Northeastern begins accepting students to Oakland campus for entire undergraduate degree, sparking confusion and controversy


Wallau, Ruby

Mills College at Northeastern University in Oakland. During the Fall 2023 admissions cycle, Northeastern admitted many students to the Oakland campus, creating confusion among prospective students regarding where they would spend their undergraduate years. Photo by Ruby Wallau for Northeastern University

Emily Spatz, news correspondent

As prospective students began to receive their admission decisions from Northeastern, many Early Decision applicants were confused when they received an unexpected admission offer to the school’s newest Oakland location. Admitted students flocked to Reddit to find answers.

“I was accepted to NEU Oakland today EA and I’m a bit confused,” one Reddit user, u/Helpful_Bee_9591, posted. “First off I didn’t apply for this program, so not really sure how I got in. Secondly.. I don’t know what program I’m in. Am I spending a semester in Oakland? A year? My entire undergraduate degree?”

The campus, which was acquired through Northeastern’s controversial merger with Mills College in June 2022, welcomed its first cohort of students in the Fall 2022 semester through temporary study-abroad programs and Global Scholars (formerly NU Bound). Now, the university is accepting students to the Oakland campus for their entire undergraduate degrees in addition to the semester or year-long programs offered in the past, according to the university.  

According to a statement by university spokesperson Marirose Sartoretto, Oakland campus admission was offered to students who “were academically qualified and showed qualities to succeed, but for whom we didn’t have any additional spots for in Boston.” 

“While not every student selected Oakland or London campuses as their first choice of location, we wanted to offer some of our strong pool of qualified applicants the opportunity to join Northeastern University in lieu of a denial,” the statement read. 

This year, the university received more than 96,000 applications for the Fall 2023 semester, while only 2,600 spots were available.  

This comes as the university faces increasing scrutiny about the shortage of housing on the Boston campus, as well as their decision to send students to alternate locations without their expressed interest.  

Jeta Perjuci, a first-year media and screen studies and journalism combined major who was part of the inaugural Oakland class, said she understands why the university is accepting people to alternate locations but expressed discontent with the decision.   

“It feels unfair when you’re told you got accepted to Northeastern, except it’s being taught by Mills College professors, you’re in class with other Mills students and not on the Boston campus,” Perjuci said. “I know I didn’t apply for a study abroad program and still got admitted for, so I can’t imagine what it would be like for four years when that’s not what you expected when applying.” 

Despite the differences in course offerings and location, students in Oakland will be paying the same tuition as students on the Boston campus. According to the program’s website, the tuition for Northeastern University Oakland for the 2023-24 year is estimated at $81,472.  

Kyle Kucera, a first-year journalism major who also spent his last semester in Oakland, said that while he enjoyed the campus itself, it felt isolated from the rest of the city and the experiences it offered. He feels that his classes in Boston are much more academically rigorous.  

“As far as tuition goes, I don’t think it’s fair to have almost the same amount for each campus, especially because I didn’t choose to be at a satellite campus, and I was missing out on some opportunities at the Boston campus while I was in Oakland,” Kucera said.  

 The Oakland campus will offer four majors biology, business administration, computer science and health science. It will also offer a Discover Oakland program for undeclared students, along with 10 combined majors. 

 According to the website, students enrolling to the campus in  fall 2023 “are able to transition to Northeastern’s Boston campus after their first year of study no matter their academic program.” 

The multitude of Reddit posts on the topic conveyed students’ lack of clarity on which program they were admitted to, as well as the details of the program and transfer options.  

 “Students should be aware that that is what they are getting themselves into and should only be able to opt into that option if that is something that they want,” Kucera said. “I think Northeastern just needs to really specify on their application what these options are for students so they’re not disappointed or surprised when they get their acceptance.” 

Katya Zhuravytsky, a fourth-year neuroscience major, said that she noticed a difference in campus density during her time at Northeastern. While she thinks the school should do more to mitigate this, she’s unsure that other locations will offer students the same experience.

“I am in no way opposed to the school accepting more students, especially because more and more people are applying each year,” Zhuravytsky said. ”However, if the school makes the active decision to accept more students, then they also need to maintain the same quality of education and opportunities offered to each one of those students.” 

Zhuravytsky noted that while she thinks students should be allowed to attend alternate campuses if they prefer to do so, the Boston experience is unmatched and cannot be translated to other campuses.  

“Northeastern was founded in Boston and has most of its influence here, our education is reflected in our participation on this specific campus and by our interactions with the Boston community as a whole,” she said.