College of Education and Human Development

School of Social Work

MEd in Youth Development Leadership (YDL)

Working with and on behalf of youth demands continual learning and professional growth. To create space for what’s possible and keep up with the challenges facing today’s youth, leaders must have a grounding in current research as well as hands-on work and learning.

What Our Students Have to Say:

Quote from Andréa Carroll-Franck

I chose the YDL program for the flexibility it offered. YDL is really about reshaping how to approach and think about youth work, and giving us the skills we need to affect change on behalf of and with young people in our communities.

Andréa Carroll-Franck MEd in Youth Development Leadership and Certificate in Nonprofit Management 2013

What is YDL?

The MEd in youth development leadership combines practice, experiential learning, and leading-edge scholarship in the fields of youth work, youth studies, and development. Hear from faculty and students on what this pioneering graduate program has to offer.

Classroom Experience

Thinking about the Youth Development Leadership program? Take a peek into the classroom!

Faculty and Seminars

Curious about the ethos of the faculty in this program? The guiding principles of the School? Students and instructors invite you into what happens — both in the classroom, and beyond.

YDL - Classroom Experience

This program is unlike any other on campus: with an emphasis on experiential learning, student participation, and conversation-driven, feet-on-the-ground experiences. Learn more today.

Program Highlights

    Experiential Learning and Professional Development

    Examine your own learning process and learn how experience is used in education. Put your learning to work in the countless settings and scenarios offered by the vibrant backdrop of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.

    Interdisciplinary Study and Faculty Support

    All students take four core courses in our program, and then have the freedom to customize their degree with credits from across the University. Dive deep into a specialty, or gain a broad working knowledge of your field, all backed by the only high-level research institution in Minnesota.

    Career-building Degree for Youth Work Professionals at All Levels

    Armed with both academic and practical knowledge, our students and graduates demonstrate leadership through action. This program strengthens both those beginning their career as well as seasoned professionals looking for the next step in their careers.

    Diverse Experience in a Cohort Model

    Small class sizes with your cohort forge strong bonds that sustain through your studies and continue long past graduation.

    Program Outline

    The MEd program is 30 credits. Our core curriculum has five 3-credit classes providing a foundation in youth development leadership:

    • Ways of Knowing in Youth Development Leadership: Using Research and Evaluation to Support Community
    • The Everyday Lives of Youth (YOST 5952)
    • Experiential Learning: Theory & Practice (YOST 5954)
    • Organizational Approaches to Youth Development (YOST 5956)
    • Community: Context for Youth Development Leadership (YOST 5958)

    Two 1-credit seminar classes, taught by both YDL faculty and your fellow students, further enrich and build a diverse understanding of our field, the youth we serve, and each other.

    Work with your adviser to choose 9 credits of electives from across the University to broaden your scope of study or further develop a specialization. 4 credits of customizable field experience have you putting your studies into practice. At the end of the program, each student presents a portfolio to demonstrate their studies and work in youth development leadership. More specifics of the program are in the MEd Student Handbook, which will be complete by mid-September.

    Deadlines and Applying

    Spring, 2024 
    Priority deadline: December 15, 2024

    Fall, 2024 
    Priority deadline: July 15, 2024

    To learn more about the application process, please consider attending one of the following one-hour information sessions:

    Wednesday, August 7th - 6:00pm

    Tuesday, September 17th - 1:00pm 

    Thursday, October 17th - 1:00pm

    Wednesday, November 13th - 6:00pm


    Questions about applying? You can schedule a one-on-one appointment with Director of Admissions, Larissa Lavrov.

    Start your application today!

    Required Application Materials

      Personal Statement

      Describe why you are interested in the YDL M.Ed. program, your experiences working with youth, and your potential career aspirations. In your statement, please address what draws you to the field of youth work, and what insights and questions from your work with youth you are interested in exploring. Limit two pages.

      Recommendation Letters

      Submit at least two letters from individuals (e.g. administrators, colleagues, or instructors) familiar with your performance and your capacity for youth development leadership.

      Unofficial Transcripts

      Transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you have attended or are currently attending, including the University of Minnesota.

      Test Scores

      The GRE is NOT required. If you are an international student and English is not your native language, submit TOEFL or IELTS scores which meet our minimum score requirements (79 for internet-based TOEFL, 6.5 for IELTS). Exceptions for these tests may be made for students who have completed 16 semester or 24 quarter credits at another accredited U.S. institution of higher education.

      Extenuating Circumstances (If Applicable)

      If your undergraduate GPA is below a 2.80 overall, or if you have circumstances about which you wish to provide more information, you may attach a statement providing more context.

      Application Fee


      Provide a CV or resume detailing your past work and/or volunteer experience, in addition to your education experience.

      Program Contacts

      Ross VeLure Roholt, PhD, MSW 
      Associate Professor, Youth Studies 
      Director of Youth Development Leadership Program 
      105 Peters Hall (Preferred method of contact) 

      Rae Dillon 
      Academic Advisor, Youth Studies 
      104 Peters Hall