Department of Environment and Sustainability at Western State Colorado University

Why you should consider 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.

Benefits for Coverdell Fellows

Tuition/fees for Complete Program Value of Coverdell Fellowship Net cost *
In state $ 35,900 $ 10,000 $ 25,900
Out of state $ 35,900 $ 10,000 $ 25,900
* 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 the first point below for more details.

Where the cost savings value of the Coverdell Fellowship comes from

The fellowships range from $2,500-$5,000 per academic year. Two fellowships also include free campus housing for a $7,560 benefit. During the second year, Fellows can also apply to be RA's which has a $500 stipend per month and free room and board.

Fellowships awarded per year (average)


Other benefits or opportunities

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

Annual cost of living (estimated)

$ 10,000

Application fee waived?



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. 

Jobs for program alumni

Over 85% of our graduating cohort last year had a job in the field of environmental management by graduation. Their jobs vary and include positions in state, local, and federal governmental agencies, non-profits, and for profit organizations. Please see our MEM Network Map to view some example alumni jobs and position title. Also view our student site to see the diversity of student 2nd year projects.

Other details

Program length

2 years

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. 

The package includes:

  • A one-page document outlining environmental employment, leadership and volunteer experience, including describing your PC experience.
  • 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.
  • Three letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors in related fields.
  • For those RPCV’s interested in being considered for a Coverdell Fellowship, please check the “Peace Corps” box on the admissions form and, in addition to the admissions process, please complete the Coverdell Fellowship Application at the bottom of the page

Admissions process

Check the Peace Corps box in the admissions process. In addition to the program application, please complete the Western Coverdell Fellowship Application at the bottom of

Program begins

June readings, August two week residency

Non-traditional options

  • Online degree program
  • Low residency or distance learning
  • 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 in the afternoon with some Field Fridays. In addition to our residential program in the Rocky Mountains, we offer a low-residency 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.

Year Coverdell Fellows partnership started



Jessica Young, Global Coordinator

600 N Adams Street
Gunnison, Colorado 81231