Peace Corps

What is Peace Corps Prep and Who can Participate

UWM has partnered with the Peace Corps to help students prepare for the application process to the Peace Corps and ultimately fulfil their dream of volunteering and travelling through the Peace Corps after college.

Undergraduates from any major who plan to apply to the Peace Corps for a post-college experience are encouraged to participate. You will find yourself in a cohort with students majoring in global studies, business, arts, education, nursing, various languages, history, anthropology, environmental science, and many other programs.

Upon successful completion of the prep program, you will receive a certificate from the Peace Corps and a competitive edge when you apply to the Peace Corps. The certificate does not guarantee acceptance into the Peace Corps.

Peace Corps Step-by-Step

Program Requirements

Through coursework, hands-on volunteer experience, and professional development activities, students will gain competency in four key areas:

  • Sector specific skills and experience (Peace Corps sectors are: agriculture, environment, communication economic development, health, education, and youth development)
  • World language proficiency
  • Intercultural competence, understanding, and empathy
  • Professionalism and leadership

Sector Specific Skills

Students will develop sector specific skills through both coursework and volunteer hours. 

Nine credits of coursework are required, chosen from the sector you are interested in. You may already be planning to take many of these same classes as part of your major or minor.  In addition, 50 hours of volunteer work is required in the sector.

Agriculture Sector 

Work with your advisor to choose 9 credits in related topics such as food and beverage, botany, freshwater science, agricultural science, conservation and environmental science, agricultural economics, or agricultural business. Sample classes may include: 

  • Frshwtr 562: Principles of Aquaculture Systems
  • Frshwtr 564: Water Quality in Aquaculture
  • Nutr 241: Why We Eat What We Eat: An Ecological Approach 

The Victory Garden Initiative one example of a volunteer site. Consult the UWM Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research for other possibilities.

Environment Sector

Work with your advisor to choose 9 credits in related topics such as environmental science, natural resources, conservation, parks administration, wildlife biology, forestry, botany, ecology and geology. Sample classes may include: 

  • Global 361: Environment and Sustainability 
  • Global 461: The Politics and Policy of Sustainability 
  • Geog 464: Environmental Problems 

Milwaukee Riverkeeper is one example of a volunteer site. Consult the UWM Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research for other possibilities.

Economic Development Sector 

Work with your advisor to choose 3 classes in related topics such as business administration, public administration, nonprofit management, accounting, finance, computer science, communications, economics, or international business. Sample classes may include:

  • Econ 454: International Trade
  • Geog 115: Globalization and Economic Development
  • BusAdm 292: Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Small Business Formation

Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) is one example of a volunteer site. Consult the UWM Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research for other possibilities.

Health Sector

Work with your advisor to choose 3 classes in related topics such as nursing, nutrition, health education, human biology, biochemistry, health sciences, or environmental engineering. Samples classes may include: 

  • Nurs 110: Introduction to Global Health
  • Nurs 475: Global Health: Ethics and Human Rights
  • Global 439: Culture and Global Health

Sixteenth Street Community Clinics is one example of a volunteer site. Consult the UWM Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research for other possibilities.

Education Sector 

Work with your advisor to choose 3 classes in related topics such as education, English, linguistics, teaching English as a Second Language, math, computer science, biology, physical science, or engineering. Sample classes may include:

  • Ling 410: Literacy, Grammar, and Methodologies in ESL Education 
  • Math 275: Problem Solving/ Critical Thinking for Elementary Education Majors 
  • Ed Pol 112: Introduction to Community Education

Literacy Services of Wisconsin and the International Institute of Wisconsin are two examples of volunteer sites. Consult the UWM Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research for other possibilities.

Youth Development Sector

Work with your advisor to choose 3 classes in related topics such as social work, community development, counseling, psychology, childhood and adolescent studies, or family studies. Sample classes may include:

  • SocWrk 562: Child and Family Services 
  • Psych 260: Child Psychology 
  • EdPol 111: Introduction to Community Change and Engagement 

The YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee is one example of a volunteer site. Consult the UWM Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research for other possibilities.

World Language Skills

Most students must hone their language capacity to interact professionally using a non-English language. Minimum course requirements vary by desired placement region:

  • Latin America: Students indicating an intention to serve in Spanish-speaking countries must build strong intermediate proficiency – complete two 200-level courses in Spanish or demonstrate equivalent proficiency through another medium. 
  • West Africa: Students indicating an intention to serve in French-speaking African countries must build proficiency in French or another Romance language – complete one 200-level course or demonstrate equivalent proficiency through another medium. 
  • Everywhere else: Students indicating an intention to serve anywhere else do not have explicit language requirements to complete the program, but are encourage to study a language other than English.

If you are a strong native speaker and hope to serve in a country that speaks your native language, you can skip this requirement!

Intercultural competence

Engaging thoughtfully and fluidly across cultures begins with one’s own self-awareness. With this learning objective, you will deepen your cultural agility through either (option 1) three introspective courses in which you learn about others while reflecting upon your own self in relation to others or (option 2) two introspective courses and substantial intercultural experience. The goal is for you to build your capacity to shift perspective and behavior around relevant cultural differences.

All students take at least one of the following:

  • Global 101: People and Politics
  • Global 201: Economics and the Environment
  • Global 202: Globalization and Technology
  • Global 442: Humanitarianism in Global Perspective

Students choose one or two additional courses from the list above or these options:

  • Commun 450: Cross-Cultural Communication
  • Commun 350: Intercultural Communication
  • Commun 550: International and Global Communication
  • Global 477: The Global Politics of Human Rights

Substantial intercultural experience can include studying or volunteering abroad, supporting new immigrants or refugees acculturate to the United States, or volunteering in diverse schools. This type of experience would also strengthen your Peace Corps candidacy significantly.

Professional Development

Students must complete three professional development activities. This could include:

  • Having your resume critiqued by UWM’s Career Planning and Resource Center.
  • Attending a workshop or class on interview skills at UWM’s Career Planning and Resource Center.
  • Developing at least one significant leadership experience and being prepared to discuss it thoughtfully. For example, organizing a campus event, leading a work or volunteer project, or serving on the executive board of a student organization.

Apply for Peace Corps Prep

Meet like-minded students with a common interest in international public service, global travel, and career advancement. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis starting Dec. 1, 2021 and require an essay and a transcript. The program is open to sophomores and juniors, as well as seniors who will be graduating at least six months from the time of application to the Peace Corps Prep program.