The University of Minnesota is large, very large! There are 30k undergraduates and 20k graduate students on this urban campus – which is really three campuses! University shuttle buses transport students between the main campus, called East Bank, the West Bank and the St. Paul campuses. The majority of academic buildings and the Mall (the largest quad, modeled after the National Mall in Washington, DC) are on the East Bank campus, and many buildings are connected by tunnels and skyways – follow signs to move between buildings ‘The Gopher Way,’ without actually going outside! Theatre, dance, music, the Carlson School of Management and some social science majors are all located on the West Bank campus, just across the Mississippi River. A bridge connects the two and when the weather is nice, it’s about a 15 minute walk. The St. Paul campus is about a 15 minute bus ride away, and has an entirely different feel. This is where the agriculture, animal sciences, forestry and other natural resources-related majors live (as well as architecture), and the campus is immediately adjacent to the State Fair Grounds.
Now that you understand the multiple campus situation, let’s talk about academics. There are 8 freshman-admitting colleges and literally thousands of courses offered each semester. The College of Design is the only school that admits by major. When you apply, you’ll be asked to indicate your first and second choice college, and if you’re not admitted to the first, you’ll be considered a second time for your second. The College of Liberal Arts is the largest, with nearly half the 150 majors offered at University of Minnesota. The School of Nursing is the smallest, with just about 450 students, and applicants to this program must apply by November 1. The College of Science and Engineering has 20 different majors, including both Computer Science and Computer Engineering. The College of Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Science’s food science program is quite proud to have developed the Honey Crisp apple variety!
Despite its extra-large size, the student-to-faculty ratio at Minnesota is 17:1, and 80% of classes have fewer than 50 students. As with most large colleges, you’ll take some large lecture-style introductory level courses in your first year and possibly your second. Most large classes meet a few times a week with the professor delivering information by lecture, and a few times a week with a graduate student TA in a smaller group format. Most students declare their major in the middle or second semester of sophomore year, and classes will be smaller at that point. Each academic college has its own career services office which helps connect students to the 17 Fortune 500 business headquartered in Minneapolis, plus other business who hire University of Minnesota students for jobs and internships.
During our day-long visit to the University of Minnesota, we spent extra time touring the Engineering facilities. Not surprisingly, the Engineering facilities are top-notch, as most of the scientific research conducted in the state is connected to the University. Students have a wide variety of engineering options, including aerospace engineering, here.
We also spent some time touring Rarig Hall, home to University of Minnesota’s BA and BFA theatre programs. The BFA program takes 20 students per year and offers classical acting training. BFA students go through a very rigorous and structured course of study, with about 75% of their work in theatre, and the remaining courses taken to satisfy the University’s core requirements – so BFA students cannot double major or minor in another subject. BA theatre students, however, have five different concentrations from which to choose, and they have flexibility in their schedule to double major or minor.
Applying to the University of Minnesota is pretty straightforward. There are no supplemental essays, no teacher recommendations and no transcripts required. You’ll need to self-report your courses and grades in the Common App, or if you use the Golden Gopher application, you’ll need to fill out the SRAR (self-reported academic report). Minnesota is test-optional through the Class of 2025.
If you’re looking for a big, sporty, spirited college experience with literally dozens of academic options, take a look at the University of Minnesota!
Debbie and Evelyn visited “The U” in September, 2022. You can scroll through all of our photos below.