Graduate Students Learn and Earn Relevant Work Experience Online

Unprecedented Online Experiential Learning class for working professionals yields deeper knowledge and a completed project on the resume

Boston, MA – Northeastern University College of Professional Studies recently launched an innovative pilot: Online Experiential Learning for Working Professionals , a new opportunity for working graduate students who are pursuing their degrees online to learn simultaneously in class and on the job by crafting, securing and completing a relevant project that addresses an identified business need for their current employer.

First Opportunity for Students Working Full-time

“One of the greatest strengths of Northeastern University is its integration of learning and work, through its renowned co-op program,” explains John LaBrie, dean, Northeastern University College of Professional Studies. “This is the first opportunity for students who are working full-time and working toward a degree online to experience the direct and immediate application of their new knowledge to real-world needs in the workplace, guided by their faculty and with feedback from their employer.  We know the strength of this melding of education and work; and now we can offer this powerful combination to currently employed graduate students in our programs. It is win-win-win – students apply at work what they learn in their studies, create value for their employers through completion of a project, and gain new professional experience.”

Working Students in Graduate Professional Degrees

Students in four College of Professional Studies (CPS) master’s degree programs are participating – Corporate and Organizational CommunicationsLeadershipProject Management, and Non-Profit Management. The students reside in six U.S. states and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. All are pursuing their Northeastern degrees fully online. They work in collaborative team environments in businesses and non-profits, a law firm and a life sciences company.

The program includes two courses, “Strategies for Professional Growth,” and “Applied Project Management,” designed to complement the project development and implementation processes and create a feedback loop between the classroom and the workplace.  Ellen Stoddard, director of cooperative education at the College describes the interplay: “The learning is informing the work, and the work is informing the learning.”

The new program addresses two realities: working professionals who are studying for a master’s degree can significantly benefit from the ready application in a professional setting of the concepts they are learning, and most students seeking a professional master’s degree are focused on career advancement.

One student, in his application essay, noted his interest in “putting techniques into practice while having my employer and my professor provide feedback….” This student cleared his potential participation in the program with his employer before applying and received full support.

How it Works

Students will:


The academic program will assess students’ progress at multiple points from four perspectives:

– Self evaluation

– Peer evaluation

– Employer evaluation (upon completion of the plan and completion of the project)

– Instructor evaluation

Unique program design

Students will progress through Online Experiential Learning for Working Professionals in a group completing coursework and work projects on a similar timetable. Students will be connected to each other by a robust online community to promote further learning, peer support, feedback and idea generation.

“Most working professionals don’t have access to a substantial work assignment outside their normal duties at work, paired with a curriculum and faculty focused on experiential learning, and an online classroom full of students pursuing the same goal in their own workplaces,” said Dee Masiello, assistant dean of academic and faculty affairs and instructor in the related course. “Since the CPS educational model is designed to bring examples of complex problems in the professional world into the classroom for examination of applied theory, this was the next logical step for our students. We’ll be learning right alongside them about the vibrant interaction between studies and work, and how to maximize both for online professional master’s degree students.”

The first cohort in Online Experiential Learning for Working Professionals will complete its coursework and project work for employers in December 2013. The second cohort is being filled now for winter 2013 enrollment.

Read Dean John LaBrie’s blog post, “An idea whose time has come: online experiential learning” on Aspire.


Emily Linendoll, Assistant Director of Communications                                                                                   [email protected]/617-373-6627

Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies  (CPS) is committed to providing career-focused educational programs that are designed to accommodate the complex lives of motivated learners. Offered in a variety of innovative formats, CPS courses are taught by accomplished scholars and practitioners who have real-world experience. The result is an educational experience founded on proven scholarship, strengthened with practical application, and sustained by academic excellence.

Founded in 1898, Northeastern is a comprehensive, global research university. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and more than 165 graduate programs, ranging from professional master’s degrees to interdisciplinary PhD programs. Northeastern’s research enterprise is aligned with three national imperatives: health, security and sustainability. Northeastern students participate in co-op and other forms of experiential learning in 90 countries on all seven continents.