University of Wisconsin-Madison reclaims No. 1 spot on the Peace Corps’ annual Top Schools rankings

27_lauralindePeace Corps volunteer and UW-Madison graduate Laura Linde hopes to work for a nongovernmental organization and promote improved environmental practices internationally after she completes her Peace Corps service this year.

The Peace Corps announced that the University of Wisconsin-Madison ranked No. 1 among large schools on the agency’s 2017 Top Volunteer-Producing Colleges and Universities list. There are 87 Badgers currently volunteering worldwide.

This is the third year that the UW-Madison has ranked among the top five large universities and colleges. In 2016, UW-Madison ranked No. 2.

“Peace Corps service is an unparalleled leadership opportunity that enables college and university alumni to use the creative-thinking skills they developed in school to make an impact in communities around the world,” Acting Peace Corps Director Sheila Crowley said. “Many college graduates view the Peace Corps as a launching pad for their careers because volunteers return home with the cultural competency and entrepreneurial spirit sought after in most fields.”

Since the Peace Corps’ founding in 1961, 3,239 alumni from the UW-Madison have traveled abroad to serve as volunteers, making the university the No. 2 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers. In 2016, the city of Madison, Wisconsin ranked No. 8 among metropolitan areas with the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers. Wisconsin volunteers are among the more than 225,000 Americans who have served around the world as agriculture, community economic development, education, environment, health, and youth in development volunteers since 1961.

Service in the Peace Corps is a life-defining, hands-on experience that offers volunteers the opportunity to travel to a community overseas and make a lasting difference in the lives of others.

Laura Linde is one Badger currently making a difference abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer. A 2014 UW-Madison graduate, Linde has been serving overseas as an environment volunteer in Nicaragua since 2015. For Linde, it was the inspirational testimonials that Peace Corps recruiters offered at a career fair at UW-Madison that ultimately motivated her to serve.

“For me, serving in the Peace Corps stems from ‘The Wisconsin Idea’, which is taking the experiences and knowledge I learned at Madison and applying them beyond the state borders,” said Linde. “I wouldn’t be a Peace Corps volunteer if I would not have studied abroad during my time at UW-Madison, as that opportunity gave me the confidence and desire to continue living abroad and exploring other cultures.”

28_lauralindeAs an environment volunteer, Laura Linde teaches science in elementary schools, facilitates gender-focused camps, and is involved in Peace Corps Nicaragua’s gender and development committee.

Linde graduated from the UW-Madison with a degree in chemistry and environmental studies before departing for Nicaragua. She was a member of the Alpha Chi Sigma fraternity, the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, and other organizations on campus that helped make her a competitive applicant for Peace Corps service.

“My favorite part of service is getting to know [the community] – they are the reason [volunteers] love our work so much – and Peace Corps volunteers, who have truly become my family,” said Linde.

As an environment volunteer, Linde teaches science in elementary schools, facilitates gender-focused camps, and is involved in Peace Corps Nicaragua’s gender and development committee. After she completes her service later this year, Linde hopes to work for a nongovernmental organization to promote improved environmental practices internationally.


Graduating college students are encouraged to apply by Apply 15 to remaining assignment openings departing in 2017 and 2018. The UW-Madison Peace Corps office can be reached at 608-262-1121 or

This year’s rankings follow the launch of a refreshed brand platform that underscores the agency’s commitment to putting the user experience first and makes the Peace Corps more accessible to audiences through the platforms they already use. A simple and personal Peace Corps application process can be completed online in about one hour. Applicants can learn more about service opportunities by assignment area, country and departure date by visiting the Peace Corps website and connecting with a recruiter.

The Peace Corps ranks its top volunteer-producing colleges and universities annually according to the size of the student body. View the complete 2017 rankings of the top 25 schools in each category here and find an interactive map that shows where alumni from each college and university are serving here.

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