Youth studies major

If you are passionate about improving young lives, a major in Youth Studies will help you gain the knowledge and resources you need to reach your goals. You'll learn how to work with young people from every walk of life, with an emphasis on urban youth and those from diverse communities. Learning doesn't just happen in the classroom—you'll be out in the community, putting what you've learned to work. As a youth studies major, you can start making a difference the moment you get to campus.

Applying to the University of Minnesota? Choose youth studies as your major when applying through the Office of Admissions.

Students in theater.
Youth studies students participate in the Theater Activities in Youthwork and Education class.

Consider how youth affect the world. As a youth studies major, you can start making a difference the moment you get to campus.


"Seeing Youth, Thinking Youth: Media, Popular Media, and Scholarship" (YOST 1001) is an introductory course exploring the everyday realities of being a young person, and how the experience varies by age, social class, race/ethnicity, geography, time period, sexual orientation, and capacity.

The foundation coursework of the youth studies major lays a groundwork of understanding youthwork history, theory, and practice. You’ll learn how to bring your own life experiences into ethical, effective youthwork. Courses include:

  • Urban Youth and Youth Issues (YOST 2101)
  • Experiential Learning (YOST 2241)
  • Introduction to History & Philosophy of Youthwork (YOST 3001)
  • Adolescent and Youth Development for Youthworkers (YOST 3032)
  • Youthwork: Orientation and Approaches (YOST 3101)
  • Improving Everyday Youthwork: Practical Program Evaluation (YOST 4325)

Choose 9 credits of professional core courses to tailor your degree to your experiences and goals as a youthworker. Some course options:

  • International Youthwork (YOST 3031)
  • Community Building, Civic Engagement, and Civic Youthwork (YOST 3235)
  • Theater Activities in Youthwork and Education (YOST 4314)
  • Media and Youth: Learning, Teaching, and Doing (YOST 4316)
  • Understanding Youth Subcultures (YOST 4319)
  • Young People’s Spirituality and Youthwork (YOST 4401W)

Each year, our faculty and instructional staff teach a special topics course (YOST 3240), bringing their specific passions and expertise to the classroom. Past course topics have included “Hmong Youth in Context” and "Somali Youth."

The courses above are just a sampling of what we offer! A complete list of professional core course options can be found in the online degree plan.

Mentoring and internships

All Youth Studies majors complete a four credit internship at the end of their program. A one-on-one mentorship with either University faculty or a community leader connects you to the work of youth studies, and helps you choose an internship site that fits your academic and career goals.

The diversity and multiculturalism of Minneapolis and St. Paul are backdrops to countless internships, service learning, and community involvement opportunities.

Study abroad

Study and work with youth around the world and stay on track to graduate. The Learning abroad center offers programs around the world to enhance your undergraduate experience. Program options include but are not limited to:

Kenya: Focusing on international development through a combination of coursework and a local internship. Past internship placements have been through social work agencies, youth projects, women’s groups, orphanages, health clinics, and community centers.

New Zealand: An interdisciplinary program examining how social and environmental factors shape political and ecological aspects of identity and culture, and how New Zealand’s residents are developing a shared future.

Northern Ireland: Learn about democracy and social change with a background on the historical, political, and religious roots of conflict as well as the prospects for peace and progress being made.

Your career

A bachelor's degree in youth studies prepares you for careers with youth in a variety of settings. Our alumni have found successful careers as counselors, coaches, event coordinators, case managers, community organizers, youth program directors, and more. Explore more career options and employers that look for Youth Studies majors.

Youth studies majors often continue their education with advanced study. With a Masters of Social Work, an MEd in youth development leadership, or a PhD, our students go on to become leaders in social services, education, and public policy.

Academic advising

Bao Lee-Yang
Senior Academic Advisor
190A Peters Hall