As North­eastern Uni­ver­sity marks its 100th year of coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion, the Uni­ver­sity has com­mitted to an expan­sion of its sig­na­ture aca­d­emic pro­gram by offering a four-​​year bachelor’s degree with two full co-​​op expe­ri­ences. This approach is driven in part by ongoing efforts to pro­vide stu­dents with greater choice and flex­i­bility, while main­taining the ben­e­fits of co-​​op and expe­ri­en­tial learning.

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At North­eastern, we believe that a col­lege edu­ca­tion cannot be con­fined to a col­lege campus,” said Pres­i­dent Joseph Aoun. “The most pow­erful way to learn is by inte­grating class­room study with real-​​world expe­ri­ence, which at North­eastern is anchored in co-​​op. Today we are shifting to a student-centered—rather than instructor-based—educational model that allows greater flex­i­bility and choice. North­eastern stu­dents will have addi­tional dual-​​degree oppor­tu­ni­ties, increased access to research, inter­na­tional expe­ri­ences, and the ability to earn a bachelor’s degree with all the ben­e­fits of co-​​op in four years.”

Orig­i­nally devel­oped for prac­tical and voca­tional rea­sons, Northeastern’s co-​​op pro­gram is today con­sid­ered the cor­ner­stone of a pow­erful learning approach that inte­grates class­room study and world-​​based expe­ri­ence. Through co-​​op, North­eastern stu­dents under­take extended periods of full-​​time pro­fes­sional work that rein­force and enlighten their course­work. Expe­ri­ences are four to six months and pro­vide greater pro­fes­sional immer­sion than tra­di­tional intern­ships. The Uni­ver­sity has strong rela­tion­ships with more than 2,000 busi­nesses, NGOs, and other employers across the U.S. and around the world.

In recent years, co-​​op has become increas­ingly global with North­eastern stu­dents par­tic­i­pating in co-​​op and other forms of expe­ri­en­tial learning in 52 coun­tries. To expand co-op’s global reach, Pres­i­dent Aoun recently launched the Pres­i­den­tial Global Scholars ini­tia­tive, which will double the number of North­eastern stu­dents par­tic­i­pating in inter­na­tional co-​​op expe­ri­ences over the next 12 months.

The four-​​year, two co-​​op model will be avail­able for stu­dents entering North­eastern in the fall of 2010. The tra­di­tional five-​​year degree pro­gram that typ­i­cally includes three co-​​op periods will remain an option.

The four-​​year co-​​op option will be a very attrac­tive option for many of our stu­dents,” said North­eastern Provost Stephen Director. “These stu­dents very much want the co-​​op expe­ri­ence but are inter­ested in a shorter time to degree for a variety of rea­sons, including the fact that many are plan­ning on attending grad­uate school. We want to ensure that all stu­dents have access to the pow­erful ben­e­fits of co-​​op, whether they grad­uate in four or five years.”

Stu­dents inter­ested in the four-​​year co-​​op pro­gram will work closely with their aca­d­emic advi­sors to plan course sched­ules and ensure the max­imum ben­efit of a North­eastern education.

Stu­dents react

About 1 out of 6 North­eastern stu­dents now earn their under­grad­uate degrees in four years. Here’s what three of them have to say about their edu­ca­tional experience.

What I appre­ciate most about being able to do North­eastern in four years is the ability to expe­ri­ence co-​​op while still making it work with my future goals. I feel like I am get­ting the best of both worlds that North­eastern has to offer, on one hand get­ting the co-​​op expe­ri­ence that draws stu­dents here, while on the other, I get to finish in time to pursue my advanced degrees.“
Spencer Man­asse, ’11, health science/​premed

I think Northeastern’s pro­gram should not be cookie-​​cutter; I like that there are options to suit all sorts of stu­dents. Thank­fully, my advi­sors molded my pro­gram to my future goals and cur­rent qual­i­fi­ca­tions. I chose a four-​​year pro­gram because it fit my career goals and per­sonal needs best, but I think the four-​​year and five-​​year options are both great—either way, you’re get­ting co-​​op expe­ri­ence. I know I’ve gotten so much out of my co-​​op at Dana-​​Farber Cancer Institute—developing my own projects, advancing my med­ical knowl­edge, and building an incred­ible pro­fes­sional net­work.”
Kate Ostrander, ’11, health science/​premed

After having suc­cess in my classes the first two semes­ters, I real­ized that I was capable of taking on a more ambi­tious chal­lenge. That’s when I was intro­duced to the five-​​year com­bined bachelor’s and master’s pro­gram. Instead of com­pleting a third co-​​op in my fourth year, I’ll finish under­grad­uate course­work and I will already have started my grad­uate courses. One of the great things about it is that I was able to do a short summer co-​​op at Siko­rsky air­craft. It went so well that I’ll do two more co-​​ops there and, as long as I con­tinue to per­form well, basi­cally be guar­an­teed a posi­tion with Siko­rsky after I grad­uate.”
Joan Manuel de la Cruz, ’13, BS/​MS pro­gram in mechan­ical engineering