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 the fall, 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 than the Silicon Valley. Northeastern’s campus in San Francisco offers three tracks for you to choose from 1) Entrepreneurship, 2) Social enterprise and 3) Finance.

All of these tracks are taught by experienced professors and practitioners (see below for their bio). 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 CPS) are eligible! DMSB students can complete their Entrepreneurship Concentration through the program; while, non-DMSB students need to take one course in Boston and then complete the Entrepreneurship Minor.


Program Structure

New Fall 2019 now accepting applications (for NEU undergrad students only) 

A hands-on experiential program that explores entrepreneurship through the lens of design thinking —a human-centered approach to innovation that integrates people, technology and business. The expanded curriculum now offers opportunities to focus on finance or social enterprise.  Students may also be eligible to take a biotechnology course.  Working with their advisors, students have the option to take courses as electives or work towards an Entrepreneurship Concentration in San Francisco. The program is open to all Northeastern students. Interested candidates are encouraged to contact Naeem Zafar directly at and Lauren Desantis at


Students take sixteen credits with the following options.  Students work with advisors to determine fit and selection. 

To be offered in San Francisco:

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

Social Enterprise Track: 

  • ENTR4501: Business Planning for Technology Ventures 4 hours
  • ENTR 2303 Entrepreneurial Marketing 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 start-ups, 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 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 & Dates
Business Planning for Technology Ventures ENTR 4501 Tuesday 9:00am – 12:15pm
Impact Investing and Social Finance ENTR 3520 Tuesday 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Entrepreneurial Marketing ENTR 2303 Thursday 1:30pm – 4:45pm
Lean Design and Development for Entrepreneurs ENTR 3330 Friday 1:30pm – 4:45pm
Entrepreneurial Finance, Innovation Valuation, and Private Equity FINA 4610 Friday 9:00am – 12:15pm



600 California St, San Francisco, CA 94109

If you have any questions about the locations mentioned above, please contact Gloria Balderas directly at for more information.


“The Semester in Silicon Valley program was hands down the best experience I’ve had attending Northeastern University. During my time in San Francisco, I was able to build a lifelong network of mentors and colleagues that I will utilize as I advance my professional career. Furthermore, the program provided me invaluable insight into the entrepreneurial mindset and unveiled the tactical skills that are required to become a successful entrepreneur.”
Lawrence, Semester in Silicon Valley, Spring 2018


“I recommend the Semester in Silicon Valley program to everyone who wants to experience a completely different style of learning. It’s very hands-on and is based on real-world applications. Everyone in Silicon Valley is involved in entrepreneurship in some shape or form. I found myself walking around during lunch break, meeting Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and just learning how their companies started. The mindset here is just very different. It really motivates you. The faculty is top-notch and very approachable. This is the best semester for me!”
Khiani Harshit, Semester in Silicon Valley, Spring 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, Semester in Silicon Valley, Spring 2018



“The Semester in Silicon Valley program provides a great internship opportunity. I have made valuable connections since I started the program. It’s nice to actually work on real-world projects and apply what we learned in class. I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to pursue entrepreneurship. The professors are amazing, highly-qualified and are always available to answer our questions. Semester in Silicon Valley really gives students the chance to connect and network with experts in the industry.”
– Pierrick, Semester in Silicon Valley, Fall 2017


“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 Silicon Valley, Fall 2017


“There’s no better place for this than Silicon Valley – this is a once in a lifetime experience. I am working on real-world projects. This is hands down the best program for entrepreneurship. There is so much energy both from the professors and students. The teachers do not just give the traditional way of lectures – they push you to get out of your comfort zone so you can prepare for the real world. The internship is taken to another level. I have made so many valuable connections in Silicon Valley. The experiential component of this program is the best I’ve seen. I recommend this program to anyone thinking about taking an entrepreneurship program.”
– Raj, Semester in Silicon Valley, Fall 2017

Here’s a short video of our Fall 2017 students, Alexy and Rebecca, sharing their Semester in Silicon Valley experience during the Northeastern State of the University event.

Here’s a short video of our Spring 2018 students, sharing their Semester in San Francisco experience.

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!

“I am already missing the culture in San Francisco. I want to thank you for a great semester. It was truly life-changing. I talked with people after the program ended, and they felt the same way. Overall, I think that this semester was perfect for the lessons it taught me.” – Rebecca Dragon, Semester in Silicon Valley, Fall 2017

“It was a great opportunity, and I’m glad I attended it. I want to thank you for a truly transformative experience and for shifting my perspective on the way the world works.” – Alexy Santos, Semester in Silicon Valley, Fall 2017

Our students get the best of both worlds! Click here to view the photo gallery.

Meet the Faculty

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, that was acquired by Oracle in November 2013. He is currently the CEO of TeleSense, an Industrial IoT company. Naeem has published several cases in Harvard Business School publishing and has authored five books. He has an Sc.B. degree from Brown University.


Conrad Herrmann has a degree from Brown University.  He was the Senior Vice President at the Franklin Templeton Investments. As the senior leader within a large equity advisory group at Franklin Templeton Investments for over 27 years. He lead portfolio for 23 years of flagship, all-cap growth mutual fund with assets of over $3 billion.  It was the best performing mutual fund in all of Franklin Templeton over this period, with average annual returns of 10.94%.



Dr. Christopher A. Vaughan  has a PhD from UC Berkeley and an degree in international relations from Brown University. He takes a interdisciplinary approaches to Media Studies, Journalism, History, Cultural Studies, Multicultural Communication, International Relations, Global Media, Political News, Popular Culture. He has taught Legal and Ethical Issues in Journalism, Business and Professional Communication, Speech & Rhetoric, Communication Research Methods.



R. Paul Singh has been a founder and CEO of five startups with Veraz going 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.  Paul has co-authored three books on internet related topics. He has taught various classes at TiE Silicon Valley and IEEE besides being a guest lecturer at UC Berkeley, CMU, UCSF and Univ. of Rochester. Mr. Singh holds a BSEE from Delhi University, India and an MBA from St. John’s University, NY.


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. Rick 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.


Aleks Gollu is a veteran of the Bay Area venture start-up eco-system, with expertise in supply chain, transportation, and telecommunication. Dr. Gollu holds a BS degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and MS and Ph.D. 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 (TSYS) 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 start-up 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 4 patents with 2 pending.

Alina Adams is a serial entrepreneur 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/IoT 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. Alina is a member of several global organizations that help entrepreneurs, assisting startups with business development strategy, fundraising, and growth strategy.

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. John manages investments through Redleaf Venture Management, a venture capital operating company founded in 1993.  John’s earlier background includes twenty 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 sailor.

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’s 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.

Katherine previously served as Director of Forest Trend’s Ecosystem Marketplace, non-profit news, data, and analytics service focused on incentives for conservation. There 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. Katerine holds of a Master of Environmental Management from Yale University and Bachelors from University of Michigan. She is currently accepted to the Fulbright Specialist Roster.

Meet our Program Executives

Marc H. Meyer
Marc is the Robert Shillman Professor of Entrepreneurship as well as Matthews Distinguished University Professor. In 2006, Dr. Meyer started Northeastern’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group. Since that time, he and his colleagues have helped numerous students and alumni start their own companies. He has also been a long-serving director of the University’s High Technology MBA program and a faculty leader of Executive Education in the D’Amore McKim School of Business.

Marc is also an internationally recognized scholar in the field of innovation. The Power of Product Platforms (written with Alvin P. Lehnerd, The Free Press), continues to be a leading work in the management of architecture for products, systems, and services. The Fast Path to Corporate Growth: Leveraging Knowledge and Technologies to New Market Applications (Oxford University Press), links innovation with enterprise growth and is used by industry leaders around the world to develop and operationalize growth strategies. He consults to leading corporations around the world on developing new product lines and services as well as new ventures within the business.

Marc holds degrees from Harvard and M.I.T. and works closely with the Technical University of Delft on design, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

Our Program Director

Naeem Zafar 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 Assistant Director of West Coast Development and Operations and she is based out of Northeastern University’s San Francisco location. She is excited to help enhance operations delivery and support experiential programming across regional campuses as part of the Lifelong Learning Network. Gloria’s previous experience in higher education includes positions at UC Berkeley and Babson College. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from San Jose State University.  Gloria loves to work strategically, support innovative academic programs, and interact with diverse populations.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 mentors in Silicon Valley from amongst the alums and friends of the university who are working there.

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 California Bay area.

How frequently will I be in Silicon Valley for events?
We will be making regular trips to visit Silicon Valley companies to gain a better understanding of the Silicon Valley ecosystem. We will have a CEO breakfast series that will feature leaders of industry in the valley.

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 non-refundable deposit of $500.

Can you help me find housing?
Please contact Sonya Cottam 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. Please contact Sonya Cottam, or 617.373.7492, for more information or to set up an appointment.

More Q&As

Student Activities

Visit to Astro Studios in San Francisco


Welcome Reception