Joining Trend, College Grows Beyond Name

Tuesday, January 3, 2012
After a century firmly anchored in Boston, Northeastern University is branching out — becoming Southeastern, Northwestern and perhaps Western and Midwestern as well. Northeastern, known for its co-op program in which undergraduates spend significant amounts of time in the workplace, opened its first satellite campus this fall in Charlotte, N.C., and is planning a second in Seattle next year; outposts in Austin, Tex., Minnesota and Silicon Valley are under discussion. The goal is to offer master’s degrees in industries like cybersecurity, health informatics and project management, matching programs with each city’s industries and labor needs, through a mix of virtual learning and fly-ins from professors based in Boston (tuition will be the same as at the main campus). While higher education has long been seen as a local enterprise, with universities deeply enmeshed in their communities, the explosion of online institutions, particularly for-profit career colleges like the University of Phoenix and the Education Management Corporation, has changed that dynamic. Northeastern, which is spending $60 million to support the expansion, is perhaps the most ambitious of a handful of brick-and-mortar institutions looking to broaden their footprint in new markets and with new methods of instruction.

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