Illinois State University is ranked fifth in the nation as a Peace Corps Master’s International school in the 2011 rankings of Peace Corps’ Master’s International and Fellows/USA Graduate Schools. Illinois State has 15 Master’s International students currently serving as Peace Corps Volunteers, the highest number of Master’s International students Illinois State has ever had serving abroad at one time.

The Peace Corps Master’s International program at Illinois State, administered by the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development, has been in place since 1997 and offers graduate programs in applied economics, political science and sociology. The program is managed by Beverly Beyer, associate director of the Stevenson Center, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Bulgaria.

The Peace Corps’ Master’s International program allows students to earn a graduate degree while serving in the Peace Corps. The Fellows/USA program provides returned Peace Corps Volunteers with scholarships, academic credit, and stipends to earn an advanced degree after they complete their Peace Corps service. Illinois State is the only university in the state to offer both Peace Corps graduate programs.

“These programs attract first-rate students who are both bright and motivated,” said Beyer. “The students bring an international perspective and a commitment to serve while here. Local Peace Corps Master’s International students serve both on campus as teaching and research assistants and with local organizations such as McLean County Community Compact and our campus Habitat for Humanity chapter.”

Over the past 50 years, 485 Illinois State alumni have served in the Peace Corps, with 18 currently serving in communities overseas. Illinois State’s 15 Master’s International graduate students are currently serving as Peace Corps volunteers in different locations around the world including Togo, Panama, Micronesia, and the Kyrgyz Republic, making it one of the most robust Peace Corps graduate programs in the country. There are also eight Master’s International students on campus working to fulfill the academic portions of their graduate degrees.

Illinois is the home of 394 current Peace Corps volunteers, making it the third highest volunteer-producing state. Overall, more than 7,800 Illinois residents have served in the Peace Corps since the agency was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

To view the entire top 10 ranking of Master’s International and Fellows/USA universities and colleges, visit

The Stevenson Center ( is dedicated to public service and global understanding. The Center serves communities and organizations around the world, students as they seek the tools for careers in community and economic development, and Illinois State University.