A Year In with Year Up

College partnership with national nonprofit founded in Boston helps students thrive

A College of Professional Studies partnership that lets students who are part of the Year Up Greater Boston workforce development program to earn college credits for previous training and internships looks likely to expand. The program strives to move young adults from minimum wage jobs to meaningful careers. 

The agreement, inked in January of 2018, allows Year Up Greater Boston graduates to apply their work in that program toward up to 31 credit hours in one of two degrees at CPS: the Bachelor of Science in Information Technology and the Bachelor of Science in Management.

Mike Jackson, Associate Dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs, says the Boston-based nonprofit is a perfect partner for the college.

“What’s exciting about it,” Jackson says, “is that this gives us an opportunity to help students who have used their time in Year Up to really find their direction, and what interests them, to achieve their goals. We can take the experiences that they have had and translate those into college credit. Basically, they’ll have completed a year’s work of their undergraduate degree when they come to us.”

Founded in 2000, Year Up offers a year-long workforce development program that combines hands-on skills instruction with classes and corporate internships, matching students with professional mentors and offering a network of support that includes a stipend during training and internships. The program’s focus on professional training, Jackson says, is one reason it fits so well in partnership with CPS—an industry-aligned college with numerous faculty leading successful careers in the sectors about which they teach.

“We have folks who work in these industries teaching classes for us,” Jackson says, “so they bring that expertise and day-to-day experience into the classroom. It helps students better understand and appreciate what these jobs and careers will look like.”

The partnership with Year Up isn’t the first of its kind for the college. Agreements with Google, Major League Baseball and other organizations have been helping Northeastern students earn credit toward their degrees for years. 

“At the root, it’s a similar kind of thing,” Jackson says. “We don’t want students to waste time or money taking coursework for material that they’ve already mastered. It’s a little bit different, though, because with Year Up we’re working with a nonprofit organization and we’re building in additional support services for students.”

That support includes a dedicated staff member to help students navigate the application process, their course requirements, problems with technology, and any other issues they might encounter. After a year, students move on to a regular academic advisor. 

With the applicant pool growing, Jackson says CPS is looking at instituting similar collaborations in its master’s degree programs—and at expanding the partnership with Year Up to include the university’s regional campuses in Seattle and in Charlotte. 

“We’re looking to model a program out there that fits the experience of those students,” he says, “which will be similar in some ways and different in others. But we’re looking to scale this. We’d like to reach more students and to provide this opportunity to as many of them as we can.”