Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy

Meeting society’s grand challenges—infrastructure for future cities, climate change, sustainable energy transitions, governance of emerging and/or disruptive technologies, water and food security—requires 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 Graduate Program

The Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (MS–STEP) at the Humphrey School is one of the few programs in the nation to prepare 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. 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.  Learn more about our research focus areas.

Watch this video to hear Professor Anu Ramaswami talk about the MS–STEP program. 

Skills Developed in the STEP Program:

  • Interdisciplinary systems thinking
  • Science and technology domain expertise
  • Understanding of public policy and governance
  • Sustainability systems analysis
  • Public communication
  • Entrepreneurship and engaged leadership
  • Action-oriented public service

Positions Our Graduates Hold

Environmental Impact Manager, U.S. Department of Energy
Water Policy Planner, Minnesota Environmental Quality Board
Sustainability Program Coordinator, City of Minneapolis 
Program and Policy Manager, Center for Energy and the Environment, Minneapolis
Executive Director, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG)
Project Leader, LK Domain Registry, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka

Dual Degree Offerings

MS–STEP/JD, Law School
Click here for more on dual degrees.

Early Admissions Program

Learn more here about the Humphrey School Early Admission Program for current University of Minnesota undergraduates.


We've designed an innovative curriculum that combines skills in sustainability systems and social and policy processes with analytic methods. The Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (MS–STEP) program requires 36 semester credits, including 25-27 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 25-27 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)
PA 5742 Interdisciplinary Environmental Study (1.5) OR PA 5712 Science to Action: All Paths (1.5)
PA 5741 Risk, Resilience, and Decision Making (3) 

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 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 36-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.

Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy

Humphrey School of Public Affairs
301 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Learn about students' research on rooftop solar energy systems.
The Humphrey School has given me many opportunities to explore interesting STEP issues and to challenge both myself and my assumptions about how we shape policy.
Angela Laird, MS−STEP '14