The Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy (CFHETS) is an applied research center that builds on Northeastern University’s heritage of more than a century of leadership in experiential learning and its network of more than 3,300 employer partners.

Drawing on the expertise of Northeastern faculty and affiliated industry-based scholars, CFHETS’ analysis focuses on bringing the voice and perspective of employers into the higher education community, while also serving as a research-based academic voice and resource in the world of corporate learning and talent strategy. The center is also a leader in developing and testing next generation models for employer-university collaboration.


By studying trends and pioneering and testing next-generation learning models, we seek to improve and optimize the interaction between the postsecondary education system and employers – thus improving outcomes for students, institutions, and the economy and society at large.

Core Research Areas 

CFHETS’ work embraces the notion that learning happens everywhere – and that in today’s globalized knowledge economy, the boundaries are increasingly blurring between structured learning that occurs in educational institutions and learning that occurs in the workplace.

The scope of our research stretches beyond topics such as skill demands and student career preparation – to crucially also include the full scope of lifelong and on-the-job learning that is occurring in the market for experienced talent. The center’s analytical lens is also distinguished by a focus on the educational models, business models, and strategic impacts for educational systems and employers.

CFHETS’ research revolves around 5 core thematic areas:

The center’s research output manifests itself in projects with commercial employers and higher education institutions; published research reports, articles, and public speaking; consulting engagements; and implementation, technology, and policy projects. The center’s research is also integrated with and supports the educational offerings of Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies and its Graduate School of Education.

CFHETS’ interdisciplinary approach and position within one of the nation’s top-ranked and most innovative research universities provides it with an unparalleled array of academic assets to conduct research and develop solutions at the intersection of higher education and talent strategy.

Affiliated Faculty and Administrators

Amanda Welsh, PhD
Professor of the Practice
Northeastern University

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Shannon Alpert, EdD, PMP
Associate Teaching Professor
Northeastern University

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Eliot Gattegno
Professor of the Practice
Northeastern University

Anne Nanovic
Research Associate
Northeastern University

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Ellen Whitman Stoddard, EdD
Northeastern University

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Steven Soares, PhD
Northeastern University

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Jamie Warner
Northeastern University

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In The News

Spring enrollment steady, just not at all institutions.

by Jaime Adame

Inside Higher Ed

March 29, 2023

Microcredentials boom, employers and hiring platforms fumble.

by Susan D’Agostino

Inside Higher Ed

March 28, 2023

Talk of skills-based hiring is everywhere, but the tech isn’t there yet.

by Elyse Ashburn


March 27, 2023

Undergrad degree completion falls for first time in a decade.

by Liam Knox

Inside Higher Ed

March 17, 2023

Microcredentials confuse employers, colleges, and learners.

by Susan D’Agostino

Inside Higher Ed

March 3, 2023

Recognizing workforce not just as an expense but an asset.

by Laura Aka


March 13, 2023


by Susan D’Agostino

Inside Higher Ed

January 25, 2023

Wallace, P. (2022, October 4). Companies eliminating college-degree requirements increases job competition. Fortune.

Timsit, A. (2022, September 28). MIT professors propose a new kind of university for post-COVID era. EdSurge.

Brown, S. (2022, September 14). How the metaverse can end work silos and surface innovation. Fast Company.

Farber, M. (2022, August 22). A recession-proof job market? Not quite. Vox.

Gilchrist, K. (2022, July 7). Can universities pivot to more flexible and modular learning models? University World News.

Ebben, M. (2022, June 14). Facebook seems to be adding video course features for edtech that raises old fears. EdSurge.

Goldsmith, B. (2022, May 31). Work from home can lead to higher productivity, study finds. Vox.

Redden, E. (2022, May 17). Full-time online MBA enrollment surpasses in-person programs. Inside Higher Ed.

Thompson, A. (2022, May 4). The future of learning is integration with work. Charles Koch Foundation.

Joseph, J. (2022, April 8). Requiring college degrees a sign of a lazy employer. HR Executive.

Flaherty, C. (2022, March 29). Amazon’s employees can go to college free. What’s in it for higher ed? The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The Edge [Newsletter]. (2022, February 23). The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Future U [Podcast]. (2022, February 16). Higher ed 101: The credential cluster. Future U

Zurawski, N. (2021, December 6). No, Google isn’t making college degrees obsolete. Open Campus Media.

Gallagher, S. (2021, December 21). The Still-Evolving Future of University Credentials. EdSurge.

Spitznagel, E. (2021, December 18). Robot Waiters, Rubber Shoes and 7 More Trends Set to Take Over in 2022. New York Post.

Gallagher, S. (2021, November 22). The Microlearning Moment in Workplace Learning. EdSurge.

Carrasco, M. (2021, November 10). Partnering on Students’ Tech Skills Training. Inside Higher Ed.

Ashburn, E. (2021, October 20). No Longer Just ‘Nice-to-have’—Inside the Demand for Workplace Learning. Work Shift.

Gallagher, S. (2021, August 11). It’s Time to Reboot Our Thinking About Adult Learners in a Digitally Transformed World. EdSurge.

Jung, C. (2021, June 29). Cambridge-Based Online Learning Platform edX To Be Acquired By 2U. WBUR.

Young, J.R. (2021, June 29). 2U Buys edX for $800M, In Surprise End to Nonprofit MOOC Provider Started by MIT and Harvard. EdSurge.

Baker, S. (2021, June 29). Major Online Players 2U and edX Join Forces in $800 Million Deal. Times Higher Ed (subscription required).

Quiroz-Gutierrez, M. (2021, June 7). The Tight Labor Market Has Companies Reconsidering Whether a College Degree Is a Must. Fortune.

Gallagher, S. and Zanville, H. (2021, March 25). More Employers Are Awarding Credentials. Is A Parallel Higher Education System Emerging? EdSurge.

Petersen, C. (2021, March 22). The Digital Graduate (Podcast). Financial Times (Tech Tonic podcast).

Caballero, A. and Gallagher, S. (2021, March 13). Post-COVID, Universities Must Embrace Work-integrated Learning. Times Higher Education (subscription required).

McKenzie, L. (2021, March 9). ‘MOOCs failed, short courses won’. Inside Higher Ed.

Wan, T. (2021, March 5). Coursera’s IPO Filing Shows Growing Revenue and Loss During a Pandemic. EdSurge.

Park, J. (2021, February 2). How Unemployed Californians Launched New Careers in a Pandemic With 9 Weeks of Training. The Sacramento Bee.

Brown Thompson, C. and Gallagher, S. (2020, December 17). How Experiential Learning Can Improve Educational and Workforce Equity. EdSurge.

Gallagher, S. and Palmer, J. (2020, September 29). The Pandemic Pushed Universities Online. The Change Was Long Overdue. Harvard Business Review.

Fain, P. (2020, August 27). Alternate Credentials on the Rise. Inside Higher Ed.

Gallagher, S. (2020, August 12). It’s Time to Digitally Transform Community College. EdSurge.

Young, J.R. (2020, August 6). U. of Arizona Bought a For-Profit U. for $1? Actually, the For-Profit Paid Millions to be Acquired. EdSurge.

Marcus, J. (2020, July 10). With a Degree No Longer Enough, Job Candidates are Told to Prove Their Skills in Tests. The Washington Post.

Gallagher, S. (2020, June 19). COVID-19 is Accelerating the Digital Blending of Working and Learning. EdSurge.

Krist, J. (2020, May 13). Higher Education and the Future of Skills Development After COVID-19. Workday Podcast.

Jonas, M. (2020, April 24). Coronavirus Campus Unrest. Commonwealth Magazine.

Young, J.R. (2020, March 27). How a Pandemic Could Change Higher Education. EdSurge.

Purbasari Horton, A. (2020, February 17). Could Micro-Credentials Compete with Traditional Degrees? BBC.

Gallagher, S. (2020, January 30). To Better Serve Adult Learners, Eliminate the Barriers Between Work and Learning. EdSurge.

McKenzie, L. (2020, January 24). A New Player in the College Completion Market. Inside Higher Ed.

St. Amour, M. (2020, January 17). Crunch Time for Calbright. Inside Higher Ed.

Maggioncalda, J. (2020, January 15). 2019 Was a Pivotal Year for the Degree. Inside Higher Ed.

Burke, L. (2019, November 20). Who’s Completing Microcredentials? Inside Higher Ed.

Burke, L. (2019, November 7). The Landscape for Master’s-Level Education. Inside Higher Ed.

Wiley University Services. (2019, October 10). Are Non-Accredited Providers a Competitive Threat to Colleges and Universities? Not Necessarily. Wiley University Services.

Gallagher, S. (2019, September 20). How the Value of Educational Credentials Is and Isn’t Changing. Harvard Business Review.

Craig, R. (2019, September 6). When it Comes to Learning and Development, Don’t Judge Employers By What They Say, But Rather What They Measure. Forbes.

Gallagher, S. (2019, August 22). In a Changing Career Landscape, Employers and Workers Need a New Social Contract for Retraining. EdSurge.

McKenzie, L. (2019, August 14). Changing Spaces. Inside Higher Ed.

Sarwari, K. (2019, July 9). Are Lifelong Learning Savings Accounts the Answer to Bridging the Skills Gap in the Age of Artificial Intelligence? News@Northeastern.

Gallagher, S. (2019, June 24). Talent Analytics, Skills-Based Hiring and the Potential Disruption of the Degree. EdSurge.

Paterson, J. (2019, June 6). More Than Half of Online Learners Want to Change Careers. Education Dive.

Fishman, B. (2019, May 31). Exploring the Future (and Present) of College Credentials With Sean Gallagher. University of Michigan Academic Innovation.

Young, J.R. (2019, April 16). The Fast-Changing and Competitive World of Grad Degrees. EdSurge.

Gallagher, S. (2019, April 8). As Grad Degrees and Credentials Boom, Prestigious Schools are Winning. EdSurge.

Gallagher, S. (2019, March 25). Employer Demand Shaping the Future of Microcredential Market: Insights From a National Survey. Unbound: Reinventing Higher Education.

Ziff Soriano, D. (2019, March 13). How Long Does It Take to Get a Master’s Degree? U.S. News & World Report.

Democratic Press Office. (2019, March 7). Don’t Stop Believin’: Committee Report Confirms College is Still Well Worth the Cost. House Committee on Education & Labor.

Young, J.R. (2019, March 7). UMass Will Build a National Online College. But What About Its Previous Online Offshoot? EdSurge.

Gallagher, S. (2019, February 18). A New Era of Microcredentials and Experiential Learning. University World News.

Fain, P. (2019, January 16). Takedown of Online Education. Inside Higher Ed.

Carapezza, K. (2018, December 20). At MIT, Advanced Training for Community College Students. WGBH.

Etherington, C. (2018, December 17). Have Online Degrees and Credentials Finally Lost Their Stigma? ELearning Inside.

Fain, P. (2018, December 14). The Degree Rules, For Now. Inside Higher Ed.

Callahan, M. and Petronio, L. (2018, December 13). Here’s Why Certificates and Microcredentials Will Help You Get Your Next Job. News@Northeastern.

Educacion AZ. (2018, November 26). Cual Es El Futuro De Las Instituciones De Educacion Superior? Educacion AZ.

McKenzie, L. (2018, November 26). Imagining an Apple Store for Online Degrees. Inside Higher Ed.

Nyren, H. (2018, November 20). How Northeastern University is Connecting Theory and Practice at the Intersection of Higher Ed and Industry. EdTech Times.

Lieberman, M. (2018, November 14). Who’s Taking Nondegree Courses – And Why? Inside Higher Ed.

McKenzie, L. (2018, November 14). In Prime Position. Inside Higher Ed.

Young. J.R. (2018, November 9). LinkedIn Opens Its Platform (Slightly). EdSurge.

Gallagher, S. (2018, October 30). The Beginning of a New Era in the Online Degree Market. EdSurge.

McKenzie, L. (2018, October 12). EDX: From Micromasters to Online Master’s Degrees. Inside Higher Ed.

Selingo, J. (2018, July 27). Just in Time for Whom? Slate.

Johnson, S. (2018, July 18). Tech Training and Apprenticeship Startup Kenzie Academy Raises $4.2M. EdSurge.

Gallagher, S. and Van Kleef Conley, N. (2018, June 25). Employer Credentials and Community Colleges: A Look Behind Google’s IT Support Certificate Program. EdSurge.

Nazerian, T. (2018, June 14). Last Year, Google Entered the Job Search Space. Now, It’s Entered the College Search Space. EdSurge.

Nazerian, T. (2018, June 8). Facebook’s Latest Higher Ed Push Part of Broader Trend. EdSurge.

Young, J.R. (2018, May 28). Walmart Chooses Three Colleges Where Its Employees Can Study for $1 a Day. EdSurge.

Gallagher, S. (2018, May 14). The Future of University Credentials: New Developments (Interview) at the Intersection of Higher Education and Hiring. New Books Network.

Gallagher, S. (2018, May 7). ‘Talent’ Has Become the New Theme Uniting Education and Employment. EdSurge.

Greenberg, S. (2018, May 5). Bright Lines Between Traditional Degrees and Microcredentials. Inside Higher Ed.

EdSurge. (2018, May 2). Bain Capital to Buy Penn Foster, a Workforce-Skills Provider that Dates Back to Late 1800s. EdSurge.

Malik, S. (2018, March 23). The Future of Work and the Future of Learning are Converging. IBM Training and Skills Blog.

Coursera. (2018, March 17). Highlights from the 2018 Coursera Partners Conference. Coursera Blog.

Gallagher, S. (2018, February 14). For Experiential Learning Programs to Thrive, They Must Bridge K-12 and Higher Ed (and the Workforce). EdSurge.

Radionoff, K. and Leuba, M. (2018, January 31). Putting Learners First: The Future of Microcredentialing. The Evolllution.

Young, J.R. (2018, January 23). In Evolving World of Microcredentials, Students, Colleges and Employers Want Different Things. EdSurge.

Marcus, J. (2017, December 18). Impatient with Universities’ Slow Pace of Change, Employers Go Around Them. The Hechinger Report.

Gallagher, S. and Leaser, D. (2017, December 6). Convergence of Credentials: How Corporations and Colleges are Teaming to Skill Up the Technology Workforce. EDUCAUSE.

CampusTap. (2017, November 8). Sean Gallagher and Northeastern’s Latest Contribution to Higher Education. CampusTap.

Gallagher, S. (2017, November 6). As Corporate World Moves Toward Curated ‘Microlearning,’ Higher Ed Must Adapt. EdSurge.

Marcus J. (2017, October 24). New Research Questions the Value of Certificates Pushed by Colleges, Policymakers. The Hechinger Report.

Young, J.R. (2017, October 19). How Kristen Swanson Applies Her Classroom Experience to Lead ‘Professional Learning’ at Slack. EdSurge.

Blumenstyk, G. (2017, October 3). Can a 20-Minute Test Tell Employers What a College Degree Cannot? The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Krupnick, M. (2017, August 29). After Decades of Pushing Bachelor’s Degrees, U.S. Needs More Tradespeople. The Hechinger Report.

Gallagher, S. (2017, August 16). How MOOCs are Inspiring the Future of Higher Education. Harvard Education Publishing Voices in Education.

Gallagher, S. (2017, June 22). How Amazon’s Purchase of Whole Foods Highlights the Hybrid, ‘Omnichannel’ Future of Higher Ed. EdSurge.

Gallagher, S. (2017, May 9). Yes There’s ‘Disruption’ in College Market, But the Bigger Trend is Growth of ‘Enabler’ Companies. EdSurge.

Callahan, M. (2017, March 17). New Center to Help Bridge Gap Between Higher Ed Models and Employers’ Talent Demands. News@Northeastern.

Howard, B. (2017, March 14). Weigh the Cost, Benefits of Grad School. U.S. News & World Report.

Young, J.R. (2017, March 2). What Colleges Should Know About a Growing ‘Talent Strategy’ Push By Companies. EdSurge.