For nearly 50 years, UIS has been partnering with the State of Illinois to provide graduate students the opportunity to simultaneously pursue their graduate degree while gaining professional experience working at a state agency. Located within the Center for State Policy and Leadership, the Graduate Public Service Internship (GPSI) Program has introduced nearly 4,000 students to careers in state government, many of whom who have gone on to successful careers in state, federal and local government agencies. Many students, who are initially attracted to UIS for graduate degree programs, end up making the capitol city their new home, thereby providing state government agencies with a pipeline of talented, well-trained professionals eager for a fulltime career in public service. The GPSI program has grown and expanded over the years and now includes options to study and work in Springfield and provides opportunities in the Chicago metro area for online students.
In 2019, based on the success of the GPSI program, a new fellowship program was developed for students pursuing a doctoral degree in Public Administration (DPA) at UIS. Based on the GPSI model of “learn while you earn” qualified doctoral students who are interested in further developing analytical and management skills may apply for opportunities at state agencies who are looking for students that have expertise in public policy. The DPA fellowship allows selected students to work part-time during the school year and fulltime in the summer months providing high-level expertise and research skills to their host agency while receiving a monthly stipend and fulltime tuition waiver for up to 24 credit hours per year. Under the direction of Dr. Travis Bland, the Doctorate in Public Administration program begins a new cohort each spring. The development of the fellowship is evidence that the DPA program is strongly committed to providing financial assistance for interested doctoral students whose career goals are compatible with our state government partners who are charged with creating good public policy programs and dedicated to problem solving. Doctoral students have the ability to renew their contractual agreement with the host agency on a yearly basis as long as they maintain status as a fulltime student in the doctoral program. Students are also encouraged to blend their research interests with the public policy issues of their host agency to provide development of a dissertation topic that proves beneficial to both partners.
UIS accomplished placement of the first DPA fellow in May 2021. Daniel Maibenco, M.S. Public Health/Public Administration and a former Graduate Public Service Intern to the Illinois Department of Insurance was selected for a project at the Illinois Department of Public Health. In Daniel’s words,
As a previous graduate student, part of the GPSI program at UIS, I greatly appreciated the time, effort, and opportunities afforded to me by my workplace and my supervisors. It was something that helped me greatly as I progressed through the dual MPH/MPA program. Now, as a DPA student and a Doctoral Fellow, I can say that this trend will continue. This year, I have been placed at IDPH in the Division of Health Data & Policy. I am helping Dr. Nelson Agbodo with efforts to update and re-vamp portions of IDPH’s initiatives tackling opioid-overdose mortality in Illinois. It is a subject matter that is entrenched in the frontlines of public health and it is an issue that greatly affects communities across this state. As an early career public health professional, the potential this opportunity has is invaluable.
If you are interested in the fellowship program or if you are an interested state, federal or local unit of government or a nonprofit agency who may need the expertise of a part time public service professional, please reach out to Sherrie Elzinga, Director of Graduate Intern Programs, firstname.lastname@example.org
Following a 32-year career in Illinois state government, Sherrie Elzinga has been the Director of Graduate Intern Programs at UIS since 2017.
If you have questions, feel free to connect with us and request more information!