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Master of Professional Studies in Civic Engagement

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A Degree that Makes a Difference

The Master of Professional Studies in Civic Engagement (CivE) is a program designed for professionals who are seeking a broad set of leadership skills, as well as a deep expertise in a given area of community-focused practice. It is focused on empowering emerging leaders by helping them build the skills they need to make a difference.

But what is civic engagement?

According to Civic Responsibility and Higher Education, edited by Thomas Ehrlich:"Civic engagement means working to make a difference in the civic life of our communities and developing the combination of knowledge, skills, values and motivation to make that difference."

So if you’re interested in improving the quality of life for individuals and communities, this degree can help you make a real impact.

Flexible and Customizable

The CivE degree blends a core of applied professional courses with elective courses designed around your professional and personal interests.

Many courses are delivered online, in-person classes are frequently offered in the evenings, and you can attend on a full or part-time basis.

Your elective credits can be centered around a track that meets your professional goals. Sample tracks include:

  • Civic Life and Social Justice
  • Perspectives in Global Citizenship
  • Election Administration

You can also self-design a track, in consultation with your advisor.


Why Minnesota, Why Now?

Because Minnesota is one of the most generous and engaged states in the country. And we need leaders with advanced professional, communication, and data skills to better serve our communities. 


Our Stories

Electives (12 credits)

Working with an advisor, you'll select courses from academic departments across the University of Minnesota related to your chosen track. Courses must be taken at the graduate level. 

Civic Life and Social Justice Track

Course Title Course Number Credits
Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It? GCC 5001 3
Life Course Inequality and Health SOC 8551 3
Seminar: Race, Representation, and Resistance GWSS 8260 3
Analysis of Discrimination PA 8312 4
Seminar in American Minority Literature ENGL 8300 3
Media Outlaws COMM 5231 3
Trends and Impacts in Arts and Cultural Leadership and Management ACL 5211 3
Policy in Sexual Health: Cutting Edge Analyses (offered online) HSEX 6011 3
Ethical Dilemmas and Legal Issues for Cultural Leaders ACL 5231 3
Culture, Place, and Community: Ways of Living Together in the 21st Century ACL 5100 3

Perspectives in Global Citizenship Track

You may take up to 6 credits of GCC (Grand Challenge Courses).

Course Title Course Number Credits
Global Survey of Gender and Public Policy PA 5601 3
Policy in Sexual Health: Cutting-Edge Analyses HSEX 6011 3
Climate Change Policy PA 5724 3
Diversity and Public Policy PA 5422 3
Natural Resource and Environmental Policy ESPM 5241 3
Human-Centered Service Redesign PA 5161 3
Ethical Issues in Global Health BTHX 5710 3
Intercultural Communication Processes COMM 5451 3
Whole Person, Whole Community: The Reciprocity of Well-Being CSPH 5118 3
Can We Feed the World Without Destroying It? GCC 5001 3
Global Venture Design: What Impact Will You Make? GCC 5005 3
Toward Conquest of Disease GCC 5007 3
Policy and Science of Global Environmental Change GCC 5008 3
Global Climate Challenge: Creating an Empowered Movement for Change GCC 5031 3
Pathways to Renewable Energy GCC 5011 3
Making Sense of Climate Change: Science, Art, and Agency GCC 5013 3
The Future of Work and Life in the 21st Century GCC 5014 3
Bioinspired Approaches to Sustainability: Greening Technologies and Lives GCC 5015 3
World Food Problems: Agronomics, Economics, and Hunger GCC 5017 3

Election Administration Track

Course Title Course Number Credits
Survey of Election Administration PA 5971 3
Elections and the Law PA 5972 2
Strategic Management of Election Administration PA 5973 2
Electives (5 or more credits)    
Election Design PA 5975 2
Voter Outreach and Participation PA 5976 1
Data Analysis for Election Administration PA 5982 2
Introduction to Election Security PA 5983 1
Elections Security: How to Protect America's Elections PA 5984 2


Craft a Civic Engagement path that fits your professional goals.

Sculpture of woman holding scales and sword

Civic Life and Social Justice 

Civic organizations need leaders well-versed in business and people-management skills in order to help their communities thrive. Your passion for improving the world around you, serving your community, and enacting social justice will be enhanced through this disciplinary focus. Engage in a multidisciplinary examination of contemporary civic and social issues.


Group of diverse young people standing arm in arm

Perspectives in Global Citizenship 

The opportunities and tensions that arise from living in a global society require a broad knowledge of what it means to be a global citizen. This focus prepares you for work in health care and health disparity nonprofits and NGOs that concentrate on climate change, wealth inequalities, maternal and child health, or diversity and equity issues. 


Man and woman at polling place

Election Administration 

Our election systems face a pressing need for trained professionals who have the skills and knowledge to create meaningful change. This 12-credit online certificate, offered through the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, allows you to gain up-to-date expertise in election administration at the local, state, or national level. In this focus area, you will earn two academic credentials: the MPS in Civic Engagement and the Election Administration Certificate.


Young smiling woman with backpack

Self-Designed Track

If you are interested in a disciplinary area outside of the three described, work with your academic advisor and faculty to craft a personalized course of study that fits your professional goals.


Fall Application Deadline: April 1
Spring Application Deadline: November 1

Admission to the Civic Engagement program is competitive, and all applications are reviewed to ensure a good fit for academic success. Notification of admission decisions is made within four to six weeks after the application deadline. 

We strive to be equitable in the admissions process. Our program thrives with the inclusion of students from different backgrounds and cultural experiences. Our admissions committee reviews applications holistically including all components of the application, and does not require standardized test scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). If you have questions about the admission requirements or would like advice on how to put together application materials, please contact us.

The following items are required for admission: 

  • bachelor's degree from an accredited post-secondary US institution or its foreign equivalent 
  • an undergraduate GPA of 3.0* 

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is not required. 

* In exceptional circumstances, promising applicants with lower GPA may be considered for the program. Explanation for GPA, and evidence that academic success at the graduate level is achievable, must be addressed in the application (extenuating circumstances).

  1. First, access the online application.
  2. Attach all required application materials electronically to your application.

Applicant Statements

  • Professional statement: One to two pages, double-spaced, should describe your personal and/or professional goals, why you think the Civic Engagement program will help you achieve them, and how you plan to focus your program. 
  • Diversity statement: Optional.
  • Extenuating Circumstances statement: If your undergraduate GPA is below 3.0, please provide an explanation.

Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation should be solicited from individuals who can provide a candid assessment of your abilities (including strengths and weaknesses), personality, character, and potential for graduate-level academic success and professional achievement.

Writing Sample

Include a writing sample (five to ten pages) on any topic that demonstrates critical thinking and analysis. If possible, include one sample of academic writing and one sample of written work from relevant work or volunteer experience.


Unofficial transcripts or academic records for each institution (even if you didn’t receive a degree) should be uploaded directly to the online application. International students should also upload an English translation if the transcript is not in English. If possible, make sure the institution has put your name on the transcript/record.

Resume or CV

Submit a current resume or CV.

GRE Scores

The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is not required.

Application Fee

A nonrefundable application fee is due on submission.

You may be able to transfer up to 10 credits of graduate-level coursework completed prior to admission, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

Transfer coursework requirements:

  • Taken at the University of Minnesota or another accredited institution 
  • Completed at the graduate level and listed on a graduate transcript
  • Earned a grade of B or better
  • Completed no more than five years prior to admission to the program 

Transfer Coursework Taken as an Undergraduate

You may be able to transfer up to 6 of the 10 transfer coursework credits taken as an undergraduate, with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies and the Associate Director for Graduate Programs.

Prebaccalaureate transfer coursework requirements:

  • Completed as a prebaccalaureate student pursing an undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota and listed on your undergraduate transcript
  • Taken at the graduate level
  • Earned a grade of B or higher
  • Completed no more than five years prior to admission to the program
  • Not counted toward completion of a bachelor’s degree

In order to transfer your graduate-level credits completed as a prebaccalaureate student, submit:

  1. A petition form, signed by an undergraduate program advisor confirming credits were not used toward undergraduate degree 
  2. Syllabi from course(s), preferred
  3. Full APAS report

The DGS and the Associate Director for Graduate Programs will review the information and jointly decide on the use of the credits in your graduate program.

If your native language is not English, please submit scores from the TOEFL, MELAB, or IELTS English proficiency examination. Read more about required scores.

  • Required TOEFL scores are 84 or above, with section scores of at least 21 on writing and at least 19 on reading.
  • Required IELTS score is 6.5, with section scores of at least 6.5 for both writing and reading.
  • Required MELAB score is 84.

For information on visa status, contact the International Student and Scholar Services office.

Credit courses taken before admission may be applied toward this degree. You can take a graduate-level course before being admitted if:

  • the course is graduate-level (4xxx-level or above), and
  • you register for credit as a nondegree graduate student and pay graduate-level tuition.

Follow these steps to register:

  1. Download and submit a Registration Request for Graduate Credit for Nondegree Students Form. Registration for nondegree students is not available online.
  2. Send the form to the department offering the courses for authorization. Use this form each term until you are admitted to a program.
  3. Upon authorization, the department offering the graduate course will forward the form to the registrar or provide you with further instructions.
  4. You will receive confirmation and payment instructions by email.

More information can be found on the One Stop page for nondegree students.

For more detailed course information, visit the U of M Schedule Builder.

Careers in Civic Engagement

Civic engagement professionals can work for organizations, corporations, government agencies, educational institutions, and much more. Socially conscious leaders are needed at every level of employment, no matter the field.

Here are just a few potential job titles you could have:

  • Director of Equity and Community Engagement
  • Director of Immigration and Civic Engagement
  • Race Equity and Public Policy Strategist
  • Civic Engagement Strategist
  • Corporate Social Responsibility Officer
  • Civic Engagement Manager
  • Policy Communications Manager
  • Communication and Engagement Manager
  • Data Coordinator for Civic Engagement
  • Program Manager of Engagement Services

Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid

We want to ensure you have access to the education you want. Find out more about financial aid or talk to our scholarship advisor.

If you would like to be considered for any available scholarship funding for newly admitted graduate students, you must complete the annual FAFSA for the upcoming academic year. Choose the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities as your school within FAFSA.

Let's Connect

You can learn more about the Civic Engagement program in a way that works for you. Enrollment Advisor Steve Wicks is here to help.

Steve Wicks headshot

Or you can give Steve a call at 612-301-6127.

Do you have a more detailed question or want to tell us a little bit about yourself before the meeting? Fill out this brief questionnaire.

Meet Steve

Steve works with prospective students who are interested in one of our graduate programs or certificates. He is happy to answer your questions about our degrees, admission requirements, and the application procedure. In his free time, he can usually be found in the woods or on the water, or cheering on all the Wisconsin sports teams.