Peace Corps

Peace Corps LogoThe Peace Corps Recruitment Office at Michigan State University is dedicated to communicating the goals and objectives of the United States Peace Corps to the MSU community. We work to encourage interest in the Peace Corps and improve potential applicants' qualifications and competitiveness. We also make continual efforts toward Peace Corps' Third Goal, that of sharing the culture of our host countries with Americans, in coordination with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteer community in Greater Lansing.

About

About the Peace Corps

As the preeminent international service organization of the United States, the Peace Corps sends Americans abroad to tackle the most pressing needs of people around the world. Peace Corps Volunteers work at the grassroots level toward sustainable change that lives on long after their service—at the same time becoming global citizens and serving their country. When they return home, Volunteers bring their knowledge and experiences—and a global outlook—that enriches the lives of those around them.

The Peace Corps was established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy. In the 60+ years since its founding, over 241,000 Americans have served in 143 countries. 

Over 7,300 volunteers were serving in 61 nations in the fall of 2019, before COVID-19. All volunteer operations were suspended in March 2020 in response to the pandemic, but the Peace Corps is returning to positions all over the world. As of early 2024, new volunteers have begun their service in 60 countries.


Peace Corps' Mission

To promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals:

  • To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained individuals
  • To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served
  • To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans

Peace Corps Sectors

Peace Corps volunteers currently serve in the following sectors. These varied program areas allow applicants with diverse skill sets to find meaningful positions. 

  • Education
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Agriculture
  • Youth in Development
  • Community Economic Development

MSU Peace Corps

MSU is ranked No. 6 by the Peace Corps on its list of the top 25 volunteer-producing colleges and universities during the past 20 years.

MSU is one of only two universities in Michigan with a Peace Corps recruiting office right on campus.

MSU was among Peace Corps' 2019 top volunteer-producing schools. After pandemic-related disruptions to service worldwide, the Peace Corps is once again sending cohorts to an ever-growing number of countries.

November 23, 2019 Interview with MSU's student radio station: Spartans Rebuilding MI & MSU Peace Corps, 89FM the Impact

Download a flyer about MSU's Peace Corps Recruitment Office to learn more or share with advisees, students, peers, and friends!

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is 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. Over 240,000 Americans have served in more than 140 countries since the Peace Corps was founded.

The mission of the Peace Corps 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. 

You can learn more about the Peace Corps and its history on the agency's website

What do Peace Corps Volunteers do?

Host countries invite the Peace Corps to work in their communities, providing trained personnel to assist with local needs related to a variety of fields. Peace Corps Volunteers currently work in six sectors:

  • Agriculture
    • Agriculture Volunteers work with small-scale farmers and families to increase food security and production and adapt to climate change while promoting environmental conservation.
  • Community Economic Development
    • Volunteers work with development banks, nongovernmental organizations, and municipalities to encourage economic opportunities in communities. They frequently teach in classroom settings and work with entrepreneurs and business owners to develop and market their products.
  • Education
    • Education is the Peace Corps’ largest program area. Volunteers play an important role in creating links among schools, parents, and communities. They may work in elementary, secondary, or post secondary schools, teaching subjects such as math, science, or conversational English; or as resource teachers or teacher trainers. Volunteers also develop libraries and technology resource centers.
  • Environment
    • Volunteers lead grassroots efforts to protect the environment and strengthen understanding of environmental issues. They teach environmental awareness in schools and to local organizations, empowering communities to make their own decisions about how to conserve the local environment.
  • Health
    • Health Volunteers work within their communities to promote important topics such as nutrition, maternal and child health, basic hygiene, and water sanitation. Volunteers also work in HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs.
  • Youth in Development
    • Volunteers work with youth in communities to promote engagement and active citizenship, including gender awareness, employability, health and HIV/AIDS education, environmental awareness, sports and fitness programs, and information technology.

You can learn more about what Volunteers do on the Peace Corps website.

Where do Peace Corps Volunteers serve?

Prior to the pandemic, Peace Corps Volunteers were working in over 60 countries. Over 7,300 Volunteers worldwide were recalled to the United States in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Peace Corps has resumed service in most of these countries, with volunteers currently serving in over 55 countries worldwide in six sectors: Agriculture, Environment, Youth Development, Education, Community Economic Development, and Health.

You can learn more about the world regions and countries with Peace Corps programs here

With so many countries to choose from, how should I choose which volunteer opportunity to apply to?

Choosing a posting is a big decision, and everyone has their own reason for service.

Peace Corps service provides much professional and linguistic training, but to be a competitive applicants should have some familiarity with the technical, cultural, and linguistic knowledge needed in their country of service. Choose openings in sectors that closely represent the experiences and knowledge you have during the time of application.

If you are interested in a region or sector that is outside of your expertise, you can gain more experience through courses, extracurricular activities, language tutoring, and (for undergraduates) MSU's Peace Corps Prep certificate program. To learn more about ways to make your application more competitive, contact your nearest Peace Corps Recruiter.

What are the benefits of Peace Corps service?

Tangible benefits:

  • International travel to and from your host country
  • Living expenses while serving
  • Medical and dental covered while serving
  • Generous readjustment allowance to help you transition back to life in the US after service
  • Some student loans may be deferable or even eligible for partial cancellation
  • Graduate school opportunities after service
  • One year of Non-Competitive Eligibility for federal jobs after service
  • Learn more about specific benefits on the Peace Corps website.

Intangible benefits:

  • Lifelong friendships among host community members and fellow Volunteers
  • Intercultural awareness and ability to work with people from diverse backgrounds
  • Language proficiency, which makes you a more competitive job candidate
  • Connections to the vibrant network of tens of thousands of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

You can learn more about the benefits of service on the Peace Corps website.

Other common questions and answers...

What happens if I get sick or there’s a natural disaster in my host country? 

Peace Corps assignments can be physically and mentally demanding. For that reason, volunteers are provided full medical and dental coverage. Peace Corps Medical officers specific to the administration in your service country, are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to assist volunteers in their medical needs. 

Safety and Security officers are also available 24/7 to take your call and assist through emergencies. There are strategic safety plans in place for all Peace Corps countries and even for specific regions within the country. In the case of natural disasters, volunteers will be alerted and updated in a timely fashion with instructions from their corresponding safety and security team.

Volunteers may also experience unwanted attention and harassment and are trained thoroughly to mitigate and respond to threats to their safety. Peace Corps maintains collaborative relationships with US. Embassies and government officials to address safety and security concerns when they arise.  

Learn more about health and safety in the Peace Corps. 

Can I serve in the Peace Corps with my significant other?

Yes! Couples are welcome in the Peace Corps. The Peace Corps accepts married and unmarried couples in committed domestic partnerships. Couples who have been in a committed relationship for at least a year before they begin service are better able to adapt to the challenges of the Peace Corps. Unmarried couples seeking to serve as a couple must attest via an affidavit to their committed domestic partner relationship as part of their applications. 

Couples are accepted in Peace Corps service programs. However, placement options and application time may vary for each. To place a couple, Peace Corps must first identify specific communities that can accommodate couples with adequate work to support two Volunteers, then match that couple with communities that have requested their skill combination. For these reasons, it is more difficult to find assignments and placement generally takes longer for couples than for individuals.

Couples should search for openings in the same country that match both of their skill sets and that accept couples. Couples need to submit individual applications and, in the application, indicate that they are applying to serve with their spouse/domestic partner. Couples should submit their applications at the same time.

Is it possible to apply to graduate school and/or to take the GRE while in the Peace Corps?

You may take up to three days of administrative leave in order to take professional or academic examinations (e.g., LSAT, GRE, Foreign Service Exam). During that time, you will continue to receive your living allowance and accrue your other benefits of service.

Your Completion of Service (COS) date may be advanced to a date that is more than 21 months (instead of the typical 24 months) after your oath date, provided that you will have completed your primary and secondary responsibilities before the proposed new COS date and that host country officials concur. This option may allow you to COS a few weeks earlier, for example to begin graduate school. Determinations are made on a case-by-case basis and require approval.

Events

Upcoming Events

Learn more about possible service in the Peace Corps at one of our upcoming information sessions or visit us at a virtual or in-person fair. All times are Eastern Time. 

  • MSU In-Person Environmental, Energy, Natural Resources, and Sustainability
    • Thursday, February 15, 2024
    • 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm EST
  • MSU Social Work Career Fair
    • Thursday, March 7, 2024
    • 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm EST
  • MSU Teacher and Administrator Fair
    • Monday, March 11, 2024
    • 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
  • MSU Spring All Majors Career and Internship Fair
    • Tuesday, March 19, 2024
    • 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm EDT
  • We'll be adding more events throughout the academic year and hope to see you soon! In the meantime, connect with us via email for any questions or to set up an appointment. 
  • Can we visit your class, club, or RSO? We would love to give a brief overview of the opportunities available for Peace Corps service. We can tailor the presentation to your group, the time you can spare (from a few minutes to a longer session), and your location (virtual or in-person). Contact us via email to set up a time!

Recent Events

Sorry We Missed You!

The Peace Corps Recruitment Office attends numerous events throughout the year. Here are just some of them—we hope to see you at one of these the next time it rolls around!

    Be Competitive

    Looking for ways to help your application stand out? Peace Corps looks for certain qualities in prospective Volunteers. Paralleling the four competencies required for the Peace Corps Prep program, here are some ways you can add to your skill set.

    Work & Volunteer Experience

    Leveraging concrete knowledge and skills is central to on-the-ground international development work. Building a professional specialty through paid and/or volunteer work can make you a stronger candidate. 

    Foreign Language Experience

    Being successful in cross-cultural contexts often requires knowledge of spoken languages different from your own first language. While some level of French and Spanish proficiency is required for some Peace Corps placements, any language training can be helping in making you more competitive.

    Intercultural Experience

    Engaging thoughtfully and fluidly across cultures begins with one's own self-awareness. Applicants can strengthen their prospects by demonstrating a willingness to engage with those from varied backgrounds and in introspection as it relates to your own awareness.

    • Consider taking introductory courses in Anthropology, Intercultural Communication, Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities, Sociology, etc. 
    • Look into minors in areas such as area studies (e.g., African Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies), broader topics (e.g., International Development, Peace and Justice Studies, Youth and Society). 
    • As with improving language skills, Education Abroad experiences can greatly strengthen your intercultural competence. 

    Professional Development

    Peace Corps is highly selective and seeks candidates with strong professional and leadership skills.

    • The MSU Peace Corps Recruitment Office can provide resources on tailoring your resume for a Peace Corps application, advice on the application process, and information on preparing for a Peace Corps interview. 

    Peace Corps Prep

    Peace Corps Prep Program

    In addition to having a recruiting office on campus, MSU also offers 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.

    Learn more on the MSU Peace Corps Prep website >

    Contact

    Contact

    If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of serving in the Peace Corps, discovering how the application process works, receiving feedback on your application, or joining the RPCV community, contact us! We look forward to hearing from you. 

    Potential Applicants: Interest Survey

    Please complete this quick interest survey to get in touch with a campus recruiter! 

    RPCVs: Join Our Database

    We are revamping our RPCV database to update contact information and improve local RPCV networking. Returned Volunteers, please complete this short questionnaire to be added to our database! Facebook users can also follow the RPCVs Greater Lansing, MI page to keep up with local events.

    MSU Peace Corps Main Contact

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

    msupeace(at)msu.edu

    MSU Peace Corps Recruitment Office

    msupeace(at)msu.edu • +1-517-432-7474
    International Center, Room 201A

    Spring Semester 2024 Office Hours:

      • Tuesdays 1:30-3:30pm
      • Wednesdays 1:00-3:00pm
      • Thursdays 11:00am-1:00pm

    Current Recruiters:

    MSU Peace Corps Prep Program Coordinator

    Joy Campbell (RPCV Morocco, 1998-2000)
    joycamp(at)msu.edu • +1-517-884-2167
    International Center, Room 216
    Meetings: Schedule appointment via Calendly

    Peace Corps (National)

    The Peace Corps website contains comprehensive information about service, open positions, benefits, and how to apply. 

    23-08 Caitlin and Cindy.jpg

    Current recruiters Cindy (left) and Caitlin (right) at Sparticipation 2023