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 student 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 2023 Application Deadline 
    December 1, 2022 - Priority deadline

    Fall 2023 Application Deadlines 
    June 1, 2023 - Priority deadline

    Upon request, an extension can be made under special circumstances. Please email:

    An overview of application materials, what we're looking for in our applicants, and how to use Apply Yourself, the University of Minnesota's online application system.

    Program Contact

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