Advancing a model of higher edu­ca­tion that moves “beyond the tra­di­tional bound­aries of place,” North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun announced today that the uni­ver­sity will launch a system of regional cam­puses in selected Amer­ican cities. The first regional campus opens its doors today in Char­lotte, N.C., and uni­ver­sity leaders expect to open a second in Seattle, Wash., next year. The uni­ver­sity is also actively eval­u­ating oppor­tu­ni­ties in other cities throughout the U.S.

The Amer­ican system of higher edu­ca­tion is going to change dra­mat­i­cally in the 21st cen­tury,” said Aoun. “Our existing col­lege cam­puses are based on a model that we imported from Eng­land in the 17th cen­tury. This model cannot meet the full demands of con­tem­po­rary society. We need to develop truly modern campuses—regional plat­forms for grad­uate edu­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tions between higher edu­ca­tion and industry.”

Today’s launch fol­lows two years of exten­sive plan­ning and research by North­eastern offi­cials, including a strategic deci­sion not to offer under­grad­uate edu­ca­tion at the regional cam­puses. Site selec­tion of the new cam­puses is driven by regional demand for grad­uate edu­ca­tion, and oppor­tu­ni­ties for research part­ner­ships. In a global, knowledge-​​based economy, many employers require more pro­fes­sionals with graduate-​​level edu­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly in sci­ence and tech­nology fields.

Grad­uate degree pro­grams at the regional cam­puses will be based on a “hybrid delivery” model, which involves the inte­gra­tion of online and class­room learning. Existing North­eastern fac­ulty mem­bers will teach courses both at the regional cam­puses and online. The hybrid learning approach is ideal for working pro­fes­sionals because it com­bines the tra­di­tional ben­e­fits of face-​​to-​​face instruc­tion with the flex­i­bility of online learning.

A broad range of Northeastern’s degree programs—including those in busi­ness, engi­neering, health sci­ences and com­puter science—will be offered in the regions. Degrees will be tai­lored to the demands of the local economy. In Char­lotte, for example, the uni­ver­sity will offer a master’s degree in health infor­matics, which aligns with the growing heath-​​care sector in the region. In Seattle, a master’s degree in infor­ma­tion assur­ance will align with needs of the area’s many tech­nology companies.

Sim­ilar oppor­tu­ni­ties will emerge in the sphere of research. The uni­ver­sity is actively dis­cussing a research col­lab­o­ra­tion with Duke Energy and Center City Part­ners, a Charlotte-​​based civic orga­ni­za­tion. The col­lab­o­ra­tion will focus on the impact of sus­tain­ability efforts within the local labor market.

Northeastern’s lead­er­ship in expe­ri­en­tial learning—the inte­gra­tion of class­room study with pro­fes­sional experience—provides a strong foun­da­tion for the university’s expan­sion to new regions. North­eastern has rela­tion­ships with more than 2,500 employers, including For­tune 500 com­pa­nies, gov­ern­ment agen­cies and global NGOs.

These regional cam­puses are com­pletely con­sis­tent with who we are as an insti­tu­tion,” said Aoun.

Although under­grad­uate edu­ca­tion will not be offered at the regional cam­puses, the sites will still strengthen Northeastern’s under­grad­uate pro­gram, which is built on placing stu­dents in co-​​op posi­tions with employers. The regional cam­puses will deepen rela­tion­ships with cur­rent co-​​op employers and help to develop rela­tion­ships with new employers. The sites will also serve as a local resource for under­grad­u­ates on co-​​op place­ments in a selected region.

Aoun fore­shad­owed Northeastern’s move in a May 2011 piece pub­lished by The Chron­icle of Higher Edu­ca­tion. “While edu­ca­tional models and offer­ings have always been diverse, the iden­ti­ties of insti­tu­tions have typ­i­cally been tightly cou­pled with their tra­di­tional cam­puses,” Aoun wrote. “Now the con­flu­ence of new tech­nolo­gies, changing stu­dent demands, and the emer­gence of a global higher-​​education market are quickly loos­ening the bonds between campus and brand.”

Founded in 1898, North­eastern is a com­pre­hen­sive, global research uni­ver­sity with more than 20,000 under­grad­uate and grad­uate stu­dents. It offers more than 90 under­grad­uate majors and more than 165 grad­uate pro­grams, ranging from pro­fes­sional master’s degrees to inter­dis­ci­pli­nary Ph.D. pro­grams. The university’s research enter­prise is aligned with three national imper­a­tives: health, secu­rity and sus­tain­ability. North­eastern stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in co-​​op and other forms of expe­ri­en­tial learning in 85 coun­tries on all seven continents.