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The application process begins by selecting a service model and finding an open position.

Peace Corps Volunteer
2 years, 3 months
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Peace Corps Response
Up to 12 months
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Virtual Service Pilot
3-6 months
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If you are flexible in where you serve for the two-year Peace Corps Volunteer program, our experts can match you with a position and country based on your experience and preferences.

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Paul D. Coverdell Fellows

Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program

The Coverdell Fellows program offers financial support to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers who want to pursue graduate studies.
Becoming a Coverdell Fellow

Information for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

When you’re ready to attend graduate school, we can help you continue your unique service journey. The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program is a graduate fellowship program that offers financial assistance to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).

Bring your service home

Become a Coverdell Fellow and use your Peace Corps-acquired skills closer to home. Prospective schools value the skills you've gained abroad in intercultural exchange, developing and managing projects, learning a new language, and leveraging limited resources.

All fellows complete internships in the U.S., allowing them to continue to collaborate with communities on locally prioritized projects, to expand upon skills they gained as Volunteers, and to meet Peace Corps’ Third Goal.

Why become a Coverdell Fellow?

The Coverdell Fellows program provides a great opportunity for RPCVs to continue their service while also pursuing graduate studies at a reduced cost.

As a Coverdell Fellow you receive the following:

  • Financial assistance: Financial aid may include tuition reduction, full scholarships, stipends, or assistantships.
  • Professional experience: Your internship will allow you to apply what you learn in the classroom to a professional setting.
  • Supporting communities: As part of the program requirement, you’ll provide much-needed assistance to some of the United States' most underserved communities.
  • Furthering the Peace Corps mission: By sharing your experiences in classrooms and in communities, you will help fulfill the Peace Corps’ Third Goal: to promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
  • Choice: Earn your master’s degree, doctoral degree, or professional certificate from one of over 200 programs at more than 120 university partners across the country.
  • Federal jobs: If you enroll in school soon after service, your one-year noncompetitive eligibility status for federal jobs applications may, at the hiring agency's discretion, be extended up to three years from your close of service date.


Returned Peace Corps Volunteers earn lifetime eligibility for the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows program if they fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Peace Corps Volunteers who complete the full two-year tour of Peace Corps service or are otherwise given “completion of service” (COS) status
  2. Peace Corps Volunteers who are medically separated
  3. Peace Corps Volunteers who are given "interrupted service" status because of circumstances beyond their control
  4. Peace Corps Response Volunteers or Advancing Health Professionals who complete 12 months of service within a 24-month period
     The 12-month requirement was waived for all Peace Corps Response Volunteers evacuated in March 2020 due to COVID-19.

Two-year Volunteers who resign or are administratively separated are not eligible for Coverdell Fellows unless they had already earned eligibility through a previous Peace Corps tour.

If you have questions about your eligibility status, you may contact the Peace Corps’ Office of University Programs at [email protected].

Application process

Partner universities, not the Peace Corps, handle all applications for the Coverdell Fellows program. The number of fellowships awarded by each school depends on many factors, including available funds, employment opportunities, and enrollment capacities.

See the list of participating universities for more details.

Tips for applying

  • Contact the program coordinators at the universities that interest you to request program and application information.
  • Follow each university’s application instructions and deadlines. In many cases, you can even apply online while abroad.
  • Deadlines for programs vary, so be sure to check each school's application due dates.
  • Most programs require applicants take a standardized test, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or the National Teacher Examination (NTE). If you apply during or shortly after volunteering, you may need to take standardized tests prior to service or before returning to the U.S. Check with the appropriate testing service to learn more about test locations, schedules, costs, and how long test scores are valid.
  • Keep a signed copy of your description of service (DOS). Coverdell programs will request this during your application process as it is an official record of your Peace Corps activities. If you lose your DOS, you may request a copy via the certification of service process.
See participating schools

These graduate schools have programs to support RPCVs on the next leg of their unique service journey.

Events for Coverdell Fellows and partners

Get more information on the RPCV graduate school financial assistance program or hosting a partner event.