Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program at the University of Cincinnati (UC) is one of only a few planning degree programs in collaboration with the United States Peace Corps. The program began in 2004 and continues to invite 2 - 4 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to become Coverdell Fellows in a challenging program.


Fellows develop the valuable Peace Corps experience into something even greater through the following:

  • Full-time degree
  • Part-time internship
  • Full-time summer Co-op
  • Peace Corps Practicum
  • Residence in a vibrant city full of research opportunities

We are looking for RPCVs who want to expand on their Peace Corps Service, who want to take advantage of their new perspective, and who want to develop the skills they now have. UC’s program is full of planning professors with experience in working abroad who will help cultivate your passions, preparing you for a successful planning career. As the global founder of cooperative education, UC welcomes students who want to directly apply their passion for peoples’ capacity-building to their education.

UC ranks No. 4 among the nation’s elite institutions for Co-op education for 2022 in the U.S. News & World Report latest ranking. Among public universities, UC is No. 1 in the nation, higher than Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Duke University, Stanford University and many more. 

School of Planning and College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP)

The University of Cincinnati’s School of Planning is within the College of DAAP. The programs within the College of DAAP are consistently ranked among the very best in both a world and national class. Planetizen has ranked the graduate programs in the School of Planning amongst the best: 1st among small programs, 4th in the Midwest and 20th in the nation. The University of Cincinnati’s School of Planning is the only planning school offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees with the integration of co-op work experience. The school offers a diverse learning environment and produces graduates with the credentials to practice as professional urban planners, both domestically and overseas.

Peace Corps service has sparked your passion and given you a new perspective. The Master of Community Planning degree will spark new ideas and provide the theory and technical skills necessary for your career. Students pursuing each of these degrees can learn from other students while continuing to reach Peace Corps’ 3rd Goal:

To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

Degrees Offered

There are three available degrees for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) at the University of Cincinnati:

  1. Master of Community Planning (MCP)

  2. Juris Doctor and Master of Community Planning (JD/MCP)

  3. Doctor of Philosophy in Regional Development Planning (PhD)

Each degree incorporates the Peace Corps service through similar means described below but will direct the student to various areas of employment depending on the degree path taken and which interests the student decides to develop. Collectively, courses in the School of Planning reflect a comprehensive approach to the social, physical, economic, environmental, political, health, and legal aspects of the study and planning of communities, landscapes, and environments from local, regional, and global perspectives.

Community Planning approaches the issues within the broad Urban Planning field with a focus on “livable places,” that is, on “communities that enrich people’s lives.” While Community Planning addresses broad issues, it has a focus on the long-term development of sustainable and livable places with active participation from the residents in the planning process. This is the most popular graduate degree with 37 students enrolled in the 2021-22 school year.

This exclusive joint-degree program combines advanced degrees from renowned programs at the University of Cincinnati. We are one of only a few schools in the nation to offer the JD/MCP degree, which can be completed in just four years. For problem-solvers with a passion for community development, urban revitalization, and equity in issues like housing and education, this academic path promises extensive opportunities to learn and make an impact.

This four-year program begins with one year devoted exclusively to Cincinnati Law courses. The second year is completed primarily at the School of Planning in the prestigious College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. The final two years are spent taking both law and planning courses. School of Planning financial support is generally limited to full-time study in the MCP program.

The PhD program in Regional Development Planning at the University of Cincinnati provides rigorous academic training in planning theory, urban and regional theories, advanced research, and planning practice. The purpose of the doctoral program is to educate and train the next generation of high-level practitioners, policy makers, and scholars who will bring new research ideas and knowledge to the teaching and practice of urban and regional planning.

As Coverdell Fellows, PhD students expand their knowledge from their bachelor’s, master’s, and from their Peace Corps service and take advantage of their experience abroad.

Peace Corps Practicum

Vanness Presentation

Ian Vanness gives his presentation on his service during Peace Corps Practicum.

The courses comprising the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program are graduate-level courses offered in the School of Planning and elsewhere in the university. In addition to these courses, the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program requires a Peace Corps Practicum. This seminar is held during two years of students’ degrees and offers variable credit. This seminar and the courses throughout the program allow students to reflect on their experience as Peace Corps Volunteers, incorporate their experience into their studies and work, and serve the community through volunteering.

  • Students have the opportunity to complete a thesis incorporating the work they carried out while working overseas.
  • Students may receive credit for prior graduate study; however, Peace Corps experience is not eligible for graduate credit.
  • Upon completing the MCP/Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, students will possess an invaluable combination of overseas and domestic work experience, and they will have the credentials to pursue a career as professional urban planners.


If you are yearning to continue helping others directly, the internship might be one of your favorite parts of the Coverdell Fellows Program. Each semester students will be placed in paid internships with community organizations consistent with their experience and interests. These agencies help underserved communities in Cincinnati through the Coverdell Fellows Program at UC. These are neighborhoods that have been neglected on the part of planners or places that lack services and opportunities for enrichment.

Internships are practical steps Coverdell Fellows take to apply their service to a community in the US. They are designed to pair well with the students’ passions in planning and working with and for underserved populations. Internships are found for the student by the Coverdell Fellows Advisor after consulting the student’s application materials.

Each semester, Coverdell Fellows typically work 20 hours of work per week, either as an intern for 20 or as an intern for 10 hours and a GA for 10 hours. Students earn approximately $10,600 per year.

Recent Coverdell Fellows have worked with: Price Hill Will, Cornerstone Renter Equity, Working in Neighborhoods, and the Cincinnati Department of Transportation and Engineering. In earlier years, we have had students working in the following agencies: Communities United for Action, Groundwork Cincinnati, Green Umbrella, The Center for Great Neighborhoods, Over-The-Rhine Community Housing, Smart Money, and more. 

Graduate Assistantship (GA)

Each semester, Coverdell Fellows typically work 20 hours of work per week, as an intern for 10 hours and a GA for 10 hours. Students earn approximately $10,600 per year. Students who are offered a GA work with various professors and staff and perform teaching assistant, office assistant, or research assistant positions.

Recent Coverdell Fellows have been Graduate Assistants with the following faculty:

Planning Co-op

The program requires a full-time summer Co-op with an organization or agency that will be conducting a planning project during the summer. Several planning students have found Co-ops abroad and outside Cincinnati. Students are typically paid about $12 - $15 per hour depending on the contract. Many have returned to their Co-op for permanent employment. Check out the Student Profiles section to see where students have worked.

Student Profiles

Current Coverdell Fellows

Ian and his wife in front of Moroccan City

Ian Vanness

Ian and his wife in front of Moroccan City

  • Bachelor’s Degree: History, Geography, and Black World Studies.

  • Country of Service: Morocco 2015-17

  • Peace Corps Service: After teaching English in Thailand, Ian wanted to have an international experience that offered more “substance” and applied to the Peace Corps with his wife Shawn. Ian served as a Youth Development volunteer in a small town 100 miles from Marrakesh. While his Youth Community Center never opened, Ian found several projects that were valuable to him and his community.

  • Why did you choose UC? Ian pursued a degree at UC to combine his bachelor’s degree and his Peace Corps experience with a planner’s perspective in order to serve the public and promote equity.

  • Professional Goals: Ian is a recent MCP/Coverdell Fellow student. He served as an intern with the non-profit “Price Hill Will,” a holistic community development agency in the Price Hill neighborhoods of Cincinnati. The MCP/Coverdell Fellows program is helping Ian achieve his ultimate professional and personal goal of creating a more equitable society. Ian's goal is to continue in his work of fighting for more equal access to wealth, resources, and opportunities.

Jamie at a high school for world aids day in Morocco

Jamie Kreindler

Jamie at a high school for world AIDS day in Morocco

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Dance and Psychology

  • Peace Corps Country of Service: Morocco 2015-18

  • Peace Corps Service: Jamie set off to Morocco to serve as a Youth Development volunteer in 2015 and enjoyed it enough to extend for a third year. Jamie made friends and motivated youth leaders in her community. Along with the good, Jamie faced challenges such as often being the only woman in predominantly male spaces, navigating and overcoming bureaucratic barriers, and homesickness after three years away from home. Even with these challenges, Jamie was able to do great work within her communities and encourages others to consider Peace Corps.

  • What set UC apart from other schools you applied to? Good location, wide network of alumni, financial support, and work opportunities.

  • Professional Goals: Jamie is a recent MCP/Coverdell Fellow and used UC to achieve her goals of providing a complementary balance of theoretical and practical knowledge in urban planning. To help with this goal, Jamie worked with Cornerstone Renter Equity, the City of Sharonville’s Community Development Department, MYCincinnati, a local foster care agency. She also is involved in community arts initiatives in Cincinnati.

  • Email: Jamie Kreindler

Clancy standing with her host parents in Albania

Clancy Taylor

Clancy standing with her host parents in Albania

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Geography: Urban Planning Concentration

  • Peace Corps Country of Service: Albania 2017-19

  • Peace Corps Service: Clancy was placed in a small town of approximately 7,000 in a historically impoverished area with an agricultural economy. Clancy worked with her municipality as a community development and urban planning volunteer, where her main projects were conducting regional training in GIS, assisting Women and Youth Economic Empowerment programs funded through the EU and USAID, and introducing the municipality to participatory planning practices.

  • What set UC apart from other schools you applied to? Co-op Education Component, small class and cohort size, and affordable yet dynamic city with current and relevant urban challenges

  • Professional Goals: Clancy’s time in Albania influenced her professional goal to pursue work in the sectors of urban planning and community development. At UC she is pursuing housing and community development.

  • Email: Clancy Taylor

Will beating cassava to make a local soup with mortar and pestle

William Rogers III

Will beating cassava with mortar and pestle to make a local soup

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Urban Studies

  • Peace Corps Country of Service: Liberia 2017-18

  • Peace Corps Service: Will was an education volunteer in a village of 500 in the deep jungle of Liberia’s South East region. He enjoyed living off the grid, teaching students math, and learning and practicing the culture.

  • What set UC apart from other schools you applied to? The program aligned with Will’s passion for paticipatory planning and transportation planning. He enjoys learning from so many professors with substantial experience working in developing countries.

  • Professional Goals: Will wants to gain experience and skills at UC and to soon work in the world’s poorest communities to help develop non-motorized transportation systems and to incorporate equity in the planning processes.

  • Email: William Rogers III

Graduate Certificates

The university has many graduate certificates. DAAP has these graduate certificates to choose from as well.


While all normal admissions requirements for the MCP degree at the University of Cincinnati must be satisfied for acceptance into the MCP/Coverdell Fellows Program, all applicants must be American citizens and have completed service in the Peace Corps. Additional materials for the Fellows application include a signed Description of Service and a separate statement of purpose for participation in the Fellows Program. 

Coverdell application requirements are the same for MCP except that students must also apply and be accepted into the College of Law.

Coverdell application requirements are the same as for MCP.

Application Procedures

Interested individuals should contact Dr. Looye, the School of Planning’s Peace Corps Coordinator, to discuss admission to the university and present evidence of the dates and location of their completed Peace Corps assignment. In order to be considered for the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, the following must be submitted to the School of Planning Peace Corps Coordinator:

  • A copy of the applicant’s Description of Service (DOS)
  • Motivation statement explaining interest in the Coverdell Fellows Program. The essay should indicate how their Peace Corps service directly related to pursuing a career in community planning and their interest in studying in the School of Planning at the University of Cincinnati
  • A digital résumé appropriate for placement in a community agency
  • Three letters of recommendation (preferred). However, for Fall 2022 admission, 2 recommendations will be required.

It is recommended that application materials be submitted no later than February 1st.

Cincinnati: Planning for Growth

Cincinnati is a city with a wide variety of urban neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and challenges. Cincinnati offers planning students urgent issues to help observe, solve, and anticipate. With the guidance of planning professors, students will experience the city through a planner’s perspective, finding topics full of research potential: equity, housing, relationships between development corporations and neighborhoods, gentrification, transportation, land use, urban design, informal urbanism, and more.

As Cincinnati continues to grow and attract more and more people each year, community planners strive to make Cincinnati a place people are proud to call home, where voices are heard and where ideas are shared.


A. If the GA is offered and accepted, the student works 10 hours per week at both. If the student is not offered a GA they work 20 hours in the internship.

A. There is an average of 18 students enrolled in each course as of 2019.

A. Yes. You can view them on the School of Planning scholarship page.

A. The School identifies recommended computers for planning students: computer requirements. You may also be interested in specific details on GIS laptop system requirements.

A. If you enroll in school soon after service, your one-year noncompetitive eligibility status for federal jobs applications may, at the hiring agency’s discretion, be extended up to three years from your close of service date.

A. A provisional Description of Service is acceptable if still serving, but the signed version is required by the time of enrollment.

A. Dr. Looye is the advisor for all Coverdell Fellows.

A. The School of Planning has a limited number of graduate assistantships, which go to the best applicants. Financial aid will be awarded on a competitive basis. The majority of Coverdell Fellows students receive financial aid.

A. Yes, please send a digital copy of your résumé directly to Dr. Looye.

A. The main difference between the Fellows program and the regular MCP program is that almost all students in the Fellows program receive some financial and the special Peace Corps Practicum.

A. There is only one application for both the MCP program and the Coverdell Fellows program. Indicate Coverdell Fellows on the application form and send Dr. Looye your Description of Service (DOS), digital résumé and cover letter.

A. The deadline for the Coverdell Fellows application is the same as that for the School of Planning application. Generally, we begin to distribute financial aid on March 1st, so we recommend that you submit your materials by February 1st.

A. Your eligibility for the Coverdell Fellows program depends on “satisfactory completion” of the Peace Corps. No matter the situation with the Coverdell Fellows Program, you are welcome to apply to the Master of Community Planning program.

A. In special circumstances, we do accept students for the spring term, however, there is no financial aid available at that time.