Why choose the Josef Korbel School?

Tis the season for admission decisions! Our graduate  admissions committee was delighted with the quality of our applicant pool this year and are confident we will have a stellar incoming class joining us in September. The tables have  turned and the now the ball is in the admitted students court. So what’s an admissions office to do? Well, in addition to bite our nails, incessantly check the admission deposit numbers and plan our Discover Korbel event for admitted students, we want to provide admitted students with as much information as possible so they (you) can make an informed decision when deciding which graduate school to attend. Rather than toot our own horn, I think it’s more impactful to share with you a few reasons why our current students chose the Josef Korbel School.

“Korbel is unique in having an International Security degree. That itself was hard to find in other institutions. But the deciding factor for me was the flexibility of the programs. Korbel stood out from other schools in that it allowed students the opportunity to personalize their education. At Korbel, two students in the same program may have very distinct experiences based on the concentrations they choose, the internships they complete, and the focus of their research.”
Molly Stolpman – MA International Security, 2012

“I wanted a more qualitative, traditional academic degree rather than one that’s more policy focused. I wanted a degree that is amenable to different paths – one I would be able to use in the Department of State or outside of it. The alumni also played a role. Also, as a Studies student I have more flexibility to choose my courses so I get to study with renowned professors.”
Erica King – MA, International Studies,  2012

“The Korbel School is a part of the Peace Corps’ Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program which offers Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) graduate education benefits after completing Peace Corps service. Also, the GFTEI program at Korbel attracted me because I felt it combined my undergrad and professional experience with my international interests. I believe that the program will help direct my future career in a way that is more aligned with my interests. Finally, the Denver location combines the fun and serenity that the Rocky Mountains have to offer with the hip urban culture that I missed while in Peace Corps.”
Kyle Horton – MA Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration, Peace Corps Fellow, 2013

“I was initially attracted to the International Human Rights degree offering. As I looked into the syllabi of various classes, I was particularly drawn towards the class on Contemporary Slavery & Human Trafficking (INTS 4987), as well as Nationalism, Communism, Liberalism & China’s Rise (INTS 4460). I was also drawn to the Human Trafficking Clinic (HTC).”
Colin Lawrence – MA International Human Rights, 2013

“I had been trying for some time to transition from what was a volunteer experience into a career. I was finding that it is difficult to get your foot in the door, especially if you want to work globally and not just domestically. I also recognized I had certain skill deficiencies and wanted to rectify that situation. I wanted to expand my abilities in terms of monitoring and evaluation, specifically, and more generally really deepen my knowledge of global humanitarian policy and practice. Eventually I see myself in operations management and in organizational management. I was attracted to the Administration program because of its focus on practical training in quantitative analysis and management skills and because of the freedom it allowed me in terms of selecting electives. I saw the opportunity to position my specific M&E focus within a broader framework.”
Maureen Mersmann – MA International Administration, Peace Corps Master’s International, 2014 

“It has an amazing reputation and it’s not in D.C., New York or Boston. I was really impressed by some of the professors. Also, all the people I hired from Korbel were great. I got into some of the D.C. schools but ultimately opted to come here. I came to Denver to make time to breathe and not feel the beltway pressure that exists. I wanted to spend some time somewhere else while I’m still growing.”
Greg Maly – MA International Studies, 2012

“At Korbel, there is an openness and obvious willingness of the staff to help the students. You are not just a face; you are not just a number. It’s a small enough school that you can get to know the faculty and the staff members if you want to. At Korbel, it really feels like it is a collaborative effort to help students succeed and get into the field. Not because it ups the school’s prestige, which it does, but because they genuinely care. Also, I was drawn to the flexibility of the program itself. I didn’t want to be trapped into taking courses that I have no interest in. I feel that at this level of education, we should be able to tailor our own degree programs so that was a big draw for me too.”
Kiela Parks – MA International Human Rights, 2012

I wanted a unique perspective on international issues and the Korbel School offers that. At the same time, the Korbel School has a solid APSIA reputation and stays connected with active policymaking centers like New York and Washington, D.C. I also have to mention the faculty here; they’re not the reason I came to Korbel, per se, but they’re easily the best part of the program.
Michael Marcous – MA Global Finance, Trade and Economic Integration, 2013

“I was working for 15 years in the Pacific. Eight years in Fiji, where my wife is from. The project we were working on was coming to and end and I had to figure out what to do next. When you’re in your 40s you don’t have much leeway or the grace of time. I was interested in teaching and it became clear that an MA was a minimum. Another reason was that I was out of school for so long that I felt I exhausted my own theoretical perspective. I wanted to get back into the academic world and think.”
James Mockovciak – MA International Development,  2012

“I wanted a professional school with a strong reputation in international security. I was accepted to other prestigious APSIA institutions in D.C. and on the East Coast, but I ultimately decided on Korbel because of its location outside of the Beltway and the flexibility of its program.”
Amy Wong – MA International Security, 2012

I also chose the Josef Korbel School for my graduate studies. I’m originally from upstate NY and after serving in the Peace Corps, backpacking/volunteering internationally for 10 months and acquiring six years of random work experience, I decided I wanted to return to school to earn a degree in International Studies. I applied to two other east coast schools but ultimately decided to pursue my degree at Korbel for three main reasons. 1.) I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) and wanted to attend an international affairs/relations/studies school that participated in the Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows program. 2.) I wanted a program that was extremely flexible and interdisciplinary (I managed to incorporate a certificate in Finance, a certificate in Sustainability Implementation and Leadership, and concentrations in communications and international administration into my program). 3.) I’m an outdoorsy kinda girl – Colorado was an obvious choice. I couldn’t be more pleased with my coursework, interactions with faculty and fellow students and the skills/knowledge/experiences I’ve gained.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about why our students chose the Josef Korbel School. Please don’t hesitate to contact our office if you have questions or would like to chat with a current student.

Happy weekend,

Nicole Vilegi-Sandage
Associate Director of Graduate Admissions
Josef Korbel School of International Studies



Josef Korbel School opens door to employment, bright future

The majority of our graduate admission decision letters have been sent and one of the most commonly asked questions these days is:  “what kind of career opportunities will I have with this degree?”

To help answer this question, one of our second year MA students (who also serves as one of our marketing assistants) wrote the following article about the services and opportunities available through the Josef Korbel School’s Office of Career and Professional Development.

Deciding to attend graduate school is not just about seeking higher education, but ultimately about finding a job in a career that’s right for you. As a graduate student at the Josef Korbel School, you’ll have doors opened to you for internships and fellowships and access to the Office of Career and Professional Development (OCPD) which provides a wealth of resources to assist matriculated students working through the internship and career search process

An example of these efforts includes organizing career fairs that introduce students to potential employers from across the country. Last year, the school hosted both a security fair and a non-government organization (NGO) networking forum where students were able to interact directly with the hiring managers from places such as the CIA and the Department of State at the security fair and ACCION and Global Greengrants Fund at the NGO forum.

In total, the OCPD held 118 events last year helping students develop skills, engage with employers and network. The office offers advising appointments and conducts resume and essay reviews, mock interviews and job-search related workshops.  Additionally they offer opportunities for students to network with alumni and other contacts.  Representatives from the Department of State, ACCION, Catholic Relief Services and many others attend career fairs in Denver, and speak to students attending Career Connections trips to Washington, DC and to New York.  These professional development opportunities, coupled with a Josef Korbel School education, appear to pay off. According to the most recent OCPD report, 84% of alumni one year after graduating are employed and 7% continued on to get another graduate degree. Of those employed, 40% work for NGOs, 32% work in the private sector and 21% work in the public sector

Approximately half of all graduates stay in Colorado after graduation.

“They don’t come in thinking that they’ll stay here but they fall in love with Colorado,” Mira Morton Luna, the Associate Director of Employers and Career Development, said. “The skills they learn here are applicable to many different jobs.”

One reason graduates opt to stay in Colorado is because of its plethora of NGOs and government contractors that students familiarize themselves with while at the Josef Korbel School, whether through internships, career fairs, volunteer work or a number of other informational outlets the school utilizes

Approximately 75% of Josef Korbel students’ degree or certificate programs require an internship for graduation and many internships pave the way for students to find employment in their field.  Some students complete multiple internships, many of which are in Denver or the surrounding area.

During the 2010-11 academic year, Josef Korbel School students registered for 227 internships or practicums, in 32 countries with 106 of them taking place during the summer. Most of those summer internships were at non-profits and NGOs (71), while 27 were in the government. While most students opt to do their internships over the summer, there are opportunities to complete one during any academic quarter.

And for those students who ultimately want to work in the nation’s capital, the Josef Korbel School certainly offers a pathway to get there through the school’s D.C. program. This is a partnership program with the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and GPSIA at the University of Pittsburgh whereby students spend the fall quarter of their second year interning and taking classes in D.C..

As the world’s 11th best international relations masters program, according to Foreign Policy, the Josef Korbel School has shown it can offer something for everybody and has a knack for getting students to where they want to be.

I hope you found this article helpful, please be in touch if you have additional questions.


Nicole Vilegi-Sandage
Associate Director of Graduate Admissions
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
University of Denver