Policy Fellows Frequently Asked Questions

Interested in applying for the Policy Fellows program? This page answers the most asked questions, from cost to schedule to acceptance rates.

If you have additional questions not answered here, please contact us at [email protected].

Expand all

What personal qualities, skills, or experiences do you look for?

We seek Policy Fellows who are leaders or emerging leaders in their field of work; they have a strong record of contributing to their community or working toward the common good. Each Fellow adds an interesting perspective to the cohort and brings curiosity, problem-solving skills, and an openness to new ideas and concepts. We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds and political perspectives and we seek Fellows who want to engage respectfully and productively across these differences.

What kinds of professions are represented in the program?

Fellows represent a very wide range of professional backgrounds. Here’s a sampling of the organizations represented in previous Policy Fellows cohorts:

Best Buy, Cargill, CenturyLink, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Ecolab, GE, General Mills, Itasca Project, KSTP-TV
, Mayo Clinic, MN Chamber of Commerce
, PepsiCo
, St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, Target
, UnitedHealthcare, 
U.S. Bancorp

Nonprofit: AARP Minnesota, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, Blue Cross & Blue Shield
, CaringBridge, Carlson Family Foundation, Citizens League
, Dar-Al-Hijrah Mosque, Education Minnesota, Farmers' Legal Action Group, Greater Twin Cities United Way, McKnight Foundation, MN Environmental Fund
, MN Housing Partnership, Nonprofits Assistance Fund
, Project for Pride in Living
, Twin Cities Public Television

: Chaska Police Department, City of Minneapolis, Metropolitan Counci, Minneapolis Community and
 Technical College, 
MN Attorney General's Office, MN Department of Employment &
 Economic Development, MN Department of Human Services
, MN Department of Veterans’ Affairs, MN House of Representatives, MN National Guard, Saint Paul Public Schools
, U.S. Department of Commerce

What are the requirements or prerequisites to apply?

There is no specific educational or professional requirement for participation; however, the strongest candidates typically have at least several years of full-time work experience. 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.

Applicants should be committed to joining a learning environment, building relationships, and hearing and understanding different perspectives, values, and beliefs.

What is the time commitment?

Fellows participate in monthly full-day workshops, most often on Fridays, from about 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Typically, several articles or book chapters are assigned in advance of each session as preparatory readings. There is also a four-day study trip to Washington, DC. 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 seeking an opportunity for personal growth and leadership development; 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 much does the program cost?

The program fee is $9,000. The program fee covers:

  • Monthly sessions led by professional workshop facilitators
  • Breakfast and lunch during all monthly sessions
  • Washington, DC, study trip: airfare, lodging, and most meals
  • Staffing, facilities, and materials for all sessions
  • Alumni connection and engagement opportunities

We strongly encourage you to talk with your employer about what level of support they can provide to support your participation. Your participation in the program will greatly benefit you and your organization, and therefore many employers cover all or a portion of the fee from professional development funds or from other resources. 

Additional support is available for those who live in Greater MN, including covering a hotel room the night before each session. 

Contact Sara Benzkofer at [email protected] with any questions.

* Scholarships are made possible in part by generous gifts from the George Family Foundation and contributions from Policy Fellows alumni.

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.

Is this a certificate or for-credit program?

Participation in the program does not result in a certificate, a degree, or in course credit hours toward a degree.

What topics and issues are explored through the program?

Please view a sample, composite curriculum showing some of the topics, speakers, activities, and meeting locations from past years. This is not a schedule for the upcoming year.

What are the program meeting dates?

Program sessions are scheduled for the dates below. Fellows are expected to attend all meeting sessions. Dates are subject to change.

  • September 13
  • October 11 
  • November 15
  • December 13
  • January 10
  • February 4-7, DC
  • March 14
  • April 11
  • May 9
  • June 13

I have experience in public policy & policy making. Should I still apply?

There will be legislative skillbuilding sessions focused on how to be an effective advocate, how to have an effective meeting with legislators and a committee hearing simulation. With that said, the program is wide-ranging in its content and focuses most on how to be a more effective and collaborative leader.