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

Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (MS–STEP) Degree

Society's grand challenges—rapid urbanization, climate change, sustainable energy transitions, governance of emerging and/or disruptive technologies—require innovative leadership and collaboration among academia, communities, government, businesses, and nonprofit organizations, anchored upon interdisciplinary and systems thinking rooted in real-world projects.

The STEP area focuses on public issues arising at the intersection of science, technology, environment, and society that shape economic development, environmental sustainability, human health, and well-being.

The mission of the STEP area is to integrate science with public policy, community action, and multi-sector governance to advance the common good in a complex and diverse world.

A Specially-designed Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy Graduate Program

The Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (MS–STEP) at the Humphrey School is one of a few in the nation that prepares individuals with backgrounds in natural sciences, physical sciences, or engineering to become leaders and innovators who integrate science with policy and action to solve grand challenges.

The MS–STEP program combines a rigorous curriculum with opportunities available in many departments, centers, and schools at the University of Minnesota. MS–STEP students can take advantage of advanced research conducted by Humphrey School faculty members, workshops and symposia, and coursework noted for its breadth and depth of focus.

Skills developed in the STEP program:

  • Interdisciplinary systems thinking
  • Science and technology domain expertise
  • Understanding of public policy and governance
  • Systems analytics
  • Public communication
  • Entrepreneurship and engaged leadership

Students also have access to the Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy where scholarship, teaching, and public engagement come together in hands-on projects. These projects—conducted in partnership with communities; nonprofit and private sector organizations; local, state, and national governments; and international advisory bodies—maximize our impact on the real world.

The Center's research focus areas:

  • Sustainable Infrastructure and Cities
  • Renewable Energy Transitions
  • The Water Energy Food Nexus
  • Natural Resource Conservation
  • Governance of New and Emerging Technologies

What Our MS–STEP Graduates Do

A science or engineering background coupled with a policy-focused graduate degree affords many career opportunities. Our graduates work in government, nonprofit, private sector, and community-based organizations.

Sample Job Titles + Organizations

  • Global Technical Service Engineer, 3M
  • Senior Science Policy Officer, U.S. Department of State
  • Environmental Impact Manager, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Fiscal And Policy Analyst, State of California
  • Water Policy Planner, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board
  • Program And Policy Manager, Center for Energy and the Environment, Minneapolis
  • Executive Director, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group
  • Project Leader, LK Domain Registry, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka
  • Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • Director Of Research and Education, Solar Electric Power Association


The Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (MS–STEP) program requires 36 semester credits, including 21-24 required core credits (varies depending on your choices), electives, and either a Plan A thesis or Plan B paper.

If you pursue a Plan A program, your master's thesis will count for 10 credits, and you will take additional elective credits. For the Plan B program (3 credits), you write a Plan B paper and choose additional electives in consultation with your advisors.

Elective courses provide the knowledge, skills, and domain-specific expertise you need to advance your career goals. Electives may be chosen from a large variety of inter-disciplinary and inter-departmental offerings including (but not limited to) Agronomy and Plant Genetics; Animal Science; Anthropology; Applied Economics; Biology; Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering; Conservation Biology; Ecology, Evolution and Behavior; Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management; Forest Resources; Fisheries and Wildlife; Geography; Horticultural Science; Law; Public Health; Sustainable Agricultural Systems; Water Resource Science; and many others.

Although no internship is required, many students complete a professional internship between their first and second year of study.

Required Core Courses (approximately 21 credits)
PA 5012 Politics of Public Affairs (3)
PA 5021 Economics for Policy Analysis and Planning I (3)
PA 5002 Policy Analysis (1.5)
PA 5711 Science and Technology Policy (3)
PA 5722 Environmental and Resource Economics Policy (3) OR PA 5790 Material Energy Flows & Society OR ApEc 5721 Economics of Science and Technology Policy
PA 5715 Survey of Current Issues in Science, Technology, Environmental Policy (1.5)

At least one of the following:

PA 5721 Energy and Environmental Policy (3)
PA 5723 Water Policy (3)
PA 5731 Emerging Technologies and Society (3)
PA 5741 Risk Analysis and Policy (3)
PA 5751 Urban Infrastructure Systems Sustainable Cities (3)

Two of the following:

One from:
PA 5032 Regression Analysis (2)
PA 5044 Regression Analysis: Accelerated (2)

And one from:
PA 5033 Multivariate Techniques (2)
PA 5041 Qualitative Methods for Policy Analysts (4)

If you have not taken prior coursework in statistics, you must satisfy your advisors that you have adequate preparation in statistics or take Empirical Analysis I (PA 5031), which does not count toward fulfilling the 40-credit minimum requirement.

Plan B Paper (3 credits), plus electives
Plan A Thesis (10 credits), plus credits of electives

See a list of recent Plan A theses and Plan B papers.

Program Planning Worksheet
The Program Planning Worksheet (PPW) helps current students plan their degrees from start to finish. Students must submit a completed and approved PPW before graduating.

Dual Degree Opportunity

By choosing a joint degree, you can complete a MS-STEP degree and a Juris Doctor degree in less time (typically one year less) than it would take to complete the two degrees independently.

MS students can pursue a dual degree with the University of Minnesota Law School.

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