MISSOULA – The University of Montana ranks No. 8 on the Peace Corps’ 2014 list of top Master’s International programs. There now are 15 UM Master’s International students making a difference overseas through Peace Corps service.
Established in 1989, the UM Master’s International program allows students to earn their graduate degrees while serving in the Peace Corps. Since 1989 54 UM students have entered the program and served as volunteers.
“We are ecstatic to have earned such a high ranking yet again,” said Amber Gladney, UM’s Peace Corps campus representative. “UM’s Master’s International programs make a difference in the lives of students and the international communities they serve by maximizing volunteer innovation in the field.”
UM offers students two fields in which to pursue graduate-level work through the Master’s International program. Through the Intercultural Youth and Family Development program and the College of Forestry and Conservation, students pursue unique opportunities to earn their degree while working abroad.
Bridget Tinsley, a UM College of Forestry and Conservation student, worked toward her Master’s International in southern Ethiopia.
“I applied the theoretical framework and critical analysis skills I learned at UM to witness and participate in development and environmental conservation efforts,” she said. “I acquired my own definitions for broad and general terms such as ‘poverty,’ and ‘hardship,’ and I learned firsthand what ‘development’ looks like in the global south.
“Though dramatically different, my time spent in and outside the classroom complemented each other well. It is a longer commitment than most master’s programs, but in the process I gained a strong and independent work ethic, enormous humility and flexibility to handle life’s largest and smallest challenges. I am grateful for the opportunities the College of Forestry and Conservation the Peace Corps has provided me.”
This year, UM also ranked No. 12 in the medium-sized schools category in the rankings of the top volunteer-producing colleges and universities. Since 1961, 811 UM alumni have served in the Peace Corps, with 22 currently serving overseas. The University also has a Peace Corps Prep program, which offers students a way to gain a competitive advantage by taking part in a curriculum that meets the needs of their degree while teaching them skills valuable to service in the Peace Corps.
“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.”