Student Guide

The Park University Peace Corps Prep Program will prepare you for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service. To accomplish this, you’ll build four core competencies through interrelated coursework, hands-on experience, and professional development support. These four competencies are the following:

  1. Training and experience in a work sector
  2. Foreign language skills
  3. Intercultural competence
  4. Professional and leadership development

This document explains each of these requirements in detail. Use this guide to map out your Park University Peace Corps Prep Program course of study.

You should also be in regular contact with the Park University Peace Corps Prep Program coordinator in the Office of Global Education and Study Abroad, to ensure that you are making good progress towards completion of the program. One meeting per semester with the director is required, but you are welcome to confer with her/him as much as you would like. You can also make an appointment with a peer advisor, in the Office of Global Education and Study Abroad, for information on volunteer opportunities.

In particular, refer to this when completing your Park University Peace Corps Prep Program application, where you’ll need to document how you plan to fulfill each requirement. This guide aligns point-by-point with each section of the application!

  1. Training and experience in a specific work sector

Leveraging concrete knowledge and skills is central to on-the-ground international development work. Through this Park University Peace Corps Prep Program, you will begin to build a professional specialty, which should serve your career well whether or not you become a Peace Corps Volunteer.

For Park University Peace Corps Prep Program, you need to complete at least 3 courses that align with a specific work sector (they can but do not need to come from your academic major or minor). You also must accumulate a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer or work experience in that same sector, preferably in a teaching or outreach capacity. See the Office of Global Education and Study Abroad if you would like advice on selecting the work sector that is right for you, or help choosing the courses that you will take to fulfill this requirement. The Office of Global Education also maintains a database of volunteer/work possibilities to help you complete the experience requirement.

If you intend to apply to the Peace Corps, the best way to assure that you will be a strong candidate is to explore Peace Corps’ openings and identify the type of assignments in which you’d like to serve (, then review the positions’ required and desired qualifications and build them up accordingly. In the process, you should fulfill these Park University Peace Corps Prep Program experiential requirements!

There are six sectors ( in which Peace Corps Volunteers serve—detailed below. Choose one sector to focus on then complete at least 3 courses + 50 hours of related experience in that sector.

Note: Actual Peace Corps assignments are based on local needs, and thus may or may not align seamlessly with your qualifications. Flexibility is central to the Peace Corps experience!

#1 Education 

Teach lessons that last a lifetime. Education is the Peace Corp’s largest program area. Volunteers play an important role in creating links among schools, parents, and communities by working in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools as math, science, conversational English, and resource teachers or as early grade reading and literacy teacher trainers. Volunteers also develop libraries and technology resource centers.

If you choose Education, take 3 courses from one of the following areas:

  • Elementary, Secondary or Special Education
  • English
  • Math
  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Any Physical or Biological Science

Recommended courses:

  • EDU 203 – Educational Psychology
  • EDU 207 — Technology in Education
  • EDU 210 – School as a Social System
  • EN 231 – Introduction to Language
  • MA 110 – Geometry for Teachers
  • CS 147 – Computing Principles
  • BI 301 – Human Ecology

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Teaching in one of these or a similar form: in a classroom, with a community outreach organization, or in a formal tutoring capacity

o  The subject of the teaching may be English as a Foreign/Second Language, special education, drama, or a STEM subject

Examples of possible activities:

#2 Health

Serve on the front lines of global health. Health Volunteers work within their communities to promote important topics such as nutrition, maternal and child health, basic hygiene, and water sanitation. Volunteers also work in HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs to train youth as peer educators, develop appropriate education strategies, provide support to children orphaned by the pandemic, and create programs that provide emotional and financial support to families and communities affected by the disease.

If you choose Health, take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Nursing
  • Nutrition or Dietetics
  • Health Education
  • Biology
  • Environmental Studies
  • Fitness, Wellness and Recreation

Recommended courses:

  • BI 210 – The Human Body
  • BI 214 – Personal and Community Health
  • CO 215 – Construction Safety and Health
  • FWR 122 – Human Nutrition
  • NS 319 – International Health Issues
  • NU 240 – Maternal/Child Heath Nursing
  • NUR 356 – Mental Health Nursing

 And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Volunteer or work experience in such areas as HIV/AIDS outreach, hospice, family planning counseling, emergency medical technician (EMT) or CPR teaching/certification, maternal health, and hands-on caregiving in a hospital, clinic, or lab technician setting
  • Counseling or teaching in health subjects
  • Working as a resident advisor in a dormitory, as a peer nutritionist, or as a sexually transmitted infections counselor
  • Significant experience in mechanical repairs, construction, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, hydrology, or set design

Examples of possible activities:

#3 Environment 

Help forge a global movement to protect our planet. Volunteers lead grassroots efforts in their communities to protect the environment and strengthen understanding of environmental issues. They teach environmental awareness in elementary and secondary schools and to youth groups and community organizations, empowering communities to make their own decisions about how to protect and conserve the local environment. Volunteers also address environmental degradation by promoting sustainable use of natural resources.

If you choose Environment, take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Environmental Science or related field
  • Physical Geography
  • Biology, Botany, or Ecology
  • Geology

Recommended courses:

  • BIO 225 – Botany
  • BIO 327 – Introductory Ecology and Evolution
  • GGP 120 – Global Sustainability
  • GGP 301 – Renewable Energy Technologies
  • GGP 340 – Environmental Planning
  • GGP 345 – Land Use Planning
  • GO 141 – Physical Geology

 And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Educating the public on environmental or conservation issues, or working on environmental campaigns
  • Conducting biological surveys of plants or animals
  • Gardening, farming, nursery management, organic or low-input vegetable production, or landscaping
  • Providing technical assistance and training in natural resource management

Examples of possible activities:

#4 Agriculture

Lead grassroots efforts to fight hunger in a changing world. Agricultural Volunteers work with small-scale farmers and families to increase food security and production and adapt to climate change while promoting environmental conservation practices. They introduce farmers to techniques that prevent soil erosion, reduce the use of harmful pesticides, and replenish the soil. They work alongside farmers on integrated projects that often combine vegetable gardening, livestock management, agroforestry, and nutrition education.

If you choose Agriculture, take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Botany
  • Business or economics
  • Biology
  • Human Geography

Recommended courses:

  • BIO 225 – Botany
  • BIO 337 – Biochemistry
  • BIO 350 – Microbiology
  • BIO 378 – Ecology
  • BIO 380 – Issues in Biodiversity
  • GGP 390 — Resources and People
  • MG 110 – Introduction to Business
  • MG 280 – Students in Free Enterprise
  • MG 354 – Small Business Management

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Working with a large-scale or family-run business involving vegetable gardening, farming, nursery work, tree planting or care, urban forestry, landscaping, livestock care and management, or fish cultivation and production
  • Teaching or tutoring the public in environmental or agricultural issues/activities
  • Working on the business management or marketing side of a commercial farm

Examples of possible activities:    

#5 Youth in Development

Empower the next generation of change makers. Volunteers work with youth in communities on projects that promote engagement and active citizenship, including gender awareness, employability, health and HIV/AIDS education, environmental awareness, sporting programs, and info technology.

If you choose Youth in Development, take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Social Work
  • Counseling
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Human Development
  • Family Studies

Recommended courses:

  • PS 205 – Child Psychology
  • PS 206 – Introduction to Guidance and Counseling
  • PS 221 – Adolescent Psychology
  • PS 301 – Social Psychology
  • SO 302 – Study of the Family
  • SW 325 – Human Diversity and Social Justice
  • SW 400 – Human Behavior in the Social Environment

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Teaching or counseling in at-risk youth programs
  • Activities that involve planning, organizing, assessing community needs, counseling, and leadership, in areas such as education, youth development, health and HIV/AIDS, the environment, and/or business

Examples of possible activities:

#6 Community Economic Development 

Harness 21st-century tools to help communities lift themselves. Volunteers work with development banks, nongovernmental organizations, and municipalities to strengthen infrastructure and encourage economic opportunities in communities. They frequently teach in classroom settings and work with entrepreneurs and business owners to develop and market their products. Some Volunteers also teach basic computer skills and help communities take advantage of technologies such as e-commerce, distance learning, and more.

If you choose Community Economic Dev., take three courses from one of the following areas:

  • Business or Public Administration
  • Nonprofit Management
  • Accounting, Banking or Finance
  • Computer Science and related majors
  • Graphic Design
  • Mass Communications
  • International Business

Recommended courses:

  • AR 231 – Graphic Design Studio I
  • FI 360 – Financial Management
  • IB 302 – International Business Culture
  • IB 315 – International Business Perspectives
  • PA 330 – Public Administration
  • PA 331 – Public Organizations
  • PA 342 – Administrative Politics

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

  • Working with businesses, organizations, or cooperatives in accounting, finance, microfinance, management, project management, budgeting, or marketing
  • Starting and running your own business or other entrepreneurial activity
  • Training others in computer literacy, maintenance, and repair
  • Website design or online marketing
  • Founding or leading a community- or school-based organization

Examples of possible activities:

Nearly two-thirds of Peace Corps Volunteers serve in Education or Health. Coursework and meaningful experience in one of these areas—especially teaching English as a second/foreign language—produce some of the strongest candidates. 

  1. Foreign language skills

Working across cultures often entails verbal and nonverbal languages distinct from your own. Building foreign language skills is thus a second key component of the PC Prep curriculum.

Where would you like to serve? PC Prep minimum course requirements align with those needed by applicants to the Peace Corps itself, which vary by linguistic region.

  • Latin America: Individuals wanting to serve in Spanish-speaking countries must apply with strong intermediate proficiency. This typically means completing two 200-level courses.
  • West AfricaIndividuals wanting to serve in French-speaking African countries should be proficient in French (or, in some cases, any Romance Language), usually through one 200-level course.
  • Everywhere else: The Peace Corps has no explicit language requirements for individuals applying to serve in most other countries. However, you will still likely learn and utilize another language during service, so it is only helpful to have taken at least one foreign language class.

Note: If you are a strong native speaker and hope to serve in a country that speaks your same language, you can skip this requirement!

  1. Intercultural competence

Engaging thoughtfully and fluidly across cultures begins with one’s own self-awareness. With this learning objective, you will deepen your cultural agility through a mix of three introspective courses in which you learn about others while reflecting upon your own self in relation to others. The goal is for you to build your capacity to shift perspective and behavior around relevant cultural differences. Some example courses:

You’ll take at least 1 of these core courses:

  • CA 235 – Multicultural Communication
  • EDU 310 – Issues in Diversity and World Culture
  • PS 361 – Cross-Cultural Psychology

And choose 2 additional electives from the above list or these below:

  • EC 309 – Economic Development
  • EN 355 – International Literature
  • GGH 110 – Cultural Geography
  • GGH 201, 202, 203 or 204 (regional human geography)
  • LA 305 – History and Culture of Latin America
  • PC 200 – Introduction to Peace Studies
  • PC 315 – Global Peace Issues
  • PO 216 – International Relations
  • PO 338 – Politics of the Developing World

Is there another course in the catalog that you feel meets this requirement? Please discuss it with the Director of Global Education and Study Abroad.

You may choose to substitute a study abroad, volunteer abroad, or other intercultural experience for one or both of your electives. Any substitution of an elective with an abroad or intercultural experience must be approved in advance by the Director of Global Education and Study Abroad. Please contact the Office of Global Education and Study Abroad to set up an advising appointment regarding this option.

Guidelines for this option are as follows:

  • Studying or volunteering abroad may count if the program you select is in a country that has at some point hosted Peace Corps Volunteers (see the list of current and past countries here []).
  • Studying/volunteering abroad in these countries from one week to a summer may substitute for one course.
  • Experiences that last a full semester may substitute for both electives.
  • Other intercultural experiences, such as helping new immigrants/refugees acculturate to the U.S. or volunteering in diverse schools, may also count. Jewish Vocational Services and Operation Breakthrough, for example, offer volunteer/internship opportunities that would qualify for this type of experience. If they also align with one of Peace Corps’ six sectors, these experiences may simultaneously count for that hands-on experiential requirement.
  • Each distinct intercultural experience lasting at least forty hours may substitute for one elective.

Prolonged intercultural experiences—such as studying or volunteering abroad, supporting new immigrants or refugees acculturate to the United States, or volunteering in diverse schools—would also strengthen your Peace Corps candidacy significantly.

  1. Professional and leadership development

Peace Corps service and similar international development work opportunities are highly professional and selective. PC Prep requires three specific activities that will strengthen your candidacy for the Peace Corps (or any other professional endeavor):

  1. Have your resume critiqued by someone in the Career Development Center
  2. Attend a workshop or class on interview skills at the Career Development Center
  3. Develop at least one significant leadership experience and be prepared to discuss it thoughtfully. For example, organizing a campus event, leading a work or volunteer project, or serving on the executive board of a student organization. You can search the list of student clubs and organizations here: Find one or more that interests you, then get involved!