Peace Corps Prep

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About

About Peace Corps Prep

MSU has partnered with the Peace Corps to offer Peace Corps Prep, a certificate program for undergraduates that centers on one empowering question: How can you prepare yourself to be the best Peace Corps Volunteer you can be?

There is no one right answer to that question, but the Peace Corps has identified four core competencies that are critical to the intercultural fieldwork Peace Corps Volunteers do:

  • Sector-specific skills
  • Foreign language proficiency
  • Intercultural competence
  • Professional savvy and leadership

MSU's Peace Corps Prep program empowers you to build these four competencies, integrating coursework with hands-on experience and professional development. Upon completion of the program, you will receive a certificate from the Peace Corps—and a competitive edge when applying for potential Peace Corps service.

Peace Corps Prep programs correspond with the Peace Corps' application process, which lets you choose where you want to go and what you want to do. You can first explore and discover the Peace Corps Prep opportunities that excite you, and what skills you will need to be a competitive applicant for those positions. If you are enrolled in a Peace Corps Prep program, you can then shape your curriculum around those requirements!

Please note: Receiving a Peace Corps Prep certificate does not guarantee acceptance into the Peace Corps.

Brochure and News

Requirements

Program Requirements

The Peace Corps Prep (PC Prep) program at Michigan State University will prepare you for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service. To accomplish this, you'll build four core competencies during your undergraduate years through interrelated coursework, hands-on experience, and professional development support. These four competencies and their basic requirements are:

Training and experience in a specific work sector

  • Three courses (approximately nine credits) related to your chosen work sector
    • Sector 1: Education
    • Sector 2: Health
    • Sector 3: Environment
    • Sector 4: Agriculture
    • Sector 5: Youth in Development
    • Sector 6: Community Economic Development
  • Fifty hours of related volunteer/work experience in your chosen work sector

Foreign language skills

  • Language courses
    • Requirements vary by language and world area
  • It may also be possible to demonstrate language proficiency through some education abroad programs, volunteer work, or other means.

Intercultural competence

  • One core course
  • Two elective courses
  • It may also be possible to meet the requirements for this competency through some education abroad programs, volunteer work, or other means.

Professional and leadership development

  • Résumé preparation
  • Interview preparation
  • Demonstration of leadership activities

A detailed PC Prep Student Guide with additional information is available during the application process. 


General program information

  • PC Prep is open to all MSU undergraduate students, first year through senior year, from any college, with any major.
  • Note that while only US citizens may apply to serve in the Peace Corps, students with citizenship from other countries may still participate in PC Prep, as it can serve to document a general desire to work in the international development sector.
  • Completion of the PC Prep program does not guarantee that you will be offered a position as a Peace Corps Volunteer, though it serves to document your interest in development and gives you a competitive foundation.
  • It is not necessary to complete the PC Prep program to apply to the Peace Corps, either through MSU's recruiting office or independently.
  • PC Prep is not a transcriptable certificate, but soon it will be integrated with the My Spartan Story/Spartan Experience Record.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Peace Corps Prep Program

What is the Peace Corps Prep program?

PC Prep is a certificate program available to undergraduate students interested in serving as Peace Corps Volunteers or elsewhere within the international development and service communities. The program began in 2007 and is currently offered at over 140 colleges and universities nationwide. MSU’s program launched in 2021.

Is Peace Corps Prep only for students who want to apply to the Peace Corps after college?

No. Anyone with an interest in international development who wants to give themselves a competitive edge in the marketplace would benefit from participating. The program will assist in building leadership skills and intercultural competencies.

Conversely, do I have to do Peace Corps Prep to apply to the Peace Corps?

No. PC Prep will help you prepare to be a Peace Corps Volunteer and will help your application be more competitive but is not a requirement for the Peace Corps. Students planning to apply to the Peace Corps can work with the MSU Peace Corps Recruiting Office separate from the PC Prep program, or can apply independently with no MSU affiliation at all.

Will completing the Peace Corps Prep program guarantee me a spot in the Peace Corps?

No. Completing the Peace Corps Prep program does not guarantee acceptance as a Peace Corps Volunteer. However, students in the program will gain skills that are an advantage in the competitive Peace Corps application process and in other international development work.

About the Peace Corps

I’ve heard about the Peace Corps, but what exactly is it?

Established by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, the Peace Corps is a volunteer program run by the US government, in which US citizens work in developing countries for a period of two years. The Peace Corps mission is to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals: 1) To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained personnel; 2) to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; and 3) to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans. Over 240,000 Americans have served in more than 140 countries since the Peace Corps was founded.

Is the Peace Corps that competitive? Do I really need to participate in the Peace Corps Prep program?

Yes, the Peace Corps is getting increasingly competitive. Although the PC Prep program is not a requirement for the Peace Corps, it does make you more marketable and visible to the selection committee. Providing the exit checklist for the placement officer will provide well-organized information and set you up for success. There is also a question on the application that asks if you have completed the PC Prep program.

How can serving in the Peace Corps benefit me?

You can find information on the benefits of Peace Corps service here.

Eligibility for the Peace Corps Prep Program

Who is eligible to participate?

MSU undergraduate students in good academic standing may apply. Interested students should apply as early in their undergraduate career as possible, as the program requirements can take several semesters.

Can students from any major/College participate in the Peace Corps Prep program?

Yes. Students from any major or discipline can be successful in completing this program. You will want to explore the different sectors and align your course work and community engagement work appropriately.

Do I have to be a US citizen to apply to the Peace Corps Prep program?

No. Students from all nationalities and backgrounds are welcome. While only US citizens are eligible to participate in the Peace Corps, the PC Prep certificate program will prepare you for other international development and service-oriented careers.

Timing of the Peace Corps Prep Program

When in my undergraduate career is it best for me to join the PC Prep program?

You can join any time; many students apply as sophomores. First-year students who join have a head start, but juniors and even seniors can join and successfully earn the certificate. You may be able to use experience/courses that you have already completed. Please connect with the PC Prep Coordinator as soon as possible. It will be important to develop a program plan to ensure timely completion before graduation. The certificate cannot be granted after graduation.

Do I have to complete all the requirements starting when I am enrolled in the Peace Corps Prep program, or can I count classes and experiences from my prior years at MSU?

If you’ve completed classes at MSU which fulfill competency requirements before you enroll in the program, they can still count toward the PC Prep requirements. The same is true for your work experience, service, and leadership requirements, as long as they can be reliably documented after the fact.

Will doing the Peace Corps Prep certificate require me to add extra coursework to my plan of study?

Not necessarily. You may already be taking many of the required hours for your major. Courses may be built into your plan of study if you start early and plan accordingly. MSU’s block tuition program provides some flexibility to add credits, as well.

Applying for the Peace Corps Prep Program

When is the application deadline for Peace Corps Prep?

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. There is a short survey you can complete to indicate interest and receive preliminary information. Further information about applying can be found on the “Apply” tab.

Is there a fee for the Peace Corps Prep program certificate?

The program itself does not have a fee. You will need to fulfil the various competency requirements, which will involve coursework, but with careful planning you should be able to work the PC Prep classes into your current plan of study.

Is there a penalty if I sign up for Peace Corps Prep and do not complete the program?

No. This is a voluntary program designed to boost your potential to secure a spot as a volunteer in the Peace Corps or in another organization. There is no penalty if you are not able to complete the requirements before graduation.

Is my application to Peace Corps Prep the same as an application to the Peace Corps itself?

No. Students who successfully complete the Peace Corps Prep program at MSU receive a signed certificate of completion from the Peace Corps. While this does not guarantee acceptance into the Peace Corps, you will be a stronger candidate for service. An official application will still be required to join the actual Peace Corps. You can work with MSU’s Peace Corps Recruiting Office for questions on applying to the Peace Corps.

Other Peace Corps Prep Program Questions

What does the program involve?

Please see the “Program Requirements” tab and Student Guide for detailed descriptions of the program.

What is the time commitment for the Peace Corps Prep program?

This will vary. Most students enter a sector that overlaps with their major and their interests, so you may find you are covering much of the required coursework already. The key additional time commitment is the 50 hours of experience related to your sector. You may need to add a few courses, an immersion experience, an internship, or a leadership experience.

Will the Peace Corps Prep certificate appear on my transcript?

No. PC Prep is not a currently a transcriptable certificate, but soon it will be integrated with the My Spartan Story/Spartan Experience Record.

How do I determine which Peace Corps sector is right for me?

Explore the Peace Corps website and volunteer openings page to get a sense for opportunities that look interesting to you. If you are studying in the health field, the Health sector may be most compatible. If you are biology major, you may be more interested in teaching high school science or working in an environmental job, and then you might prefer the Education or Environment sectors. Because most positions require a range of skills, Peace Corps tries to match volunteer skillsets with positions, and sometimes sector plays a secondary role. The PC Prep program coordinator and Peace Corps Recruiters can meet with you to discuss your choice of sector if you aren’t sure.

Do I have to set up my internship/field experience/volunteer experience on my own?

Part of Peace Corps’ mission is to send trained personnel into the field; respecting the communities in which you will live and work means bringing experience. You will document 50 hours in a particular sector to complete the certificate. Most students use an internship in their major or volunteer activities that interest them to complete this requirement. The Student Guide contains dozens of suggestions for possible venues to gain this experience.

Is an education abroad experience required for Peace Corps Prep?

No, we accept many forms of service, international education, and work experience to meet the Work Sector Experience requirement for Peace Corps Prep.

I have a medical condition that I think will disqualify me from Peace Corps service. Could I still apply for Peace Corps Prep?

Yes! Medical conditions do not disqualify anyone from the Peace Corps Prep program. As for a future application to the Peace Corps, some medical conditions will limit your potential country of service, but ultimately this decision will be made by the Peace Corps medical office. Information about Peace Corps’ approach to medical conditions can be found on their Health and Safety page.

Where Can I Learn More?

Are there Peace Corps Prep students or Peace Corps Volunteers that I can speak with about their experiences?

The PC Prep program at MSU is so new that there are not any “graduates” yet whom prospective applicants can talk to about the program. However, MSU does have a rich history of Peace Corps Volunteers among its current faculty, staff, graduate students, and alumni. The Peace Corps Recruiting Office can help connect you with people.

I have a question that was not answered above. How can I contact the program staff?

Please email us with any questions at pcprep(at)msu.edu, or feel free to call or drop in during office hours. More contact information can be found on the “Contact” tab.

Apply

Apply

1. Learn

If you are just learning about the Peace Corps Prep Program at MSU, please complete this interest survey. Once completed, the Peace Corps Prep Coordinator will contact you to provide more information about the program.

2. Plan

In order to map out your program and prepare your application, use this planning sheet (pdf). The planning sheet is designed to help you gather the information you will need to complete the online application. You are not required to fill out the form; it is simply a tool to show you what information will be requested in the online application.

3. Apply

When you have planned your courses and have ideas for how you will complete the requirements for each of the four program competencies, you are ready to complete the online program application.

Events

Upcoming Events

Learn more about Peace Corps Prep at one of our upcoming information sessions or visit us at a virtual or in-person career fair.

Education Abroad Expo

  • Thursday, October 7
  • 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.
  • Breslin Center

MSU Environmental, Natural Resources and Sustainability Fair

  • Tuesday, October 19
  • 30-minute information sessions beginning at 3:30pm, 4:30pm, and 5:30pm
  • Handshake (Virtual)

International Education Week

  • Week of November 15-19 - exact date TBD
  • Official Peace Corps Prep program launch and information session

Contact

Contact

Peace Corps Prep Program Central Contact

Use this email address for all program-related questions, and your inquiry will be routed to the most appropriate person.

pcprep(at)msu.edu

Peace Corps Prep Program Coordinator

Ashley Green
agreen(at)msu.edu
International Center, Suite 207

Peace Corps Prep Program Manager

Joy Campbell (RPCV Morocco, 1998-2000)
joycamp(at)msu.edu • +1-517-884-2167
International Center, Room 306
Office hours: Tuesdays 2:00-3:00pm via Zoom 

Peace Corps Recruitment Office

Sam Bigley (RPCV Morocco, 2017-2019)
msupeace(at)msu.edu • +1-517-432-7474
International Center, Suite 12E
Office Hours: Mondays 3:00-5:00pm