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Western Illinois University — Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs

Program Type:
Coverdell Fellows
Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs
Degrees Awarded:
Educational & Interdisciplinary Studies (M.S.Ed), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Economics, Master of Geography, Master of Political Science, Master of Recreation, Park & Tourism Admin., Sociology (MA), TESOL Certificate, Various master's degrees
Admissions Deadlines:

Applications accepted year-round, for admission either in Fall semester (August) or Spring semester (January).

Program Start:
August, January
Program Founded:
March, 1994


Fellows receive a graduate assistantship during their campus studies that includes a 100% tuition waiver and monthly stipend of $943. During their 11-month internship, Fellows receive a total of $19,750 (a monthly stipend of $1,750 for 11 months, plus a one-time $500 moving allowance to help defray the costs of moving to their internship site). Furthermore, they receive an AmeriCorps education award of $5,645 upon completion of their internship. Focused community and economic development training, workshops, and conference opportunities are also offered.


In two years, Fellows complete a master's degree in one of the above fields and obtain specialized training and experience in community and economic development. The program is coordinated by the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs (IIRA) at Western Illinois University. The Institute is composed of 40 professional staff members that work in community visioning, economic assistance, transportation assistance, small business development, value-added agriculture, health outreach, and geographic information systems. Peace Corps Fellows work closely with IIRA staff, and have full access to their expertise and resources while on campus and while serving field internships.

Upon enrollment, Fellows take two or three semesters of classes within their academic department, as well as core courses in community and economic development. Fellows gain experience working with IIRA staff on development projects for their graduate assistantships on campus. They then serve a paid internship in a rural community, learning and providing hands-on leadership and assistance to local community development projects. As part of the fellowship experience, Fellows have the opportunity to serve as AmeriCorps members during their internships. The program provides strong personal and professional support within a friendly team atmosphere.



Completed graduate school application; all undergraduate transcripts; GRE or GMAT for some programs; description of service document; resume; and a short essay describing applicants interest in community development; AmeriCorps Service Eligibility; and a campus visit (with travel expenses partially reimbursed).

For inquiries about Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, call 855.855.1961 x1440.

Program Contacts

If you have questions, please contact:
Ms. Karen Peitzmeier
Internal Coordinator

Institute for Rural Affairs
503a Currens Hall
Macomb, Illinois 61455
(800) 526-9943