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

Early Childhood Policy Certificate, a Graduate-level Program

The Early Childhood Policy post-baccalaureate certificate at the University of Minnesota is designed to offer students expertise in applying research-based knowledge to public policies affecting young children and the adults who care for them. This Regent’s-approved certificate will appear as part of the official transcript of those who fulfill all program requirements.

What You'll Learn

The Early Childhood Policy Certificate Program is designed to help students:

  • Understand early childhood development issues and their impact on policy formation;
  • Understand policy analysis and the trade-offs of implementing policy choices;
  • Learn about the economics of government investments in early learning and return on investment theories;
  • Apply expanded understanding of early childhood economic and policy analyses to real-world contemporary early childhood issues.

Many faculty members from areas across the University of Minnesota are engaged in important early childhood policy research and are involved in offering this Early Childhood Policy Certificate program. Some of these faculty and researchers are listed below:

  • Art Rolnick (senior fellow, co-director of the University’s Human Capital Research Collaborative
  • Robert Bruininks (professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, and former President of the University of Minnesota)
  • Judy Temple (associate professor, Humphrey School of Public Affairs and Department of Applied Economics)
  • Nora Slawik (former state representative and instructor of the cornerstone course for the certificate)
  • Arthur Reynolds (professor of Child Development, co-director of the University’s Human Capital Research Collaborative)
  • Cathy Jordan (director, Children, Youth, and Family Consortium)
  • Dan Kellilher (professor, Political Science)
  • Scott McConnell (professor, Educational Psychology)
  • Elizabeth Davis (professor, Department of Applied Economics)

In addition to studying under faculty members involved in cutting-edge early childhood policy research, you will also have the opportunity to make connections with policymakers, state and local legislators, and nonprofits working on early childhood policy for internships and research opportunities.

Students in the certificate program complete twelve credits of coursework, which includes a cornerstone Early Childhood and Public Policy course, a policy elective course (chosen from an approved list) an open elective course (chosen in consultation with the Certificate Program Director) and a capstone workshop or independent study focused on early childhood policy.

Increasing Opportunities

The early childhood arena is growing and has attracted interest across the nation. The more we learn about early brain development, the more we realize the vital importance of good early childhood public policy. In recent years, early childhood legislation has received wide and bipartisan support at the state and federal levels. Policymakers, policy advisors and practitioners with an expanded understanding of policy analysis and the economics of early childhood development will be well positioned to shape the future of this growing field.

Arne Duncan, U.S. Education Secretary, visited Minnesota in July 2013. Please see this article about "An Education Secretary's View of Minnesota."

Certificates in Degree Programs

Coursework taken for the Early Childhood Policy Certificate may be applied towards a graduate degree. Consult your degree program or adviser for more information.

Learn More About The Early Childhood Policy Certificate Program


The Early Childhood Policy postbaccalaureate certificate requires 12 semester credits, including 3 credits in a cornerstone course (PA/CPSY 5413: Early Childhood and Public Policy), one policy elective, one open elective, and a capstone workshop, professional paper, or independent study focused on early childhood.

All courses must be taken for a letter grade.

In consultation with your faculty advisor, you may select electives from the following list . Other courses may be used if approved by your advisor. Your program plan must be approved by a faculty advisor.

Prerequisites and admission requirements

Students are admitted into the early childhood policy certificate program in fall and spring semesters.

Students may take up to two program courses before applying for official admission into this certificate program, but admission to the certificate program is recommended no later than after completion of the first course.


To be admitted into the Early Childhood Policy certificate program, you must have:

•A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution

•A preferred undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0.

•A valid TOEFL or IELTS exam, with a minimum score of 100 (TOEFL) or 7.0 (IELTS) for international students.

Once you are admitted into the program, you will receive timely program updates and course registration information along with other admitted student benefits.

Admission Requirements

Special Admission considerations for the Early Childhood Policy Certificate include:

•No Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is required.

Click here to apply for any of our certificate programs.

Humphrey School
University of Minnesota
280 Humphrey School
301 19th Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55455