The Ivy Coach Daily

June 14, 2020

Ivy League Degrees in State Department

Ivy League Grads, Ivy Grads, Ivy League Advantage
The State Department likes its Ivy League graduates.

We’ve written extensively over the years about the longterm economic advantages Ivy League degrees offer graduates of these institutions. Today, we thought we’d focus on an editorial published by Nahal Toosi for Politico entitled “Ivy League grads have a leg up in State Department promotions, stats show.” In the piece, Toosi walks readers through data from the Government Accountability Office that shines a lantern on the educational backgrounds of State Department employees. Hint, hint: America’s State Department appreciates graduates of the Ancient Eight institutions.

As Toosi writes in her piece, “Today, U.S. diplomats are drawn from far more diverse backgrounds than those who represented America to the world in 1940. But new, rarely seen statistics from recent years suggest that when it comes to climbing the ladder at the State Department, it still doesn’t hurt to hail from the ’Harvard clique.’ The data, obtained exclusively by POLITICO, show that Foreign Service employees with degrees from Ivy League schools have significantly better odds of earning a promotion early in their careers than colleagues who lack such credentials. At one point in the department’s career hierarchy, their odds are more than 20 percent higher.”

And while our nation’s State Department can — and should — absolutely aim to be more diverse (as should the rest of our current government — especially the executive branch!), let’s also remember that the State Department is hiring from institutions, like the Ivy League schools, with increasingly diverse graduating classes. So while one can criticize the State Department for offering advantage to students who graduate from top schools (we think such criticism is silly!), these graduates are quite often diverse. As Toosi reports, “’In my experience, many Foreign Service officers who have an Ivy League degree come from diverse backgrounds, rather than stereotypically privileged backgrounds,’ former U.S. diplomat Molly Montgomery said.”

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