Penn State begins new interdisciplinary Peace Corps fellowship program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State and the Peace Corps have finalized a new partnership that will help returning Peace Corps volunteers pursue their graduate education in the School of International Affairs, Smeal College of Business, or the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Peace Corps volunteers will be eligible for significant financial aid in each of the three programs as part of the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, which has helped more than 5,000 returned volunteers further their education at schools across the nation.

“Penn State is a big school for us,” said La’Teashia Sykes, Peace Corps program specialist. “Our recruiters are there often and we always get a lot of great applications, so it’s really wonderful to solidify this new partnership with Penn State.”

Peace Corps volunteers interested in the School of International Affairs will receive an application fee waiver, and admitted Coverdell Fellows will receive financial support for both years of the program, in addition to support provided by the Coverdell program. Applicants to the Smeal College of Business will also receive an application fee waiver. Admitted students will receive a full tuition waiver, a $7,000 stipend per semester, and subsidized health insurance. The College of Agricultural Sciences will also offer an application fee waiver, as well as a tuition waiver in the college’s interdisciplinary International Agriculture and Development program.

“It’s an honor that the School of International Affairs, Smeal College of Business, and College of Agricultural Sciences were recognized and selected by the Peace Corps as part of this new partnership,” SIA Director Scott Gartner said. “We’re excited to move forward with this new, stronger relationship between the University and the Peace Corps.”

Penn State, which consistently ranks as one of the top schools in the nation whose alumni serve overseas with the Peace Corps, is one of more than 300 colleges across the nation committed to helping Peace Corps volunteers build on their experiences through higher education. 

“The Peace Corps program is one of the most enduring and the most impactful initiatives established by the United States government — in terms of offering tangible assistance to generations of people around the world, particularly in Africa. I was a recipient of this generosity, when a returned Peace Corps volunteer taught science in my high school for some time,” said Michael Adewumi, Penn State vice provost for Global Programs.

Fellows at the School of International Affairs will work toward a master's in international affairs with nine optional concentrations, ranging from development policy to humanitarian response and human rights with the option to create their own concentration. Fellows at the Smeal College of Business will pursue a master of business administration, while Fellows at the College of Agricultural Sciences will take part in the college’s unique dual-title graduate program in international agriculture and development, an interdisciplinary program designed to combine a student’s technical skills in one of six graduate degree programs.

Sykes said Penn State is an excellent addition to the Coverdell Fellows Program because of the University’s extensive student support, opportunities for continuing volunteer work, and significant financial aid.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Peace Corps and its Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program,” said Carrie Marcinkevage, managing director of Smeal’s resident MBA program. “A Peace Corps quote reads, ‘Peace Corps volunteers know there’s a solution to any challenge — it just takes grit, commitment and smarts to get there.’ You couldn’t describe the Penn State Smeal MBA culture any better. It’s a perfect fit.”

Peace Corps volunteers who come to Penn State as Coverdell Fellows will continue working with underserved communities through internships with local nonprofits and community organizations, giving them the opportunity to benefit their community while building on the skills developed while serving abroad.

“Through this unique internship program, Coverdell Fellows will help integrate local and international trends, bringing a truly global perspective to the challenges and opportunities faced by communities worldwide,” said Deanna Behring, director of International Programs for the College of Agricultural Sciences.

Last Updated September 20, 2016