In order to truly serve people and communities, we must spend time in them. Theories and skills learned in the classroom come to life and reveal important nuances when implemented in real-world situations. That’s why experiential learning is a key part of our master’s degree programs.

“The experiential aspect of my Northeastern education taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to: it’s all about having a growth mindset [instead of] a closed mindset. At the end of the day, your only limit is yourself, and it was great to know that I too could be successful in various roles.”

Joelle Juarez, MPA, ’19

Experiential learning is available to all students, regardless of their modality (on-campus or online). The opportunities are both external, including internships and co-ops, and internal, including in-class case studies and a client-based capstone. These are excellent ways to add on-the-job experience, make valuable professional connections, and gain an understanding of what it’s like to work in the public policy field.

Upon graduation, students will have a robust portfolio of practical examples that showcase their abilities to current and potential employers.

“What really differentiates Northeastern is that we institutionalize these experiential learning experiences and give you a whole menu of options depending on your individual preferences. We aren’t sitting on our perch in academia — instead we actually work with the folks who are affected by policy decisions and also the folks who are charged to make those decisions. This is what’s in the DNA of Northeastern.”

Maria Ivanova, Director of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs; Professor of Public Policy

Northeastern is ranked #1 in the nation for co-ops/internships by U.S. News & World Report


This is Northeastern’s signature program; co-op (short for “cooperative education”) has been a part of the NU experience for more than a century. During their co-op, students work full time for an organization related to their academic interests. They grow intellectually, academically, professionally, and professionally.

The optional co-op lasts for two to eight months, is often paid, and students earn one or two semester hours towards their degree.

Co-op terms run from January–June and from July–December. The semester before they begin their co-op, participants take a required “Experiential Integration” course that prepares them for their placement. Students can go on co-op beginning in their second term during their second year at Northeastern.

For early career students who don’t have as much on-the-job experience or any experience at all, co-op gives them a strong introduction to the working world. For professionals looking to pivot into a new area, co-op is a way to explore new fields without sacrificing their professional trajectory.

The College of Social Sciences and Humanities has dedicated staff who connect students with co-op placements and advise them throughout the experience. The College has longstanding partnerships with businesses, non-profits, and government agencies in Boston; Arlington, VA (National Capital Region); and Oakland, CA (and the San Francisco Bay Area); as well as across the United States and around the world.

Recent Co-op Partner Organizations
Americans for Tax Reform
Center for Strategic and International Studies
Control Risks
Cultural Vistas
Emily’s List
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
Finsbury Glover Hering
Global Council for Science and the Environment (GCSE)
Goodwin Procter LLP
Health Care Without Harm
Hudson Institute
National Pork Producers Council
National Recreation and Park Association
National Security Innovation Network
Scenic America
Sexual Violence Prevention Association
Stateside Associates
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
The Heritage Foundation
The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Global Leadership Coalition
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Senate

After completing their co-op, students participate in informal poster presentation sessions addressed to faculty and peers; explore posters from across the College of Social Sciences and Humanities.


All students must complete an internship unless they (a) choose to complete a co-op instead or (b) already have substantial career experience.

Internships offer students the opportunity to gain practical work and/or research experience relevant to their chosen fields. These opportunities can be flexible and can accommodate those who need a part-time schedule or a shorter time commitment than the co-ops.

These opportunities are great ways to explore different roles, organizations, and sectors. Some students even choose to complete multiple internships so that they can see, for example, what it’s like to work at a small nonprofit compared to a large federal agency. Browse recent internships.


Students get to collaborate with faculty on groundbreaking research in class and also at Northeastern’s dozens of research centers and eight university-wide institutes. Fifteen of these research centers are housed within the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, including the Center on Crime, Race, and Justice; the Global Resilience Institute; and the Social Impact Lab. Explore our CSSH research teams.

Capstone (MPP and MPA Only)

Every graduate student in the MPP and MPA programs completes a capstone project. Teams of three to five students spend 15 weeks solving a problem for a real client. Under the supervision of a faculty member, they tackle an issue in the realm of urban and regional policy, social policy, or public or nonprofit sector management.

They put their skills to work, applying research methods, analytics, statistics, as well as visualization, communication and presentation skills. At the end, they deliver their analysis directly to the client. Explore past capstone projects.

“I feel that I benefited from every course . . but one course clearly stood out: Capstone. We developed a survey to ask questions of CFOs in local municipalities to understand how they utilize federal grants and why some grants have unspent balances. We devised a results-driven analysis that helped the Lincoln Institute begin to understand the scope of the unspent federal grants challenge in the United States.”

Angelina Li, MPA, ’17


Get Started Now

Fill out the form to learn more and download a brochure about Northeastern University’s Master of Public Administration, Master of Public Policy, Master of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice, or Graduate Certificates.

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