Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Photo of OLLI at the UMN members viewing solar eclipse 2017.

No tests. No grades.
Just the joy of learning and sharing.

Welcome to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Minnesota! OLLI is an award-winning program offering noncredit courses, interest groups, travel, and events for adult learners. Each year, OLLI's members enjoy over 300 stimulating noncredit courses including art, history, science, sports, and current events; participate in 30 interest groups from books to biking; travel on national and international trips; attend social events; meet other curious seniors; and use their skills as volunteers. One of 122 OLLIs across the country, we are proud to have received an endowment from the Bernard Osher Foundation and proud to foster lifelong learning and enrich lives!


We invite you to join OLLI at the University of Minnesota!

Picture yourself enjoying one of our 300 stimulating noncredit courses, participating in a special interest group like books, biking, or orchestra, and meeting other interesting seniors. You can also travel on national and international trips and contribute your skills as a volunteer. We're told by 94% of our members how Osher Lifelong Learning Institute − University of Minnesota (OLLI) enriches their lives!

OLLI courses are taught by outstanding retired professors, experts, and graduate students in locations across the metro who are passionate about their topics. Courses cover thought-provoking and wide-ranging topics like global events, the arts, history, health science research, and important local and worldwide issues of the day. But there are no tests, no grades, and no papers!

OLLI members are kept up-to-date via our Up-To-Dater e-newsletter and the Board’s Memo-To-Members.

OLLI members receive invitations to participate in some UMN community events and learn about discounts on membership with the UMN Alumni Association and the UMN Retirees’ Association, etc.

OLLI has four terms: fall (September−November), winter (January−March), spring (April−May) and summer (June). The membership fee is a low $240/year (most members take 11 courses each year, join an interest group, and attend one or two events. Scholarships are available). Memberships are valid for one year from date of purchase. 

Founded in 1995, OLLI is part of the College of Continuing and Professional Studies at the University of Minnesota. OLLI is honored to have been recognized as an “exemplary lifelong learning program” and provided an endowed gift from the Bernard Osher Foundation. To read more about OLLIs nationwide you can check out the Osher National Resource Center.

Add joy to your retirement. Join OLLI!

Volunteer Opportunities

We have been told over and over again what a difference OLLI has made in our member’s lives. And it just so happens that those who speak of it most are members who have chosen to become OLLI volunteers.

Volunteers infuse OLLI with their talents, skills, and creativity and gain personal social connections. Below, you will find brief summaries of the volunteer opportunities so that when you are ready to share your time and talent, you’ll know what the heck they do!

Course Assistants are truly ambassadors for OLLI—welcoming members to class, answering new member questions, and taking attendance. They help OLLI increase our community spirit by suggesting and meeting with other course participants for coffee after class.

Course Leaders volunteer to make our OLLI the vital, fascinating program that it is.

The Curriculum Committee consists of five Affinity Groups (Arts, Social Sciences, Science and Technology, Sports, Travel), the Course Leader Team, the Quality Review Team, the Interdisciplinary Team, and the Course Development Teams mentor. The Affinity Groups imagine and suggest potential courses and course leaders. The Course Leader Team plans two gatherings or workshops and assists with the course leader luncheon. The Quality Review Team reviews course comment forms for trends and concerns. The Interdisciplinary Team develops speaker series like OLLI Talks!

The Marketing Team works to spread the news about OLLI’s program, purpose, and benefits to more retirees. Some members spread the news to their former company or organization, others volunteer to write articles on our impact. An OLLI Ambassador group has begun making presentations at future retiree sessions.

The Member Events Committee plans and implements OLLI events that are enjoyable, social, and stimulating. Our goal is to promote member participation. Events include the Fall Kickoff, the Course Leader Luncheon, and the Volunteer Luncheon.

The Special Interest Group (SIG) Committee is a coordinator who meets with people who are interested in starting SIGs and plans an annual picnic for SIG Leaders.

The Volunteer Committee finds OLLI members who will lend a hand for short-term projects: event registration, calling new members, preparing new member bags, etc.

The Board of Directors, composed of 12 members, sets the direction for OLLI and leads the Development Committee, the Planning Committee, and the 25th Anniversary Task Force.

We appreciate our volunteers and invite you to add your talents to OLLI at the University of Minnesota! If you need more motivation, current research reveals that volunteering promotes brain health! Just email the OLLI office.

Suggest a Course/Leader

OLLI Course Leaders are a critical component to making OLLI successful. They deliver content, facilitate meaningful discussions, and keep OLLI members on their toes with new perspectives. Each term OLLI welcomes back veteran volunteer course leaders and introduces new volunteer course leaders who have come to us via member recommendations, staff research, or their own outreach.


Support OLLI—Make a Difference!

Help OLLI at the University of Minnesota continue to foster intellectual curiosity, love of learning, and brain health for active older adults in Minnesota. Your gift, whether monthly or year-end, planned or matching, helps OLLI provide its outstanding program, offer scholarships, strengthen technology, further our reach to new retirees, and support operations. Every gift, no matter the size, is an investment in the future of OLLI’s vibrant program.

Your contribution is truly appreciated whether it is to the OLLI Annual Fund for future growth and to support the OLLI Scholars, the Wanda Lorentzen Fund to increase east-side presence, or the Miriam B. Seltzer Fund for scholarships.

Contact Us

OLLI at the UMN

McNamara Alumni Center

200 SE Oak St, Ste 250, Minneapolis, MN 55455


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OLLI Scholars

An OLLI Scholar is a graduate student or postdoc who applies to teach for OLLI. Selected OLLI Scholars receive a $1,000 stipend to prepare and present one course. OLLI Scholars must be students enrolled in a program during the term in which their course is delivered and must obtain one’s adviser’s signature. 

"I always left my classes learning more about myself and my art from having interacted with these brilliant people." 
—Zachary Colby, Tenor, DMA Candidate Voice, University of Minnesota

OLLI is now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 academic year. If you wish to submit an idea for consideration, complete the OLLI Scholar Interest Form below. See steps below for deadlines. It is preferred that you submit your idea ASAP.

Please follow these steps if you are interested in taking part in the OLLI Scholar program.

1) Complete the following form by May 31, 2020: OLLI Scholar Interest Form.

2) You will be contacted by the OLLI office or an OLLI volunteer to further discuss your idea. You may be asked to complete a course proposal form.

Thank you for your interest in OLLI.