Top Volunteer Producing Colleges and Universities Announced

January 16, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 16, 2004 – More and more college graduates are deciding to join the Peace Corps, and that trend is reflected in Peace Corps' 2004 list of “Top Producing Colleges and Universities." This year, institutions that topped the list had, on average, 15 percent more of their alumni become volunteers than last year.

For the tenth year in a row, the University of Wisconsin at Madison has the highest number of alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers with 142 volunteers, up from 123 last year. Leading the way in the medium-size colleges and universities category, the University of Virginia held its no. 1 spot for a second year, increasing its number of alumni volunteers serving from 68 to 75. In the small colleges and universities category, the University of Chicago leapt from third to first place with 34 alumni serving, up from 24 last year.

“The important role that these alumni continue to play in promoting hope, opportunity and freedom cannot be underestimated,” said Director Gaddi H. Vasquez. “We at Peace Corps are pleased and excited that an increasing number of college alumni are not only considering Peace Corps, but are answering the call to service that is so necessary and imperative in our global community.”

These increases are also reflected in Peace Corps’ overall statistics, as there are currently 7,533 volunteers serving in the field, the highest level since 1974.

Year after year, several of these higher education institutions have seen their alumni join the Peace Corps as volunteers. Historically, the University of California-Berkeley has produced the most alumni joining the Peace Corps, with a total of 3,173 volunteers. The following top four historically producing schools include the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2,601), the University of Washington (2,260), the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (2,007) and Michigan State University (1,931).

New schools that entered the rankings this year include the University of Kansas on the large colleges list. Tulane University, Columbia University, Harvard University, and Syracuse University joined the rankings on the medium-sized college list. In fact, Tulane jumped from a non-ranking last year to no. 13 this year. Case Western Reserve, the University of Rochester, Mary Washington College and Wittenberg University round out the new school rankings on the small colleges list.

Schools are ranked according to the size of the student body. Small schools are those with less than 5,000 undergraduates, medium-size schools are those between 5,001 to 15,000 undergraduates, and large schools are those with more than 15,000 undergraduates. To view the entire 2004 “Top Producing Colleges and Universities" list, click here.

Although it is not a requirement for service, the majority of volunteers who have served in the Peace Corps over the past 43 years have been college graduates. Currently, 83 percent of the volunteers have an undergraduate degree and 14 percent have graduate degrees or have studied at the graduate level. However, over the years, the Peace Corps has also enjoyed the support and interest of community college graduates, and a number of community colleges also produce alumni who are serving as volunteers today.

Since 1961, more than 170,000 volunteers have served in the Peace Corps, working in such diverse fields as education, health, HIV/AIDS education and awareness, information technology, business development, the environment, and agriculture. Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a two-year commitment.

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