University of Arizona Ranked Top Ten for Highest Enrollment of Peace Corps Fellows

November 3, 2021

By Corinne Murdock |

According to the Peace Corps, the University of Arizona (UArizona) ranked sixth in the top ten for institutions offering graduate degree financial aid for returned volunteers. UArizona had a total of 48 students enrolled.

UArizona’s ranking was determined by enrollment in the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program: an opportunity for Peace Corps volunteers to receive financial aid for a graduate degree, becoming Coverdell Fellows. Another perk includes the potential to obtain up to three years of an extended noncompetitive eligibility (NCE) status for federal employment, which Peace Corps volunteers normally enjoy for 12 months. NCE status ensures that returned Peace Corps volunteers are given an edge in the hiring process.

Eligible Peace Corps volunteers are those who complete a full two years of service, are given “completion of service” or “interrupted service” status, medically separated, or Response or Global Health Services Partnership Volunteers that complete 12 months of service in a 24-month period.

The other universities ranked in the top ten were as follows, in order: American University, University of Denver, Brandeis University, Middlebury Institute of International Studies, Emory University, John Hopkins University, Carnegie Mellon University, Duke University, and the Teachers College of Columbia University.

In a press release, Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn explained that these universities put Coverdell Fellows on track to continue their volunteer service while obtaining higher education.  

“We are grateful to partner with these universities to support our returned volunteers as they work toward their academic goals and continue their commitment to lifelong service,” said Spahn. “A graduate degree, in combination with the perspective and skills gained through Peace Corps service, enables returned volunteers to become and inspire our next generation of global leaders.”

UArizona also achieved a similar distinction last February at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, ranking 17 out of the top 20. Over 120 universities and colleges across 38 states accommodate Coverdell Fellows, totaling over 200 programs amounting to over 300 graduate and postgraduate degrees.

Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinne@azfreenews.com.

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