Idealist Graduate Admissions Fairs – Next Week in Washington DC and New York

Social impact professionals at all stages in their careers get a chance to meet representatives from a school 2 and seekerrange of public-service focused grad schools next week in DC and New York. The events are free, after work, and include information sessions.

Idealist’s 2009 season of Graduate Degree Fairs for the Public Good launches next week in Washington, DC, and New York.

These events are unique among graduate admissions fairs in that they are completely geared toward degree areas that our Idealist network is looking for—ranging from nonprofit and business management to public policy and social work. Education, divinity, public health, and Continue reading

Combining Grad School and Citizen Service

Programs offer opportunities to ambitious public servants to combine graduate education with national or international service.

Last week I wrote about choosing between grad school and service if you are a rising college senior and facing the worst job market of your lifetime.

Some programs are specially designed to let you participate in both, simultaneously.

Consider the Master’s Community Development Program at SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, VT, to serve as an AmeriCorps*VISTA as partial fulfillment of a graduate degree program. After completing the program’s coursework, students can participate in a VISTA year to fulfill practicum requirements–while paying 50 percent of the usual practicum fees. Students are responsible for ensuring the VISTA placement is relevant to their graduate degree (and an appropriate practicum).

Another prominent grad school – service partnership is that of Peace Corps’ university programs (of which SIT is also a partner). Peace Corps offers the Masters International program that allows incoming Volunteers to study for a year or two at a partner graduate institution, and then to participate for two years in Peace Corps in partial fulfillment of the graduate requirements. To learn more, check out the Peace Corps website, or listen to the Idealist podcast show featuring Peace Corps’ Eileen Conoboy on the topic.

Many teaching corps, such as Mississippi Teacher Corps, Chicago’s Inner City Teaching Corps, and NYC Teaching Fellows offer access to grad school — master’s degrees in education-related fields — to their participants.

If you are weighing your options and decide you truly want it all, go for it! Through these programs (and probably others — let me know) you can have the best of graduate education and service.

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Grad school for social change

This week, the Idealist.org Graduate Degree Fairs for the Public Good kick off the 2008 fall tour on September 10th in New York City!

(Please note that due to the Service Nation Summit‘s Presidential Candidates’s Forum on Sept. 11 at Columbia, the venue for the NY fair has changed!)

The fairs bring together graduate schools that focus on positive societal change, and public service professionals– like you? –who want more education to further their careers.

If you are thinking about grad school, it’s one of the best ways we can think of to meet staff from some of the country’s top schools in degrees ranging from nonprofit & business management and social work, to public policy & administration, public interest law, public health, journalism, international affairs and more.

If you don’t live near one of the cities where the fairs will come this year, check out the Idealist.org Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center with lots of resources for going back to school. Read here for information specifically for service corps alumni.

Looking for experience before going to grad school?

Graduate admissions staff recognize service corps programs as a great way to get valuable, practical experience in the field to prepare for grad school.

If you are considering participating in a service program, know that several programs have benefits that await you after you are finished with your term.

Programs funded through AmeriCorps offer the Eli Segal AmeriCorps Education Award; the amount varies depending on the term of service, but a full term typically means $4,725. (The amount hasn’t been increased in a over a decade, though RPCV Senator Christopher Dodd (D-Conn) and others in Congress are working to rectify that with the AmeriCorps Act of 2008.) The ed award is held by the National Service Trust until you are ready to use it, and can go towards tuition at most schools, or for student loans. Dozens of grad schools match the ed award so that your award may be doubled if you enroll at those schools.

Teach For America, an AmeriCorps program, has also fostered partnerships with many top graduate schools around the country that benefit TFA Corps members through application deferments, scholarships and ed award matches, and application fee waivers.

As we have written about before on this blog, Peace Corps also has two programs, Masters International and Fellows USA. The latter is specifically for people who have returned from Peace Corps service already.

A pretty good comparison (including education benefits) of some of the more famous service corps programs can be found in Chapter Five (PDF) of the Idealist.org Guide to Nonprofit Careers. Also check out Equal Justice Works blog about public interest law. Other associations of social-impact grad schools can be found among Idealist’s grad fair cosponsors.

Do you know of other benefits for service corps alumni not mentioned here? We’d love to hear about them!

Also Idealist is still looking for grad school bloggers! Click here to see if blogging for us sounds compelling to you!

Also note that many grad schools offer benefits to service corps alumni that aren’t through official partnerships with the service programs. It’s always a good idea to ask at your target institution.