- Why should I consider OSU?
OSU has an emerging program in Humanitarian Engineering and a committed group of faculty working in international development across many units. We have a particular expertise in water, climate change, forestry, and agriculture, although there are experts in energy, community resilience, public health, and so forth on campus. We have the first MPH program in Oregon: We are also launching a core curriculum for the Humanitarian Engineering Program that will help prepare you for your PC service and there are many relevant electives to choose from. Oregon at large and OSU in general have an ethic of service, so you are likely to find returned PC volunteers on campus and in the community.
- Do I take the same classes all the other master's degree-seeking students take?
The only “set” requirements for the PCMI program in terms of coursework are that you complete the requirements for your degree program (MS Mech Eng, MS Env Eng, etc.). You may take a slightly broader cross-section of courses than the “typical” student in an effort to prepare you for your assignment and better understand the context in which you will be working. For example, you may take some Science and Sociology courses, Anthropology courses, Public Policy courses, Public Health courses, etc. That said, if you are an engineering grad student, at least half of your program is most likely to be “pure” engineering courses. You will discuss your program of study with your adviser and it will have to be signed off on by your MS thesis/project committee.
- Do I have control over my PC country assignment?
The PC has recently changed their application process (in 2014) and there now opportunity to select top-3 priority placement to certain countries. This is a particularly excellent opportunity for a student and major professor who have a pre-determined research pipeline with a particular country. We still ask that you please come in with a very open mind and be receptive to whatever country you are eventually assigned to.
- Is there relief on Student Loans for PCVs and RPCVs?
Did you know that Peace Corps service qualifies as “employment” for the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program? If you are working full-time for a qualifying employer, PSLF forgives the remainder of certain federal loans after 120 monthly payments are made under a qualifying repayment plan. Under a qualifying repayment plan, your payments could be $0 per month while in service. Signing up at the beginning of your service allows you to make the greatest number of qualifying payments. If you sign up after your service ends, you may be able to receive credit for some, but not all, of your time in service. If you plan to pursue a career in public service and have federal loans, call FedLoan Servicing at 855.265.4038 to see if you qualify.
- How do I apply?
The application process mirrors that of all graduate-level applicants to OSU; you will apply to the OSU Graduate School. Your Grad School application will be vetted first by the OSU Grad School: when accepted it is then made available to the faculty of the degree program in which your preferred major professor is affilated. This should best fit your interests. Be sure to mention that you aspire to be in the PCMI program within your "letter of intent". After being accepted by the academic program, and sometime during the first quarter of grad school, you will apply to the Peace Corps as a prospective MI volunteer. Peace Corps can only accept your application as an MI volunteer once you've been accepted into a university's PCMI program.
- What if I am accepted into your PCMI program but don't get into the Peace Corps?
If you are accepted into a PCMI program, then you will have a place in your degree program regardless of how your Peace Corps application process turns out. Same goes if you have to leave the Peace Corps early (but on good terms).
- Would you recommend entering a graduate program like MI straight away, or would you advise that a tour with the Peace Corps is best experienced on its own?
From David Zahler, MI Coordinator for Forestry programs: " My personal opinion, based on my experience when I was a married, post-MS, 26- to 28-year-old Peace Corps volunteer (Guatemala 1996-1998), is that the older and more 'experienced' a Peace Corps volunteer, in some critical ways the better. By virtue of being a graduate program, an MI volunteer is slightly older than the typical post-bac volunteer. Many MI volunteers have additional work experience during the post-bac period, and more volunteerism. Once in country, MI volunteers have additional structure and priorities and are often perceived to be relatively more self-motivated, grounded, and 'on track'.
An MI program gives you another year of academic and life experience, additional tools for international work, connections to an institution of higher learning to apply overseas, and accordingly more confidence in your overseas work, whether it is applying yourself to your master's work, or pursuing your primary obligations to your host communities.
- Anything I can do to work toward an MI program in a year or so?
In a nutshell, some things you can do that will move you down the road toward an MI program here are:
- Take the GRE-- required as a part of the Grad School application process.
- Peruse program-specific web content and determine if there is a specific faculty member who you might like to work with, someone who shares with you a common interest. Let the MI coordinator know and h/she can help to put you in contact with these folks. Or, you can communicate with them directly.
- Contact said faculty member(s). If you can form a relationship with potential major professors before you apply, you'll have these people watching for your application once it arrives to our College departmental offices.
- Ultimately, you should give yourself at least six months between the time you apply to the OSU Grad School and the time you'd like to start. More typically, prospective grad students apply by mid-January for a September (fall-term) start. (Note that we have rolling tuition and one can start any time during the year as long as the major professor is fine with it.)
- How long has there been an OSU MI Program?
The College of Forestry’s program began in 2009; all other MI programs began in 2014.
If you are an engineering student, please read the FAQs for PCMI in Engineering.
10. What are the eligibility requirements for the Peace Corps that might impact my participation in an MI program?
To be eligible to serve in the Peace Corps, you must:
- be a citizen of the United States (non-citizens may apply but must have citizenship prior to serving);
- be at least 18 years of age; and
- meet the medical, legal, and security requirements.