Wayne State College
Career Scholars students study in the library

Career Scholars Program

Receive a generous scholarship package over four years and help strengthen the future workforce of Nebraska.
Apply by Feb. 1, 2022, for the 2022-23 school year.

Reimagining Cooperative Education.

Cooperative education is a method of combining classroom education with real work experience for college credit. At its core, the Career Scholars Program supports workforce and economic development in Nebraska. The program offers you an opportunity to afford your four-year degree while also providing you with career experience. You must be passionate about earning a degree in business, information technology, electronic media, journalism, education, or industrial technology and want an opportunity to have a robust, year-long hands-on learning experience.

Program overview

Why join the program?

  • Receive a scholarship ranging from $2,500-$15,000 per year toward tuition and housing
  • Earn college credit while getting paid to work during your senior year
  • Gain real-world paid experience in your career field
  • Network with businesses to find and secure meaningful employment after graduation
  • Practice skills learned in class
  • Develop relationships with like-minded students in a community living environment
  • Discover your place after college and grow professionally in a vibrant community

Apply for the Program

Learn by doing

Your journey as a cooperative education student begins your freshman year at Wayne State College. During your time here, you’ll participate in career readiness activities, including business site visits and job shadowing, all while learning the fundamentals of professional practice. After three years on campus at Wayne State, you’ll complete your senior year while living in Norfolk, Grand Island, or Columbus, Nebraska, where you’ll be hired and mentored by one of our participating business cohorts. You’ll earn 18 credit hours while working 30 hours per week at a paid job using skills relevant to your degree.

  Icon droparrow programs

Freshman year

  • Participate in a freshman living-learning community.
  • Learn the foundations of cooperative education and career readiness
  • Learn and demonstrate the competencies desired most by employers
  • Network with business leaders in Norfolk, Grand Island, or Columbus

Sophomore year

  • Participate in a sophomore living-learning community
  • Work on soft skill development while employer engagement continues
  • Opportunities for professional development and upskilling
  • Mentor incoming program freshmen

Junior year

  • Continue soft skill and career readiness development with Career Services
  • Participate in mock interviews and job interviews and engage with businesses
  • Collaborate with employers, faculty, and co-op director to define learning outcomes
  • Have an employer hire and mentor you, and begin the senior year onboarding process

Senior year

  • Transition to co-op employment in Norfolk, Grand Island, or Columbus
  • Work up to 30 hours per week and “learn by doing” with hands-on experience
  • Collaborate with the co-op director and employer to ensure learning objectives are met
  • Have regular meetings with the co-op director and complete mid-term and final reflections

Participating Communities in the Program

A new cohort in Columbus, Nebraska, is coming soon!
Columbus, Nebraska, has been named a “Top 100 Best Small Towns to Live” multiple times, according to CNN/Money Magazine, as well as an excellent place to find employment. The city is known for its manufacturing industry, culturally diverse population, and great schools, health care, community amenities, and friendly people.

Columbus Program

Home to the Nebraska State Fair, the region of Grand Island is the 3rd largest metro area in Nebraska. The city is known for its strong economy, growing population, diversity, and ample outdoor activities. Grand Island features a wide variety of popular stores and restaurants, and offers excellent schools and health care. People in the community are considered welcoming and friendly.

Grand Island Program

Norfolk, Nebraska, offers the charm and hospitality of a small town and the opportunities of a big city. The city has invested $40 million in its downtown riverfront toward the development of affordable housing units for young people, along with Norfolk’s version of Aksarben Village. Norfolk boasts a strong labor force with leading employers, and a safe, welcoming atmosphere conducive to raising a family.

Norfolk Program

"I cannot express how important I think this program is. Within the short while I’ve been in the Career Scholars program, I’ve already learned skills that will help me throughout my entire professional career. It’s an accelerated program and is definitely keeping me busy, but I love every second of learning. The program is also amazing for the social aspect. In every class I am taking, there is someone else in the program as well, so it’s like having a built-in study partner. I plan on staying in Northeast Nebraska because it is where I feel at home."


Abigail Gardner

Career Scholars Participant - Norfolk
Program of Study - Business Management


Dr. Michael Keibler
Executive Director of Cooperative Education, Industry Liaison
Hahn Administration, Room 208