Experiential Education

The Following Video is from Ellen Quinn, a Recent Political Science Alumna

As a student in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, you must complete an Experiential Education requirement for graduation. Experiential education in the Department of Political Science entails three key elements:

  1. Preparation through discussions and activities that orient you to your experiential assignment
  2. The actual experience of working in a relevant job or simulation
  3. Reflection on the experience

These elements are met by completing each of the parts below and must be undertaken according to the sequence indicated here:

  1. Completion of 1 of the following:
  • At least 1 semester of co-op (preceded by the 1-credit co-op workshop)
  • At least 1 semester of study abroad
  • POLS 4942 Internship
  • POLS 4910 Model United Nations
  • POLS 4915 Model Arab League
  • POLS 4918 Model NATO
  • POLS 4905 Moot Court
  • POLS 4948 Community-Based Research
  • Any other POLS course designated by the dept. for the ExEd requirement
  1. POLS 4701 Senior Capstone

These activities are meant to enrich academic study within your major while giving you the chance to apply the knowledge and skills you are gaining in “real-world” situations. Although the experiential education requirement can be satisfied with a minimum of course work, we encourage you to learn about all available activities in this area and to participate beyond the minimum level when this would be consistent with your interests and career objectives.

Beyond the use of this web site, you can learn more about experiential education opportunities at Northeastern and view student profiles of recent experiences here. You should also consult with the Department Chair or Internship Advisor for information on the enrollment process concerning these different courses and activities and for any inquiries about possible substitutions or waivers in regard to this requirement.


Northeastern University is world-famous for its co-op program. Although engaging in co-op is optional, we strongly encourage all Political Science students to learn about how this program works and what it can offer to them. Within the fields of law, government, and politics, co-op features many kinds of employment possibilities in the public and private sectors. Co-op is a program that allows students to alternate between periods of academic study and full-time employment related to their field of study. You may choose to complete as many as three six-month co-ops under the university’s five-year undergraduate curriculum. Some students prefer to participate in co-op for only one or two six-month periods. Co-op positions are available locally, in New York City, Washington, D.C., and other cities, including several abroad.

All Political Science majors (other than transfers) will learn about co-op procedures and options within the “Political Science at Northeastern” course during the fall semester of freshman year. Northeastern’s Co-op Division divides incoming freshmen into two groups. One of these groups will have the opportunity for their first co-op during the spring semester of the sophomore year, the other group will begin co-op during the second summer semester after the sophomore year.

The Co-op Division maintains an extensive advising system to guide students participating in the program. Two coordinators are assigned to Political Science, William Wray and Lisa Doherty. You can view their office location and hours under the advising section of this website. It is important that you meet with a co-op coordinator early in the term preceding the beginning of co-op so that you can discuss resume writing, interviewing techniques, and the co-op job search process.

For more information about co-op, please visit the web site www.northeastern.edu/experiential/coop/index.html.

Study Abroad

Many Political Science students participate in the Study Abroad program as a way to deepen their study of international and comparative politics, develop foreign-language skills, or simply experience the thrill of living in another cultural environment. More than 40 Study Abroad programs are sponsored by Northeastern’s Office of International Study Programs. Popular destinations for Political Science students have included Ireland’s Institute of Public Administration, the Hansard Society at the London School of Economics, and the Institute for European Affairs in Belgium, all programs that combine academic study with hands-on internship experience.


A popular form of experiential education in Political Science, internships are usually part-time employment opportunities. You register for an internship as part of your regular course load for a semester. Recent Political Science internship sites include the Massachusetts State House, Boston City Hall, Office of the Plymouth District Attorney, O’Neil and Associates political consulting group, Boston YMCA, Massachusetts Attorney General, Massachusetts Republican Party, and Boston Municipal Court.

The internship course, POLS 4942, carries four credits. At minimum, an undergraduate internship must involve 225 hours of work over the entire course of a semester. Internship students must also write a paper about their internship experience, which can be either a record of regular journal entries or a research/reflection paper related to the focus of their sponsoring organization. Grading for the internship course is based on this final paper and a written evaluation received from the intern’s work place supervisor.

The Department Chair or Internship Advisor coordinates all internship placements. An extensive sampling of internship openings is also available for searching elsewhere on this web site. Registration for the internship course requires advance permission of the ExEd Advisor, and no internships will be permitted to begin later than the second full week of classes in a semester.

International Relations Council

The Model United Nations, Model Arab League, and Model NATO are special group activities supervised by a Political Science faculty member in which students participate in a simulation exercise having to do with the operation of international organizations. Participants learn about the structures and functions of these organizations while preparing for an international gathering in which they represent a particular nation-state and its interests.

Model U.N. (POLS 4910), Model NATO (POLS 4918), and Model Arab League (POLS 4915) are offered as four-credit courses. Registration is by permission of the instructor. Students should consult course announcements to determine upcoming offerings of these two courses and to identify the current instructor.

In addition, it is possible to participate in these simulations as an extra-curricular, non-credit activity. For more information on how to participate in activities related to the International Relations Council at NU please visit, http://www.northeastern.edu/polisci/experiential-opportunities/irc/.

European Campus Weeks

The European Campus Weeks is hosted yearly by the Political Science Department.  Organized by Natalie Bormann and Hans Eijmberts and with a grant from the Germany Embassy in Washington D.C., the European Campus Weeks consists of a series of events related to German/EU-US relations, ranging from talks by outside speakers, conferences, European movie screenings, and student competitions.  Students have an opportunity to enter a campus-wide essay contest, which qualifies them to win prizes, participate in a conference & networking event with the German Consul General, and to be invited to a nation-wide contest in D.C.

This is an extra-curricular, non-credit activity for students interested in European studies and for those who are looking for researching and networking opportunities related to Europe and the EU.  For more information on how to participate in activities please visit http://europeancampusweeks.wordpress.com

Moot Court

Moot Court (POLS 4905) is a four-credit course that offers students the opportunity to participate in a simulation in which they conduct research on existing legal controversies, prepare legal briefs, and present cases before a mock judicial panel. By conducting legal research, writing briefs, drafting opinions, and making oral arguments, students gain insight into court-based decision making in the real world as well as the role of lawyers and judges within this process. Interested students should monitor course announcements to learn about upcoming offerings of Moot Court.

Community-Based Research

In this four-credit course, POLS 4948, students are given supervision in planning and carrying out an applied social research project that is defined in partnership with a local civic group, nonprofit agency, or public department. Students collaborate in writing a final report that is presented to the community partner at the end of the course, which is then published and distributed widely to stakeholder groups. The opportunity to work closely with a faculty member as part of a team engaged in original research is one of the unique benefits of participation in CBRI. Although not often taught in standard academic courses, effective collaboration is a crucial workplace skill. At the same time, students will develop valuable professional competencies in research design and a variety of forms of quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Other Designated POLS Courses

From time to time, the department will offer other courses that include significant experiential education elements, such as “service learning,” group research projects, volunteer activity, and so on. When so designated, these courses will count toward satisfaction of the first part of the Political Science Experiential Education requirement. If you have taken a course of this kind in another department which has a substantial public affairs or political dimension, you may also petition the department’s Experiential Education Advisor to determine if the course satisfies this first part of the requirement.

Senior Capstone

The Senior Capstone is the culminating course for Political Science majors. Required for students in the Class of 2008 and beyond, in this course you will revisit and integrate concepts and skills developed throughout the political science curriculum, including both experiential and classroom-based components. In the Capstone you will engage in various individual and group-based research projects as you also reflect on experiential activities. The Capstone is typically completed in the final semester at Northeastern.