Academic Plan

Northeastern University created a new academic plan in 2007 to guide the university’s academic growth and development in the coming years. During the life of the plan, Northeastern’s marketing and branding efforts will align with the strategies and initiatives articulated here. We include this summary purely as a reference and a guide to broad message development for academic and alumni audiences only. The Office of Marketing and Communications, the Office of the President, and the Office of the Provost together oversee all print and online vehicles promoting or publicizing the academic plan and its constituent initiatives.


The Northeastern community stands on the threshold of change in the twenty-first century, eager to embrace the challenges and opportunities that will define our future and shape our destiny. We have approached the development of the academic plan with great optimism and momentum, yet mindful of the increasing competitive pressures that will continue to surface in the years ahead. Our success in attaining the outcomes we seek for Northeastern University will be based on our commitment to the guiding principles of excellence, distinctiveness, and innovation.

Strategies and Initiatives

Enhance Student Outcomes through Experiential Learning
Northeastern University adopted experiential learning nearly a century ago, with the emergence of cooperative education. These initiatives will extend our experiential learning model to a host of new areas, including study abroad, undergraduate research, and graduate training:

  • Transformative student experiences that are fully integrated with in-class learning. Best practices, such as team learning, self-organizing student interest groups, and integrative capstone courses will be emphasized.
  • Groundbreaking experiential learning research into the cognitive and developmental impacts of this educational design. We will pioneer in developing a better understanding of how this model fosters student learning in higher education.

Address Global and Societal Challenges through Interdisciplinary and Translational Research
The creation of new knowledge and new technologies continues to accelerate rapidly. Universities will increasingly play a critical role in shaping this research agenda. These initiatives are designed to open new opportunities for the university to build a distinctive research program:

  • Enhancing existing and emerging centers of excellence in fundamental, interdisciplinary, and translational research. We will strengthen our partnerships with industry and research hospitals, with institutions that promote the common good and justice, and with international institutions.
  • Innovative education that builds on universitywide graduate groups that supersede the traditional boundaries between academic units.

Enrich Intellectual Life and Creative Expression
The development of intellect and creativity is fundamental to all educational experiences—from the classroom to the conference room, from the library to the lab, and from the studio to the stage. The following initiatives will broaden and enrich intellectual life and creative expression on campus and in the wider community:

  • Integrating the tools of contemporary life into the curriculum, helping Northeastern students develop their skills and abilities in abstraction, creativity, and composition; in visual, aural, and media literacy; and in critical thinking and logical reasoning.
  • Partnerships that encourage the development and dissemination of creative works on campus and throughout the world. By promoting collaborations with artists and institutions, Northeastern will enrich creative and intellectual opportunities.

Strengthen Urban Engagement
In order for Northeastern University to thrive in the twenty-first century, our institution must be engaged locally and globally in urban settings that represent an increasing portion of the world’s population. These initiatives will serve as the catalyst for these efforts:

  • Partnerships with neighboring communities that maximize our effectiveness in urban engagement and social responsibility. Northeastern will build new partnerships with our surrounding communities, linking them to us and to each other.
  • Shared expertise in urban policy and research through mutual learning. Our capacity to draw on the experience of other communities in global urban settings is a resource that will be shared with the region, the nation, and the world.

Embrace Global Opportunities
The world and the world of higher education are undergoing enormous change. The global university, characterized by campuses in several countries and a strong presence in cyberspace, is rapidly becoming commonplace. These initiatives will accelerate Northeastern’s development as a more global institution:

  • Enhance universitywide global awareness by adopting a global perspective. Northeastern will expand language and cultural literacy, and creative opportunities for faculty and students to work and learn together in international settings.
  • Extend the university’s global presence through technology and global communications. We will expand and refine our capacity to deliver lifelong learning programs worldwide, drawing increasing numbers of international students and faculty to Northeastern.