The Peace Corps retires its Master’s International Graduate School program after nearly 30 years


Peace Corps Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 28, 2016 – The Peace Corps will be retiring its Master’s International (MI) graduate school program after nearly three decades of fruitful partnerships with 96 graduate universities across the country. While students beginning an MI program by or before the fall of 2016 will still be able to apply to Peace Corps and serve as an MI student if selected, the Peace Corps will end its memoranda of agreement with MI university partners in September to focus resources on the agency’s Peace Corps Prep undergraduate program and Paul D. Coverdell Fellows graduate program.

“We are incredibly grateful that this program laid the foundation for strong relationships with so many universities,” Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet said. “Although the Peace Corps has outgrown the goals of the Master’s International program, we’re looking forward to continuing our collaboration with our valued university partners knowing there are so many opportunities to unite their strong academic competency with our core mission of sustainable, positive change.”

The Peace Corps receives thousands of applications from highly qualified Peace Corps candidates each year, and has developed robust training curriculum for volunteers once they arrive in their country of service. When founded in 1987, MI was created as a way to pair graduate students holding advanced sector-specific training and skills with relevant Peace Corps volunteer opportunities.

During the program’s lifespan, thousands of MI students like Taylor McLean gained technical skills in graduate school before continuing their education overseas through Peace Corps service. McLean, who served in Ghana from 2004-06 and studied at Cornell, worked with the Fisheries Directorate in Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture to help promote sustainable fish farming in communities around the country.

“The question that loomed over me was: How does a young girl who doesn’t speak the local language, doesn’t wash her own clothes, and doesn’t even eat fish possibly contribute to the development of Ghana’s freshwater fisheries?” McLean said while in service. “The answers came to me slowly, with a lot of lessons about life and culture mixed in. I have found amazing people to work with— farmers, ministry staff, university professors and students—all driven by a true belief in their work and love for their country.”

The MI program has allowed students in a wide range of graduate programs to apply the ideas and concepts they learned in the classroom to on-the-ground situations during Peace Corps service. Schools like Michigan Tech University—which offers ten different MI programs, ranging from Civil and Environmental Engineering to Mitigation of Geological Natural Disasters—and Tulane University—which houses a successful MI program in its School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine—encourage students to travel around the world to use their specialized education to make a difference. Michigan Tech and Tulane—as well as Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey—have been prolific producers of MI students and regularly ranked among the agency’s top MI programs.

With the retirement of MI, the Peace Corps will bolster support of its Peace Corps Prep undergraduate program and Paul D. Coverdell Fellows graduate program. The agency has Peace Corps Prep program partnerships with more than 50 leading academic institutions nationwide and partners with more than 100 graduate universities through the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program.

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