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Friday, November 19, 2021

STORY: Why One Student Chose to Pursue a Master's in Peace and Justice

Written by Kroc School

Here at the Kroc School of Peace Studies, we know that the study of peace and justice equips students to address a wide range of challenges (including armed conflict, human rights abuses, and environmental injustices) – and we know that our #1 nationally ranked program opens graduates up to a variety of unique and meaningful career opportunities. But, we don't want you to have to take our word for the worth & value of our program.

Read on to hear from a current MA in Peace and Justice studies student, Sloane Needleman, and learn why she chose to pursue a graduate degree here at the University of San Diego Kroc School of Peace Studies! 

Want to learn more about the field of peace and justice? Including what it is,  who should study it, and potential career opportunities? Download our guide to  get these questions (and more) answered: Here's How to Make Peace and Justice  Your Full-Time Job.

Sloane Needleman is a graduate student at the Joan B. Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego. She is currently in her first semester, pursuing her Master of Arts degree in Peace and Justice (MAPJ). She received her undergraduate degree in Sociology, with a concentration in Social Justice, from the University of San Diego, as well as minors in Ethnic Studies and Theology and Religious Studies.


What life experiences led you to study in the field of peace and justice?

Since I can remember, I have always felt that I was called to help others. However, it wasn’t until I came across a “peace school” that I knew how to channel that feeling into a degree and ultimately a career. Academically, I started my undergraduate experience thinking that I wanted to study psychology, but in my first semester, I was put in a sociology class, which changed the entire trajectory of my life and led me to find peace and justice. Through taking courses in environmental justice, social justice, civil rights, diversity and intersectionality, and other relevant topics, I knew I wanted to pursue a graduate degree in a field that allowed me to openly explore those subject matters in more depth.

Why did you choose the Kroc School over other programs?

I chose the Kroc school because of the strong sense of community the school has. The professors seemed passionate about their fields of study, but they also seemed acutely aware of the importance of taking time for self-care. The class sizes are small, making it easy to get to know all your classmates and easy to directly work with a professor. Also, USD is beautiful, and the atmosphere of the campus is unbeatable, especially from the Garden of the Sea behind the Kroc building!

Describe your time in the MA in Peace and Justice program at the Kroc School. How have you grown throughout your time in the program?

Even though it has only been a few months, my time at the Kroc School has already been enlightening, eye-opening, and challenging, all in the best ways. While the workload was definitely an adjustment, the readings have all been on topics that I am interested in and that have led to really meaningful discussions in class. Overall, in the short time I have been part of the MAPJ program, I feel I have become a better student, a better learner, and a more thoughtful and compassionate peer and friend. I also feel that I have begun to find my purpose and passions with the guidance of my professors and peers.

Describe the career you are pursuing. How has the MA Peace and Justice program prepared you for this career?

I plan on pursuing a career in the non-profit sector, hopefully working with at-risk children. While I am still undecided, I am strongly considering applying to the JD/MAPJ dual degree program so that I can work in the field of non-profit law. The MAPJ program offers such a large variety of courses that cover all different fields within peace and justice. Just in the few short months I’ve been here, all of my classes have helped me to fine tune my career goals and expand my knowledge, but most specifically, my grant writing class has taught me more about the non-profit sector and taught me how to write a grant, which will be a useful skill when applying for jobs. I look forward to the internship aspect of the program to help hone my specific career interests and work at a non-profit.

What advice would you give to someone just beginning their MAPJ degree?

I would tell someone just beginning their MAPJ degree to enjoy the moment and use all of the available resources. While the workload can be heavy, the professors are there to support you and help you in any way that they can. The MAPJ program introduces you to so many students from so many different walks of life, with impressive and diverse backgrounds, and I think it’s really beneficial to put yourself out there and meet them. Also, I would recommend meeting with both your advisor and possibly students who have been enrolled in the program longer than you because they have experience with the classes, the program as a whole, and might have good tips. Most importantly, I would say to live in the moment—it’s easy to get caught up in the work, but you are doing this to better yourself and expand your knowledge, so remember that on the nights where you are rushing to finish your assignments on time!

Take the Next Step With Kroc School Today!

Courses in the MAPJ curriculum combine theory and practice — we prioritize hands-on experience because we recognize that some insights and skills can only be acquired through action. And, as practitioners of peace themselves, our faculty members draw from firsthand experience when they speak to the most effective approaches for shaping more peaceful and just societies.

Here are three steps you can take to get started with Kroc right now: 

  1. Download our eBook titled Here's How to Make Peace and Justice Your Full-Time Job: A Look at the Career  and Education Opportunities in the Field.
  2. Connect with our admissions team to begin your exciting journey toward providing peace and justice in the world
  3. Begin your application to join the Kroc School and begin working toward your Master of Arts in Peace and Justice.


Kroc School

About the Author

Kroc School

Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies' mission is to equip and empower innovative changemakers to shape more peaceful and just societies.

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