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:

MSW Students
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?

What is YDL?
Faculty and seminars
Classroom experience
YDL - classroom experience.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Learn more and apply

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:

How to apply to the YDL program

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.

Learn More!

Prospective YDL Student Information Sessions!

Join a general Youth Development Leadership MEd. information session. You can learn more about the program, how to apply, and talk with faculty, current students, and alumni of the program.


January 23rd: 4-5pm

February 8th: 5:30-6:30 pm

February 22nd: 8:30-9:30 am

March 17th: 11:30-12:30pm

May 16th: 12-1pm

June 7th: 9-10am

Online Access:
You will be sent a Zoom Link from the prior to the session.

To Register:
YDL Web session for prospective students registration form.

If you have any questions, please email Ross VeLure Roholt, YDL Director,

Program Contact

Ross VeLure Roholt, PhD, MSW
Associate Professor, Youth Studies
Director of Youth Development Leadership Program

105 Peters Hall (Preferred method of contact)