Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program


photo of Sam Strauss
Eric Schacht, center, a Coverdell Fellow, pictured at Chitina, Alaska.

The School of Natural Resources and Extension welcomes and encourages returned Peace Corps volunteers in the Peace Corps Fellows program. This is a wonderful way to continue your volunteer service while earning a higher degree.

The Peace Corps Fellows program advances the Peace Corps' third goal "to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans," by developing and maintaining educational partnerships that place returned Peace Corps volunteers in internships in underserved U.S. communities. Through the internships, Peace Corps Fellows are able to use the knowledge and skills they developed during their overseas service to improve people's lives in the U.S.. As Peace Corps Fellows, they earn graduate degrees while advancing their professional development for careers in a wide range of fields.

Pursuing a Master of Science degree in Natural Resources Management or a Master of Natural Resources Management and Geography will help you master a specialty in a natural resources field and give you a chance to practice that specialty in a Peace Corps Fellows internship in an underserved community. Both degrees may be tailored to a student's interests and career goals so the curricula are very flexible. Students coming into the programs without sufficient backgrounds in the sciences or natural resources may need to take additional basic courses.

Some of the problems needs-based communities in Alaska face include maintaining adequate food resources for family subsistence, providing educational services, especially in small, remote communities or local schools, proper waste disposal in rural communities and technical assistance in natural resources management.

Admission and Financial Aid
To qualify for the Peace Corps Master’s International (PCMI) program, students must meet the admission requirements for the University of Alaska Fairbanks master’s degree program and the requirements established by the Peace Corps for volunteer service. Students need to apply to graduate school before applying to the Peace Corps.
 
For acceptance into the Natural Resources Management M.S. program, you should have a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts degree in a discipline that can be applied to natural resources management.  You are not required to have a degree in science to apply, but it is helpful to have a basic course in ecology at a minimum as most of our graduate courses assume that all students have had such a course. If you have no prior courses related to the natural sciences and resource management, your advisory committee will help you select courses to enhance your background.
 
The first step in applying for the PCMI program in SNRE is to go to the UAF Admissions page.  There is an online application form to fill out.  It includes a statement of purpose which is a short essay explaining why you wish to apply for a Master’s degree in our program. You will need to have your undergraduate college (or colleges) send the UAF Admissions Dept official transcripts of your undergraduate courses.  In addition, you need to have three references send recommendations for you to the Admissions department at admissions@uaf.edu.  It is best if your recommendations are sent directly from your reference to the UAF Admissions department so that we know that the letters are candid and were not “screened” by the applicant.
 
All applicants must take the GRE exam but there is no “cutoff” score. The GRE is just one piece of the application.  While students are normally expected to have at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in their undergraduate degree coursework, we sometimes accept students with a lower GPA if other parts of their application are strong. We accept applications continuously and students may begin in fall, spring, or summer semesters. 
However, to be considered for financial aid, you must submit your application by FEBRUARY 1st (see below).
 
Financial aid
 
All PCMI students at UAF receive a 12-credit tuition waiver from the Graduate School during their two-year Peace Corps service. This allows students to maintain their active student status during their Peace Corps assignment.
Additional financial aid for your academic studies is in short supply: there are limited fellowships and teaching assistantships available.  These are highly competitive. To qualify, students must be starting in a fall semester and their UAF online application for admission must be complete by FEBRUARY 1st.  
 
To be considered for a fellowship, all candidates must also send a statement explaining why they want to be a PCMI student; why do you wish to add that to your Master’s program?  Also, please send an academic research paper that you wrote for a class.  If you do not have such a document, then something close to a research paper should be submitted.  These 2 documents should be sent directly to our PCMI Coordinator, Dr. Susan Todd atsktodd@alaska.edu.  Please send these documents to Dr. Todd by February 1st if you wish to have your application considered for these awards.
 
First, our Graduate Student Selection committee reviews all applications for graduate school here at SNRE.  Once a student is accepted, their file is passed on to the Fellowship Committee.  Fellowships are usually announced by mid-March. 
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