Semester in San Francisco

Here’s the program overview from Naeem Zafar, Academic Director for Semester in San Francisco.

It’s that time again—you’re heading into a new semester, and you’re about to embark on your next adventure. You’ve already made the choice of a dynamic education, real-world experiences, and vibrant city living by choosing Northeastern—now we want to give you a brand new opportunity to accomplish your goals through a Semester in San Francisco.



Study Entrepreneurship with Design Thinking in San Francisco

When it comes to studying entrepreneurship, there is no other place in the world like Silicon Valley. Northeastern’s campus in San Francisco offers unique tracks for you to choose from 1) entrepreneurship 2) finance.

These tracks are taught by experienced professors and practitioners (see below). Our approach is design-centric using the design thinking approach and starting with the user before we solve a problem.

All undergraduates from all colleges (excluding College of Professional Studies) are eligible! D’Amore-McKim School of Business students can complete their Entrepreneurship concentration through the program; non-DMSB students need to take one course in Boston and then complete the Entrepreneurship minor.


Program Structure

A hands-on experiential program that explores entrepreneurship through the lenses of design thinking —a human-centered approach to innovation that integrates people, technology and business.  Expanded curriculum now offers opportunities to focus on Finance or Entrepreneurship.  Working with their advisors, students have the option to take courses towards an Entrepreneurship Concentration, a Finance Concentration, Entrepreneurship Minor or as open electives in San Francisco. The program is open to all Northeastern students. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply


Students take sixteen credits with the following options.  Students work with Lauren DeSantis ( ) and their advisors to determine fit and selection.   

Entrepreneurship Track (Concentration and Minor):

  • ENTR 2301- Innovation 4 hours (NUPath Attribute: Creative expression/Innovation EI)
  • ENTR 3330 -Lean Design and Development for Entrepreneurs 4 hours
  • ENTR 3520 -Impact Investing and Social Finance. 4
  • FINA 4610 – Entrepreneurial Finance, Innovation Valuation, and Private Equity. 4 Hours
  • ENTR 4501 -Business Planning for Technology Ventures 4 hours

Finance Track (Concentration ONLY):

  • ENTR 2301- Innovation  4 hours (NUPath Attribute: Creative expression/Innovation EI)
  • FINA 4610 – Entrepreneurial Finance, Innovation Valuation, and Private Equity. 4 Hours.
  • ENTR3520 – Impact Investing and Social Finance. 4 hours
  • ENTR4501 – Business Planning for Technology Ventures 4 hours

Additional Offerings: (Pass/Fail Open Elective Credit – DOES NOT COUNT TOWARDS CONCENTRATION)

  • BUSN4993 – Directed Study Internship Opportunities/Venture Research (Domestic Students)
  • ENTR5000 – XN Project (International Students)

Online Options:

  • Business Core:
    • FINA2201 – Financial Management
    • MKTG2209 – Introduction to Marketing
    • MISM2301 – Management Information Systems
  • NUPath:
    • ND– Pending Spring 2020 Course offerings
    • DD – Pending Spring 2020 Course offerings
    • ENGW3315 – Advanced Writing in the Disciplines

Extracurricular and Experiential Student Activities

Semester in San Francisco is highly experiential, and encourages a human-centric approach to entrepreneurship. While living in the Bay Area, you’ll experience professional life in San Francisco by working closely with startups, meeting with investors, learning from CEOs, and exploring the industry through unique extracurricular activities. There will be an on-the-ground Program Manager who will coordinate these activities and provide support. As a student in this program, you will have the opportunity to take part in the following—and more:

  • Founder Breakfasts, where company founders will share their experiences in starting companies
  • Tech Treks, including day trips to local companies and startups
  • Pitch Nights, where students in the program can present and discuss their work
  • Social events hosted regularly throughout the semester


Students take 16 credits from the below options offered by the D’Amore-McKim School of Business. Students work with advisors to determine fit and selection.

Entrepreneurship Track:

  • ENTR 4501 Business Planning for Technology Ventures. 4 hours
  • ENTR 2303 Entrepreneurial Marketing. 4 hours
  • ENTR 3330: Lean Design and Development for Entrepreneurs. 4 hours
  • ENTR 3520: Impact Investing and Social Finance. 4 hours

Finance Track:

  • ENTR4501: Business Planning for Technology Ventures. 4 hours
  • ENTR 2303 Entrepreneurial Marketing. 4 hours
  • FINA 4610. Entrepreneurial Finance, Innovation Valuation, and Private Equity. 4 hours
  • ENTR3520: Impact Investing and Social Finance. 4 hours

Additional Offerings:

ENTR4992 – Directed Study – XN/Internship Opportunities/Venture Research

Independent Study: You can apply for an internship at one of the selected companies (20 hours per week – unpaid) or pursue an independent study working closely with an instructor if you plan to work on your own startup idea. This independent work will build upon the foundation provided to you in the classroom.

Final Project: Your Semester in San Francisco experience will culminate in a final project, pulling from your experiences inside and outside of the classroom. The final project will vary and will include custom-designed options, such as building a business plan or submitting a project proposal.

Extracurricular and Experiential Student Activities

Semester in San Francisco is highly experiential and encourages a human-centric approach to entrepreneurship. While living in the Bay Area, you’ll experience professional life in San Francisco by working closely with startups, meeting with investors, learning from CEOs, and exploring the industry through unique extracurricular activities. There will be an on-the-ground program manager who will coordinate these activities and provide support.
As a student in this program, you will have the opportunity to take part in the following—and more:

  • Founder Lunches, where company founders will share their experiences in starting companies
  • Industry Treks to local companies and startups
  • Pitch Nights, where students in the program can present and discuss their work
  • Social events regularly hosted throughout the semester

Outside of your program, you will also have all of the Bay Area at your fingertips!  Spend your weekends exploring the cable cars, the bay, endless neighborhoods, and nearby cities such as Napa Valley and Sonoma.

Here are some of the companies that provide internship opportunities to the students of the Semester in San Francisco program:



How to Register

1.  Submit your program registration.

2.  Pay the $1,500 program fee, which covers all experiential and extracurricular activities in the program.

Northeastern University—San Francisco Bay Area and the Northeastern Network

The Northeastern network comes with a series of opportunities aimed at increasing your competitiveness in the job market—and this collaboration between the D’Amore-McKim School of Business and our San Francisco location is aimed at helping you to achieve those goals by giving you the ability to gain more from your education. As a participant, you will grow and nurture your network on the West Coast. You will engage with local Northeastern alumni and co-op students in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley areas to provide you with an insider’s view of this culture.  Even though your academic program originates in Boston, you will have the Northeastern San Francisco location as a resource. And, should you want to return to this area later on in your career, you will have established a presence and a network there that you can directly tap into for career goals, lifelong learning, or wherever your future may take you.


Schedule of Classes

Course Titles Course Numbers Times and Dates
Business Planning for Technology Ventures ENTR 4501 Tuesday 9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Impact Investing and Social Finance ENTR 3520 Tuesday 1:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Entrepreneurial Marketing and Selling ENTR 2303 Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Entrepreneurial Finance, Innovation Valuation, and Private Equity FINA 4610 Friday 9:00 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Lean Design and Development for Entrepreneurs ENTR 3330 Friday 1:30 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.

Student Testimonials

“I really enjoyed my time as part of the CAMD for a summer semester. The ability to develop friendships and interact with designers will be invaluable towards building my career. I hope to continue being a part of the design community in the future.”

-Ava Nordling, Semester In San Francisco, Summer I 2019



“Our teachers connected us to tons of valuable SF design events that enabled me and my classmates to feel empowered as young professionals. We actually launched into the design world with concrete skill development on site, which was unique to this program.”

-Sanjay Selvan, Semester in San Francisco, Summer I 2019 



“You get to learn about entrepreneurship in the heart of entrepreneurship, and it is more hands-on than textbook based. Our professors encourage us to get out as much as possible, and go to meetups and other events.”

-Noi Yamagata, Semester in San Francisco, Fall 2018  



“The faculty members for the Semester in Silicon Valley program were phenomenal. The projects were intensive, but because the instructors were very engaging and open with students, we were able to apply what we learned in the classroom immediately to what we were working on. I wouldn’t have been prepared to get out of school without this program. Semester in Silicon Valley added another layer of perspective in my entrepreneurship knowledge.”

-Arthur Doelp, Semester In San Francisco, Spring 2018


“The SSV program allows me to interact with business in many different ways, all at the same time. I study business academically, work as an employee, and create the foundation of a startup. With mentorship, I learn from my everyday experiences. My professors care about the future. Teaching us is another way for them to shape the future of the industry. It’s inspiring to be in an environment with motivated students, teachers, and professionals. Engaging conversations happen daily, and perspectives change constantly.

-Autumn Martin, Semester In San Francisco, Fall 2017


Click here for more student testimonies.


News@Northeastern Feature on Semester in San Francisco

Read it here:  Northeastern Launches ‘Semester in Silicon Valley’ Entrepreneurship Program

Student Life Video

Check out this amazing video from one of our fall 2017 Semester in Silicon Valley students, Autumn Martin. Watch as she shares her experience inside and outside the classroom.

Meet the Fall 2019 Faculty

Alina Adams is a serial entrepreneur who has founded high-tech companies across multiple industries. With advanced degrees in both engineering and business, she has an emphasis on new technologies in the biotech, hardware/internet of things space. She works with companies, investor groups, accelerators, and entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and beyond to build a supportive ecosystem for innovation and value creation. Adams is a member of several global organizations that help entrepreneurs, assisting startups with business development strategy, fundraising, and growth strategy.

Jonathan C. Baer is Managing Partner of  StoneHearth Ventures (formerly named Threshold Ventures) and a recovering venture capitalist who loves working with companies around the world. He was a general partner at a Sand Hill Road venture fund and the founder and CEO of two venture backed companies. He now spends his time teaching, mentoring, and advising early-stage companies at leading accelerators and universities as well as serving on several boards. Jon is expert at training startups, mentors and early-stage investors around the world in Silicon Valley best practices. He believes that startups require tough love; and need to focus on money, metrics, and milestones. Jon teaches startup CEOs to say less because less is more.

Aleks Gollu is a veteran of the Bay Area venture startup ecosystem, with expertise in supply chains, transportation, and telecommunications. Gollu holds a BS degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and MS and PhD degrees from University of California, Berkeley, all in EECS with a focus on system management. He was co-founder of OTelNet, a pioneer of SMS-based cell phone applications, which was acquired by Telecommunication Systems in 2002. He founded PINC Solutions in 2004. PINC has since become the premier provider of yard management and transportation visibility solutions. His most recent startup, 11Sight, provides a video interaction platform for businesses to establish the first contact and to accelerate lead conversion. Gollu is a member of Keiretsu Forum. He holds four patents with two pending.

Katherine Hamilton is a consultant specializing in environmental policy, education, and communications. She’s worked on climate policy and finance with organizations including The Nature Conservancy, the Governor’s Climate and Forest Task Force, and the philanthropy initiative Joyride Collective. Her consulting work has also included designing and implementing the city of Boulder’s strategy for community engagement in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. She has taught at the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business and served as a board member for the Colorado Carbon Fund and Wildlands Restoration Volunteers.

Hamilton previously served as director of Forest Trend’s Ecosystem Marketplace,  a nonprofit news, data, and analytics service focused on incentives for conservation, where she co-authored the book Voluntary Carbon Markets: A Business Guide to What They are and How They Work. She has also held positions with Yale Environmental Law and Policy Center, Natural Capitalism Inc., and The International Council for Science. Hamilton holds of a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University and bachelor’s from the University of Michigan. She is currently accepted to the Fulbright Specialist Roster.

John Kohler has been director of Impact Capital at Santa Clara’s Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship and has also been a mentor to social entrepreneurs at the Global Social Benefit Accelerator.  In 2011 he authored a report on impact investing entitled Coordinating Impact Capital: a New Approach to Investing in Small and Growing Businesses, co-authored a chapter on equity investing in New Frontiers of Philanthropy (Oxford Press-2014), and recently published a study on Total Portfolio Activation for Impact (Miller Center-2016).  He is now pioneering a new investment vehicle, the Variable Payment Obligation, that presents investors with a structured exit alternative to equity.  In addition, he is co-founder of Toniic, a syndication network of impact investors. Kohler manages investments through Redleaf Venture Management.  He has 20 years of executive level positions at Hewlett Packard, Silicon Graphics, Convergent Technologies, and Unisys.  He was one of the founding executives at Netscape Communications. He led investments at AdRelevance (JMXI), Mosaic Communications (TWX), NetGravity (DCLK), RedCreek Communications (SNWL), and Wireless Online.  John serves as a board member at PACT, an NGO based in Washington D.C., and on Pact’s microfinance company in Myanmar.  He received his bachelor’s degree concentrating in international economics from UCLA and completed executive programs at Wharton and Stanford business schools. Over the last 15 years, he was a managing member of the UCLA Venture Capital Fund and currently advises ACDI/VOCA’s impact fund and USAID. Other recent advisory roles include the Vatican Impact Investing Conference and Catholic Relief Services.  He is a nationally accredited soccer coach, an avid skier, and a sailor.

Rick Rasmussen is a Silicon Valley native with entrepreneurial, executive, government, and academic experience focusing on startups and growth-stage companies.  He works extensively with governments and economic development agencies looking to connect with Silicon Valley.  He is an active member of the Sand Hill Angels investment group. Rasmussen earned an electrical engineering and computer science degree from the University of California at Berkeley and a dual MBA degree from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Columbia’s Graduate School of Business in New York City with honors.  He currently lectures on entrepreneurship at both UC Berkeley and Stanford University.


R. Paul Singh has been a founder and CEO of five startups; Veraz went public and Espresso Logic, CyLAN, and Internetware being acquired. He is now the CEO of Startup Strategies where he works as a mentor to startup CEOs regarding various business and go-to-market issues. Singh has co-authored three books on internet related topics. He has taught various classes at TiE Silicon Valley and IEEE in addition to being a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley, CMU, UCSF, and University of Rochester. Singh holds a BSEE from Delhi University India and an MBA from St. John’s University.


Naeem Zafar is a faculty member at the University of California Berkeley, Center of Entrepreneurship and Technology and the professor of the practice at Brown University.  He has taught entrepreneurship and new venture finance since 2005.  As a serial entrepreneur he co-founded and served as the CEO of several companies including Bitzer Mobile, which was acquired by Oracle in November 2013. He is currently the CEO of TeleSense, an Industrial internet of things company. Zafar has published several cases in Harvard Business School publishing and has authored five books. He has an Sc.B. degree from Brown University.



Key Program Contacts

Naeem Zafar is the faculty director for Semester in San Francisco (fall and spring). Naeem is a seasoned executive who has led several high-tech businesses as the CEO and guided dozens as a Board member or an advisor. He is an entrepreneur, a teacher, an investor, and a mentor. Having co-founded or worked at seven startup companies, he is steeped in the Silicon Valley culture and promotes the lessons of Silicon Valley to organizations and entrepreneurs all over the world.

Naeem has been teaching entrepreneurship as a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley since 2005 as a part of the Haas Business School MBA program, as well as in the College of Engineering to graduate and undergraduate students. He has consistently been one of the highest ranked professors in entrepreneurship and strategy. He has written five books on topics related to entrepreneurship, some of which are now being used as curriculum textbooks at various universities. These books can be found at   Naeem serves on the Board of Directors of several companies and as the Board Chair of OPEN Silicon Valley. He is also currently the President of Brown University Club of Silicon Valley.

Gloria Balderas is the primary contact for all general Semester In Program Inquiries. She is the assistant director of West Coast development and operations and she is based out of Northeastern University’s San Francisco location. She supports regional operations strategy, student mobility, and network expansion.




Tory Hill is the associate director at Co-op Connections, the primary resource for housing and relocation beyond Boston. Hill supports Semester In San Francisco students by providing them with local housing options and resources.




Frequently Asked Questions

Where are the classes held?
Classes are held on the 20th floor at the Northeastern University—San Francisco location. The address is 600 California Street.

Can I work on my own venture during the semester?
Yes, this will be an excellent opportunity to work on your venture within the umbrella of IDEA’s venture incubation services. We will provide access to local mentors in the Bay Area who are alums and friends of the university.

How frequently will I attend events in the Bay Area?
We will be making regular trips within San Francisco and Silicon Valley to gain a better understanding of local industry and culture. This will also include networking opportunities and engagement with alumni, new and seasoned professionals, and thought leaders.

Who will I meet when I am out there?
You will meet young alums who graduated recently and can tell you all about life in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. You will meet alums and friends of the university who will welcome you to the community and offer your advice. You will also meet with corporate as well as startup CEO’s, VC, and other innovators in the San Francisco Bay area.

What classes should I register for, because I have taken an entrepreneurship class?
Contact your advisor to determine which classes you have left to complete your entrepreneurship minor or concentration.

Am I getting an entrepreneurship concentration, minor, or certificate?
If you are a student in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, you will be earning an entrepreneurship concentration. Any other Northeastern student will be earning an entrepreneurship minor. We are currently not offering an entrepreneurship certificate.

Can I do an independent project or an internship?
Students will have the opportunity to apply for independent projects for academic credit, including internships. We are developing a list of companies who will offer internships.

How much will this cost?
You will pay tuition for the courses that you register for. In addition, you will incur housing and living costs in the Bay Area.  Northeastern can assist you in finding housing in the area for the semester.  Also, there is a program fee of $1,500 to cover the cost of local excursions, company visits, networking events, pitch sessions, receptions, etc.  The program fee includes a nonrefundable deposit of $500.

Can you help me find housing?
Please contact Tory Hill ( at the Co-op Connections office for questions related to housing and relocation to the San Francisco area. The Co-op Connections staff has a variety of student housing resources in San Francisco to share with you, as well as the ability to connect you with students who have lived and worked in the area. In addition to providing housing assistance, they can also connect you with other students looking for roommates and/or housing to share.

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