Illinois State University is ranked No. 9 on the Peace Corps’ new list of the top Master’s International schools nationwide.

With 13 Master’s International students currently making a difference as Peace Corps volunteers, Illinois State made its second consecutive appearance on the Peace Corps’ Master’s International and Paul D. Coverdell Fellows graduate school rankings.

The Master’s International program allows students to incorporate Peace Corps service as credit into their graduate degree. 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.

“Peace Corps’ partnerships with colleges and universities create invaluable opportunities for students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-life situations,” said Peace Corps Acting Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet. “This hands-on experience along with the cross-cultural, language, and technical knowledge that come from living and working abroad uniquely prepares students to succeed in today’s global job market.”

Since Illinois State University became a Master’s International partner in 1997, 49 graduates have earned degrees in applied economics, political science, and sociology. The program is housed under the Stevenson Center for Community and Economic Development and is managed by Beverly A. Beyer, associate director at the Stevenson Center, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bulgaria. James Porter, a Master’s International alum who served in Micronesia, assists with program operations.

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. These graduate programs help Peace Corps meet host country needs for skilled professionals to serve and assist communities in key areas of need, such as agriculture and food security, environmental conservation, water and sanitation, public health, and education and English teaching, while also attracting global-minded students to the university.

More than 514 Illinois State alums have served as Peace Corps volunteers over the agency’s history. Illinois is also among the top-producing states for volunteers, with 300 Illinois residents currently serving in the Peace Corps. Overall, 8,302 Illinois residents have served since the agency was created in 1961.

Top 10 Master’s International universities and colleges:

(The number in parenthesis represents the number of students enrolled in the program and serving overseas as of September 30, 2013.)

1. Michigan Technological University (32)

2. Monterey Institute of International Studies (25)

3. Tulane University (24)

4. University of Denver (22)

5. University of South Florida (21)

6. University of Washington (20)

7. George Mason University (16)

8. University of Montana (15)

9. Illinois State University (13)

10. American University (12)

10. Indiana University Bloomington (12)

10. SIT Graduate Institute (12)

To view the entire top 10 ranking of Master’s International and Coverdell Fellows universities and colleges, visit the Peace Corps website.

About the Master’s International program: Peace Corps partners with more than 80 colleges and universities nationwide to enable students to earn a master’s degree while serving in the Peace Corps. Students begin their studies on campus, serve overseas with the Peace Corps for two years, then return to school to finish graduate work.  As part of a Peace Corps volunteer’s service, the volunteer will work on projects related to his or her master’s studies. For more information, visit

About the Peace Corps: As the preeminent international service organization of the United States, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Peace Corps volunteers work at the grassroots level with local governments, schools, communities, small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop sustainable solutions that address challenges in education, health, economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. When they return home, volunteers bring their knowledge and experiences—and a global outlook—back to the United States, enriching the lives of those around them. President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961 to foster a better understanding among Americans and people of other countries. Since then, more than 215,000 Americans of all ages have served in 139 countries worldwide. Visit to learn more.