University of Minnesota
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The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is the University of
Minnesota's school of policy and planning.

Center for Science, Technology, and Public Policy

Policy Fellows Application Process and Frequently Asked Questions

The Policy Fellows program requires participants to make a commitment to professional and personal growth as part of a cohort. Fellows meet once a month as a group between September and early June (most often on Fridays), and travel to Washington, D.C., for a multi-day study trip with prominent elected officials and national leaders in public affairs. Fellows also engage in a collaboratively designed small-group project, working with community partners to address a public policy issue. Policy Fellows can expect to spend 10 to 15 hours per month on activities related to the program. Click here for more program information.

Application Process and Program Fee


Now accepting applications for the 2015-2016 cohort.

The application asks for basic information, such as work history and community involvement, along with a brief essay. We also require two letters of recommendation. These can be from current or former employers, program alumni, or people you know in the community.

For 2015-2016, the program fee is $6,500. Some employers pay the program fee in part or in full from professional development funds. Scholarships are available, though all Fellows are asked to make some contribution to their program fee. Scholarship requests are not part of the application process; after new Fellows are selected, we follow up with each individual regarding their scholarship needs.

Scholarships specifically for nonprofit sector participants are made possible by generous gifts from the George Family Foundation and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.


Please prepare the application form and essay and save it as a single Word or PDF document. Include your name on every page.

When complete, please upload the document in Word or PDF format for online submission here.

You will also have the option of uploading an additional document as a supplement to your application, if you feel it is imperative (e.g. extended C.V., letter explaining unique circumstances, etc.), though this is not required.

You will be prompted online to indicate the names of the two people writing recommendation letters on your behalf.

IF you have one or both of your recommendation letters in your possession, you may upload them as part of your online application. Alternatively, the letter writers may email them directly to Information about the recommendation letters is available – please share these instructions with the people who will be writing letters on your behalf.

All materials must be submitted by Monday, June 1, 2015 for consideration. We will confirm with you when your application file is complete. We intend to notify all candidates of their status for 2015-2016 by mid-July.

Further questions? Contact Kate at or 612-625-8330

When will application materials be available for next year? When are applications due?
Typically, applications are due in the spring for the program beginning in September. For 2015-2016, applications are due June 1, 2015.

How much does the program cost? What if I can’t afford it? Are scholarships available?
The fee is $6500 for the nine-month program, which covers all monthly workshops, meals, materials, the D.C. trip (airfare, lodging, and most meals), as well as program administration costs. Scholarships and installment payments are both available. Some employers cover all or a portion of the fee from professional development funds. We have a need-blind application process, so do not let financial concerns prevent you from applying if you are interested. Call Kate Cimino at 612-625-8330 with any questions.

How many applicants are accepted?
We are typically able to accept about half of our applicant pool, to form a cohort of approximately 35 Fellows each year. Our selection committee (made up of program alumni and community members) seeks to admit a cohort representing the business, nonprofit, and government/public sectors.

What qualities and experiences does a strong applicant exhibit?
Here are a few of the things we are looking for in our Policy Fellows:
• A leader or emerging leader in their field of work
• An interesting perspective that would add value to the cohort
• A clear reason for wanting to be a Policy Fellow
• A strong record of contributing to their community or working toward the common good
• Curiosity, problem-solving skills, and openness to new ideas and concepts

What kinds of careers or professions are represented in the program? Who has participated in the past?
Fellows represent a very wide range of professional backgrounds. Here’s a sampling of the organizations represented in the past four years of Policy Fellows cohorts, 2010-2014 as well as a list of current fellows.
Current Fellows
Fellows' Organizations

What are the requirements or prerequisites to apply?
There is no specific educational or professional requirement for participation. You must live and work in Minnesota, even if some of your work is focused outside of the state. You can be from any part of the state; Fellows who come from outside the Twin Cities metro area may apply for lodging assistance.

What is the time commitment?
Fellows participate in monthly full-day workshops, most often on Fridays, from about 8:15 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Typically, several articles or book chapters are assigned in advance of each session as preparatory readings. There is also a three-day study trip to Washington, D.C. Finally, Fellows engage in a collaboratively designed small-group project, working with community partners to address a public policy issue; the bulk of this project work takes place in the winter and spring months. Fellows can expect to spend 10 to 15 hours per month on activities related to the program. While we realize things come up and conflicts can arise unexpectedly, you should plan to participate in all program activities if you are accepted as a Fellow.

How do I know if it’s a good time for me to apply?
It is a good time to apply if you’re looking for a leadership development opportunity outside of your immediate professional field; if you’re looking to get more involved in public affairs, public policy, or politics; if you’d like to expand your personal and professional network; if you are seeing how your work connects to other sectors or to the policy process. Typically, people who participate in the Fellows program are not enrolled in school full-time.

How do I know if I’m too early in my career, or too far along?
We are looking for emerging or mid-career leaders. Because of varying career paths, Policy Fellows tend to range in age from mid-20s to early 50s, with most in their 30s and 40s.

Is this a certificate or for-credit program?
The Policy Fellows program is a leadership and professional development program. Because it is based at Minnesota’s premier school of public affairs, the program draws on academic research and expert professors as well as distinguished community leaders. Currently, participation in the program does not result in a certificate, a degree, or in course credit hours toward a degree.

More questions? Contact Kate Cimino at or 612-625-8330.