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Questions and Answers about Co-op Flexibility

Northeastern University announced the expansion of co-op through a new four-year option that will take its place alongside our renowned five-year option. Students come to Northeastern for our powerful experiential learning programs, including co-op. Among them there is growing interest in a four-year program that makes it easy to take advantage of two co-op opportunities. In response to this demand the university is now making this option available. The four-year, two co-op option will be available for students entering Northeastern in the fall of 2010. The five-year, three co-op option will remain a choice for many students.

Why is Northeastern introducing the four-year option? Does it mean the university is phasing out co-op?
The four-year co-op option represents an expansion of our renowned co-op program. We’re making co-op more accessible to a wider range of students. For those who prefer to finish their bachelor’s program in four years this innovation makes it possible to do so while still getting the powerful benefits of co-op.

Why introduce this change now?
Co-op and our other experiential learning programs bring Northeastern into closer connection with the world, making us attuned to change and able to respond. Today, the world is demanding more flexibility in higher education, including opportunities to earn bachelor’s degrees in less time. Our four-year, two-co-op option meets that need. In addition, this year marks the centennial anniversary of co-op at Northeastern. There is no better time to introduce an innovation that is a significant investment in co-op’s next 100 years.

How will the four-year option work?
Students will work through a faculty-guided process to plan their academic schedules and choose from a variety of experiential learning options. As with the five-year option, they will take at least a full year of classes, including the co-op preparation course, before their first co-op experience.

The introduction of the four-year option is a part of Northeastern’s shift toward a more student-centered education. What else is the University doing within that context?
In addition to the four-year co-op option, we are encouraging more double majors and offering a range of "four-plus-one" master's programs. We are also making it easier for students to participate in global co-op opportunities and to work on university research initiatives.

Will students need to enroll in the four-year option before their freshman year?
No, they simply need to be aware of the implications for their academic schedule—and we will include general information on that point in our admissions outreach—but they do not need to make any final decisions during the application or enrollment process. Students should include discussion of the four-year, co-op option in their initial consultation with their faculty advisor.

Won’t students need to take on some very difficult academic challenges to make the four-year option work? Is it only for Honors students?
The four-year co-op option will require commitment and focus, but those are qualities that are common in today’s Northeastern students. In addition to the co-op offerings and other experiential learning programs around the world, students can take advantage of extra courses, global study, and online courses.

Does this mean you are phasing out the five-year model?
No, we believe in offering flexibility and choice, so the five-year option will remain a choice for many students.

With this program in place, why would any student opt for a five-year program?
This is about empowering our students to design an academic program that best suits their aspirations. The five-year option will continue to be the right path for some Northeastern students. The choice is theirs.

Did Northeastern institute this because it fears competition from schools that are introducing a three-year program?
There are no three-year degree programs that offer co-op. Northeastern has a long history of charting its own path, of competing on its own terms, and that is what we are doing with the four-year co-op option.

Do any Northeastern students currently graduate in four years?
Approximately 17 percent of our undergraduates now graduate in four years. However, previously there has not been a structured program in place to ensure that they receive the full benefit of a Northeastern education with multiple co-op experiences. This innovation will address that.

How will the four-year option benefit students academically?
Most of all, by enabling students who want to go through Northeastern in four years to derive the powerful benefits of cooperative education.

What are the academic benefits of co-op?
The integration of study and practice produces a more powerful learning experience. Co-op provides students with different perspectives on their classroom studies and during the learning process. They return to the classroom asking new questions, challenging old assumptions, and more confident. It prepares students for the challenges of tomorrow.

Will the four-year co-op option make it easier for students to go on to graduate and professional school?
The four-year co-op option will be highly attractive to many students planning to carry out graduate study. It also dovetails with a number of “four-plus-one” programs that Northeastern has introduced to enable students to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years.

Is the four-year option co-op lite?
Students in the four-year co-op option will take the same co-op preparation course, they will get the same level of co-op advising and integration with coursework, and the co-ops themselves will be the same four or six month periods, allowing the same in-depth exploration and opportunity for achievement. They will have the opportunity to complete up to two full co-op experiences in a four-year option.

Will students in the four-year option save money?
The introduction of this option is driven by our commitment to expand our signature academic program, not by price. That said, it would reduce a student’s overall cost of education by cutting out an additional year’s worth of room and board expenses.

Will the four-year option apply to all undergraduate programs at Northeastern?
Yes, for most majors, with the exception of dual degrees, Architecture, and some Health Sciences programs such as Pharmacy and Physical Therapy.

How will this affect financial aid?
Northeastern will maintain its strong commitment of assistance with the cost of attending. No matter the degree length, Northeastern grant and scholarship funds are guaranteed not to be reduced, regardless of changes in financial circumstances, for up to eight in-class semesters. This guarantee allows a student to plan for the total cost of education without the concern of grant and scholarship reductions.


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