Why Humphrey?

The Washington Avenue bridge leading to Minneapolis at sunset

Thanks for asking! When you apply to the Humphrey School, you're applying to one of the country's top-ranked professional public policy and planning schools, widely recognized for inspiring leaders to advance the common good. Our students come from 21 U.S. states and 22 countries around the world, forming a global student body that's inclusive, welcoming, and collegial.

The legacy and values of Senator and Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey are alive in our work to address the world’s most pressing challenges—and equip students to do the same. Our faculty members are deeply engaged in interdisciplinary research and public affairs, and our alumni are leading change in our Twin Cities community and in cities and nations around the world.

Wondering where the Humphrey School could help take you? Our admissions team is here to answer your questions and help you choose the degree program, certificate program, or professional development opportunity that matches your talents, goals, and passions.


A student walks past a U of M sign on a snowy campus

Consistently at the Top

In its Best Graduate Schools 2021 rankings, U.S. News and World Report lists the Humphrey School among the top 10 graduate schools for public affairs out of 275 schools nationwide—a place we’ve held for the last four years. Six Humphrey School programs are also ranked among the top 20 specialty programs for public affairs schools in the United States:

  • 6th in nonprofit management
  • 9th in social policy
  • 14th in urban policy
  • 16th in local government management
  • 19th in public management and leadership
  • 20th in public policy analysis

Explore more Humphrey School facts and figures


The Twin Cities: More Cool than Cold

If you haven’t spent much time in Minnesota, we know what you might be thinking: Winter happens, sometimes in a big way. Minneapolis, its capital city, might not seem like the first place you'd think of to study public affairs. But if you’re more familiar with Minnesota, you know that it's an underrated cultural hub, with diverse and dynamic communities, a thriving arts and music scene, and a long history of political and academic advancements. 

With more than 3 million residents, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul form the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the U.S. Together, they’re home to the #1-rated park system in the country, one of the most bikeable metropolitan areas, numerous professional sports teams, an impressive range of award-winning restaurants, and major new transit networks. Sure, Minnesota may be cold sometimes, but we're almost certain you'll warm up to it.  

A student in a black shirt and shorts bikes down the Washington Avenue Bridge, with the Minneapolis skyline in the background

A group of Humphrey School students poses by a sign in a rainforest in Puerto Rico

Strong Global Links

A degree from the Humphrey School can help set you on the path to changing the world—but as a Humphrey student, you'll also get a deeper understanding of the countless ways that the world can change you. In addition to welcoming faculty, students, and fellows from around the world, including Diplomat-in-Residence Mary Curtin, the Humphrey School encourages students to make global connections through national and international research opportunities.

In early 2020, Humphrey School students visited Puerto Rico as part of the UMN Global Convergence Lab, learning about post-disaster energy infrastructure in real time as a series of earthquakes shook the island. Working with NGOs and community members, the research team gained a deeper understanding of the urgency and importance of their work to develop resilient energy systems for disaster-prone areas.


Opportunities for Every Career Goal

Located in the heart of the Twin Cities on the West Bank of the Mississippi River, the Humphrey School is perfectly positioned for internship opportunities at the Minnesota State Capitol—which is just a short journey away by bus or light rail—and dozens of governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations. If you're seeking to advance your existing skills, the Humphrey School's flexible mid-career MPA program makes it possible to balance full-time work and coursework.

Minnesota’s economy is one of the most diversified in the nation: more than 90% of all major U.S. industries can be found in the state, including 17 Fortune 500 companies and 15 S&P 500 firms. And thanks to the Humphrey School’s close-knit community and international alumni network, you’ll receive professional mentorship and guidance wherever you choose to take your career path. 

The Minnesota State Capitol on a sunny day in summer

Hubert H. Humphrey and Martin Luther King Jr. sit together and smile at someone off-camera

A Legacy of Commitment to the Common Good

The essence of statesmanship is not a rigid adherence to the past, but a prudent and probing concern for the future.

–Hubert H. Humphrey

The Humphrey School is named for Hubert H. Humphrey, a longtime Minnesotan and U of M alumnus who served as mayor of Minneapolis, U.S. Senator, and Vice President over the course of his extensive political career. A beloved public servant and steadfast champion of civil and human rights, Humphrey’s commitment to equity and inclusion is reflected in the Humphrey School’s mission to advance the common good in a diverse and changing world.


A Community of Connections

At the end of your time at the Humphrey School, you will see that your peers are what get you through; they really care and they show up. I would not pick another student group to spend time with.

–JT Kruger, PASA President

The Humphrey student community is your real entrance into the greater Humphrey network. It's what makes the School stand apart, where you'll be inspired and build bonds that will last a lifetime. At the beginning of the year, the Public Affairs Student Association (PASA) jumps into the task of building community by organizing happy hours, coffee hours, and other events. Students in the program often come together naturally by building friendships in group projects, hanging out in the Jernberg Lounge, and studying together in the “tubs,” the School's uniquely shaped study spaces. The connectedness you'll feel through friendships and events will come to a height at the end-of-the year banquet, when students reward each other’s achievements, have a meal together, and dance the night away.

Three students laugh together at an end-of-the-year event