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Understanding the Northeastern University Special Admissions Programs

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Thanks to its strong research opportunities, exceptional co-op and career advising programs, and central location in Boston, Northeastern University has skyrocketed in popularity among college-bound high school students in recent years. As a result, Northeastern has initiated a number of “special admissions” programs that offer unique opportunities for students while also helping the university to manage their on-campus enrollment.

The Program (short for Northeastern University International) gives incoming students the chance to spend the fall semester of their first year at a Northeastern-sponsored campus in a foreign city. Some of the destinations have included London, Berlin, Glasgow, Rome, and Madrid. Students who take advantage of this option earn a full semester of Northeastern credit, and they live and study with other Northeastern students, meaning they arrive on campus in the spring fully ready to integrate into the Boston campus.

The advantages of the Program are numerous, for those students who are interested in gaining a global perspective and deepening their education through cultural exchange. Over the ten years the program has run, students have shown strong academic success in core classes in their major, developed a strong sense of community with their peers, and brought a valuable international perspective back to campus with them in the spring.

High schoolers who are applying to Northeastern as first-year students can select that they’d like to be considered for through the Common Application. Although not everyone who selects this option is guaranteed entrance into if they are admitted to Northeastern, students are bound to participate if they are selected for the program, so applicants should not indicate their interest if they are not seriously invested in rather than traditional fall admissions.

NU Bound

The NU Bound program is similar to, in that students study abroad at one of the university’s partner campuses in London, England or Oakland, California. The main difference is that NU Bound is a year-long program; students spend their entire first year off-site and return to Northeastern in the fall of their sophomore year of college.

By participating in NU Bound, students experience the rigorous academics of Northeastern while also benefiting from NU’s global university system and forging connections with their Northeastern peers. Students who participate in NU Bound are further able to take advantage of a strong professional and academic support system, intended to prepare them to succeed when they return to the Boston campus as sophomores.

Foundation Year

Northeastern’s Foundation Year is a pathway program that helps Boston students transition to a rigorous college environment. This admission plan is offered to students whom the admissions office feels would benefit from a comprehensive first-year college experience through NU’s College of Professional Studies (CSP). The first-year curriculum introduces students to the university’s rigorous academics, while also providing opportunities for career exploration.

The Foundation Year program also provides students  with wraparound academic support services, such as advising, tutoring, and mentoring, to ensure a smooth transition to college. Finally, the Foundation Year program provides textbooks and laptops to all students for the year, as well as a meal plan. However, Foundation Year students typically do not live on campus; rather, most commute from their homes in Boston.

After successfully completing the Foundation Year program, students enter a degree program at Northeastern. They can choose to do so by continuing in the College of Professional Studies or by transferring into one of Northeastern’s seven colleges, provided they have met the appropriate academic benchmarks in their first year.

Guaranteed Transfer

Finally, Northeastern has also begun to offer the option of guaranteed transfer to first-year applicants who don’t yet meet the university’s academic standards but are otherwise a good fit for the culture and values of the university. These students have the option to commit to beginning Northeastern as sophomores, after using the interim year to take a required slate of courses at another university or community college.

Students who are offered this option need to indicate that they plan to take advantage of the program, and then they will have the opportunity to work with a Northeastern advisor to plan their gap year around the required academic courses. Typically, these include foundational writing and math courses along with a range of additional electives.

Final Thoughts

These special admissions programs at Northeastern both reflect its skyrocketing popularity among high school students and help to further that popularity (as well as to drive down the university’s first-year admission rate). Given these circumstances, it seems likely that NU will continue to expand these programs and even potentially add similar ones in the future.

Further, other universities may follow suit. Some colleges have always offered spring admission, but more and more are looking for new ways to manage their on-campus enrollment and make their admissions statistics seem more selective. That ongoing shift could be good news for students looking for an easier path into certain highly selective universities as well as a nontraditional first-year experience.

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