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Make a difference in your own way.

Open to any student, regardless of major, the program will prepare you to be a more competitive candidate for the Peace Corps, working internationally, or in any service capacity.

The Peace Corps Prep Program is offered through a partnership between Penn State and the Peace Corps. You earn credit, schedule your coursework, and have access to resources to help prepare you for service or a career helping others.

At the completion of the program, participants will earn a certificate along with valuable skills that make them strong candidates for whatever they pursue. This program does not guarantee acceptance into the Peace Corps but does give the candidate a strong advantage.

  • The spring deadline to submit an application is March 19, 2021.

Peace Corps Prep Information Sessions

Learn more from program coordinator Lesley Jackson by Zooming in to ask questions about Peace Corps Prep.

WE ARE Serving in Panama
Sarah is teaching students math in Panama. Learn about how the Peace Corps Prep Program made her ready to serve and make a difference.
Learn about Sarah's Story
Penn State chemical engineering alumna Sarah Torhan will be working on community-based development projects during her Peace Corps service in Paraguay, joining the more than 220 volunteers currently serving in the South American country.

The Benefits

No matter your major, interests, or even if you enter the Peace Corps, this program will give you the amazing opportunity to take learning experiences and develop them into skills that give you a competitive advantage in life.

Once accepted into the program you'll find support and guidance as you build your experiences around four core competencies:

  • Training and experience in a work sector
  • Foreign language skills
  • Intercultural competence
  • Professional leadership development

The Program

Program participants choose from one of six core areas to build their certificate coursework. Requirements for the program include completion of the required coursework in the selected core area along with three other basic categories.

Choose a Core Area for Certification

Education

Education is the Peace Corp’s largest program area. Volunteers play an important role in creating links among schools, parents, and communities by working in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools as math, science, conversational English, and resource teachers or as early grade reading and literacy teacher trainers. Volunteers also develop libraries and technology resource centers.

  • Choose 3 courses from the following areas:
    • Elementary, Secondary or Special Education
    • English or Linguistics
    • TEFL/TESL
    • Math
    • Computer Science
    • Engineering
    • Any Physical or Biological Science
       
    • See the comprehensive list of accepted courses
    • Example Recommended Courses:
      • APLNG 200 –Introduction to Language, Culture, and Social Interaction
      • APLNG 493 –Teaching English as a Second Language
      • EDPSY 14 –Learning and Instruction
      • EDSGN 452 –Design for Developing Communities
         
  • Build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:
    • Teaching in one of these or a similar form: in a classroom, with a community outreach organization, or in a formal tutoring capacity
      • The subject of the teaching may be English as a Foreign/Second Language, special education, drama, or a STEM subject
    • Tutoring other undergraduate students at Penn State Learning mathematics, public speaking, writing, or science
    • Tutoring K-12 students at local schools (e.g., State College Area School District, Bellefonte Area School District, etc.) on any of the same subjects
       
  • Sufficient language skills dependent on your area of interest
     
  • Complete three intercultural, introspective courses:
    • ANTH 45: Cultural Diversity: A Global Perspective
    • AYFCE 438: Living in an Increasingly Diverse Society
    • CAS 271: InterculturalCommunication
    • HDFS 287: Intercultural Community-Building
    • PHIL 9: Race, Racism, and Diversity
    • WMNST 105: Living in a Diverse World
    • SOC 119: Race, Ethnicity, Culture
    • RLST 1: Introduction to World Religions
       
  • Complete three career-related activities to polish your learned skills
    • Have your resume reviewed by Career Services
    • Attend an interviewing skills workshop presented by Career Services
    • Engage in at least one significant leadership experience
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 to train youth as peer educators, develop appropriate education strategies, provide support to children orphaned by the pandemic, and create programs that provide emotional and financial support to families and communities affected by the disease.

  • Choose 3 courses from the following areas:
    • Nursing
    • Nutrition or Dietetics 
    • Health Education
    • Pre-med
    • Biology
    • Technical Education
    • Environmental Engineering
       
    • See the comprehensive list of accepted courses
    • Example Recommended Courses:
      • BBH 101 –Introduction to Biobehavioral Health
      • BIOL 110 –Biology: Basic Concepts and Biodiversity
      • EDSGN 452 –Design for Developing Communities
      • NUTR 251 –Introductory Principles of Nutrition
         
  • Build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:
    • Volunteer or work experience in such areas as HIV/AIDS outreach, hospice, family planning counseling, emergency medical technician (EMT) or CPR teaching/certification, maternal health, and hands-on caregiving in a hospital, clinic, or lab technician setting
    • Counseling with a crisis hotline program
    • Counseling or teaching in health subjects
    • Working as a resident advisor in a dormitory, as a peer nutritionist, or as a sexually transmitted infections counselor
    • Significant experience in mechanical repairs, construction, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, hydrology, or set design
    • Volunteering with any of the following organizations: AIDS Resource; Lion’s Pantry; Meals on Wheels; Penn State Physical Therapy Department; Penn State UniversityHealth Services Emergency Medical Services (EMS); Penn State Health Promotion & Wellness Department
    • Interning with any of the following organizations: Penn State University Health Services as a Clinic Intern; Penn State Physical Therapy Department as a Physical Therapy Intern
       
  • Sufficient language skills dependent on your area of interest
     
  • Complete three intercultural, introspective courses:
    • ANTH 45: Cultural Diversity: A Global Perspective
    • AYFCE 438: Living in an Increasingly Diverse Society
    • CAS 271: InterculturalCommunication
    • HDFS 287: Intercultural Community-Building
    • PHIL 9: Race, Racism, and Diversity
    • WMNST 105: Living in a Diverse World
    • SOC 119: Race, Ethnicity, Culture
    • RLST 1: Introduction to World Religions
       
  • Complete three career-related activities to polish your learned skills
    • Have your resume reviewed by Career Services
    • Attend an interviewing skills workshop presented by Career Services
    • Engage in at least one significant leadership experience
Environment

Volunteers lead grassroots efforts in their communities to protect the environment and strengthen understanding of environmental issues. They teach environmental awareness in elementary and secondary schools and to youth groups and community organizations, empowering communities to make their own decisions about how to protect and conserve the local environment. Volunteers also address environmental degradation by promoting sustainable use of natural resources.

  • Choose 3 courses from the following areas:
    • Environmental Science or related field
    • Natural Resources Conservation
    • Park Administration
    • Wildlife Biology
    • Natural Resources or Wildlife Management
    • Forestry
    • Biology, Botany, or Ecology
    • Geology
       
    • See the comprehensive list of accepted courses
    • Example Recommended Courses:
      • EDSGN 452 –Design for Developing Communities
      • EGEE 101 –Energy and the Environment
      • EGEE 102 –Energy Conservation for Environmental Protection
      • SOILS 101 –Introductory Soil Science
         
  • Build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:
    • Educating the public on environmental or conservation issues, or working on environmental campaigns
    • Conducting biological surveys of plants or animals
    • Gardening, farming, nursery management, organic or low-input vegetable production, or landscaping
    • Providing technical assistance and training in natural resource management
    • Volunteering with The Student Farm at Penn State
    • Volunteering with The Arboretum at Penn State
       
  • Sufficient language skills dependent on your area of interest
     
  • Complete three intercultural, introspective courses:
    • ANTH 45: Cultural Diversity: A Global Perspective
    • AYFCE 438: Living in an Increasingly Diverse Society
    • CAS 271: InterculturalCommunication
    • HDFS 287: Intercultural Community-Building
    • PHIL 9: Race, Racism, and Diversity
    • WMNST 105: Living in a Diverse World
    • SOC 119: Race, Ethnicity, Culture
    • RLST 1: Introduction to World Religions
       
  • Complete three career-related activities to polish your learned skills
    • Have your resume reviewed by Career Services
    • Attend an interviewing skills workshop presented by Career Services
    • Engage in at least one significant leadership experience
Agriculture

Agricultural Volunteers work with small-scale farmers and families to increase food security and production and adapt to climate change while promoting environmental conservation practices. They introduce farmers to techniques that prevent soil erosion, reduce the use of harmful pesticides, and replenish the soil. They work alongside farmers on integrated projects that often combine vegetable gardening, livestock management, agroforestry, and nutrition education.

  • Choose 3 courses from the following areas:
    • Agronomy
    • Horticulture
    • Botany
    • Entomology
    • Agricultural Science
    • Agribusiness
    • Agricultural Economics
    • Business or Economics
    • Biology
       
    • See the comprehensive list of accepted courses
    • Example Recommended Courses:
      • AG BM 101 –Economic Principles of Agribusiness Decision Making
      • AG BM 102 –Economics of the Food System
      • EDSGN 452 –Design for Developing Communities
      • SOILS 101 –Introductory Soil Science
         
  • Build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:
    • Working with a large-scale or family-run business involving vegetable gardening, farming, nursery work, tree planting or care, urban forestry, landscaping, livestock care and management, or fish cultivation and production
    • Teaching the public production practices regarding vegetable gardening, farming, nursery work, tree planting or care, urban forestry, landscaping, livestock care and management, or fish cultivation and production
    • Teaching or tutoring the public in environmental or agricultural issues/activities
    • Working on the business management or marketing side of a commercial farm
    • Volunteering with The Student Farm, The Arboretum, or Penn State Extension
       
  • Sufficient language skills dependent on your area of interest
     
  • Complete three intercultural, introspective courses:
    • ANTH 45: Cultural Diversity: A Global Perspective
    • AYFCE 438: Living in an Increasingly Diverse Society
    • CAS 271: InterculturalCommunication
    • HDFS 287: Intercultural Community-Building
    • PHIL 9: Race, Racism, and Diversity
    • WMNST 105: Living in a Diverse World
    • SOC 119: Race, Ethnicity, Culture
    • RLST 1: Introduction to World Religions
       
  • Complete three career-related activities to polish your learned skills
    • Have your resume reviewed by Career Services
    • Attend an interviewing skills workshop presented by Career Services
    • Engage in at least one significant leadership experience
Youth in Development

Volunteers work with youth in communities on projects that promote engagement and active citizenship, including gender awareness, employability, health and HIV/AIDS education, environmental awareness, sporting programs, and info technology.

  • Choose 3 courses from the following areas:
    • Social Work
    • Counseling
    • Community Development
    • Developmental Psychology
    • Human Development
    • Family Studies
       
    • See the comprehensive list of accepted courses
    • Example Recommended Courses:
      • CED 152 –Community Development Concepts and Practice
      • EDSGN 452 –Design for Developing Communities
      • HDFS 129 –Introduction to Human Development and Family Studies
      • PSYCH 100 –Introductory Psychology
         
  • Build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:
    • Teaching or counseling in at-risk youth programs
    • Activities that involve planning, organizing, assessing community needs, counseling, and leadership, in areas such as education, youth development, health and HIV/AIDS, the environment, and/or business
    • Volunteering with any of the following organizations: Penn State Day of Service; CentreCounty Historical Society; Bridge of Hope; Centre County Youth Service Bureau; Housing Transitions; Mid-State Literacy Council; State College Borough Community Engagement Office
    • Interning with Penn State Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity
       
  • Sufficient language skills dependent on your area of interest
     
  • Complete three intercultural, introspective courses:
    • ANTH 45: Cultural Diversity: A Global Perspective
    • AYFCE 438: Living in an Increasingly Diverse Society
    • CAS 271: InterculturalCommunication
    • HDFS 287: Intercultural Community-Building
    • PHIL 9: Race, Racism, and Diversity
    • WMNST 105: Living in a Diverse World
    • SOC 119: Race, Ethnicity, Culture
    • RLST 1: Introduction to World Religions
       
  • Complete three career-related activities to polish your learned skills
    • Have your resume reviewed by Career Services
    • Attend an interviewing skills workshop presented by Career Services
    • Engage in at least one significant leadership experience
Community Economic Development

Volunteers work with development banks, non-governmental organizations, and municipalities to strengthen infrastructure and encourage economic opportunities in communities. They frequently teach in classroom settings and work with entrepreneurs and business owners to develop and market their products. Some Volunteers also teach basic computer skills and help communities take advantage of technologies such as e-commerce, distance learning, and more.

  • Choose 3 courses from the following areas:
    • Business or Public Administration
    • Nonprofit Management
    • Accounting, Banking, or Finance
    • Computer Science and related majors
    • Graphic Design
    • Mass Communications
    • International Business
       
    • See the comprehensive list of accepted courses
    • Example Recommended Courses:
      • EBF 301 –Global Finance for the Earth, Energy, and Materials Industries
      • ENGR 451 –Social Entrepreneurship
      • GD 100 –Introduction to Graphic Design
         
  • Build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:
    • Working with businesses, organizations, or cooperatives in accounting, finance, microfinance, management, project management, budgeting, or marketing
    • Starting and running your own business or other entrepreneurial activity
    • Training others in computer literacy, maintenance, and repair
    • Website design or online marketing
    • Founding or leading a community-or school-based organization
    • Completing AGECO/CED 499 (Issues in Economic, Community, and Agricultural Development in Kenya) embedded international trip experience
    • Attending workshops, networking events, and/or presentations during Penn StateStartup Week
       
  • Sufficient language skills dependent on your area of interest
     
  • Complete three intercultural, introspective courses:
    • ANTH 45: Cultural Diversity: A Global Perspective
    • AYFCE 438: Living in an Increasingly Diverse Society
    • CAS 271: InterculturalCommunication
    • HDFS 287: Intercultural Community-Building
    • PHIL 9: Race, Racism, and Diversity
    • WMNST 105: Living in a Diverse World
    • SOC 119: Race, Ethnicity, Culture
    • RLST 1: Introduction to World Religions
       
  • Complete three career-related activities to polish your learned skills
    • Have your resume reviewed by Career Services
    • Attend an interviewing skills workshop presented by Career Services
    • Engage in at least one significant leadership experience

Apply to get started

Ready to make an impact for yourself and your career? Complete the application form and submit it to the Peace Corps Prep Program Coordinator at pcprep@psu.edu.

“ Penn State ranks 15th nationally for producing Peace Corps volunteers. 48 Nittany Lions currently serve. ”
Peace Corps 2020 Top Colleges Report