Adult education: For-credit and for-fun classes in and near Downtown

Share this:
January 31, 2005 // UPDATED 1:51 pm - April 26, 2007
By: compiled by Britt Johnsen and sue rich
compiled by Britt Johnsen and sue rich

Whether you're looking for something to take your mind off work or seeking the accreditation you need to improve your job standing, opportunities abound at these local colleges, universities and organizations.

The Art Institutes International Minnesota

15 S. 9th St.


Perhaps while walking Downtown you've passed a South 9th Street window display full of ornate wedding cakes or tantalizing, colorful dishes - The Art Institutes International Minnesota. AIIM, a visual and culinary arts college, focuses on preparing students for careers in the design, animation, art and culinary industries.

AIIM offers 215 different courses for its various degrees, and offers such programs as advertising, culinary management, interior design, media arts and animation.

AIIM enrolls students to begin their program during the summer, fall, winter and spring. The certificate program is usually one year in length; the associate's programs take 21 and 24 months and the bachelor's programs usually run 36 months. These estimates are based on a student who attends school full-time without any breaks.

"Of all 2003 Art Institutes International Minnesota graduates available for employment, 88.9 percent were working in a field related to their program of study within six months of graduation," wrote Anjila Kozel, AIIM's director of public relations, in an e-mail.

Tuition is $353 per credit. And once a student enrolls, tuition is locked-in and will not increase as long as the student continues his or her studies there.

Minneapolis Community Education

(click "Adult Enrichment" and then "Course Catalog")

At an average cost of $25 per class, Minneapolis Community Education (or Community Ed) is hard to beat. Started in 1974 as a way to utilize excess space in Minneapolis public school buildings, Community Ed now serves thousands of students each semester.

The program's diverse offerings include most anything an adult learner might be interested in, from mastering the subtleties of Thai cooking to making inexpensive seasonal gifts to conquering pesky computer programs.

Class categories include: academic enrichment; cooking; online classes; classes for older adults, family and youth (including classes you can take with your child); personal development; arts and crafts; health and fitness; music; dance and the performing arts; computers; hobby and leisure; trips and tours; consumer and business; and home improvement.

Winter registration began Jan. 3; many courses are still open and yet to begin. The average class usually involves several two-hour sessions; there are also often free, one-time classes and field trips (which range from historical and antique-ing meanderings to cross-country skiing excursions) that cost up to $100.

Classes are held throughout the city at various schools, libraries and businesses. For more information, check out the course catalog online or contact one of the sites near Downtown:

- Just off the Penn exit on I-394:

Anwatin Community Education

256 Upton Ave. S.


-Close to North Loop, the southeast side of

North Commons:

North Community Education

1500 James Ave. N.


- Just east of South 35th/36th Street exit

on I-35:

Wilder Community Education

3345 Chicago Ave. S.


- Just off highway 280 at University Avenue:

Pratt Community Education

66 Malcolm Ave. S.



818 Dunwoody Blvd.


According to Jim Nasthoff, Dunwoody College of Technology's director of marketing and enrollment, the school's goal is to "turn out highly skilled workers for good-paying, skilled careers."

The school offers a wide range of trade-oriented classes, from architectural drafting to welding, in which students can earn certificates, diplomas and degrees. Nasthoff said the school regularly revamps their curriculum to meet the needs of the market.

For example, through corporate and professional trade contacts, school faculty recently identified a new market need: accounting for construction. There are construction-related needs a general accountant may not be able to meet, Nasthoff explained, such as paying and working with a wide variety of independent contractors. Dunwoody's two-year program in accounting for construction starts in the spring.

Nasthoff added that they have also identified other fields, such as high-tech manufacturing, with good pay (computer-based manufacturing generally starts at $15-$19 per hour) and 100 percent placement records.

Spring quarter begins March 21 and ends in June. Dunwoody is located across from the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden. Tuition is approximately $12,000 per year. Night programs are $135-$750 per class.

Hamline University

Minneapolis Center

511 Groveland Ave., Ste. 204


Hamline University is based in St. Paul, but offers approximately 50 courses per year in its high-tech classrooms tucked into Loring Park's Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church.

Programs range from accelerated masters degrees for management to graduate liberal studies to education certificates and licensures - and all are designed with working adults in mind.

Courses run eight weeks for accelerated cohorts (wherein you work with the same small group of students) and 14 weeks for regular semester-schedule classes. Classes are offered Monday-Thursday, 5-9:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

If you're uncertain about whether a program is right for you, Hamline offers "sample" classes for those not formally admitted, said Rand Park, the director of Hamline University Minneapolis Center.

Hamline's average tuition is $360 per credit.

MacPhail Center for Music

1128 LaSalle Ave.


MacPhail offers about 100 music courses year-round. The school, established in 1907, teaches people with a wide range of abilities and of all ages.

Featured courses include Suzuki instruction, early childhood arts, music therapy, world music, jazz and rock.

Classes are kept small, with the average including about 10 people, and are taught by experts and professionals - 75 percent of the instructors have their masters degree or higher in music, according to Cassie Knoll, MacPhail's marketing manager.

Each course is usually 16 weeks, except summer classes. They are offered Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.; Saturday, 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and Sunday, 1-5 p.m. In the summer, weekend hours are not available.

Courses cost an average of $250 for group instruction and $440 for individual instruction.

Augsburg College

2211 Riverside Ave. N.

(near the Riverside exit on I-94)


Augsburg is the most diverse college operated by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. According to the college Web site, Augsburg's 3,000 students represent 45 states, 36 foreign countries and 24 American Indian tribal nations.

Together, they study over 50 undergraduate majors and five graduate programs, including a Masters of Business Administration, Arts in Education, Arts in Leadership, Social Work, Arts in Nursing and the state's only Masters of Science in Physician Assistant Studies.

Augsburg's ability to work with working adults may be best exemplified by Maryann Kinney. After trying for her Masters of Nursing three times, the fourth time proved a charm for 64-year-old Kinney when she walked down the Augsburg aisle in cap and gown last spring.

Throughout her studies, Kinney not only kept her job at a Rochester hospital but continued to volunteer at a hospice as well. In an article about Kinney in the school newsletter, Kinney said she especially appreciated the school's emphasis on patient care rather than administration. For example, Augsburg nursing students work with people in need at Augsburg Central Nursing Center in Central Lutheran Church, 333 S. 12th St.

The average Augburg grad student is 32. Tuition varies by program; for 2004-2005 the average annual cost of education was $20,758. Spring registration begins Feb. 7.

Metropolitan State University Minneapolis Campus

1501 Hennepin Ave. S.


Metropolitan State University's downtown campus recently moved from its longtime 8th Street & Hennepin Avenue South location to 15th & Hennepin - where it shares the expanded Minneapolis Community and Technical College campus.

However, MSU still provides the same array of academic and professional degree programs, at both the bachelor and master levels, for both degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking students, primarily working adults.

MSU currently offers more than 40 majors with about 700 course sections each fall or spring semester plus approximately 400 alternative learning strategy courses if you want to get out of the classroom - including independent studies, internships and online courses. MSU's most popular degrees include individualized studies, business administration, law enforcement and nursing.

The average class size is about 21 students in fall and spring semester and about 18 in summer. Spring semester began Jan. 10. Summer term begins May 9.

Most courses are four credits per semester; tuition and per-credit fees for the average undergraduate class add up to $585.56 (or $1,138 for "nonresidents," including people who have lived in the state for less than a year) while graduate courses run $870 per credit ($1,478 for nonresidents).

Minneapolis Community and Technical College

1501 Hennepin Ave. S.


Though joined by Metropolitan State, the Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) will still offer 41 technical career programs and 31 liberal arts programs, including nursing, law enforcement, business management, computer science, arts and video programs, among others.

As the most diverse campus in the state, MCTC embraces its civic and cultural role as well as its educational mission. Jan Knutsen, director of marketing and public relations, said the school's vision is "to be an institution that transforms its community by educating students who are globally aware and engaged citizens, skillful at their work and lifelong learners."

Courses are offered year-round and range from one to 12 weeks in length. There are usually 22 students per class. Students do not need to be enrolled in a degree program in order to take classes at MCTC.

Tuition is $130 per credit ($247 for nonresidents).

North Central University

910 Elliot Ave.


North Central University, an Assemblies of God university or Bible college, is located in Elliot Park, just southeast of downtown. NCU currently offers 29 majors - including Biblical studies, evangelism, psychology and Deaf studies, and has an 18-to-one student-to-faculty ratio, according to their Web site. (A school spokesperson declined to offer information.)

The Web site describes NCU as "a Christ-centered school in the Bible-college tradition, with urban and international focus, whose purpose is to prepare Pentecostal leaders to serve God in the church and in the world."

Tuition is approximately $15,000 per year, including room and board.

The Loft

1011 Washington Ave. S.

(Open Book center)


In addition to hosting readings and literary competitions, The Loft also provides extensive offerings of writing and editing courses and workshops.

Classes run the gamut of styles and genres - poetry, journalism, zines, memoirs, urban nature writing, playwriting, children's books, songwriting, etc. - and range from how to find ideas to how to market your finished product.

Classes are taught primarily by local professionals, including established fiction and nonfiction authors, columnists, playwrights and people in the publishing business.

The next round of classes and workshops begins Jan. 31. Class fees are on a sliding-fee scale and run $102-$158 for six-week courses and $204-$317 for 12-week courses. Most workshops run three hours and are $25-$65.

Minnesota Center for Book Arts

1011 Washington Ave. S.

(Open Book center)


At the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, you can learn to bind a book, make paper or run the guillotine (to cut book board, of course).

MCBA offers classes for adults, teens, families and teachers in bookbinding and bookmaking, printing and printmaking, papermaking and decoration, and general book arts. A wide variety of classes are available - from basic journal- and photo-album-making to making edible books (German Springerle cookies used to communicate messages) and cookbooks of edible-book recipes.

Courses vary from $20 to $298 (depending, in part, on included supplies), and are available a wide variety of days and times.

SASE: The Write Place

711 W. Lake St., Ste. 211


SASE stands for the dreaded "self-addressed stamped envelope" publishers ask writers to enclose so the company doesn't have to ante up the postage for their, most likely, rejection letter. In keeping, the name is pronounced "sassy" - and this attitude is reflected in the writing organization's class and workshop offerings.

In "Writing About War," author Jude Netter revives poets' and writers' responsibility to bear witness in literary form. In "Speculative Fiction of the African Diaspora," author and playwright Deborah Torraine explores such questions as "What if all of the African Americans left the planet?" and "What if we [African Americans] really did come from Mars; can we go home?" Then she asks students to make up their own question and craft their answers into stories.

In addition, SASE also offers nuts-and- bolts courses on the business aspects of writing, such as what you can and can't deduct on your taxes.

Courses are usually two to three hours with up to six class meetings and are $15-$120. While SASE is based at the Lake & Lyndale intersection, most classes take place at Salem English Lutheran Church, 610 W. 28th St.

Saint Mary's University School of Graduate and Professional Programs

2500 Park Ave. S.


Saint Mary's School of Graduate and Professional Programs counts more than 4,100 adult learners and 50 degree, certificate, and licensure programs, making it one of the largest graduate schools in Minnesota. Students at this South Minneapolis campus located near Downtown can earn certificates, bachelors and masters in professional programs in business, management and technology, health and human services, and education.

New at St. Mary's is the English Language Academy. According to school spokesperson Colleen Winters, the academy was created in response to the growing population of English-language learners in the Twin Cities and allows students to learn English in a way that prepares them to succeed in college-level courses.

St. Mary's also offers a "PowerTrak MBA," new in fall 2004, that blends global business perspective, real-world experiences and business ethics in the curriculum.

St. Mary's primarily serves adult learners, ages 25-50. Tuition ranges from $185 to $390 per credit; most courses are $255 per undergraduate and graduate credit. And there are six start-dates per year.

University of St. Thomas Minneapolis Campus

1000 LaSalle Ave.


The University of St. Thomas' downtown campus includes the law school, college of business, school of education and graduate school of professional psychology.

Spring semester begins Jan. 31 and ends May 20. Much of the Downtown campus focuses on graduate and professional studies; however, some undergraduate courses are also offered. Students can also enroll in nondegree short courses, which provide an opportunity to explore a subject in some depth without an extensive time commitment.

On average, undergraduate classes cost $670 per credit. Depending on the program, graduate coursework credits range from $456 to $821.