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.
“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.
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