Graduate Study in the Twin Ports

I am lucky enough to have been declared the director of graduate studies in the Master of Liberal Studies degree at UMD.

It made me think that a guide to local grad programs would be helpful. So I built one. Which programs listed below are you an alumnus from?  And what advice might you have for new students?

(Please stay away from the “100 reasons not to go to grad school;  I have that advice covered here.) This is about best counsel for those who have made the decision to attend.

Arts & Humanities


Health, Education & Human Services


  • M.S./Ph.D. Program in Integrated Biosciences Biology, UMD
  • Water Resources Science Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Geological Sciences, Physics, UMD
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry Graduate Program Chemistry and Biochemistry, UMD
  • Civil Engineering, M.S. Civil Engineering, UMD
  • Computer Science, M.S. Computer Science, UMD
  • Electrical Engineering, M.S. Electrical Engineering, UMD
  • Engineering, M.S. Swenson College of Science and Engineering, UMD
  • Geological Sciences, M.S. Geological Sciences, UMD
  • Engineering Management, M.S. Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, UMD
  • Environmental Health and Safety, M.S. Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, UMD
  • Applied and Computational Mathematics, M.S. Mathematics and Statistics, UMD
  • Physics, M.S. Physics, UMD


JP Rennquist

about 11 years ago

I got my paper from CSS in the MA in Management program.  I really did learn an extraordinary amount of information that has been useful in my professional and personal life, even.  I can't say enough about what I learned there being beneficial.  However, I need to be honest that I have yet to reap the financial benefits of pursuing the degree.  

Last year I began work on a more practical graduate degree that leads to an actual credential/licensure.  

I am an enormous, enormous advocate for the liberal arts experience and degree as it relates to good citizenship and a well-rounded existence.  However, I'm not sure that our local/regional/national/global economy values such skills and abilities in the form of financial compensation. 

Maybe other posters will share things to correct my impressions.  As I have kids nearing the college years in the next several years ... and decades (I have a lot of kids) ... I'd love to hear how people are using higher education to further their personal and professional goals and their financial well-being.


about 11 years ago

As a current MAPL student at UMD, I would say that it doesn't really fit in the designation you gave it.  It is a part of the College of Liberal Arts at UMD, and has a very different scope than the other Health, Education, and Human Services programs listed.  With concentrations in Nonprofit Management, Labor, and the Public Sector, it is more a mixture of business and humanities.

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

I would love to collate feedback and update!  Tell me more, everyone!

Tony D.

about 11 years ago

I graduated from the UMD English MA program in 1993 and am afraid the program has changed considerably since that time. I later taught in the Composition Department--now Writing Studies, I believe. So I can't offer ideas in regard to the current programs, but I do have this advice: If you don't plan on going on for your Ph.D., the M.A. in English (from any institution) is rather limiting as far as potential employment is concerned. Most end up at community colleges or at larger universities as adjuncts teaching mostly freshman comp with no job security. Lucky for me I had graphic design skills and publishing experience to fall back on so I was able to create my own job.

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

I feel like I have to at least offer some thoughts for Tony, who is 100% accurate to some students'  experience.  However, MA-holding folks from UMD have broken the curve in a few aspects:

1.  MNSCU community college teaching with an MA is not intrinsically without security.  Probationary positions in community colleges have a three-year "tenure" period, after which the position becomes essentially tenured.  Additionally, while I am not poorly paid, full-time unlimited faculty at LSC and WITC earn within a safe margin of my income (and old hands earn more than me), while only holding that MA.  The significant catch is:  LSC and WITC cannot absorb the entire graduating class of UMD's MA in English.  So one must be mobile (e.g. we have placed MA-holders at other regional community colleges) or patient with the less secure position and ready to compete when LSC hires.  And the unlimited jobs in MNSCU with an MA are jobs are lots of comp teaching, to be sure, which is not for everyone.

2.  Changes in administration have seen UMD move toward three-year contracts for some FYC teachers.  It's not enough, but some of us are trying.

3.  One of the major transformations of the UMD MA in English (in which I teach but am not DGS) is the addition of coursework in editing, web design, document design, grant writing, and internships to the courses.  An entrepreneurial student can build a more interesting professional as well as academic portfolio than was possible in 1993, though admittedly, this is something that the student must choose to do;  the program is not structured to force such experiences.  An entrepreneurial spirit is required.

That said, the program is lucky to have a model for such entrepreneurial thinking in our alumni like Tony, who has worked with our students, mentored our graduates, and served as a model of the kind of thinking I am trying to make structurally possible within the program, rather than an accident or a development after graduation.


about 11 years ago

I am a 2013 alumna of the UMD English MA program. I especially agree with point #3 in the previous post. I was a fairly entrepreneurial student, but there are things I could have done better in that regard. As with virtually any academic program, it was tough to balance coursework, other program requirements, and the numerous "extras" (networking, etc.) that are just as valuable, and sometimes more so. (I was also playing in the Duluth-Superior Symphony and working for the Reader during my time at UMD.)

I have no personal experience with any of the other programs listed above, but I can compare my UMD MA with my Master of Music from an Illinois conservatory/university, though an English graduate program is obviously pretty different from a music performance graduate program. UMD was superior in terms of camaraderie among grad students and funding opportunities, though I admit I didn't do much to seek out either of those during my MM. That observation reminds me, though, that I sometimes felt there was almost too much camaraderie at UMD - or at least it would have helped all of us to add more respectful competition and criticism/prodding to our interactions. Certain professors encouraged me to be the best I could be, but I didn't always get that from every professor or my fellow students, and I didn't always give that to them.

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

I just spent the afternoon with Alexandra Luong and learned that UMD is starting a Master's Degree in Psychological Sciences, I think it's called.  The degree will have emphases in Clinical/Counselling, Experimental, and Industrial/Organizational.  It opens next year, so it may be too early to meet with Professor Luong, but you should keep this exciting program on your radar.

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