$4 Million Gift Supports First-in-Nation Undergraduate STEM-Focused Program for Continuing Students

November 4, 2014 – As education, government and business leaders gathered for the Massachusetts STEM Summit in Worcester, MA, recently to address the shortage of college graduates in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and the critical role they play in the technology-driven 21st century economy, the Lowell Institute is investing $4 million to expand the mission of the undergraduate curriculum at Northeastern University College of Professional Studies to address the challenge.

“The Lowell Institute School at Northeastern University will address two critical issues: the low bachelor’s degree graduation rates among working adults who have some college credits, and the growing need of employers for qualified STEM graduates by connecting the two issues in a unique way,” explained John LaBrie, dean, Northeastern University College of Professional Studies.

Experiential Education for Careers in STEM

The Lowell Institute School will offer STEM-focused bachelor’s degree programs for students who bring partial college credits into the program.  Degrees will be offered in hybrid and fully-online formats, enriched by Northeastern’s hallmark experiential education throughout the curriculum, ranging from course assignments addressing current industry challenges to opportunities for co-op learning and work experiences.

Funding from the Lowell Institute will support curriculum development, hiring of faculty members, laboratories, and scholarship support.  When the Lowell Institute was founded in the early 19th century, it focused on bringing the breadth and depth of quality education available in the Boston area to a wider circle of people eager to learn and advance in their careers.

Now, William Lowell envisions the Lowell Institute School in today’s context: “I think there’s a need as much as ever in the modern economy, certainly locally where employers express some frustration about the gap between the people they’re trying to hire for jobs that need to be filled, and the training of the available workforce.”

Since 2004, the College of Professional Studies has offered fast track bachelor’s of science degree programs to qualified students resulting in graduation rates of 90% or better, compared to the national average of 34% for students who re-entered higher education.

STEM Summit

Academic leaders from the College of Professional Studies participated in the Massachusetts STEM Summit, noting the critical need for engagement across the spectrum of higher education with the industries that will ultimately employ graduates. Biology faculty member Sandra M Buerger, PhD, spoke on the topic: “Aligning Expectations Between Community College Life Sciences Programs and Life Sciences Companies.”

About Northeastern University College of Professional Studies

Northeastern University College of Professional Studies is one of nine colleges that form the university. Northeastern University is recognized for academic excellence, ranking in the top 50 universities in the United States in U.S. News & World Report, as well as ranking sixth among U.S. universities sought by international students. Northeastern is renowned for experiential education, and the College of Professional Studies incorporates this strength in career-focused professional education at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Degrees reflect business needs, the reality of the present economy, and areas of professional growth and demand.