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Class Profile – a synopsis of our 2020 entering students

While the COVID-19 pandemic made for a challenging recruitment and admissions season for the 2020 entering cohort.. it also allowed our department, through a bittersweet turn of events, to open our doors to a number of abruptly evacuated US Peace Corps and US Fulbright Scholars who had been serving overseas. While we would have preferred to welcome these students to Maxwell and our MPA, MA IR and MA Public Diplomacy and Global Communications programs AFTER they completed their time of service/study/research overseas, we were pleased to be in a position to provide so many talented and globally-minded professionals a positive next step at an unprecedented time in our world’s history.

This secondary recruitment and outreach, along with a Syracuse University program that allowed SU seniors to begin their graduate studies at SU (Forever Orange) with guaranteed tuition discounts, allowed the Department of Public Administration and International Affairs to matriculate one of our largest and most diverse cohorts of students since the mid-2000s.

Collectively, this summer and fall, we welcomed 170 new graduate students to our professional master’s programs: MPA – 116 new students, MA IR – 65 new students (note – 15 are joint IR/MPA so show up in both counts). The newest class of PDGC students (this new program was just approved near the end of the season) has 4 students. Of these, 59% identify as female, 27% of the US students identify as students of color, with just 11% coming from outside the US. This 11% is down dramatically from our usual international student population which averages 20-25% of our entering cohort each year, and is largely due to the uncertainty and travel restrictions brought on by the global pandemic.

Despite our international students making up just 11% of our new student co-hort – they represent a broad array of regional areas across the world, coming from 17 countries. excluding the US and Puerto Rico. Four students hold dual US citizenship (UK, France, Italy and Sri Lanka).

Countries Represented in the 2020 Cohort: Afghanistan, China, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Israel (dual citizen with Russia), Kazakhstan, Lebanon, N. Macedonia, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, South Korea and Ukraine.

Of the US Citizens, we see a huge geographic diversity with 34 different states represented, including Puerto Rico and the District of Colombia. The states represented include: Alabama, Arkansas, Alaska, California. Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Our students range in age from their early 20’s through their 30’s with an average age of 26. The vast majority have two or more years post undergraduate work experience.

Thanks to our outreach to evacuated US Peace Corps Volunteers and US Fulbright Scholars, we saw 59 students enter our program who had participated in these programs previously (though not all were evacuated and part of our late outreach). The addition of these students to our programs in such large numbers (35% of the class) adds a tremendous amount of global-experience to our student body. In total, we matriculated 39 RPCVs who served in 25 different countries and 20 US Fulbright Scholars who were placed in 14 different countries

US Fulbright – Countries of Placement
Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Czech Republic (2), Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia (4), Malta, Morocco, Spain (3), and Taiwan.

Peace Corps – Countries of Service
Cameroon, Colombia, China (2), Dominican Republic (2), Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador (2), East Timor, Fiji, Georgia, Ghana (2), Kosovo (2), Kyrgyz Republic (2), Malawi, Mongolia, Morocco (3), Panama (2), Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa (4), Tanzania, Ukraine, West Guinea and Zambia (3).

CONTINUED COMMITTMENT TO FULBRIGHT AND PEACE CORPS: We are pleased to reaffirm the commitment made late last spring and will continue to provide 1) an application fee waiver and 2) guaranteed 50% tuition discount to ANY future RPCV or former US Fulbright Scholar who is admitted to our masters programs in public administration, policy and international affairs (regardless of when they served – if they were evacuated or completed their time of service).

And while we remain pleased with these specific outreach efforts and the students who joined or programs via these programs – we also have many other talented individuals who are committed to careers in public service who join us each year.

Military Service: Syracuse University has a strong commitment to those who serve in the US military and their families. As a program with a public service mission, it is not surprising for us to see former and current military officers from both the US and abroad join us for their studies. The 2020 entering cohort is no different, and this year we welcomed: 1 USCG Fellow (Helicopter Pilot), 2 Active Duty US Army Officers, 2 US Army Veterans, 1 US Air Force Veteran, 1 Korean Government Scholar (Air Force), 1 German Navy Officer – Active Duty and 1 Israeli Defense Forces Veteran.

Other honors / fellowship programs of mention include: 3 International Fulbright Scholars, 2 IIE AmidEast Scholars, 1 American Councils KAEF Fellow, 1 Bolashak Scholar (Kazakh Govt), 1 Dem. Rep of Congo Gov’t Scholar, 1 Ghana Forestry Commission Scholar, 3 Public Policy & Int’l Affairs Fellows, 1 former YALI Fellow, 2 Teach for America Alumni, 1 Teach for Lebanon Alumni, 1 JET program Alumni, 1 Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Fellow, 1 HBCU Competitive Scholar, 1 Boren Fellow (Brazil), 1 former FLAS Fellow (Russian), 3 new FLAS Fellows (Hindi), 2 SU Remembrance Scholars, 1 City of Syracuse, former Mayoral Fellow, and… 15 former Americorps, VISTA & City Year participants, plus several participants in programs teaching abroad.

Academic Backgrounds: A question I get asked all the time.. what majors and minors did the majority of your students complete in their undergraduate studies. The fact that public policy touches every aspect of our lives, means that we see majors and minors across all disciplines. I am fond of saying we see majors from A – Astronomy to Z – Zoology. And while we may not have those particular majors or minors represented in each entering cohort.. the list is quite extensive. This year is no exception.

Not surprisingly, the most common undergraduate fields of study are in the Social Sciences: Political Science (40), International Relations/Security Studies (38), Public Policy/Government/ Public Affairs (25), Economics (20), and History (12).  Collectively the areas of Sociology, Social Work and Family Studies, Psychology, Anthropology/Culture/Peace Studies, and Criminal Justice (23) are widely represented, as is Public Health/Health Policy (8). 

We also have a number of students who studied Management, Accounting Marketing & Finance (30), as well as those with a Communications; Journalism, Public Relations (15) focus.  The Languages were well represented (28), as well as Regional Studies (10), including Asian Studies, Latin America, Middle East and Eastern Europe.

Majors related to Environmental Sciences, Conservation Biology, Ecology and Sustainability (15) are well represented, as well as the hard sciences Engineering, Biology, Kinesiology, Chemistry, Neuroscience, and Nutrition (17).  We have five Philosophy majors and a noted few in the Arts and Music, Math, Education and even Fashion Merchandising.     

And finally.. The 2020 cohort collectively speaks 28 different languages:  English…. Arabic, Japanese, German, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Hindi, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Korean, Bosnian, Albanian, Portuguese, Ukrainian, Serbo Croatian, Georgian, Vietnamese, Hmong, Kyrgyz, Polish, Lithuanian, Indonesian, Swahili, Zulu, Bahasa, Bemba, and Guarani. 

Maxwell is indeed an incredible place to study public policy and international affairs. Many think that you must be in DC to do so, but year after year we prove that is simply not the case. The fact that we are not in DC, nor in any other large US city really, allows our students to come here – from all over, with there diverse backgrounds and experiences, and immerse in their studies. That immersive experience, where all here are committed to their studies lends itself to a strong cohort each year. Our students learn from one another, connect with our brilliant faculty and really expand their horizons during their year in Syracuse And while they come here from diverse backgrounds and experiences and view the world and policy from many different perspectives, the one thing we know about all of our students is that they are profoundly committed to careers in the public and international arena where they can have impact! They will change the world – one at a time.. and we will be pleased to have been part of their education and journey. I cannot wait to see how this year unfolds for Maxwell’s 2020 PAIA cohort – and beyond as they move forward in their careers.

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