What are the advantages of the Peace Corps Masters International Program?
December 2, 2012 9:32 AM   Subscribe

Have you participated in the Peace Corps Masters International program? How did it enhance your degree?

I'm looking into the Masters International program because I would like to get experience abroad and get my masters, however I'm not really seeing how it's any different than just serving in the peace corps and then getting your masters.

Is there some advantage to serving in the corps in the middle of completing your program? Is your thesis centered around your term in the corps? How does that work, is it synergistic or did you feel that it was a somewhat clumsy marriage of goals?

If you or someone you know participated in the program please chime in with any useful anecdotes or advice!
posted by abirdinthehand to Education (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
What are you getting your masters in? I ask because I was in the Peace Corps and worked alongside Masters International students, and what I have to say about it varies drastically with what you want to do.
posted by zug at 11:18 AM on December 2, 2012

Response by poster: I'm looking at an MS in Environmental Policy, but either way, I'm curious- what did you observe zug?
posted by abirdinthehand at 1:14 PM on December 2, 2012

So, the Peace Corps does things in two very different ways. For some occupations (TEFL, youth work, muni, maybe others), volunteers are placed within an existing NGO or government organization and they work with that organization to help achieve their goals. This is a pretty effective way to do things (assuming organizational competence, which isn't necessarily a given).

For other occupations (all the ag stuff, including crops, forestry, beekeeping, probably others), you are placed on your own without access to or support from a larger organization. From my experience, this method is a disaster. None of my peers managed to accomplish anything of note, with the exception of a husband/wife team with a PhD in agricultural development. There just wasn't the support and backing to be successful.

You'd probably be doing environmental education or other work where you're supposed to work with "local communities" rather than "local organizations". Imagine walking into a community where everybody knows everybody, but you know nothing about them, who hates who, who screwed over who, etc, and trying to get them to band together without any funding whatsoever to work on something they don't necessarily care about or have any interest in. That's what you'd be up against. Most of the EE volunteers I knew gave up and ended up working with kids in the local elementary school. Possibly rewarding, but not at all what they signed up for.
posted by zug at 1:25 PM on December 2, 2012

I didn't do Peace Corps, but I went to policy grad school with a lot of RPCVs and it really seemed like they had a much richer grad school experience (and an easier time finding jobs afterwards) than those who were interested in development but hadn't had significant experience in a developing country. Based on that, I think it seems better to do peace corps first. Lots of people apply to grad school during their second year of PC.
posted by lunasol at 1:40 PM on December 2, 2012

I know a lot of people that did this. If you want an MA in whatever anyway, this is a good way to do it. You're limited to only certain schools.

I wouldn't do PC JUST to get an MA though.
posted by k8t at 2:41 PM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

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