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Co-op & Experiential Learning

Combining rigorous academics with a variety of experiential learning opportunities

Northeastern’s approach to education combines rigorous academics with experiential learning anchored by our world-renowned cooperative education program. Experiential learning encompasses our co-op program as well as project-based learning, research, global experiences, service learning, and student organizations.

The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering uses its expertise in structures, construction management, transportation, environmental engineering, and geotechnical/geoenvironmental engineering to help solve real problems such as water contamination.


Cooperative Education

Co-op affords students the chance to work in engineering practice prior to graduation. Through this program, undergraduate and graduate students gain hands-on, professional experience as well as a chance to build personal connections and contacts within their field of interest.

Information on engineering licensing and professional ethics.

Undergraduate students typically work for 6 months at a time.

Graduate students work for 4, 6, or 8 months at a time depending on the position and the student’s availability.

Civil Engineering Co-op Experience

Jude Arbogast, BS, Civil Engineering, has done two co-ops at Suffolk Construction—one in scheduling and staffing, and the other in the field where he found his love of construction management. He says co-op allowed him to put his knowledge to the test and find out what he really wanted to do.

Environmental Health Hands-On Experiences

Anna Walsh, a fifth year student with an independent environmental health major, studies a variety of environmental contaminants. She describes two projects, one on air sampling and the other developing a framework for passive samplers for water samples. She did a co-op at Stockholm University in an environmental department getting significant experience.

Featured Student Experiences

student working on water system as part of Engineers Without Borders project.

Engineers Without Borders

Engineering without Borders (EWB) is one organization at Northeastern that allows students to travel to countries such as Uganda and Honduras to address their need for potable water. Since 2004 this student group has designed and constructed water projects in six communities, directly affecting over 2,000 individuals. Northeastern’s experiential philosophy allows students to become real world engineers while they are still learning in the classroom.

group of students doing a selfie photo overlooking Cagliari island in Italy

Dialogue of Civilizations

One example of a Dialogue of Civilizations is Sustainable Waste Management: European Practices for Resource Recovery and Environmental Protection led by Teaching Professor Annalisa Onnis-Hayden. Students travel to Cagliari, Italy and immerse themselves in the Sardinian and Italian culture while sailing the Mediterranean Sea, and learning about the rich history and traditions, while enjoying the crystal-clear water, white sand, and the mountains of this special island.

Student Experiences

student sitting on red chair posing with spiral stairs in background

Michael Tormey Wins 2019 Northeastern President’s Award

Prior to the end of each spring semester, the Office of the Provost announces the winners of the Northeastern University President’s Award, highlighting the top ten students by grade-point average of each university class. This year, Michael Tormey is one of the 10 students from the class of 2020 recognized with a 2019 President’s Award. […]

girl in jogging clothes with hands on him on road looking out at sunset

Sikubora – A Better Day

Written by Linnaea Cahill, a fourth year BS in Civil Engineering student. About From Rafael Landivar in Guatemala, Linnaea is involved in the Latinx community on campus, the Engineers Without Borders Guatemala program, NU American Society of Civil Engineers Chapter and the NU Culture and Language Learning Society. Off campus, Linnaea may be found skating […]

Catching Lizards in Panama

On a co-op at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Gamboa, Panama, a small town outside of Panama City, Madeline works with a group of biologists to catch lizards in an effort to study how these reptiles are adapting to climate change, both physically and genetically.

People and Atmosphere Make a Difference

Angelina Jay, who graduated about a year ago with a PhD in Civil Engineering 2017, thinks that Northeastern’s atmosphere and people are among the most valuable things about the university. “I really enjoyed it here, at Northeastern,” she said. “The faculty and the staff, every single one of them was great and amazing to work […]