Course Designation Process

The Service-Learning Course Designation

  • Ensures that the service and learning components of a course meet the recognized best practices outlined in the S-L Course Criteria.
  • Ensures courses utilizing S-L are supporting the Mission of NU and applicable areas of the Academic Plan.
  • Provides a mechanism for tracking students' participation and certifies the completion of the experiential component of the General Education Curriculum.

The Process for Designation

  • Submit syllabus and S-L related course material with necessary criteria incorporated into the document(s), to the Service-Learning Coordinator at or 212 CP four weeks before registration begins for desired semester. The timeline will allow for approval of the request for designation and notation to be included in the course catalog.

Faculty new to utilizing S-L can start by contacting the S-L Coordinator for the S-L Course Development Form and to schedule a meeting to discuss best practices of incorporating S-L into the course and syllabus.

Course designation can be approved after the start of a semester; however, designation may not appear in the course catalog for the semester in question.

Approval for S-L designation
will be granted

  • for the specific course section of the faculty member submitting for designation. (If S-L is required for all sections of a course, but taught by different faculty, then each faculty member should submit his/her own syllabus and related material. This is unless the group of faculty are working from the same syllabus and related material with recognized criteria incorporated into their respective section.)
  • only to courses for which S-L is required of all students.

Once a course receives S-L designation

  • the course will appear with an "Experiential Learning" designation in the course catalog because S-L is counted as a form of Experiential Learning.
  • the course does not need to seek approval each semester thereafter as long as the syllabus does not reflect significant changes in how S-L will be utilized or required in the course.
  • If possible, the faculty member should also revise the course description to state that S-L is the form of experiential learning being utilized in the course.

Service-Learning Course Criteria

  • Northeastern University employs a definition of service-learning and 'best practices' universally accepted by practitioners.
  • Service-Learning (S-L) is an academically rigorous educational experience in which students, 1) participate in organized service activities/project(s) that meet needs identified by the community, and
    2) reflect on the service activities/project(s) in such a way as to gain further understanding of course/program content, a broader appreciation of the discipline, and an enhanced sense of civic responsibility.

Adapted by Northeastern University's Service-Learning Advisory Board (2006), from Robert Bringle and Julie Hatcher, A Service Learning Curriculum for Faculty . The Michigan Journal of Community Service-Learning, Fall 1995, pp.112-122.

To that end, the following criteria must be present in a service-learning course at Northeastern:


I. Purpose
II. Preparation and Orientation Component
III. Community Partnership and Service Component
IV. Reflection Component
V. Assessment & Evaluation Component

Course Designation Criteria and Process (PDF)