PPIA Junior Summer Institute

Junior Summer Institute

Open to students who are entering their senior year of undergraduate study, 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.

Program Overview

Our nation is in need of passionate people dedicated to making a difference. We need people entering public service who represent all backgrounds and experiences, and who understand that the only way to enact real change is through a mix of activism, policy, and empathy.

So, the question is: Are you ready to step up and advance the common good both nationally and around the globe?

As a fellow in the Humphrey School of Public Affairs’ Junior Summer Institute (JSI), you will start this journey, working with your  peers to examine such vital issues as global decision making, human rights, diversity and equity, educational and environmental justice, social welfare innovation, climate change, accessible transit and housing, public safety, and racial justice (we define these as “Grand Challenges,” see below for the full definition). Throughout the program, we connect JSI fellows with our world-renowned faculty and innovative community leaders to present lectures and experiential learning opportunities based on our participant’s interests.

As a Humphrey School JSI fellow, you will join us on the University of Minnesota campus in the heart of Minneapolis for a rigorous, seven-week academic and experiential learning program that prepares up to 22 undergraduate students to thrive in graduate programs and launch careers in public service. By choosing the Humphrey School JSI program, you will join a community that is driven to advance social equity and ignite policy improvement across the globe. We are a world calling for change, and our JSI fellows will gain the skills necessary to respond to that call and move from important conversations toward essential action.

The program is open to students who are entering their senior year of undergraduate study. 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.

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, policymaking, and policy implementation.

What Are Grand Challenges?

Grand challenges are multifaceted problems that have significant consequences for the wellbeing 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; diversity and educational access.

Expand all


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: Enrolling in a graduate program is one route many JSI participants alumni have taken. To ensure you are prepared for life in a graduate school program, we ensure our JSI participants take courses on the following topics, which 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: building your brand
  • Professional and grad school-level writing
  • networking skills
  • Forming and working in high functioning interdisciplinary teams

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

  • Humphrey School of Public Affairs Alumni
  • PPIA Alumni
  • Weekly Cohort Lunch Guests
  • The Federal Reserve Bank
  • The Minnesota State Capitol
  • Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center UROC

Academic Coursework: The following courses provide participants with the foundational knowledge and strategies necessary to succeed in a public affairs career:

  • Introduction to Policy Analysis (focused on the 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 2022: Application deadline
  • February 2023: Admissions notification
  • June 12, 2023: Program begins
  • July 28, 2023: Program ends

Benefits and merit aid

Each student enrolled in the Humphrey School JSI receives a living stipend, meals, housing, full tuition, and reimbursement for travel to and from the program. Participants live on campus.

The Humphrey School awards a minimum $15,000 scholarship to all students who successfully complete a PPIA Junior Summer Institute and are successfully 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 $15,000. 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