Q&A: New Miami campus dean discusses innovative master’s programs for global tech industry


Downtown Miami, where Northeastern will open its 14th campus in Fall 2023. The campus will focus on technology, finance and health. Photo by Ryan Parker via Unsplash.

Alexa Coultoff, news staff

Northeastern University’s 14th campus will open to both graduate students and Experiential Associates to Master’s, or eA2M, degree completion program students for the Fall 2023 semester in the sunny and technologically booming city of Miami.

The Miami expansion follows the existing network of domestic and international campuses that comprise Northeastern’s experiential learning model. 

Current campuses include Boston; London; Oakland, CA; Toronto, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia; Seattle; San Francisco; Silicon Valley, CA; Arlington, VA.; Portland, ME; Charlotte, NC; Nahant, MA; and Burlington, MA.

Based in the Wynwood neighborhood, the Miami campus will focus on the technology, finance and health sectors. The eA2M program paves the way for dedicated students to access higher education in the heart of a global tech industry. 

Maria Alonso was named CEO and regional dean of the Miami campus in February. An established leader with over 25 years of experience across fields of banking, marketing, social responsibility and community engagement, Alonso is tasked with leading the expansion of Northeastern’s community into the tech industry of Miami.

Alonso shared further information about the Miami campus in an interview with The News.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

HN: What are the specific graduate degree programs that the Miami campus will offer and how many students it is expected to accommodate?

Alonso: As the latest campus joining the global community system, we received approval from the state of Florida for over 20 degree programs last fall. We will launch this fall with five programs: two master’s programs in product management and computer science and three experiential associate to master’s degree programs in information technology and data analytics, finance and accounting management. We are very excited to have these programs because they’ll allow us to provide extra support to lifelong learners who are coming back and transitioning into going to school. We are especially excited about the master’s in computer science aligned program. There is a lot of momentum and growth in tech companies here, so this program will allow individuals who have bachelor’s degrees in other fields to pivot and switch careers into tech. We expect to launch with about 100 students this fall.

HN: What is the timeline for the expansion?

Alonso: It is a compressed timeline — we received approval from the state of Florida in 2022, our plan is to enroll students in Fall 2023 and from there continue to grow our program offerings and enrollments as well as partnerships with industry groups. In 2025, we will be offering a masters in biotechnology and bioinformatics and also working towards having the ability to welcome international students to our campus within the next year or so. 

HN: What was the process of deciding on Miami as the next in Northeastern’s global network of campuses?

Alonso: There was an extensive due diligence process in contemplating expanding to Miami, led by President Aoun and Mary Ludden [assistant teaching professor in master of science project management]. It consisted of conversations with Miami stakeholders such as elected officials, leaders in philanthropy and other higher education colleagues who really had a better understanding of the Miami landscape and how exactly our very unique experiential learning model could add to it.

Miami is in a very exciting time; I’m a lifelong Miamian and the energy seen now is palpable. The truth is that we are capitalizing on our strength, and our strength has to do with our geography. We have a diverse population, vibrant community and notable quality of life. All of those attributes are working for us and now all the growth we are experiencing in our economy makes it a particularly exciting time.

HN: What are some details of government and industry partnerships and research that will occur at the campus?

Alonso: Northeastern has over 3,000 industry partners. We are excited to develop those partnerships and develop new ones that will be useful to the Miami campus. We are already collaborating with higher education in Miami, predominantly grants from the Center for Inclusive Computing, or CIC. Through a grant to a local higher education institution, CIC’s goal is to infuse programs with best practices that ultimately lead to increased representation of women in computing and technology fields. 

We are also in early stages of meeting with government and local colleagues to explore research opportunities in areas such as coastal sustainability, experiential AI, resiliency and cybersecurity.  Our goal is to build adjacencies that align with the vision of Northeastern’s academic plan to have impact in the world and fuel lifelong learning.

HN: What do you hope to bring to campus as dean?

Alonso: I’m excited to be a part of building this campus and the impact this campus will have on students, staff and faculty. I hope to bring my passion and experience in the industry to benefit our students.