PPIA Junior Summer Institute

Group photo of the 2019 Junior Summer Institute cohort.

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs Junior Summer Institute (JSI) is a rigorous seven-week academic and experiential learning program that prepares undergraduate students to thrive in graduate programs and launch careers in public service.

Open to students who are entering their senior year of undergraduate study, the JSI is part of the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Fellowship Program, which is committed to promoting the inclusion of underrepresented groups in master’s degree programs and careers in public service.

Program Overview

Emerging leaders who participate in the Humphrey School JSI will leave the program equipped for graduate studies that focus on addressing the grand challenges of our time, including such issues as global affairs, human rights, diversity and equity, educational and environmental justice, social welfare innovation, climate change, accessible transit and housing, public safety, and racial justice.

Understanding that JSI participants are interested in a wide range of grand challenges, we engage with our world-renowned faculty and innovative community leaders to present lectures and experiential learning opportunities based on our students’ interests.

Humphrey School Junior Summer Institute participants will be introduced to the knowledge and skills necessary to:

  • Lead and manage in programs that span across sectors, institutions, diverse populations, and cultures
  • Participate in problem-solving, policy-making, and institutional and societal change in dynamic, uncertain environments
  • Analyze, synthesize, think critically, and make decisions informed by quantitative, qualitative, economic, and other analytic methods
  • Understand conceptions of the common good, acknowledge normative and ethical viewpoints, and promote social justice and equity
  • Communicate and interact productively with individuals in diverse and changing cultures and communities
  • Understand global interdependence and its implications for governance, policy-making, and policy implementation

What are Grand Challenges?

Grand challenges are multi-faceted problems that have significant consequences for the well-being of those involved. They are novel, emergent, highly complex, and beyond the resources or knowledge of a single discipline, organization, or sector to address. Grand challenges often “morph” or evolve over time so they do not lend themselves to simple or one-time fixes. Single-sector actions to address these grand challenges often lead to unanticipated and unintended consequences, which is why they must be approached in an interdisciplinary and cross-sector manner. Grand challenges include such things as global climate change and environmental justice, race equity and public safety, global security and human rights, and diversity and educational access. 


Humphrey School JSI participants spend seven weeks in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area actively engaged in four integrated and interrelated learning environments, each of which allow students to apply new knowledge and skills to policy issues or grand challenges of their choosing.

Building Foundations for Success in Graduate School and Beyond: These components are designed to prepare participants to thrive in graduate school by introducing skills that will serve them far into the future. 

  • GRE preparation course
  • Graduate Program Fair (PPIA Consortium)
  • Graduate school application preparation and action plan development
  • Career development preparation: resume writing and strategies for building a public service career 
  • Professional and graduate school-level writing
  • Building a personal brand and networking skills
  • Forming and working in high-functioning interdisciplinary teams

On Becoming a Policy Leader: Throughout this program, JSI participants will be introduced to many policy leaders from broad and diverse backgrounds. In addition, the cohort will visit institutions that highlight the depth and breadth of public policy. 

  • Humphrey School of Public Affairs alumni
  • PPIA alumni
  • Weekly cohort lunch guests
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
  • The Minnesota State Capitol
  • Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC)
  • And more

Academic Coursework focused on the foundational knowledge and strategies necessary to succeed in public affairs careers.  

  • Introduction to Policy Analysis (focused on Grand Challenges)
  • Applied Economics for Planners and Policymakers (intro to intermediate instruction)
  • Applied Statistics for Policy Analysis and Evaluation (intro to intermediate instruction)
  • Introduction to Qualitative Methods for Policy Analysis and Evaluation Workshop 
  • Policy Research Symposium (presentations from scholars, public officials, and leading practitioners addressing grand challenges related to issues such as national security , human rights, equity and social justice)

Important Dates

  • November 1, 2019: Application deadline
  • February 1, 2020: Admissions notification
  • June 15, 2020: Online program begins
  • July 24, 2020: Online program ends

Benefits and Financial Aid

Each student enrolled in the Humphrey School JSI receives a $1,000 stipend, housing, meals, full tuition, and reimbursement for travel to and from the program. Participants live on campus and have access to many University of Minnesota resources.  

The Humphrey School awards a minimum $5,000 scholarship each year, for two years, to all students who successfully complete a PPIA Junior Summer Institute and are admitted to a full-time master's degree program at the Humphrey School. However, PPIA participants often receive financial aid awards over and above this $5,000.

Students must apply to the Humphrey School by January 15 and are eligible to have their application fee waived. Students who apply by December 15 are considered for additional University-wide fellowship opportunities.

Twin Cities Life and Campus Resources

Humphrey School JSI participants enjoy the many benefits of studying in a vibrant metropolitan region, which is the economic center of the upper Midwest and home to the Minnesota State Capitol. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul form the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the United States, with more than 3 million residents. Learn more about student life in the Twin Cities

In addition, participants have access to a wide range of student resources provided by the University of Minnesota. View a complete summary on the University's One Stop Student Services website

PPIA Junior Summer Institute

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

Head shot of Kathryn Lige
The most beneficial part of JSI was the field trips that exposed me to future public service opportunities. I’m now open to careers I would have otherwise felt under-qualified for and have confidence in my ability to make change.
Kathryn Lige, JSI 2017, California State University