Minnesota governor drops college-degree requirement for most state jobs

A man signs a piece of paper
Gov. Tim Walz on announced on Monday that applicants for most state jobs will no longer need a four-year college degree to be eligible during a news conference at the Capitol.
Dana Ferguson | MPR News

A four-year college degree will no longer be a requirement for most state jobs under an executive order signed into law Monday by Gov. Tim Walz.

The DFL governor said dropping the condition for 75 percent of state positions could increase the pool of potential applicants and make the slots more accessible. 

“We think this is an exciting way to kind of pivot away a new mindset of valuing work, valuing skills, not just in terms of going through a process because you have the bachelor's degree is the requirement,” Walz said during a Capitol news conference. “It’s an incredible way to start thinking about what the future of work looks like and making sure that everyone has an opportunity to thrive.”

The state currently has about 1,500 job openings and expects to add more as officials bring in new employees soon. They’re needed to run a state paid family and medical leave program and adopt other changes signed into law this year. 

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Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Erin Campbell said hiring managers across state government would rewrite minimum qualification requirements for the eligible jobs to focus instead on experience. Positions that require a professional license or by state or federal law call for a professional training would still call for a degree.

“More Minnesotans are getting off the sidelines and looking for jobs. But we know there’s a huge untapped labor force, who could look for jobs if we provided the right path for them to do so,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development Deputy Commissioner Kevin McKinnon. “And one of those paths is dropping educational requirements for jobs that don’t need it.” 

Officials said the move could also boost equity in state hiring. Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan encouraged people with two-year degrees or have learned from on the job experience to apply for state positions.

“For far too long four-year degree requirements have stood in the way of job opportunities for highly qualified Minnesotans. But today we are opening doors because at a time when Minnesota has seen seven straight months of labor force growth we need all of you,” Flanagan said. “And we know that you’ll make an excellent employee with or without a four-year degree.” 

The change is effective immediately because Walz enacted it through an executive order, meaning he won’t have to wait for legislative approval.