Illinois State University is once again ranked as one of the top Peace Corps Master’s International schools nationwide.

Illinois State is eighth in the nation in the 2013 rankings of Peace Corps Master’s International and Paul D. Coverdell Fellows graduate schools. Illinois State was also ranked among the top 10 nationwide in 2011 and in 2009.

Since Illinois State became a Master’s International partner in 1997, 42 graduates have earned degrees in applied economics, political science and sociology, each with an interdisciplinary sequence in applied community and economic development. The University currently has 15 Master’s International students serving as Peace Corps volunteers.

The program is housed within the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development and is managed by Beverly A. Beyer, the center’s associate director, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria.

The Master’s International program allows students to incorporate Peace Corps service as credit into their graduate degree, and the Coverdell Fellows Program provides returned Peace Corps volunteers with scholarships, internships in underserved American communities 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 – the Master’s International program for currently serving volunteers and the Coverdell Fellows program open to returned volunteers who have completed their service. More than 500 Illinois State alumni have served as Peace Corps Volunteers over the agency’s history. Illinois is also among the top-producing states for volunteers, with 352 Illinois residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. Overall, 8,157 Illinois residents have served since the agency was created in 1961.

“The Stevenson Center is home to the first Master’s International program in applied economics and sociology, and the oldest in political science,” said Beyer. “Students learn about and then experience development issues in a variety of contexts—domestic and international, urban and rural, government and nonprofit. Each year, our local community benefits from their service and research, and then they use those experiences to work in developing countries from Albania to Panama to Zambia.”

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