours depending on the employer need and student availability.  Part-time jobs often extend beyond a traditional semester or defined cycle by the university.  Students seeking part-time jobs can look on-campus opportunities through Job Hawk or off-campus opportunities geared towards students seeking a degree on Handshake