Degree Program Learning Outcomes

Select a degree program below to see that program’s Learning Outcomes

Behavioral Neuroscience, B.S. Bioinformatics, M.S. Biochemistry, B.S. Biology, B.S.
Biology, M.S. Biology, Ph.D. Biotechnology, M.S. Chemistry, B.S.
Chemistry, M.S.
Chemistry, Ph.D.
Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, Ph.D. Environmental Science, B.S.
Environmental Studies, B.A.
Linguistics, B.S. Marine Biology, B.S. Marine Biology, M.S.
Mathematics, B.A./B.S. Mathematics, M.S. Mathematics, Ph.D. Physics, B.S.
Physics, M.S. Physics, Ph.D. Applied Physics, B.S. Biomedical Physics, B.S.
Psychology, B.S. Psychology, Ph.D.

Behavioral Neuroscience, B.S.

Behavioral Neuroscience focuses on the biological basis of behavior. The Bachelor of Science degree program in Behavioral Neuroscience is an interdisciplinary undergraduate major between the Departments of Psychology and Biology that is designed to provide a research-based undergraduate education for students with an interest in the biological basis of behavior. The program combines the disciplines of biology and psychology to appreciate the scope of behavior and then understand how the behavior of humans and animals is controlled by physiological systems. Course work in the major is designed to provide an understanding of nerve cells, chemical neurotransmission, and neural circuits as well as fundamental biological processes such as inheritance, development, and physiology and then to see how these biological mechanisms give rise to normal and pathological behavior. The curriculum includes a strong background in biology, psychology, chemistry and mathematics and prepares students for higher degree granting programs in graduate or medical school.  In addition, students with a bachelor’s degree are qualified for employment in a variety of fields from clinical and basic research to positions in health care or biotechnology.

To achieve its goals, the program provides academic courses and seminar- and laboratory-based experiences that span the breadth of behavioral neuroscience, while also providing in-depth explorations that meet the needs and specific interests of the students.

The curricular structure of the program is modeled to provide a progression of academic building blocks.

  • The curriculum begins by requiring a series of Principle Foundation courses whose purpose and progression is to provide a foundation in the basic sciences. The first set of these courses comprise a series of “Introductory” courses that focus on a range of essential basic science content areas, including psychology, biology, chemistry, and mathematics.
  • Once students have shown proficiency in these basic science areas, they are required to complete a set of “Intermediate” courses that focus on a range of focused, more advanced content areas pertinent to the discipline, including biological psychology, statistics, genetics, and organic chemistry. 
  • Once the foundational coursework in the introductory and intermediate areas is completed, students are offered a choice of advanced topic area courses in behavioral neuroscience. These courses comprise the Behavioral Neuroscience Core section of the curriculum, whose purpose is to provide a comprehensive, yet flexible, education in broad areas of study that encompass behavioral neuroscience. Coursework in the Core are offered primarily by the Psychology and Biology Departments with the College of Science, and include courses in psychopharmacology, behavioral endocrinology, clinical neuroscience, neuroethology, comparative neurobiology, and computational neuroscience. Behavioral Neuroscience students are also offered the opportunity to take a highly-acclaimed course in neuroanatomy offered by the Physical Therapy Department in the Bouve College of Science.
  • In parallel to the Core, students are required to take the two Advanced Elective courses in Psychology and Biology to augment their education in these two important principle disciplines, and one Specialty course, i.e., advanced laboratory or seminar course in the area of psychology or biology. As designed, the curriculum is organized in a hierarchical form with increasing depth of course content that builds upon the previous levels but at the same time allows for considerable flexibility, particularly in the Behavioral Neuroscience Core, Advanced Elective, and Specialty course requirements.

With this overall structure, students can select courses to focus in depth on a specialized direction of the discipline (e.g., psychological vs. biological) or select a series of courses that more deeply integrates these areas.

The Behavioral Neuroscience program incorporates experiential education to enhance the student’s education. Behavioral Neuroscience students are encouraged to participate in hands-on research in laboratories within Northeastern University or academic research laboratories in university or medical facilities within Boston or in industrial research laboratories within pharmaceutical laboratories in the Boston area. Over 90% of behavioral neuroscience majors take advantage of the co-op program, an educational model that allows students to alternate periods of full-time academic study with periods of full-time work in a variety of settings including scientific and medical research laboratories, medical and counseling clinics, and businesses focused on health care policy and practice.

Specific Program Outcomes

  • Exhibit knowledge of main theoretical perspectives and major findings across broad areas of neuroscience, e.g., anatomical, behavioral, developmental, clinical, comparative, and computational.
  • Show depth of knowledge in self-selected specific areas of study within behavioral neuroscience.
  • Read and critique scientific articles, develop effective scientific writing skills, and deliver effective oral presentations.
  • Exhibit working knowledge of the diverse forms of descriptive, correlational and experimental research methods used in behavioral neuroscience.
  • Apply some of the major research methods, experimental designs, and analysis techniques used to investigate specific questions.
  • Develop testable research questions.
  • Exhibit skills in analyzing data, interpreting data, and communicating findings.
  • Demonstrate the use of appropriate statistical/quantitative techniques for data analysis.
  • Describe ethical issues involved in conducting research in clinical vs. basic science, including issues pertaining to human subjects and animal care and use.
  • Describe connections with other disciplines, e.g., computer science, theoretical physics, health sciences, sport and society, sociology.

 

Bioinformatics, M.S.

  • Students in Bioinformatic acquire advanced bioinformatic programming skills using real-world examples in individual and group-based class projects.
  • Students apply their bioinformatic programming skills in the workplace during their coop internships.
  • Students communicate effectively about bioinformatics, both verbally and in writing.
  • Students develop into capable independent researchers for academia and industry.

 

Biochemistry, B.S.

  • Evolution
    • The central importance of the theory of evolution and all biological sciences. Students should be able to describe examples of evolution to a lay audience, value the principles of evolution through natural selection as foundational to biochemistry and molecular biology, and defend these principles in their work schools, and communities.
    • The basics of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Students should be able to state the basic principles of the Theory of Evolution.
    • The process of natural selection. Students should be able to use the tools of biochemistry and molecular biology (including databases of biological molecules and functional assays) to explain changes in traits, adaptations, and the success or failure of organisms and species.
    • Evidence for the Theory of Evolution. Students should be able to analyze preexisting or novel data and relate the findings in light of the Theory of Evolution.
    • The molecular basis of natural selection. Students should be able to describe what a mutation is at the molecular level, and how it comes about, be able to predict how changes in a nucleotide sequence can influence the expression of a gene or the amino acid sequence of the gene produce (protein) and be able to translate these findings into a conclusion about how said mutation would impact the general fitness of an organism or population.
  • Biological Information
    • The genome. Students should be able to define what a genome consists of, and how the information in the various genes and other sequence classes within each genome are used to store and express genetic information.
    • Information in the gene: nucleotide sequence to biological function. Students should be able to explain the central dogma of biology and relate the commonality of the process to all of life.
    • Genome transmission from one generation to the next. Students should be able to illustrate how DNA is replicated and genes are transmitted from one generation to the next in multiple types of organisms including bacteria, eukaryotes, viruses, and retroviruses.
    • Genome maintenance. Students should be able to state how the cell ensures high fidelity DNA replication and identify instances where the cell employs mechanism for damage repair.
  • Homeostasis
    • Biological need for homeostasis. Students should be able to define homeostasis and  explain its central importance for biological systems.
    • Link steady state processes and homeostasis. Students should be able to relate the laws of thermodynamics to homeostasis and explain how the cell or organism maintains homeostasis (a system seemingly in equilibrium) using non-equilibrium mechanisms.
    • Quantifying homeostasis. Students should be able to identify processes by which living systems exchange energy and matter with their surroundings and how they are measured quantitatively
    • Organization of chemical processes. Students should be able to identify chemical processes with particular features of living systems and describe the nature of the chemical process
    • Control mechanisms. Students should be able to summarize the different levels of control (including reaction compartmentalization, gene expression, covalent modification of key enzymes, allosteric regulation of key enzymes, substrate availability and proteolytic cleavage), and relate these different levels of control to homeostasis.
    • Cellular and organismal homeostasis. Students should be able to describe homeostasis at the level of the cell, organism, or system of organisms and hypothesize how the system would react to deviations from homeostasis.
  • Macromolecular Structure and Function
    • Biological macromolecules are large and complex. Students should be able to discuss the diversity and complexity of various biologically relevant macromolecules and macromolecular assemblies in terms of the basic repeating units of the polymer and the types of linkages between them.
    • Structure is determined by several factors. Students should be able to discuss the chemical and physical relationships between sequence and structure of macromolecules and evaluate chemical and energetic contributions to the appropriate levels of structure of the macromolecule and predict the effects of specific alterations of structure on the dynamic properties of the molecule.
    • Structure and function are related. Students should be able to examine a structure of a macromolecule-ligand complex and predict the determinants of specificity and affinity and design experiments to test their hypothesis, explaining the basis of the proposed experiments and discussing potential results in the context of the hypothesis.
    • Macromolecular interactions. Students should be able to summarize the different ways in which biomolecules interact
    • Macromolecular structures are dynamic. Students should be able to describe the different dynamic processes that a macromolecule can undergo
    • Some macromolecules are intrinsically unstructured. Students should be able to explain the role of disorder in the biological function of macromolecules
    • Macromolecular function is subject to regulation. Students should be able to compare and contrast the potential ways in which the function of a macromolecule might be affected and be able to discuss examples of allosteric regulation, covalent regulation and gene level alterations of macromolecular structure/function.
  • Matter and Energy Transformation
    • The many forms of energy involved in biological processes. Students should be able to identify the major means by which energy is stored and exchanged in biological processes
    • Catalysis. Students should be able to apply their knowledge of basic chemical thermodynamics to biologically catalyze systems, quantitatively model how these reactions occur, and calculate kinetic parameters from experimental data.
    • Coupling exergonic and endergonic processes. Students should be able to discuss the concepts of Gibbs free energy, and how to apply it to chemical transformations, be able to identify which steps of metabolic pathways are exergonic and which are endergonic and relate the energetics of the reactions to each other.
    • The nature of biological energy. Students should be able to show how reactions that proceed with large negative changes in free energy can be used to render other biochemical processes more favorable.

 

Biology, B.S.

Students will be able to:

  • Explain core concepts for biological literacy including: evolution; biological structure-function relationships; information flow; pathways and transformations of energy and matter; interconnectedness and interactions of living systems
  • Apply the process of science
    • Formulate hypotheses
    • Design experiments with attention to controls
    • Test hypotheses using experiments and observations
    • Interpret and evaluate data
    • Participate in authentic research experiences
  • Use quantitative reasoning, modeling, and simulation
    • Understand quantitative approaches to biology, including statistics, analysis of dynamic systems, and mathematical modeling
    • Understand how mathematical and computational tools can be used to describe complex living systems
    • Practice using quantitative skills and/or computer modeling to address biological problems
  • Participate in interdisciplinary science
    • Understand how integrating across levels of biological organization can lead to greater insights into biological processes
    • Understand that other disciplines, including computer science and social science, can inform our understanding of biology
    • Apply concepts, both across biology and outside of biology, that demonstrate interdisciplinary understanding
    • Develop skills for participating in research teams
  • Effectively collaborate and communicate in the scientific arena
    • Interpret and communicate complex biological concepts
    • Critically evaluate scientific literature and communicate research findings to broad audiences
    • Possess skills in effective communication, including writing, visual interpretation, and oral presentation
  • Appreciate the feedbacks between science and society
    • Understand the need for biological research to address pressing societal concerns
    • Critically evaluate the impacts of discoveries on society
    • Participate in discussions on the ethical implications of biological research

 

Biology, M.S.

Our M.S. program has the overarching outcome of developing independent research capacity, through the defined outcomes outlined below:

  • Graduate-level understanding of basic disciplinary concepts
    • Direct Measures:
      • Course grades
      • M.S. Thesis
      • Proposal preparation and committee meeting
    • Indirect Measures:
      • Proposal preparation and committee meeting
      • Annual presentations of research
  • Major Finding(s) from recent review:
    • Need for graduate level course work in multiple core areas of Biology
  • Actions:
    • Implementation of a core curriculum that develops mastery within two major domains of biology
    • Ability to formulate a research plan
      • Direct Measures:
        • Grade in BIOL 7382 Research Problem Solving, Scientific Writing and Communication
        • Written thesis proposal
      • Indirect Measures:
        • Annual presentations of research
  • Major Findings from recent review:
    • Graduate skills course was needed
    • Accelerated progress in developing a thesis plan was needed.
  • Actions:
    • Development of new course: BIOL 7382 Research Problem Solving, Scientific Writing and Communication
    • Requirement to formally select advisor was accelerated (from beginning of second year to end of first year).
    • Ability to orally communicate research plans and progress
      • Direct Measures:
        • Grade in BIOL 7382 Research Problem Solving, Scientific Writing and Communication
        • Thesis proposal presentation
      • Indirect Measures:
        • Annual research presentation and annual committee meetings
        • Presentation at national and international meetings (frequently occurs, but not required)
  • Major Finding(s) from recent review:
    • Graduate skills course was needed.
    • Annual committee meetings were needed.
  • Actions:
    • Development of new course: BIOL 7382 Research Problem Solving, Scientific Writing and Communication
    • Requirement to present research annually
    • Ability to conduct independent research
      • Direct Measures:
        • Annual research presentation
        • M.S. Thesis
      • Indirect measures:
        • Publication of a first- author, peer-reviewed research article (frequently occurs, but not required)
        • Presentation at national and international meetings (frequently occurs, but not required)
  • Major findings from recent review:
    • Accelerated progress in initiating thesis research was needed.
    • Requirement to formally select advisor was accelerated (from beginning of second year to end of first year).
  • Action:
    • Requirement to formally select advisor was accelerated (from beginning of second year to end of first year).

 

Biology, Ph.D.

Our doctoral program has the overarching learning outcome of mastering independent research, through the defined outcomes outlined below:

  • Graduate-level understanding of basic disciplinary concepts
    • Direct Measures:
      • Course grades
      • Ph.D. written exam
      • Ph.D. oral qualifying exam
    • Indirect Measures:
      • Proposal preparation, Annual presentations of research
      • Annual committee meetings
  • Major Finding(s) from recent review:
    • Need for graduate level course work in multiple core areas of Biology
    • Written exam needs to better assess analytical and critical thinking.
  • Actions:
    • Implementation of a core curriculum that develops mastery within two major domains of biology
    • Revision of written exam, strongly based on primary literature
    • Ability to formulate a research plan
      • Direct Measures:
        • Grade in BIOL 7382 Research Problem Solving, Scientific Writing and Communication
        • Written PhD proposal
    • Indirect Measures:
      • Annual presentations of research
  • Major Findings:
    • Accelerated progress in developing dissertation plan was needed.
    • Graduate skills course was needed.
  • Actions:
    • Requirement to formally select advisor was accelerated.
    • Timetable of written exam was moved forward in curriculum
    • Development of new first-year course: BIOL 7382 Research Problem Solving, Scientific Writing and Communication
    • Ability to orally communicate research plans and progress
      • Direct Measures:
        • Grade in BIOL 7382 Research Problem Solving, Scientific Writing and Communication
        • Ph.D. proposal presentation
    • Indirect Measures:
      • Annual research presentation and annual committee meetings
      • Presentation at national and international meetings (frequently occurs, but not required)
  • Major Finding(s) from recent review:
    • Graduate skills course was needed.
    • Annual committee meetings were needed.
  • Actions:
    • Development of new course: BIOL 7382 Research Problem Solving, Scientific Writing and Communication
    • Requirement to effectively describe published research in multiple areas (via revised written exam)
    • Requirement to present research annually
    • Ability to conduct and publish independent research
      • Direct Measures:
        • Annual research presentation and annual committee meetings
        • Ph.D. dissertation
        • Publication of at least one first- author, peer-reviewed research articles (required)
    • Indirect Measures:
      • Presentation at national and international meetings (frequently occurs, but not required)
  • Major Finding(s) from recent review:
    • Publication of major dissertation findings before graduating needs to occur more regularly.
  • Actions:
    • New requirement (within last 3 years) for students to publish a first author paper before defending was implemented.

 

Biotechnology, M.S.

Learning outcomes for students graduating from the PSM in Biotechnology program at Northeastern University:

There are two sets of outcomes expected for students.  One set is for all students who have completed the program; the outcomes relate to the practices of biopharmaceutical manufacturing.  The second set of outcomes is track specific; students choose one of three tracks as a specialization within the program.

Overall learning outcomes:

  • Students are able to integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines (including process engineering and mathematics, chemistry, biology and business practices) to formulate comprehensive views of the workings of the biotechnology industry specifically biopharmaceuticals.
  • Students are able to apply such views to understand the process of value creation and the role of manufacturing in the biotechnology industry.
  • Students are able to apply common and best practices and techniques to plan and implement tasks for development of process and analytical procedures in biomanufacturing of pharmaceuticals.
  • Students are able to apply acquired skills to work as individual or team contributors in research and commercial biotechnology organizations.
  • Students are able to apply integrated knowledge in order to prioritize and select appropriate technical options, balancing business objectives with regulatory constraints, in the manufacturing of biopharmaceuticals.

Specific learning outcome for students in selected tracks:

  • Biopharmaceutical Analytical Sciences Track
    • Students are able to apply their experience and basic principles of common analytical techniques of protein molecular structures to engage in hands-on practices for implementation of such techniques to facilitate the development of biopharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Pharmaceutical Technologies Track
    • Students are able to apply their experience and basic principles of protein chemistry and molecular interactions to engage in hands-on practices to facilitate the development and manufacturing of biopharmaceutical formulations suitable for use as human therapeutics
  • Process Sciences Track
    • Students are able to apply their experience and basic principles of process units operations of recombinant protein production in hands-on practices for implementation of such techniques to facilitate the development of biopharmaceutical manufacturing

 

Chemistry, B.S.

Northeastern University chemistry majors earn a B.S. degree that is ACS certified. The ACS Committee on Professional Training is responsible for ensuring program outcomes of certified BS graduates are appropriate, and accomplished this by reviewing each program on a five-year schedule. As part of this review the department is required to submit detailed documentation for review by the committee including course syllabi, graded examinations, representative written assignments, and undergraduate research reports.

An undergraduate who matriculates from the Northeastern University Chemistry program is expected to meet the following criteria:

  • They should be able to navigate the scientific literature and databases. This includes being able to obtain information from and prepare experimental information for publication.
  • They should be able to design and execute new chemical experiments. The design and execution of the experiment should demonstrate an understanding of good laboratory practice (chemical hygiene, personal protective wear, etc.) and the proper handling of chemical waste streams.
  • They should be able to obtain and interpret experimental and spectroscopic data (e.g., NMR, IR, MS) related to their research. In addition, they should be able to describe the data and their interpretation in
    • laboratory and electronic notebooks,
    • scientific reports and
    • in oral presentations in seminars and at regional and national meetings of the American Chemical Society and other  professional organizations.
  • They should be able to use spectroscopic data to predict chemical structure and vice-versa.
  • They should be able to predict chemical properties from chemical structure and vice-versa.
  • In their interpretation of experimental data they should be able to distinguish between:
    • kinetic and thermodynamic phenomena,
    • single molecule and bulk properties and
    • experimental data and experimental noise.
  • They should be able to communicate their understanding of chemical principles to a lay audience. For instance,
    • they should to be able to explain how chemistry relates to the real world (e.g., economy, environment, healthcare, etc.);
    • they should be able to recognize and explain how their chemical education prepares them for their post-Northeastern career (e.g., job, graduate school, medical school).

 

Chemistry, M.S.

Northeastern University chemistry students earn an M.S. degree that is tied to professional standards articulated by the American Chemical Society (ACS). To assure these standards are met, M.S. students are required to present their work in both written (thesis) and oral (departmental seminar) form. The oral presentations are open to the public. The written thesis is reviewed and approved by a thesis committee of three faculty from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology (C&CB).

Masters graduates from C&CB are expected to meet the following performance standards.

  • They should be able to demonstrate in-depth knowledge of their specific field of research and accurately place it into the context of the existing literature.
  • They should demonstrate their ability to design and execute new chemical experiments with a high degree of sophistication. The design and execution of the experiment should demonstrate an understanding of good laboratory practice (chemical hygiene, personal protective wear, etc.) and the proper handling of chemical waste streams.
  • They should be able to obtain and interpret experimental and spectroscopic data (e.g., NMR, IR, MS) related to their research with a high degree of precision.
  • They should be able to use spectroscopic data to predict chemical structure and vice-versa.
  • They should be able to predict chemical properties from chemical structure and vice-versa.
  • In their interpretation of experimental data they should be able to distinguish between:
    • kinetic and thermodynamic phenomena,
    • single molecule and bulk properties and
    • experimental data and experimental noise.
  • They should be able to precisely describe the experiments they do and the results they obtain in laboratory notebooks (hard copy and electronic), and draw meaningful conclusions from the results of their work.
  • They should be able to draft technical documents describing their work and the results they obtained that are suitable for editing and eventual publication in peer reviewed scientific journals They are also prepared to give seminars and presentations at regional meetings of the American Chemical Society and at meetings of other professional organizations.
  • They should be able to communicate their understanding of chemical principles to a lay audience. For instance,
    • they should be able to articulate their future career path and how their research training situates them for this plan;
    • they should to be able to explain how chemistry relates to the real world (e.g., economy, environment, healthcare, etc.);
    • they should be able to recognize and explain how their expertise will be applicable in the execution of complex research problems.

 

Chemistry, Ph.D.

Northeastern University chemistry students earn a Ph.D. degree that is tied to professional standards articulated by the American Chemical Society (ACS). To assure these standards are met Ph.D. students are required to present their work in both written (thesis) and oral (defense) form. These presentations are open to the public and are overseen by a committee of experts usually consisting of faculty from the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, but often supplemented with faculty from other departments and from industry.

Doctoral graduates from C&CB are expected to meet the following performance standards.

  • They should be able to demonstrate expert knowledge of their specific field of research and accurately place it into the context of the existing literature.
  • They should demonstrate their ability to draw on previously published work to independently design and execute new chemical experiments with a high degree of sophistication. The design and execution of the experiment should demonstrate an understanding of good laboratory practice (chemical hygiene, personal protective wear, etc.) and the proper handling of chemical waste streams.
  • They should be able to obtain and interpret experimental and spectroscopic data (e.g., NMR, IR, MS) related to their research with a high degree of precision.
  • They should be able to use spectroscopic data to predict chemical structure and vice-versa.
  • They should be able to predict chemical properties from chemical structure and vice-versa.
  • In their interpretation of experimental data they should be able to distinguish between:
    • kinetic and thermodynamic phenomena,
    • single molecule and bulk properties, and
    • experimental data and experimental noise.
  • They should be able to precisely describe the experiments they do and the results they obtain in laboratory notebooks (hard copy and electronic), and to insightfully interpret the meaning and implication of their results in seminars and written technical reports.
  • They should be able to author manuscripts describing their research and its impacts that are suitable for publication in peer reviewed scientific journals, and are prepared to describe their research in presentations at national meetings of the American Chemical Society and at national and international symposia hosted by other professional organizations.
  • They should be able to communicate their understanding of chemical principles to a lay audience. For instance,
    • they should be able to articulate their future career path and how their research training situates them for this plan;
    • they should to be able to explain how chemistry relates to the real world (e.g., economy, environment, healthcare, etc.);
    • they should be able to recognize and explain how their expertise will be applicable in the execution of complex research problems.

 

Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology, Ph.D.

Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology trains independent scientists whose research addresses fundamental and applied questions at local, regional, national, and global scales. General and specialized coursework in ecology, evolution, and marine science, with curricular programs including both core and specialized options tailored to each student’s research interests. This coursework will serve as a foundation for the experiential, research-based dissertation that is the core of the doctoral degree. Our goal is to train researchers who can independently pursue the process of science and effectively apply their research to solve both basic questions in ecology, evolution, and marine biology and to apply their work to issues of relevance to society and the environment, especially in this era of global change.

Our students earn a Ph.D. degree that is tied to professional standards articulated by the Ecological Society of America (ESA), the Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO), the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB), and the American Society of Naturalists (ASN). To assure these standards are met Ph.D. students are required to present their work in both written (dissertation) and oral (defense) form. These presentations are open to the public and are overseen by a committee of experts consisting of faculty from the department plus an external committee member.

Doctoral candidates from EEMB are expected to meet the following performance standards:

  • Students must pass three examinations during the course of their graduate studies:
  1. a Written Examination consisting of questions posed by the student’s Written Examination Committee;
  2. an Oral Examination consisting of an oral presentation and defense of the student’s dissertation proposal and including questions about the research areas that the student proposes to work in; and
  3. a Defense of their written dissertation consisting of a public seminar, public question-and-answer period, and private defense of their work to their Dissertation Committee, which will typically consist of the student’s Program Advisory Committee and at least one other member from outside Northeastern University.
  • They should be able to demonstrate expert knowledge of their specific field of research and accurately place it into the context of the existing literature.
  • They should demonstrate their ability to draw on previously published work to independently design and execute new experiments or field manipulations with a high degree of sophistication. The design and execution of the experiment should demonstrate an understanding of good laboratory practice (chemical hygiene, personal protective wear, etc.) the proper handling of chemical waste streams and/or field practices (weather safety, boating safety).
  • They should be able to obtain and interpret experimental and field data related to their research with a high degree of precision.
  • They should be able to use online data sets relevant to their Ph.D. dissertation.
  • In their interpretation of experiments they should be able to distinguish between experimental data and experimental noise.
  • They should be able to precisely describe the experiments they do and the results they obtain in laboratory notebooks (hard copy and electronic), and to insightfully interpret the meaning and implication of their results in seminars and written technical reports.
  • They should be able to author manuscripts describing their research and its impacts that are suitable for publication in peer-reviewed scientific journals, and are prepared to describe their research in presentations at national meetings of the above scientific societies, and at national and international symposia hosted by other professional organizations. All Ph.D. students are required to have at least one first-authored publication submitted to or accepted in a peer-reviewed journal prior to their defense.
  • They should be able to communicate their understanding of ecological, evolutionary, and marine biological principles to a lay audience. For instance, they should be able to articulate their future career path and how their research training situates them for this plan, how their disciplinary research relates to the real world (e.g., economy, environment, healthcare, etc.). and they should be able to recognize and explain how their expertise will be applicable in the execution of complex research problems.

 

Environmental Science, B.S.

The Environmental Science degree is organized for the students that seek a comprehensive understanding of environmental sciences, and draws from several disciplines: Biology, Geology, Chemistry, Physics, Math and the Social Sciences. The environmental science degree applies an integrative systems approach to solving complex social-ecological problems. Students earning this degree should be proficient in the following areas:

  • They should be able to apply the scientific method.
  • They should be able to navigate the scientific literature and databases. This includes being able to obtain information from and prepare experimental information for publication.
  • They should be able to design and execute new environmental science experiments. The design and execution of the experiment should demonstrate an understanding of hypothesis testing.
  • They should be able to obtain and interpret experimental and empirical data related to their research. In addition, they should be able to describe the data and their interpretation in
    • field, laboratory and electronic notebooks,
    • scientific reports, and
    • in oral presentations in seminars and at regional and national meetings.
  • In their interpretation of data, they should be able to distinguish between:
    • experimental and comparative data,
    • abiotic vs. biotic processes, and
    • significance vs. noise.
  • They should be able to communicate their understanding of environmental science to a lay audience. For instance,
    • they should to be able to interpret and clearly explain experiments, comparative data and models, and
    • they should be able to recognize and explain how their environmental science education prepares them for their post-Northeastern career (e.g., job, graduate school, professional school).

 

Environmental Studies, B.A.

The Environmental Studies major teaches students to understand complex environmental issues from a solutions-based interdisciplinary perspective.

Students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the basic physical, biological and socioeconomic processes that govern coupled human natural ecosystems.
  • Integrate, communicate, and apply concepts related to complex environmental problems from natural science, social science and humanities.
  • Apply systems approaches to solving contemporary environmental problems.
  • Understand the global character of environmental problems and ways of solving them, including collaborative efforts spanning local to global scales.
  • Effectively communicate integrated perspectives in the form of cogent and logical written and oral arguments.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in quantitative methods and analysis and critical thinking needed to effectively conduct high quality interdisciplinary work as scholars and/or practitioners.
  • Demonstrate an in depth understanding of one or more specific areas of inquiry as defined by six different clusters.
  • Communicate scientific information to professional and lay audiences.

 

Linguistics, B.S.

  • Students will be able to understand terminology and concepts in core areas of phonetics and phonology.
  • Students will be able to understand terminology and concepts in core areas of syntax.
  • Students will be able to understand terminology and concepts in core areas of anthropological linguistics.
  • Students will be able to understand terminology and concepts in core areas of psycholinguistics.
  • Students will be able to identify, explain and use core linguistics concepts, theories, and models.
  • Students will gain knowledge of a range of additional topics in the field by taking advanced electives, which connect the core concepts to additional areas and applications of linguistics and related fields.
  • Students will be able to use data to identify fundamental patterns in familiar and unfamiliar languages at multiple structural levels using standard linguistic practices.
  • Students will be able to apply the results of linguistic analysis to answering questions in theoretical and applied linguistics.
  • Students will be able to communicate linguistics concepts, processes and results effectively and professionally, both orally and in writing, and to linguists and non-linguists.
  • Students will be able to critically evaluate existing and new research methods and findings.
  • Students will be able to situate linguistic issues and phenomena within broader socio-cultural and ethical contexts.

 

Marine Biology, B.S.

The Marine Biology major prepares students for careers in research and/or education in issues involving the oceans. Marine biology majors must master material from an interdisciplinary context, including core concepts from marine science, which involves understanding the links between important geological, chemical, physical, and biological processes that regulate the oceans. Global change from a systems perspective, both anthropogenic and natural, is a core component. Thus, students must develop critical thinking skills about complex issues that are at the forefront of global dialogs about the future of the planet. Quantitative methods and analysis are woven into the curriculum at multiple levels.

An undergraduate who matriculates from the Marine Biology program is expected to meet the following criteria:

• They should be able to navigate the scientific literature and databases. This includes being able to obtain information from and prepare experimental information for publication.

• They should be able to design and execute field and laboratory experiments. The design and execution of the experiment should demonstrate an understanding of good laboratory practice (lab hygiene, personal protective wear, etc.), the proper handling of chemical waste streams, and proper field practice (weather safety, boating safety).

• They should be able to obtain and interpret experimental data related to their research. In addition, they should be able to describe the data and their interpretation in laboratory and electronic notebooks, and describe their experimental data using statistical methods, and be able to evaluate experimental noise.

• They should be able to communicate their understanding of marine science to a lay audience. For instance, they should to be able to explain how the ocean affects all aspects of human life, and know the seven foundational principles of the Ocean Literacy Project. They should be able to recognize and explain how their education in marine science prepares them for their post-Northeastern career (e.g., job, graduate school).

 

Marine Biology, M.S.

The Master of Science in Marine Biology in the Three Seas program delivers a unique combination of inquiry-based study, fieldwork, research, and workplace experience. This 15-month full-time program is offered in conjunction with Northeastern University’s Three Seas program where students spend a full academic year immersed in the study of marine biology in three distinctly different marine ecosystems. The progressive and incremental structure of the curriculum allows students with only an intermediate exposure to the biological sciences to emerge from the program ready to plan and execute marine research, whether in the top doctoral programs, or in a career with government agencies or private consulting firms. Of equal importance is that students finish the program knowing how to do science rather than simply how to understand it.

At the end of the first year of coursework, a student will embark on a summer internship and fall research project. This capstone project has as its learning outcome:

• Application of an interdisciplinary approach to an important problem in marine science that integrates knowledge gained during the year-long intensive coursework. The problem chosen will usually be analyzed from a quantitative perspective using modern statistical methods including open-source algorithmic resources. It may involve field work, laboratory work, an analysis of online data, or a combination thereof, policy work, or meta-analysis of existing studies.

• The presentation of the research to the community of scholars at the Marine Science Center, including the entire faculty, and graduate and undergraduate peers in the Three Seas program. This talk is also open to the general public, and thus students should be versed in communicating the salient points without using jargon, and be expected to answer questions from professional peers to laypersons.

 

Mathematics, B.A./B.S.

  • Learning outcomes for Mathematics majors.
    • Students will be able to solve problems using a broad range of significant mathematical techniques, including calculus, linear algebra, geometry, group theory, algebra and probability.
    • Students will recognize what constitutes mathematical thinking, including the ability to produce and judge the validity of rigorous mathematical arguments.
    • Students will be able to communicate mathematical ideas and arguments.
    • Students will be prepared to use mathematics in their future endeavors, not only in the discipline of mathematics, but also in other disciplines and in their future endeavors.
  • Learning outcomes for students in NU Core.
    • Students will develop and demonstrate their problem-solving skills.
    • Students will be able to apply mathematics to real life situations.
    • Students will develop an understanding of the precise language of mathematics, and be able to integrate mathematical arguments with their critical thinking skills.
  • Learning outcomes for non-Mathematics majors.
    • Students will be able to use mathematics as a tool for problem-solving.
    • Students will recognize what constitutes mathematical thinking, including the ability to judge the validity of mathematical arguments.
    • Students will be able to use mathematics as a tool for quantitative analysis and reasoning, and to communicate ideas and arguments in their discipline.
    • Students will be prepared to use mathematics in their future endeavors.

Course-specific learning and assessment plans for MATH 1213 and 1215 are included in the attached files.

Mathematics, M.S.

Students will demonstrate a Masters-level understanding of basic mathematical concepts, including the ability to:

  • Apply mathematical concepts to solve problems in various areas of pure and applied mathematics.
  • Locate mathematical methods as needed in order to solve problems.
  • Communicate effectively the solution to a mathematical problem.

Mathematics, Ph.D.

Students will demonstrate a graduate-level understanding of basic mathematical concepts, including the ability to:

  • Read and understand research papers in mathematics.
  • Formulate a research problem in mathematics, and state this problem as a mathematical conjecture.
  • Conduct independent research by synthesizing existing mathematical theory with new, original ideas.
  • Communicate sophisticated mathematical concepts orally and in written form.
  • Students will have experience with undergraduate teaching, specifically being instructor of record in a multi-section course, designing and grading quizzes and tests, grading homework, and helping students during office hours.

 

Physics, B.S.

  • Physics majors will explain the fundamental principles and concepts of physics that include classical mechanics and electromagnetism, thermodynamics and statistical physics, principles of wave and optics, and quantum mechanics.
  • Through the selection of advanced electives, students will understand how those principles relate to forefront areas of research including astrophysics and cosmology, particle and nuclear physics, materials physics, network science, and nanoscience and nanotechnology.
  • Students will competently apply this knowledge and analyze physical systems by constructing mathematical models in which they identify the essential aspects of a problem, formulate a strategy for solution, make appropriate approximations, evaluate the correctness of their solution, and communicate their work clearly.
  • Students will use basic computational techniques for modeling physical systems including those that do not have analytical answers.
  • Students will explore physical systems by setting up experiments, collecting and analyzing data, identifying sources of uncertainty, and interpreting their results in terms of the fundamental principles and concepts of physics.
  • Students will communicate physics concepts, processes, and results effectively, both verbally and in writing.

Physics, M.S.

Learning outcomes are posted at URL:  http://www.northeastern.edu/physics/graduate/degree-programs/

Physics, Ph.D.

The overarching learning outcome is demonstration of the ability to conduct independent research through the defined outcomes outlined below:

  • Course grades
  • Qualifying Exam
  • Seminar
  • Dissertation
  • Dissertation defense
  • Indirect Measures:
    • Annual committee meetings

Applied Physics, B.S.

  • Students will explain the fundamental principles and concepts of physics that include classical mechanics and electromagnetism, thermodynamics and statistical physics, principles of wave and optics and quantum mechanics.
  • Through the selection of advanced electives, students will understand how those principles relate to forefront areas of research including astrophysics and cosmology, particle and nuclear physics, materials physics, network science, and nanoscience and nanotechnology.
  • Students will competently apply this knowledge and analyze physical systems by constructing mathematical models in which they identify the essential aspects of a problem, formulate a strategy for solution, make appropriate approximations, evaluate the correctness of their solution, and communicate their work clearly.
  • Students will use basic computational techniques for modeling physical systems including those that do not have analytical answers.
  • Students will explore physical systems by setting up experiments, collecting and analyzing data, identifying sources of uncertainty, and interpreting their results in terms of the fundamental principles and concepts of physics.
  • Students will communicate physics concepts, processes and results effectively, both verbally and in writing.

Biomedical Physics, B.S.

  • Students will explain the fundamental principles and concepts of physics that include classical mechanics and electromagnetism, thermodynamics and statistical physics, principles of wave and optics and quantum mechanics.
  • Through the selection of advanced electives, students will understand how those principles relate to forefront areas of research including astrophysics and cosmology, particle and nuclear physics, materials physics, network science, and nanocience and nanotechnology.
  • Students in the Biomedical Physics major will understand how physics principles are applied in medicine in a wide range of applications including radiation therapy, medical imaging and laser based therapy.
  • Students will competently apply this knowledge and analyze physical systems by constructing mathematical models in which they identify the essential aspects of a problem, formulate a strategy for solution, make appropriate approximations, evaluate the correctness of their solution and communicate their work clearly.
  • Students will use basic computational techniques for modeling physical systems including those that do not have analytical answers.
  • Students will explore physical systems by setting up experiments, collecting and analyzing data, identifying sources of uncertainty, and interpreting their resuls in terms of the fundamental principles and concepts of physics.
  • Students will communicate physics concepts, processes, and results effectively, both verbally and in writing.

 

Psychology, B.S.

General Program Goals

The Bachelor of Science degree program in Psychology is designed to provide a research-based undergraduate education for students with a broad range of interests in psychology. The major goals are:

  • To prepare students to pursue graduate study in various subfields of psychology (e.g., clinical, educational, or research psychology); in such closely affiliated disciplines as cognitive science, neuroscience, and linguistics; and in such fields as health care and law.
  • To prepare students who wish to pursue careers in a variety of settings that do not require graduate degrees.

To achieve these goals, the program provides academic courses and experiences that span the breath of psychology, while also providing in-depth explorations that meet the needs and specific interests of the students.

The curricular structure of the program involves a series of academic building blocks.

  • A majors-only introductory Foundations of Psychology course that explores a range of content areas
  • A choice of focused topic area courses (social, personality, cognition, learning, etc.)
  • A statistics course
  • Two required research courses
  • A capstone seminar in a specific area of psychology.
  • Students select psychology elective courses, some of which are advanced courses in the topic areas.
  • Students are also required to choose an interdisciplinary cluster of three courses outside the department that are related to a particular area of psychology.

In this way, the curriculum is organized in a hierarchical form with increasing depth of course content that builds upon the previous levels but at the same time allows for  considerable flexibility provided by the electives and the interdisciplinary cluster. With this overall structure, students can select courses to focus in depth on a specialized area (e.g., social psychology, clinical psychology, biological psychology), can select courses that cross areas (e.g., forensic psychology, behavioral neuroscience), or can sample quite broadly across areas within psychology.

The Psychology program incorporates experiential education to enhance the learning process. Students are encouraged to gain hands-on research experience by working with faculty and graduate students in faculty labs.  In addition, over 90% of psychology majors take advantage of the co-op program, an educational model that allows students to alternate periods of full-time academic study with periods of full-time work in a variety of settings including business, human services, scientific research, government, and health care. 

Specific Program Outcomes:

  • Exhibit knowledge of main theoretical perspectives and major findings across broad areas of psychological science, e.g., social, cognitive, biological, developmental, and clinical.
  • Show depth of knowledge in self-selected specific areas of study within psychological science.
  • Explain alternative views and positions within areas of psychological science.
  • Read and critique scientific articles, write effectively, and deliver effective oral presentations.
  • Exhibit working knowledge of the diverse forms of descriptive, correlational and experimental research methods used in psychological science.
  • Apply some of the major research methods, experimental designs, and analysis techniques used to investigate specific questions.
  • Develop testable research questions.
  • Demonstrate the ability to design and conduct psychological studies to address research questions.
  • Exhibit skills in analyzing data, interpreting data, and communicating findings.
  • Demonstrate the use of appropriate statistical/quantitative techniques for data analysis.
  • Describe ethical issues involved in conducting research and in clinical work in psychological science.
  • Participate with others in the exploration and scientific study of psychology; engage in thoughtful discussion with peers about alternative views and explanations.
  • Describe connections with other disciplines, e.g., computer science, health sciences, linguistics, and neuroscience.

Psychology, Ph.D.

General Program Goals

The main objective of the Ph.D. program is to train a select group of students to become experts in the multidisciplinary field of psychological science.  Students are admitted directly to the Ph.D. program and obtain a master’s degree after completing a specified subset of requirements for the Ph.D. The program, which covers a wide spectrum of contemporary issues in psychology, offers students four distinct areas of experimental emphasis: behavioral neuroscience, cognition, perception, and social/personality.

Specific Program Outcomes:

  • Students are expected to exhibit a graduate-level understanding of basic theoretical views and experimental methods in psychological science, as well as advanced expertise within their chosen specialty.
  • Students are expected to demonstrate the ability to conduct an independent, empirically-based research program.  This involves designing and running experiments, analyzing and interpreting data, and presenting the findings both orally and in writing in the context of the existing literature in the field.
  • Students are expected to demonstrate effective teaching skills in an assistantship role, as well as effective mentoring of undergraduate student research projects.