Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy

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 the 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.  

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

Research Areas

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
Humphrey School dual degree options

Graduate Minor 

This program provides students with the skills and knowledge to study public issues arising at the intersection of science, technology, environment, and society that shape economic development, environmental sustainability, human health, and wellbeing. View course information and requirements or download a brochure

Early Admissions Program

Current University of Minnesota undergraduates are eligible for the Humphrey School's Early Admissions Program.

Associated Research Center

The Center for Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy conducts transformative research, explores best practices, and creates a network of faculty, students, alumni, and partners to translate science and technology into action. 


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. Students enroll in a set of flexible core courses, electives, and complete either a Plan A thesis or Plan C professional paper.

If you pursue a Plan A program, your master's thesis will count for 10 credits, and you will take additional elective credits to meet the 36-credit minimum requirement. For the Plan C program, you will register for a Capstone Workshop, Working Group, or Master's Professional Paper, write a Plan C professional paper (3-4 credits), and choose additional electives in consultation with your adviser to meet the 36-credit minimum requirement.

 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 in the summer between their first and second year of study.

Required Core Courses:

Overview of the STEP Area
PA 5711 Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (3)
PA 5715 Survey of Current Issues in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (1.5)
PA 5712 Science to Action: All Paths (1.5) OR
PA 5742 Interdisciplinary Environmental Study* (1.5) OR
PA 5743 - Acara Impact Venture Launchpad - Moving Your Idea to Impact (1.5 cr)

Sustainability Systems Science
PA 5722 Environmental and Resource Economics Policy** OR
PA 5752 Material-Energy Flows For a Sustainable Society OR
ApEc 5721 Economics of Science and Technology Policy** OR
PA 5651 Economics of Natural Resource and Environmental Policy (3)
PA 5741 Risk, Resilience, and Decision Making (3)

Social and Policy Processes
PA 5002 Introduction to Policy Analysis (1.5)
PA 5012 Politics of Public Affairs (3) 
PA 5021 Economics for Policy Analysis and Planning I (3)

Foundational Methods
PA 5031 Empirical Analysis* (0)

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)

Focus Areas
(One course is required; students often take more than one focus area course)

PA 5721 Energy and Environmental Policy (3)
PA 5723 Water Policy (3)
PA 5724 Climate Change Policy (3)
PA 5731 Emerging Sciences and Technologies: Law, Ethics and Policy (3)
PA 5751 Urban Infrastructure Systems - Sustainable/Healthy Cities (3)

(Courses listed below taught by MS-STEP faculty)

PA 5790 Urban Agriculture and Food Systems Policy** (3)
GCC 5005 Global Venture Design: What Impact Will You Make?** (3)
GCC 5008 Policy and Science of Global Environmental Change (3) 

*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.

**Indicates that the course may not be offered every year.

Plan C Paper (3 credits), plus electives to bring total to at least 36 credits
PA 8081 Capstone Workshop (Year 2 only, with concurrent PA 5080) (3)
PA  8082 Working Group (3)
PA 8921 Masters Professional Paper (3)


Plan A Thesis (10 credits), plus electives to bring total to at least 36 credits

See a list of recent Plan A theses and Plan C 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.
Young woman student
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