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2 years, 3 months
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Up to 12 months
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3-6 months
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Western Colorado University - School of Environment and Sustainability

About this program

Are you seeking a supportive network of individuals who will do hands-on projects which address resilient and sustainable solutions in communities and landscapes?  Are you searching for a community who will be appreciative of your Peace Corps service and the traits and skills it fostered?  Western’s Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program supports Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) in earning a Master in Environmental Management (MEM) degree while continuing the service they love in a rural setting in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.   

Coverdell Fellows can choose a concentration from among three tracks: Global Sustainability; Integrative & Public Land Management; or Sustainable & Resilient Communities.  Western’s MEM program presents a hybrid-learning environment for full-residency students, rooted in the extended learning opportunities in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, combined with a low-residency option for environmental professionals already immersed in their field and work.

  • Year partnership began: 2016
  • Fellowships awarded per year (average): 2 to 4

Application requirements

No GRE required. B.A. or B.S. degree required. Western’s application requires a holistic package, balancing academic excellence, with leadership and official academic transcripts showing a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or above in relevant courses. We accept students from all undergraduate majors and a typical cohort of 35 has students from more than 20 different disciplines.

The application package includes:

  • Official academic transcripts showing a recommended 3.0 or above GPA in relevant courses.
  • A one-page Statement of Purpose describing the student’s intellectual and professional interests in environmental management and potential idea for a master's project, submitted in the online admissions application.
  • Answer four short essay questions within the application.
  • A one-page document outlining environmental employment, leadership and volunteer experience, submitted in the online admissions application. Can be a CV or resume.
  • Two letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors in related fields, which will be submitted by the recommenders via the online admissions application.

Admissions process

Check the Peace Corps box in the general application process and mention all fellowships of interest in your application statement. In addition to the graduate program application, please complete Western’s Coverdell Fellowship Application.

Degrees awarded

Master in Environmental Management

Benefits and opportunities

In-state Out-of-state
Tuition and fees $35,900 $35,900
Value of fellowship $20,000 $20,000
Net cost $15,900 $15,900

Net cost is equal to tuition/fees minus fellowship value. For some universities, the fellowship value includes non-tuition/fee benefits such as health insurance or housing. See cost savings details for more.

Estimated annual cost of living: $10,000

Cost savings details

The fellowships are $5,000 per academic year. Two Coverdell fellowships also include free campus housing for an additional $7,560 benefit. During the second year, all residential fellows can also apply to be RA's for the campus apartments which has a $500 stipend per month and free room and board.


RPCVs who receive a Paul D. Coverdell Fellowship will either complete an internship or their second-year master’s project in underserved communities (whether our local rural population or any underserved community in America).  Western also offers the only “Design your own Coverdell Fellowship” option for those interested is pursuing a Master in Environmental Management graduate degree.  We encourage RPCVs who have a passion and relationship within a currently underserved American community to utilize their entrepreneurial skills and ability to innovate to seek sponsorship for either a fellowship and/or housing assistance that allows them to gain the education and support of a master’s degree while serving and completing their masters in a community of their choice. 

Other opportunities

Coverdell Fellows are also considered for other fellowships offered by the program. We also have a great AmeriCorps program with significant funding.

Jobs for alumni

  • Research Assistant for Sustainable Development Strategies Group (SDSG)
  • Assistant Planner, Gunnison County
  • Manager, Organic Farm
  • EPA compliance officer
  • Biologist, FWS
  • Park Ranger, BLM
  • Fire crew, USFS
  • Development Director, Global Leaders
  • Stewardship Coordinator, University Sustainability
  • Coordinator, Air Quality Control, Land Trust etc.

Nontraditional options

Low residency or distance learning, Online degree program, Option to pursue degree part time while receiving the Coverdell Fellowship

Our program is a professional program and classes are offered primarily after 3:30 pm with some required field experiences for residential students. In addition to our residential program in the Rocky Mountains, we offer a low-residency distance option for any student accepted to the program who can illustrate that he/she has a position or internship with an environmental organization that could lead to a successful master's project.

Contact information

Dr. Jessica Young
Professor of Environment and Sustainability




[email protected]


1 Western Way
Western Colorado University
Gunnison, CO 81231