Why study in the Twin Cities?

Colorful nighttime reflection on the mississippi river featuring the stone arch bridge.
Downtown Minneapolis at night, a shining Mississippi River reflects the city lights beneath the Stone Arch Bridge. Photo by Mac H (media601).

If you are applying to HECUA from a school outside of Minnesota, you may be wondering, what makes the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota) a great place to study away?

There are many reasons to consider study away in the Twin Cities. Here are just a few of HECUA’s top reasons, why you should consider this location as a great space to go beyond the classroom.


You don’t have to study abroad to have a cross-cultural experience. You don’t have to study abroad to hear a different language. You don’t have to study abroad to discover something new about yourself.

The Minneapolis/St.Paul metropolitan area is home to many diverse cultures and communities. The cities are located on unceded Dakota land. Many Dakota and Ojibwe people call this place home. The Twin Cities also boast the largest Somali population in the U.S. and the second largest Hmong population in the U.S., as well as a growing Latinx/Hispanic community.

You will hear many languages just walking down the street. You may see different festivals and celebrations or see interfaith groups engaging in activism for social justice.

Because HECUA programs are experiential by design, you will be meet these diverse communities through field visits, guest speakers, and an internship with a local organization.

Cuisine, Coffee shops and Co-ops

“Midtown Global Market, Minneapolis” by Tony Webster.

Great food is easy to come by in the Twin Cities. Check out one of the many vendors at Midtown Global Market. Dine-in or take-out from great restaurants like Pimento Kitchen.

You can find authentic global foods across the Twin Cities. Whether you’re in the mood for Mexican, Ethiopian, Thai, vegan cuisine at J Selby’s or juicy-lucy (a Minnesotan cheeseburger delicacy), you’ll have plenty of options. Don’t forget to check out the array of local coffee shops. For those who like to dine-in at home, you can get your produce from a local co-op or farmers market (while in season.)

Community Organizing

Holding a large, painted banner that reads RENT CONTROL, a group of people stand in front of a grey stone wall.The Twin Cities enjoy some of the highest quality of life in the country. However, there are also staggering economic and educational disparities between BIPOC Minnesotans and their White counterparts. These disparities prompt us to ask, who really benefits? The murder of George Floyd was a key mobilizing moment, and the summer 2020 uprisings revealed to the world that racial and economic justice in Minnesota and across the US is still far from reality.

At the same time, the Twin Cities are home to bold leaders and communities who are organizing for justice. Labor, environmental, policy, education, healthcare, and racial justice activists are shaping the conversation locally and nationally. Through HECUA, the Twin Cities become your classroom to study movement-building as you work alongside community organizations to develop your own capacity to make change.

Professional Networks

Studying off-campus in the Twin Cities allows you to begin building professional connections. Whether you intern with a political advocacy organization or an arts organization, an urban farm or a local media outlet, you will complete the semester with skills and connections that you can list on your resume. All semester-long programs include an internship, so you are guaranteed to leave with skills and connections that will serve your career path. HECUA has a 50 year history and a well-known reputation in the Twin Cities and across the nation. You’ll join a network of HECUA alumni working across many sectors and fields.

Top-Ranked Green Spaces

Especially during the time of social distancing, getting outside is really important. The Twin Cities are home to some of the most accessible public parks in the country.

Did you know there are 22 lakes just in Minneapolis? You can rent a bike on the weekend and wind your way around miles of trails. Spend your free time kayaking, hiking along the Mississippi River, or skiing. There are plenty of ways to get outside in any season. It will all be right outside your door in the Twin Cities.

Check out the Three Rivers Park system to find options for getting outdoors.

Music & Arts

people dancing

The Twin Cities are known for their thriving art scene and public support of the arts. For artists and non-artists alike, the Walker Art Center and Sculpture Garden and the Minneapolis Institute of Art are popular destinations. Organizations like Pangea World TheatreChicago Avenue Fire Arts Center, and The Loft Literary Center support a vibrant arts community.

The Twin Cities also boast a thriving local music scene. Great venues from First Avenue to the Cedar Cultural Center provide a stage for local talent and draw big-name artists as well. Some of these venues are getting creative with concerts during COVID times, too. Whether in-person or virtually, you’ll get a taste for the Minnesota music scene and you’ll be glad you did.

Through murals, theater, and music, you’ll find abundant artistic expression in the Twin Cities.



HECUA offers four programs in the Twin Cities every fall and spring semester. Dorm-style housing is available for students through St. Thomas University. Contact HECUA Student Services Manager Julie Rossate jrossate@hecua.org to learn more about housing options.

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