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What, exactly, is UMAC?

The University of Minnesota Advanced Careers Initiative is a new university-wide program designed to bring experienced professionals back to campus to imagine and invent what’s next as they transition from career jobs. We launched UMAC in response to what we see as a new life stage—an encore to conventional adulthood—for those thinking about, approaching, or moving through what used to be conventional retirement ages who see meaningful work (paid or unpaid) as part of what’s next for them.
The UMAC experience mixes formal and informal programing, including a hands-on project or internship in the spring semester. Fellows spend about 10 hours per week using their skills and insights to assist a non-profit on a needed project, expanding capacity for non-profits while deepening their understanding of the social sector.


These are unprecedented times in need of new models of living and working. These trends are driving the need for new blueprints.

  • Americans are living longer. Medical advances and life-style changes have postponed age-related frailties.
  • Many in the large Boomer cohort (born 1946-64) are retirement-eligible or have already left their career jobs, and those in GenX are not far behind.
  • Choices are full-time work or full-time leisure, yet most want something in-between.
  • The new economy is turbulent, global, and automating, even as safety nets are unraveling.
  • Old rules about a one-time, one-way, irreversible retirement exit are outdated.
  • Both the population and the workforce are aging, even as older workers and retirees are healthier, more educated, and more vital than ever in history.

We invented UMAC as a “time out” of sorts, a gap year where a small group of professionals (UMAC fellows) can think about, share, and “try on” different possibilities for meaningful next chapters, inventing their own encores. Similar initiatives have launched at Stanford University, Harvard University, and the University of Notre Dame, but UMAC is the first such program in a public university.

What does UMAC cost?

The cost for the 2020-2021 academic year (both fall and spring semesters) is $16,000.

When do UMAC Fellows meet?

UMAC follows the academic year calendar, meeting weekly both fall and spring semesters. Here are important dates for the 2019-20 academic year.

UMAC Meeting Times

During the school year, UMAC fellows meet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The UMAC Focus onTransformation seminar meets on Tuesdays, 3:30-6:00 p.m. Faculty-Fellow dialogs occur on Wednesdays, 12:15-1:15 p.m. Both are in the Seminar Room (50 Willey Hall) in the Institute for Social Research and Data Innovation (ISRDI).

Beyond these core components, time on campus will depend on class scheduling and fellow interests. Fellows are invited to attend a wide variety of other talks, symposia, and series. We will help you explore these opportunities.

How many hours per week does UMAC require?

That depends. Our core curriculum includes approximately 8-10 hours of in-person meetings per week. There will be readings outside of meetings, and opportunities to get further involved (e.g. attend additional lectures and talks). Fellows can dial up participation if interested or dial down as needed. Many of our fellows continue to work while participating (assuming work flexibility). In the spring, UMAC fellows will continue to meet twice a week, but will also engage in a community organizational project (about 10-20 hours a week) for a local nonprofit. This project permits fellows to “try out” their talents in a real-world setting while contributing to the greater good. Individualized projects are structured in a way that makes sense for fellows in terms of their goals as well as the needs of nonprofit organizations.

Will I earn college credit by participating in UMAC?

No. UMAC is not designed as a degree-seeking program. Instead, UMAC provides fellows with opportunities to learn and grow, and study areas of interest, but without the requirement of writing papers or taking tests. Graduation from UMAC results in a certificate.
For fellows who are interested in formally enrolling in a class, UMAC staff can help with doing so. We can help you find classes of interest and assist you as you navigate enrollment. There are likely to be additional tuition costs, depending on residency status and eligibility for existing student classifications. Note that some University of Minnesota courses are only open to students enrolled in specific programs. We will help you determine which courses are open for enrollment.

When do I need to apply? Confirm participation?

We welcome applications on a rolling basis. We ask that you sign and return an offer letter and make a 10% deposit ($1500) to hold your spot.

When and how do I pay UMAC fees?

We utilize an online payment system. We will send you a separate link and directions to access the system.


Call us at 612-624-3100, or email: