Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, February 10, 2012

School of Nursing forms master's degree partnership with Peace Corps

The School of Nursing has become the first school in the nation to partner with the Peace Corps on an academic concentration that can be added to any master's degree and can include 27 months of overseas service.

Peace Corps service will be part of the School of Nursing's new International Health Concentration, which can be combined with any of the school's existing Master of Science program tracks. This option will be available to U-M nursing students starting in fall 2012.


Related links

School of Nursing
• Peace Corps' Master's International program

"There has always been a natural fit between the Peace Corps and our mission here at the School of Nursing, so both the school and the Peace Corps will benefit from the partnership," says Susan Pressler, associate dean of graduate studies at the School of Nursing.

"For the Peace Corps, it means more highly skilled health practitioners volunteering for service, since the master's students come into the program already having completed a bachelor's degree in nursing and will have at least one full year of their graduate study at U-M completed before they enter the Peace Corps," Pressler says. "For the School of Nursing, it means drawing more applicants who are interested in service and in adding a global component to their studies and eventually to their careers."

In 2010 the university and the Peace Corps signed a partnership creating master's degree programs in social work, natural resources and environment, and education studies. An addendum with the School of Nursing was signed in December 2011; the new agreement was announced to School of Nursing faculty members this week.

The U-M initiatives are part of the Peace Corps' Master's International program, which was established in 1987 and involves more than 80 academic institutions nationwide.

At the School of Nursing, prospective students will apply to both the master's program and the Peace Corps. If accepted to both, students will complete some or all of their master's requirements — plus a preparatory class on global health challenges — on campus before serving in the Peace Corps for the standard term of 27 months.

They will serve as Health Extension Volunteers in fields such as maternal/child health, nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention education, water/sanitation and nurse training. After serving, they will return to campus to complete any outstanding degree requirements and a capstone class required for the International Health Concentration.

"We have been getting a steady stream of calls from prospective students since the Peace Corps added us to their list of participating schools in January," says Leslie Dorfman Davis, director of the school's Office of Global Outreach. "We expect this new collaborative partnership to generate even more interest among globally minded nurses."

For 12 consecutive years, U-M has placed on the Peace Corps' top-25 list of large U.S. universities producing volunteers. Since the organization was founded in 1961, 2,458 U-M alumni have served, making U-M the No. 4 all-time producer of Peace Corps volunteers.

The Peace Corps can be traced back to U-M when, at 2 a.m. Oct. 14, 1960, then-Sen. John Kennedy addressed students on the steps of the Michigan Union. In his speech, he challenged the students to give two years of their lives to help people in developing countries. In March 1961, as president, he signed the Peace Corps into existence through executive order.