UMSI Peace Corps FAQs
- Peace Corps Masters at Michigan Program
- Coverdell Fellowship for Returning Peace Corps Volunteers
- Both Coverdell Fellowship and Masters at Michigan Program
If accepted into the program, will I have to matriculate at the University of Michigan School of Information before departing for my service with Peace Corps abroad?
If you are accepted into the UMSI MSI program and to the Peace Corps, you will complete two of the four terms here at UMSI prior to departure to your Peace Corps destination. After the 27 months of service, you will return to UMSI for your last two terms of the MSI degree.
What type of field work is done while abroad for credit?
The type of service that you will engage in will depend on your application. The Peace Corps will match you to a field based on your areas of indicated interest and region. Visit the Peace Corps website for more information. MSI students are encouraged to supplement their service project with additional projects that fit UMSI’s MSI curriculum and areas of focus.
Are there any alumni or student representatives of the program whom I can contact?
As we are in the early years of the Masters at Michigan program, we do not yet have any Masters at Michigan program alumni. The school does have many UMSI alums who are RPCVs and who could share their experiences once you are further along in your decision making process. We also recommend talking with a Peace Corps program recruiter at a local university. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected with a UMSI alum.
Peace Corps Masters at Michigan program applicants are also encouraged to become a mentee in the Applicant-Mentoring Program. As a mentee, you will be matched with an appropriate mentor who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer, and you will learn about the realities of living and working in a new culture and language in the developing world and receive information on strengthening your candidacy. The program is sponsored by Southeast Michigan Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (SEMI RPCV). For a mentee application, email Jeanne Paul, RPCV/Brazil '64-'66, at email@example.com and copy firstname.lastname@example.org on your message.
Are students still involved with any aspects (classes, research, etc.) at UMSI (virtually) while serving in the Peace Corps?
Peace Corps Masters at Michigan participants are engaged in the internship course while they are serving with the Peace Corps. Masters at Michigan will receive six credits (which fulfill the internship requirement) for their volunteer service. The Masters at Mchigan internship course curriculum would include a series of reflective posts on your experience and professional development activities. This is similar to the curriculum that our traditional interns are engaged in, but modified to fit the extended timeframe and particular situation of volunteers. Volunteers are also free to engage in research activities and could be supported by UMSI faculty, with approval prior to departure.
Beyond this, Masters at Michigan students are able to stay as engaged with UMSI as much as they wish, and as is feasible due to time differences, available technology, and other commitments.
What is that application process?
The Peace Corps Masters at Michigan scholarship is awarded to students who, upon admission, would enroll into the MSI program and complete their Peace Corps experience in between the first and second years of the program. The Masters at Michigan, along with all other UMSI merit scholarships, is awarded based on review of the MSI application. Prospective candidates should indicate in their MSI application that they are interested in the Masters at Michigan Fellows program and they will then be considered for the fellowship, upon acceptance to the Peace Corps. MSI students are required to complete all 27 months of Peace Corps service in order to be eligible for the Masters at Michigan scholarship.
UMSI sends the first round of scholarship information by early March (assuming prospective students apply by the January 15 early deadline).
When should I apply to the Peace Corps?
On July 1, 2014, the Peace Corps made historic changes to their recruitment, application and selection process, which now includes a shorter application, applicant choice of service locations and jobs, as well as making the process more transparent and clear with “apply by” and “know by” dates (See the New Application & Selection Process Press Release).
Peace Corps Masters at Michigan applicants must meet UMSI’s Master of Science in Information admissions qualifications and apply to that program first. If admitted to the MSI program, students will then submit an application for the Peace Corps approximately one year prior to anticipated departure (usually May or June prior to starting the MSI degree). Applicants must apply to the Peace Corps by August 31 to be considered for the UMSI scholarship opportunity. Students then complete the various steps of the Peace Corps application process, and if accepted are invited to volunteer in the fall.
Note, the Peace Corps Masters at Michigan is based on the recently-discontinued Master's International program.
What is the application process?
Returning Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCV) are eligible to be considered for a Coverdell Fellows scholarship. These scholarships, along with all other UMSI merit scholarships, are awarded based on review of the MSI application. To be considered for the fellowship, prospective candidates should indicate in their MSI application that they are an RPCV.
We send the first round of scholarship information by early March (assuming applications are received by the January 15 deadline).
What are the eligibility requirements?
Our program reviews applications holistically, reviewing academic record and test scores, as well as letters of recommendation, essays, and related experiences. We do have a selective applicant pool, but we try to view each application individually and think about the student's qualifications. We do have a preferred GPA of at least 3.0, and our average GPA is 3.5. While these are general guidelines, we always review every application before making a decision.
For the GRE there are no minimum requirements, but most of our applicants score about 158 (680 on the old scoring scale) on the quantitative, about 159 (590 on the old scoring scale) on the verbal, and about 5 on the analytical writing. We require three letters of recommendation that can speak to a student’s ability to succeed in a graduate program or their work abilities. Learn more about requirements here.
How many RPCVs apply for the Coverdell Fellowship within the MSI program, and what is the rate of acceptance?
A high number of RPCVs who apply to UMSI for the MSI program are awarded the Coverdell Fellowship. The Fellowship award is based on the review of the application; we highly value service engagement and Peace Corps experience is taken into consideration.
What is the tuition waiver as a RPCV Coverdell?
All RPCVs will receive an application fee waiver to the MSI program. RPCVs who are selected as a Coverdell Fellow will receive a 50% to 100% tuition scholarship to UMSI.
Nonresident awards: $10,000 per semester ($40,000 total award)
Resident awards: $5,000 per semester ($20,000 total award)
How do I satisfy the Coverdell internship requirement?
Kelly Kowatch, the Peace Corps coordinator at UMSI, works closely with students to help them determine the best internship for a desired career. Coverdell students have worked on open access course technologies, on a big data project with the Population Studies Center at U-M, and on a data project with the Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development pertaining to homelessness information. Generally, we are flexible with this requirement and seek to find the best internships to fulfill the Coverdell requirement and meet students’ career goals.
Does the tuition scholarship for the Paul D. Coverdell program apply to dual degrees?
If you applied and were accepted to another program that has a Coverdell partnership (this includes Social Work, Public Policy, Nursing, Art & Design, Natural Resources & the Environment) with the Peace Corps, you would be eligible for Coverdell funding from that program as well. Each school has its own process for selecting Coverdell fellows. If you were selected as a UMSI Coverdell fellow and were pursuing a dual degree, UMSI's Coverdell funding would cover half or full tuition for the terms you were primarily a UMSI student (3 out of 6 terms). Generally a dual degree student would spend an academic year at UMSI (fall and winter term), then the second academic year at their dual program (fall and winter term), then split the third year with one term at UMSI and the other at the other school.
At the University of Michigan, students can propose a dual degree in any two fields. You can either apply to both programs at once, or you can apply to one, then in your first year of study apply to the second. You would seek advising from each program, and plan a curriculum that both departments approve, such that a percentage of credits are double counted, allowing you to complete two degrees in a reduced time line. For example, if both degrees would typically take two years each to complete, a dual degree would support completion in three years instead of four. Here at the School of Information, we have pre-established dual degree programs with the Business School, the Law School, the Ford School of Public Policy, the School of Social Work, and the School of Nursing. These programs have pre approved curriculum and courses designed to meet the interests of a dual student. More information about these pre-approved programs can be found online at https://www.si.umich.edu/programs/msi/dual-degrees.
Are there any alumni or student representatives of the program I can contact?
The school has many RPCV alumni who can share their experiences with prospective students once they are farther along in their decision making process. We also recommend talking with a Peace Corps program recruiter at a local university.
What types of classes are offered at UMSI?
UMSI offers a wide array of courses that span the field of information. Highly interdisciplinary and flexible, the program can be shaped to meet a student’s unique interests while providing a solid foundation in the essentials. Management-oriented courses focus on planning, leading, organizing, and decision making. Research-oriented courses teach how to produce or validate information through fieldwork, program evaluation, or computer simulation.
We encourage prospective students to review course catalog for UMSI classes that may align with their interests. Additionally, as the MSI program offers students the opportunity to pursue cognate classes at other schools and departments within the University of Michigan.
How will a prospective student’s application be considered?
The MSI program attracts students from over 100 different undergraduate majors: from computer science and engineering to psychology, history, and communications. We seek students with leadership potential who have a team-oriented approach to problem-solving, who are capable of dealing with ambiguity and change, and who have a strong commitment to service. Our students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and from many stages of life. We routinely work with non-traditional students, those returning from military service, those applying from overseas and more.