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Northeastern plans satellite campus in Toronto

Northeastern University plans to open a satellite campus in Toronto next year, in what will be the school’s first international outpost and fourth branch outside its Boston hub.

This initiative, three years in the making, aims to offer graduate programs tailored to working professionals and give workers specific skills missing in the Toronto talent pool, Northeastern president Joseph E. Aoun said. Northeastern plans to formally announce the expansion Monday.

“No university can be confined to a single campus,” Aoun said. He said the goal is to establish roots in the city and allow students to move between the university’s other satellite locations in Seattle; Charlotte, N.C.; and Silicon Valley.


The Toronto campus will offer three master’s degrees: in project management, information assurance, and regulatory affairs for drugs, biologics, and medical devices.

Northeastern officials said they chose the degrees after meeting with major employers, business organizations, and potential students to learn what skills are missing.

“We saw an opportunity in this other North American global city to serve the employers by developing talent for them,” said Sean Gallagher, a Northeastern strategist who helped develop the program.

The regulatory affairs degree will cost $28,440; the project management degree $27,675; and the information assurance degree, which is similar to cybersecurity, will cost $45,120. Those prices are lower than MBA programs in that region, Gallagher said.

In a statement from Northeastern, Toronto Mayor John Tory called the program “great news.” The Toronto region, which has about 6 million residents, will benefit by joining Northeastern’s network, he said, adding that the area has a robust economy and a rising demand for professionals with advanced degrees.

Students will have the option to earn the degrees through online courses or through a hybrid format, in which they attend some classes in person and complete others online. Such a strategy can be convenient for working professionals.


Northeastern is still searching for a downtown location for the school and for someone to lead the program.

Courses will be taught by a blend of Boston-based full-time faculty and others hired in Canada.

This program will be similar to its sites in Seattle and Charlotte, which also target working professionals by offering partially online degrees to cater to the needs of those cities’ workforces. In addition, Northeastern opened an outpost inside a technology company in Silicon Valley in March.

The university developed plans to hatch graduate satellite campuses in 2008, during the financial crisis, as part of an attempt to bolster the university’s stature.

Northeastern has tripled the number of degrees offered in Charlotte since the campus opened in 2011. Enrollment grew 8 percent in Charlotte and 44 percent in Seattle in the past year, the school said.

Jason Lane, an associate professor of international education at SUNY Albany who has studied branch campuses, said the outposts are increasingly common.

“Most times, [universities] are looking for some sort of reputational gain,” Lane said. “It’s also a revenue generator.”

But, he said, colleges “often underestimate the challenges of operating abroad.” For example, students at the foreign campuses cannot receive US federal financial aid that American students can access if they study in the United States.

Northeastern says it is seeing benefits of its expansion. Its presence in the South and Northeast has sparked interest in the Boston campus and caused undergraduate applications to Northeastern to grow, according to the university.


The sites also allow undergraduates from Boston to complete internships in other cities. The Seattle campus, established in 2013, has 209 internship postings, the school said Friday.

“When you establish roots, you are discovering opportunities that are way beyond what you’re setting up to do at first,” Aoun said.

He said the goal is to allow students to travel between campuses as they earn degrees. The university in the future will pursue other sites, Aoun said, joking that Northeastern would be the first university to establish an internship program on Mars.

Laura Krantz can be reached at laura.krantz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurakrantz.