When should I start my Peace Corps application?

By Mariana Andrade-Bejarano
Sept. 9, 2015

It’s said often and yet cannot be overstated: Peace Corps’ application process has changed significantly from the days of yore (but mostly in the past year). 

In 2008, a stellar, community-engaged college sophomore with a projected graduation date of 2010 would not have been discouraged to apply two years in advance. These days, while we appreciate all eager applicants, not being available to serve until two years in the future results in an application withdrawal and a letter sharing two pieces of information:

  1. Programs begin to accept applications approximately (and only) one year prior to the departure date listed on the Volunteer Openings page. The importance of visiting this page before applying cannot be stressed enough – it tells you key things you should know about the job for which you are applying (like the application deadline or whether you need a college degree). This page also tells you how many positions are open and the date you should be available to depart for service.

Invitees arrive to country in cohorts, therefore the departure date is not flexible and cannot be altered for one person, no matter the circumstances. The website is pretty transparent and a strong applicant can expect to wait no more than one year between submitting an application and departing for service (if he or she is invited and successfully completes all required tasks thereafter).

2. There are specific times when jobs are posted and, on average, these openings are live for three months. Here is an approximate calendar of when job openings go live on our site:

    • Programs departing July to September are posted in August of the previous year
    • Programs departing October to December are posted in November of the previous year
    • Programs departing January to March are posted in February of the previous year
    • Programs departing April to June are posted in May of the previous year

    The process of being invited for service once involved an eight-hour-long application, mailing in a fingerprint kit and interviewing with a recruiter. If the applicant was strong, the recruiter would issue a “nomination” and it would take a couple more months to complete medical tasks and have a second interview before receiving an actual invitation. By the time the invitation was given, the program was due to depart within two months.

    Today, recruiter nominations are no more. Applicants have the transparency of the apply-by and know-by dates listed on the website, and you can see exactly what jobs are available and what skills are needed. Legal and medical tasks must still be completed, but only if an applicant is invited to serve as a Volunteer. 

    As with any job application, strong applicants are informed and professional; there are various tools available to aid this process, from stopping by a recruitment office or attending events, to visiting the website and following the Peace Corps' social media platforms.

    Happy browsing!

    Ready to start your Peace Corps journey? Connect with a recruiter today.

    Mariana Andrade-Bejarano

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