Working with Students

Each semester, the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota provides services to public and nonprofit organizations as part of capstone workshop projects completed nearing the end of students' graduate studies. Students work in teams for a client, conducting independent and rigorous research and producing professional, high quality analysis, recommendations, and solutions.

The student-consultant teams develop the tools and methods to complete a given project, working with faculty oversight and University resources. Client deliverables include professional reports, briefings, research, materials, and other specific tools that can be implemented immediately to address issues at hand.

If you are interested in applying to become a client, please complete this form, describing your project and providing contact information.

If selected, clients must complete a memorandum of understanding/agreement with the student-consultant team that further details the capstone proposal's scope, requirements, and responsibilities. Clients assist the student-consultant teams by providing appropriate background data or relevant resources and arranging for a professional presentation to the respective organization's decision-makers near the end of the semester.

Tip for proposing capstone projects

  1. Create a project that involves real policy work.
  2. Make sure the project does not require content knowledge.
  3. Have clear deliverables and make sure the project is of a manageable scope for the timeline.
  4. Think about how you will explain the project to students and why they will find it interesting. Often it is not the subject matter but the type of work the students will perform that gets them excited.
  5. Help the students with project management and time management.
  6. Communicate frequently. This may be more than the students think they need. One mid-semester meeting is required, but this is generally not enough.
  7. Think about what needs to happen to this project after the students are done and how you can position the project for future implementation. No one wants to work so hard on something that will never get used.
  8. Plan on spending a lot of time on the project and plan to make yourself accessible during the project time. At times a short turnaround is required.
  9. Be open to new ideas and new ways of doing things. If we already knew the answers we would not be turning to the students for help.
  10. Do not insert your own "solution” into your problem statement. The students are not there to prove your point to someone else.
Capstone Workshop

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