Experience


Northeastern’s position as a world leader in experiential learning translates in different ways to different people. What follows here are examples of how we should talk about what makes us unique across our core audiences. Use this language as a guide, rather than verbatim, when writing for your own marketing projects and initiatives.

General audience
Northeastern is the experience-driven university. For more than a century, we’ve been inspired by a simple truth: Experience deepens learning and discovery like nothing else can. Today that truth has never been more relevant. Experience propels you beyond the confines of discipline, degree, and campus to a lifetime of learning, knowledge creation, and career and personal growth—anytime, anywhere.

Faculty and academic peers
Experience drives our solutions-focused research enterprise and infuses our approach to teaching. It keeps us in tune with a fast-changing world, generates novel ways of thinking, and fuels our many partnerships with industry, government, and academia. It shapes the questions we ask and the dynamics of our classroom discussions and research collaborations. And it brings great minds together to solve global challenges.

Undergraduate students
Northeastern builds experience into every student’s learning, in more than 130 countries on seven continents. Through co-op—our renowned experiential program—you’ll put ideas into action working in industry, government, and the nonprofit sector. You’ll gain experience that challenges and elevates you in ways that make classroom study uniquely richer and expands your comfort zone and your vision. Experience teaches you how to succeed and how to fail and try again, making you a more resilient, high-impact global citizen.

Graduate students/professional (Lifelong Learning Network)
In a time of rapid technological change, you need to keep learning to keep up. With a network of campuses in Boston, Charlotte, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Toronto, Northeastern has a unique perspective on the fast-evolving talent and innovation needs of world-class cities. Our graduate programs, uniquely embedded with professional experience, prepare professionals to be flexible, adaptable, and in step with the world, at every stage of their lives and careers.

Research doctoral students
As a PhD student at Northeastern, you’ll have the opportunity to deepen your research and broaden its impact by working at leading companies, government agencies, university laboratories, and nonprofits. In addition to your faculty advisor, you’ll connect with mentors from industry, build skills, and widen your network. More important, you’ll gain unique insights that will shape your doctoral research. By the time of your dissertation, you’ll be on course for a challenging career, inside the academy or beyond it.

Alumni
No matter your next step—a new job or graduate school—Northeastern’s global alumni network can help you get there. You can earn an advanced degree or certificate, online or on site in Boston or at one of four regional campuses in Charlotte, Seattle, the San Francisco Bay Area, or Toronto. Or sign up for one of our career  workshops. You’ll be able to tap into your network for learning and professional advancement anytime, anywhere.

Athletes and fans
Northeastern has always had a bold vision for excellence—driven by experience, discipline, and impact. And Northeastern Athletics has been as relentless in its pursuit of excellence as the university itself. The “Huskies” nickname, adopted in 1927 with the Husky as its mascot, captures that shared character—strong, able, energetic, proud. Huskies are bold, driven, and distinctly ahead of the pack. For more on the Northeastern Athletics brand, download the complete Athletics brand book.

WHAT IS EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING?

At Northeastern, experiential learning is our distinctive approach to learning for undergraduate and graduate students alike. It’s the process of learning through experience, and is more specifically defined as learning through reflection on doing. At Northeastern, learning through experience is never isolated from classroom learning or reflection.

Co-op (more formally, cooperative education) is our flagship experiential program. It integrates classroom study with professional work experience, usually related to a student’s major or field of interest. Northeastern undergraduates can take as many as three 6-month co-op experiences throughout the U.S. and in more than 100 countries. More than 9 out of 10 take at least one. “Co-op” is also commonly used to refer to the work experience itself. Jane did a chemistry co-op at Amgen in California. Many of Northeastern’s professional master’s programs—and increasingly, PhDs—include co-op-like experiences, but these should not be referred to as co-ops.

Northeastern 2025, the university’s 10-year academic plan, is expanding our experiential offerings beyond co-op. Here are our other signature experiential programs and initiatives. It’s important to be able to communicate fluidly about what these programs are and why they’re different from standard internships.

Undergraduate research is experiential. It can be pursued as a formal co-op placement at a research organization or by working with a professor in their lab for a semester.

Likewise, community service is experiential and can be done through a co-op placement in the U.S. or abroad. But it also can be pursued through Northeastern’s service-learning courses, where professors assign real-world projects with partner community-based groups to students as part of the curriculum.

Northeastern offers study abroad opportunities similar to those at many universities. Students study at one of Northeastern’s partner academic institutions during their fall, spring, or summer session.

Bachelor of Science International Business (BSIB) at Northeastern is a hybrid of study abroad and global co-op offered through the D’Amore-McKim School of Business for international business majors. They study abroad in one of nine locations for one semester, and then do a six-month-long co-op at a multinational company.  

Dialogue of Civilizations is Northeastern’s short-term study-abroad program (typically four weeks). These are faculty-led and center on an academic project ranging from research to producing a body of artwork.

The Experiential PhD is a new offering at Northeastern, where doctoral students take on challenging assignments inside our many partner organizations in industry, government, academia, and the nonprofit sector. Northeastern is one of the only universities in the world to offer all PhD students experiential learning opportunities outside of their primary research group.

The Experiential Network, or XNallows students in many professional graduate programs, including some in online or hybrid formats, to have opportunities for project-based experiences or corporate residencies.

EXPERIENCE VS. EXPERIENTIAL

Whenever possible—especially in headlines, ad copy, taglines, and display type—use the more relatable word “experience” over “experiential,” which is less familiar to lay audiences. “Experiential” and “experiential learning” are still Northeastern’s key differentiator, but make every effort to find fresh ways to convey what that means to the world.

Here are a few phrases to avoid when describing any of our experiential learning programs and opportunities.

Hands-on learning and practice, which have a vocational connotation.

Earn to learn, sometimes used to describe our paid co-op positions, but misses the academic substance entirely.

Internship, when referring to a co-op placement. Internships are experiential, but co-ops are typically longer in duration, more structured, and include the important reflection component. Internships are what all the other universities offer. Co-op is more.

Co-op gets you a job. It can. But more important it helps spark curiosity, expands your ability to think deeply about ideas, and prepares you for a career over your lifetime.