Applications for the traditional Peace Corps, twenty-seven month tour, have been declining. This is happening at the same time that Peace Corps is undergoing a major reorganization. Peace Corps Response, the program of short-term assignments, is now open to qualified applicants who are not Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and appears to be attracting many applicants. Also, in addition to the graduate degree programs Universities are offering to RPCVs, Peace Corps is now in partnership with universities who are combining Peace Corps service with ongoing degree programs.So the questions may be: Are applicants choosing these new programs rather than the traditional programs?

I don’t have the answer. But I will share some data on applications for the traditional program and Peace Corps Response that I obtained through Freedom of Information request (FOIA 14-213), as well as information in the Peace Corps Accountability Report of 2013. http://files.peacecorps.gov/multimedia/pdf/policies/annrept2013.pdf

The numbers for comparison will be as of September 30, 2013. Because of the overlap in starting and ending serving times, a absolute direct comparison is not possible.  But this data can still be helpful in identifying trends. To look at applications from 2007 to April, 2014, here is the link:Applications from 2007 to presen

The total of applications on this chart for 2013 is 10,091.  The total of serving Volunteers on September 30, 2013 was 7209.  This number of serving Volunteers includes 184 Peace Corps Response Volunteers.

To look at the number of applications for the Peace Corps Response from 2012 to April 2014, 14-0213_-_responsive_material_-_fy12_fy13_fy14-

The total of applications on this chart for 2013 is 2631, actual applicants were 1506. There were 184 Peace Corps Response Volunteers, serving on September 30, 2013. (This number should include the 30 the Global Health Service Partnership Volunteers.)  It would appear that Peace Corps Response is attracting far more applicants, proportional to positions open than the traditional Peace Corps 27 month program is. However, there are many questions that this data suggests. For example:

1)    How many of the applicants are RPCVs looking to continue service?

2)    How many applicants are rejected because they don’t meet the strict professional requirements?

3)    Are Host Countries requesting short term Peace Corps Response Volunteers? (This would be independent of the Global Health Service Partnership Volunteers.)

4)    How many of the 184 serving Peace Corps Response Volunteers are RPCVs?

My Freedom of Information Request  also asked for documents that would show if  the number of applicants to Peace Corps Response were included in the overall number of applicants reports for the overall number.This was the response from Peace Corps Freedom of Information Office:

“After a thorough search of the appropriate office, no records responsive to this portion of your request were found.”

I also asked for the documents that would show if the number of applicants in the overall number of applicants included the number of applicants who wish to combine college work with Peace Corps service” This was the response from Peace Corps Freedom of Information Office:

“After a thorough search of the appropriate office, no records responsive to this portion of your request were found.”

Until more information is forthcoming from Peace Corps, it is not possible to answer the question “Is Peace Corps Coming or Going?” I would urge Carrie Hessler-Radelet to publish a comprehensive description of the expanded Peace Corps Response Program and College Peace Corps University partnerships.