The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University Among Top-Enrolling Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program Institutions

November 02, 2021

The Peace Corps announced today The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University ranked No. 3 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 HopkinsUniversity – 32 students enrolled
  8. Carnegie Mellon University – 22 students enrolled
  9. Duke University – 21 students enrolled
  10. 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. 

The Heller School for Social Policy and Management offers a variety of Coverdell programs that prepare students for careers committed to social change. These include a social impact MBA and master’s degrees in public policy, conflict resolution and coexistence, sustainable international development, and global health policy and management. Heller Coverdell Fellows receive generous scholarship awards and are able to apply their knowledge through a practicum, internship, or consulting project in their field.

"Coverdell Fellows bring a unique, intersectional perspective to our community, informed by their service experience. At The Heller School, returned volunteers have the opportunity to collaborate with fellow service alumni as well as with colleagues from dozens of countries to develop interdisciplinary solutions to the world's most pressing social problems. Guided by faculty with decades of experience, Coverdell Fellows cultivate practical, analytical and managerial skills that put them at the forefront of global social policy and social justice movements," said Sandra Jones, executive director of global programs at The Heller School.

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:

About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps is an international service network of volunteers, community members, host country partners and staff who are driven by the agency’s mission of world peace and friendship. At the invitation of governments around the world, Peace Corps volunteers work alongside community members on locally-prioritized projects in the areas of education, health, environment, agriculture, community economic development and youth development. Through service, members of the Peace Corps network develop transferable skills and hone intercultural competencies that position them to be the next generation of global leaders. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 240,000 Americans have served in 142 countries worldwide. For more information, visit and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.