Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, October 15, 2010

U-M, Peace Corps partner to combine volunteer service with graduate school

U-M and the Peace Corps have announced a new partnership to pair graduate studies in social work, natural resources and the environment, landscape architecture, and a master’s degree in education with Peace Corps volunteer service.

The School of Education, School of Natural Resources and Environment, and School of Social Work will offer selected students the opportunity to receive credit hours for their Peace Corps service through the Master’s International program.

In commemoration of presidential candidate John F. Kennedy’s speech at the university 50 years ago that led to the creation of the program, Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams and President Mary Sue Coleman signed a memorandum of understanding welcoming U-M to the Master’s International program. U-M is one of the top producers of Peace Corps volunteers. Historically, 2,331 U-M alumni have served in the Peace Corps.

“Fifty years ago today, then-Senator John F. Kennedy visited the campus of the University of Michigan and inspired a movement that led to the Peace Corps,” Williams said. “University of Michigan alumni have had a long history with Peace Corps and it’s my great pleasure to welcome the University of Michigan to the Master’s International program on this historic occasion.”

“We are pleased to partner with the Peace Corps and add to our outstanding graduate programs new and exciting opportunities for our students to combine excellent academic preparation with international service as they pursue their career goals,” Coleman said.

“We are especially proud that the approval of these programs coincides with our 50th anniversary celebration of Senator John F. Kennedy’s speech on the steps of the Michigan Union that led to the creation of the Peace Corps. We have a long history with the Peace Corps, and look forward to being a part of its future.”

The Peace Corps’ Master’s International program allows volunteers to combine Peace Corps service with a master’s degree program and receive credit for their Peace Corps service abroad. Participants must apply to Peace Corps and U-M separately, and students selected to the program would receive credit hours for their time spent volunteering for the Peace Corps.

Participants in more than 60 Peace Corps Master’s International programs typically finish one year of graduate school in the U.S. before earning additional academic credit while serving as Peace Corps volunteers abroad. Upon their return, Master’s International participants complete any remaining academic degree requirements. Many of the Masters International partner schools also offer volunteers financial benefits such as scholarships and reduced tuition. Further information on Master’s International is available at

U-M ranks No. 8 among large universities to produce Peace Corps Volunteers, and the School of Natural Resources and Environment already participates in the Peace Corps Fellows/USA program, a program that provides graduate fellowships to returned Peace Corps Volunteers.

As the Peace Corps approaches its 50th anniversary, its service legacy continues to promote peace and friendship around the world with 7,671 volunteers serving in 77 host countries. Historically, nearly 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Peace Corps Volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment.