School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Pharmacy Experiential Education

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Experiential Learning and Co-op

Within the Northeastern University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS), the Office of Experiential Education (OEE) directs all experiential learning for Pharmacy students.

All students majoring in Pharmacy participate in the Cooperative Education Program (Co-op). At Northeastern, Co-op fulfills the Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience (IPPE) that is required in the pharmacy curriculum by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

These introductory experiences are essential in providing students connections to practice environments that prepare them for their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) requirements.

APPEs are completed during the final year (4th professional/P4 year) of Northeastern’s Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program. P4 students complete 36-weeks of APPEs (delivered in 6-week blocks), often referred to as rotations, that provide additional “real world” experience in a variety of professional settings.

Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experiences (IPPE)

Cooperative education (co-op) satisfies IPPE requirements.

The co-op program is a structured pharmacy internship program where students work in a full-time paid, per-diem position (32-40 hours). As of January 2024, the program will transition to two 6-month cooperative education (co-op) periods.The first is in the spring/summer I of the P1 year and the second is in the summer II/fall of P3 year. One period will enable a student to complete the required community and institutional competencies while the second period will be elective.

The order in which a student completes the required and elective co-op occurs through random selection. As expected with a competency-based curriculum, a student’s previous experience is used to guide the student’s position selection. Required co-op experiences are hosted in a variety of health systems in the greater Boston area. Elective co-ops include but are not limited to, community, institutional, international, research, time for a study abroad, or specialized pharmacy experience. Some examples are the pharmaceutical industry, managed care, compounding, informatics, and nuclear pharmacy.

Full-time co-op faculty work with students in the introductory experience curriculum. All students are required to complete the Principles of Pharmacy Practice course which introduces students to the world of work in pharmacy, professional behaviors, and basic introductory pharmacy practice skills. At the end of the first semester, students will be made aware of their strengths and opportunities for growth prior to the co-op period to invite the student and preceptor to focus on building skills, knowledge, and attitudes that may exist or need additional focus.

Students work in a variety of positions throughout the greater Boston area during co-op and may be afforded the opportunity to secure a position close to home. These experiences help students to learn and develop practice skills, expose them to the culture of health care, and to different career paths within pharmacy. These introductory experiences are essential in preparing students for their Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiences (APPE).

Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE)

The APPEs enable students to apply knowledge, skills, and behaviors to the practice of contemporary clinical pharmacy within the American healthcare system, as well as a variety of non-patient care experiences locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Experiential education competencies are based on Entrustable Professional Activities (EPAs) that prepare our graduates to be independent practitioners on day one of their first job.

Students can choose APPEs from several hundred preceptor/practice sites in the greater Boston area and beyond. They fulfill four required APPE rotations (community, internal medicine, ambulatory care, and health-system) and can select two electives. Health-system rotations are direct patient care activities within a health system that focus on topics that include, but are not limited to, cardiology, infectious disease and intensive care.

Examples of elective rotations include areas such as drug information, managed care, pharmaceutical industry and education/academic administration.

We are affiliated with many institutions in Massachusetts, in the northeast region and as well as nationally. The Office of Experiential Education (OEE) works with preceptors to expand the number of practice settings to provide our student body with a wide variety of practice experiences that encompass all setting where a pharmacist is employed.

Student Resources

Pharmacy Student Registration Information

Pharmacy students are required to register as a Pharmacy Intern in the state where they complete their pharmacy practice experience(s). IPPE/Co-op students are encouraged to ask their preceptor to complete intern license documentation based on state board requirements.

Meet the Team.

We’re here to help.

Debra Copeland

PharmD, RPh, FNAP

Clinical Professor; Asst. Dean, Office of Experiential and Continuing Professional Education Pharmacy and Health Systems Science

Lorelei Molchan

Program Manager for Pharmacy Experiential Education Pharmacy and Health Systems Science

Mark Yorra


Senior Cooperative Education Coordinator, Clinical Assistant Professor, Pharmacy Practice

Our Preceptors

Two pharmacists precepting a student pharmacist

Preceptors for Northeastern University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences are critical in preparing the next generation of pharmacy leaders and professionals.


to our 2023 APPE Affiliate Preceptor of the Year, Eleanor Broadbent, and 2023 IPPE/Co-op Affiliate Preceptor of the Year, Daniel Henderson!
(Both alumni of our program.)

Recipients are nominated by students and selected by the OEE selection committee, composed of staff, faculty and previous awardees. We offer our thanks to all of our preceptors for their tireless support of our students and program.

Precepting students during their Introductory Pharmacy Practice Experience means introducing and guiding them through early professional training during their Co-ops.

Preceptors invite students to:

  • Develop their independence and skills
  • Apply classroom knowledge
  • Refine their professionalism in the practice environment

Whether serving as a preceptor for Co-op/IPPEs or APPEs or both, this role is vital in providing an environment where students apply the knowledge and skills necessary to become a competent, and professional pharmacist.

Become a Preceptor

For more information please email us at [email protected], or make an appointment with Debra Copeland, Assistant Dean of Experiential and Continuing Professional Education.

We welcome your interest in precepting our students and look forward to assisting with your inquiry. For additional preceptor and criteria guidelines, please see below.

APPE Preceptor Manuals

Patient Care Preceptor Manual
Non-Patient Care Preceptor Manual
Community Preceptor Manual

Available on request from:
[email protected]

Preceptor Resources and Opportunities

Frequently Asked Questions

Is co-op a paid experience?

Yes, in the majority of cases, students are providing a service to the employer full-time for 16 weeks, so they should be paid a nominal wage. The range is from $11 to $17+/hour, depending on the job and geographical location. A contract is not required since it is an employer/employee relationship. In some cases, a student may chose to volunteer 8-24 hours a week to learn about a particular setting if a paid position isn’t available. They should not be used to replace regular staff.

What co-op/IPPE evaluations are required by the school?

Northeastern University utilizes the co-op experience to meet the accreditation requirements for a community and institutional experience.

Students are guided to complete an experience in each setting by the co-op faculty. At the end of the co-op experience, the preceptor/supervisor is asked to complete an entrustable professional activity-based competency assessment form. Links to the Qualtrics survey should be provided by your Co-op/IPPE student and is specific for community and institutional practice settings.

There is also a performance evaluation which assesses a student’s workplace behaviors including being on time, working with others, etc. that is provided directly from the cooperative education software. Depending on the state internship requirements, the pharmacist preceptor must complete the internship record of hours.

Can I ask a student to return for a second co-op?

Each student must meet the competency requirements of one institutional and one community experience and can complete these at the same practice site. If a student wants to return for a second co-op, they must ask the supervisor if they are welcome to return, and the co-op faculty will verify the information and address any funding issues associated with the position with the appropriate people.

Can international students work on co-ops? What other resources are available for students while on co-op?

Yes. Once the student receives and accepts a job offer, they will receive a form from the co-op faculty that is reviewed and processed by the Northeastern University Office of Global Services (OGS), which authorizes the student to work during the date range of the co-op period. Any changes to the co-op dates MUST be approved by the co-op faculty member and the OGS ahead of time, otherwise the student will be in violation of their visa and approved authorization. International students cannot obtain a social security number until they have a co-op position, so for the first position, there is a short delay while they are directed by OGS to obtain a social security number. A student may not work on a co-op without authorization from the OGS. The website is

Students on co-op are considered full-time students and are eligible for counseling services, library access and other benefits of a student. If there are any issues that occur during a co-op experience, contact the co-op faculty and they will work with the appropriate University resource to address a particular concern.

Do students get time off during co-op? Can students work part-time in between co-op and during a co-op period?

Students are considered full-time employees during their co-op and must follow the scheduling requirements of the site and employment regulations that govern the position. That includes weekends, nights and holidays. Students do not get a vacation during a co-op period and are not eligible for university time off such as Spring break and Christmas break. Start and end dates for cooperative education periods typically align with the beginning of the relevant start month and end of the last day of the last month. If a student needs time off for anything, they must go through the supervisor as all other employees. If there are any issues, please contact the co-op faculty to intervene with the student.

Many employers, especially local sites, request that students work part-time after their co-op period to provide night and weekend coverage and maintain their skills. Students are advised that working 8-16 hours a week is manageable, but beyond 16 hours is not recommended when they are in classes full-time.

If a student has a co-op position and additionally wants to work part-time, it is permitted so long as the employer is not a direct competitor of the co-op and both employers are aware of the situation. The full-time co-op position takes priority over the part-time position in scheduling.

The student must be eligible to work in the U.S. outside of their co-op/IPPE blocks. To maintain proper status, a student with an F1 or J1 visa is ineligible to work outside of their co-op/IPPE blocks.

Who is responsible for paying payroll taxes? Do students receive benefits?

Students are placed in an hourly rate position as either a per diem or seasonal employee, and the employer is responsible for all related payroll taxes. A student cannot be hired as an independent consultant and submit a 1099 form per IRS regulations. Please review the Co-op Employer Handbook for details of employment, located on the above website.

As a temporary employee, students do not receive benefits in most cases, but employment laws should be consulted. All students are required to have health insurance from either their family or the University, and the University supplies Liability Insurance.

If there is an issue involving liability, please contact the co-op faculty member who will work with University Counsel. Some retail companies provide employee discounts but that is done based on a company policy.