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AU Among Peace Corps’ Top-Enrolling Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program Institutions

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The Peace Corps announced today American University ranked No. 1 among the top 10 Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program institutions for the 2020–21 academic year, ranked by enrollment. The graduate fellowship program offers, through the universities/institutions, financial assistance for tuition and fees to returned Peace Corps volunteers.

“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,” Peace Corps Acting Director Carol Spahn said. “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.”

The top-enrolling Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program institutions for 202021 are:


1. American University – 92 students enrolled

2. University of Denver – 68 students enrolled

3. Brandeis University – 66 students enrolled

4. Middlebury Institute of International Studies – 48 students enrolled

5. Emory University – 44 students enrolled

6. University of Arizona – 42 students enrolled

7. Johns Hopkins University – 32 students enrolled

8. Carnegie Mellon University – 22 students enrolled

9. Duke University – 21 students enrolled

9. Teachers College, Columbia University – 21 students enrolled

First established in 1985 at Teachers College at Columbia University, the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program has grown to include more than 120 higher education partners in 38 states and the District of Columbia. It now includes more than 200 programs that offer returned volunteers the opportunity to pursue over 300 graduate and post-graduate degrees. 

All Fellows complete internships in underserved communities in the United States, allowing them to bring home and expand upon the skills they learned as volunteers abroad. Additionally, returned volunteers who enroll in universities upon completion of service may potentially have their noncompetitive eligibility status for federal job applications extended up to three years, at a hiring agency’s discretion.

“Through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, returned Peace Corps volunteers obtain an affordable graduate level education while also continuing to serve socially disadvantaged and impoverished communities in the U.S.,” said La’Teashia Sykes, director of Peace Corps’ Office of University Programs. “I appreciate the investment and dedication of our partnering universities who support this important program.”

The 2020-21 academic year saw the largest Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program enrollment on record. After the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the global evacuation of Peace Corps volunteers in March 2020, institutions responded by offering additional scholarships and other financial resources for education costs. As a result, more than 900 students enrolled in the program, many graduating with a doctorate, master’s or other specialized degrees and certifications this past academic year.  

“I’ve always known that the values of the Peace Corps and those of American University are closely aligned; this is made clear each year by the number of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who enroll here,” said Christine B.N. Chin, dean of AU’s School of International Service. “It’s gratifying to see these students, all of whom already have served their country for at least two years, be recognized with the prestigious Coverdell Fellowship. Our Coverdell Fellows, who collectively come from AU’s School of International Service, School of Public Affairs, and School of Education, personify AU’s commitment to accept the pressing challenges of our time and work to make a positive difference in our world.”

American University currently offers Coverdell Fellows programs within the schools of Education, Public Affairs and International Service. Returned Peace Corps volunteers interested in pursuing a degree with American University should visit for more information.

To view a current list of all Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program institutions across the nation, including degrees and financial assistance offered, as well as university contacts, visit: