Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Peace Corps service, with links to more information. This should give you the basics about Peace Corps service. If you have more questions, we encourage you to continue exploring this site, or to get in touch with a Peace Corps recruiter.
Click on the questions below for answers.
How long do Volunteers serve? Are shorter assignments available?
The traditional Peace Corps program is 27 months, with a variety of job assignments in over 70 countries. Most Volunteer placements are in this program.
In addition a special program, Peace Corps Response, places seasoned professionals who have at least 10 years of proven work experience, and/or returned Peace Corps Volunteers who have successfully completed their service. Response assignments are highly technical, and are shorter term placements—three months to one year—in specific countries.
Learn more about Peace Corps Response
Do I need to speak a foreign language?
No. Knowledge of a foreign language is not a requirement for Peace Corps service, as the Peace Corps provides language training. However, knowledge of French or Spanish will help qualify you for programs in certain regions.
Do I need a college degree?
Opportunities are available for those with a combination of relative job experience and education, though most opportunities require a four-year degree.
Can I choose the country where I'll serve?
While we take your geographical preferences under consideration, we cannot guarantee placement in your country or region of choice. Our primary goal is to place Volunteers where their skills and experience are most needed.
Do I get paid?
The Peace Corps provides Volunteers with a living allowance that enables them to live in a manner similar to the local people in their community. The Peace Corps also provides complete medical and dental care and covers the cost of transportation to and from your country of service. To assist with the transition back home, Volunteers are paid $7,425 (before taxes) at the close of 27 months of service. The money is yours to use as you wish: for travel, a vacation, making a move, or securing housing.
Is there an age limit to serving in the Peace Corps?
No, there is no age limit, though Volunteers must be a minimum 18 years of age to serve. Peace Corps Volunteers range in age from college students to retirees and come from all walks of life.
What about my student loans?
Volunteers may defer repayment on student loans under several federal programs, i.e., Stafford (formerly known as guaranteed student loans), Perkins, direct, and consolidation loans. Volunteers with Perkins loans are eligible for a 15 percent cancellation of their outstanding balance for each year of Peace Corps service. Because the rules that authorize deferment are complicated and subject to change, it is best to talk to your lender directly about how this benefit applies to your situation.
When should I apply/how long does it take?
We accept invitations on a rolling basis; there is no application deadline. The entire application process-from completion of your application to departure for service-takes an average of nine months. We encourage you to apply 9-12 months before you will be ready to begin your service.
After you have submitted your completed application, you can expect to hear from a Peace Corps recruiter within two to three weeks.
Will I be serving in my Peace Corps community alone?
While arrangements vary by geographical location, Volunteers should expect to live on their own and work independently. Typically, there are many opportunities to see other nearby Volunteers during weekends, holidays, and for training sessions and collaborative projects.
Can I serve with my spouse/friend/boyfriend/girlfriend?
The Peace Corps will make an effort to place couples who are married, but please be aware that the opportunities to place couples are more limited than those for individual applicants. Both you and your spouse must apply at the same time and qualify for assignments in the same country. Married applicants must be married for one year prior to departure and must be married prior to receiving a nomination. Peace Corps' experience is that couples who have been married for at least a year before they begin service are better able to adapt to the challenges of the Peace Corps than those newly married.
I’m in a significant relationship. What should I consider in preparation for possibly serving?
To help educate and prepare yourself for the challenges unique to Peace Corps service, we suggest you read Romantic Involvement FAQs (PDF).
What documents do transgender individuals need to provide to be considered for Placement in Peace Corps?
All Peace Corps candidates must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen to apply to Peace Corps. All transgender applicants will be required to have paperwork (Social Security Card and birth certificate and/ or passport) identifying them as their transitioned gender. Information regarding changing these legal documents can be found here:
Additional requirement for transgender applicant for U.S. passports:
- This is general information about regular passports. Different requirements may apply to the Peace Corps' "No Fee" passport.
Changing Social Security Card:
Changing Birth Certificate:
- U.S. States and territories issue birth certificates, not the federal government. Please check with your specific state to determine what is needed to change the gender on a birth certificate.
I’m a vegetarian or have other non-medical dietary restrictions. What potential impact could service have on my diet?
To help educate and prepare yourself for the challenges unique to Peace Corps service, we suggest you read Dietary Restrictions FAQs (PDF).
Last updated May 17 2013
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