Apr16200910:39 am

Get your Master’s while in the Peace Corps

At a meeting yesterday of the Washington International Education Group at the American Council on Education, I came across a part of the Peace Corps that I assumed was new (because I hadn’t heard about it, of course) but has in fact been around since 1987: the Master’s International (MI) Program, in which Peace Corps volunteers can serve while pursuing a Master’s degree. Eric Goldman, manager of the MI program, explained that while the Peace Corps has no problem attracting volunteers for “generalist” positions (these are the typical PC volunteer, straight out of college), it needed a way to attract “skilled” volunteers who can tackle projects that require specific, higher-level skill sets. The MI program was their answer.

Here’s how MI works: first you apply to a participating graduate school (listed on the Peace Corps website). Once you’re accepted, you submit your application to the Peace Corps. Once you’re accepted in that, you’ll spend a year to a year and a half doing your graduate studies. From there you’ll spend the full 27 months abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer on a professional project that utilizes and expands on the skills you’re learning in grad school. You’ll then return to your school to finish up (thesis, final project, whatnot), finally descending upon the real world with both a graduate degree and a Peace Corps experience gleaming on your resume.

Sounds like a pretty decent deal. No word from Goldman on the competitiveness of this program (though he did mention that Peace Corps currently has “an abundance” of applications for generalist positions), but he did mention that they’re looking to expand the number of participating universities, as well as opportunities for financial assistance.


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