Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program
Master of Community Planning/Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program (MCP/Fellows)
A degree program offered in collaboration with the United States Peace Corps.
The School of Planning, College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning of the University of Cincinnati offers a special course of study within its MCP degree program. The purpose of the program is to work in collaboration with the US Peace Corps to enable students to utilize their Peace Corps experience as they prepare for a professional career in urban planning. Students will earn a master’s degree from an accredited graduate program at one of the largest schools of planning in the Midwest. Ultimately, this will position them to pursue a career in either domestic or international urban planning.
The Peace Corps is a volunteer organization of the United States government, founded by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Since then, more than 230,000 Americans have served as Peace Corps Volunteers, including two professors in the School of Planning and over 40 School of Planning graduates. Peace Corps sends volunteers abroad for two years of community-based service. For many, it has served as the introduction to a rewarding international development career. The mission of the Peace Corps is: to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
The courses comprising the MCP/Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program are graduate-level courses offered in the School of Planning and elsewhere in the university, as with the regular two-year MCP program. The MCP/Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program is comprised of four semesters of on-campus studies, with a focus on core competencies in urban planning and specialized courses in areas including economic development, environmental planning, international development, physical planning, and urban design. Each semester on campus, students will also be placed in paid internships with community organizations consistent with their experience and interests. In addition, students will enroll in the Peace Corps Practicum class each semester. This seminar and the courses throughout the program will allow students to reflect on their experience as Peace Corps Volunteers – particularly in their area of focus. Students also have the opportunity to complete a thesis based on their work they carried out while working overseas or locally.
Students may receive credit for prior graduate study; however, Peace Corps experience is not eligible for graduate credit. Paul D. Coverdell Fellows enroll in the Peace Corps Practicum each semester they are on campus (up to 1 of these credits counts toward the total number of credits required for the MCP degree).
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.
Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Curriculum Requirements
- PLAN 7067/7077: Peace Corps Practicum 1 & 2 (Four semesters, variable credit)
Community Service Internship
Each semester, students are expected to work in agencies that support underserved US communities. In general, they work 10-20 hours per week, which totals between 600 - 1,200 hours of work each year.
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.
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)
- An essay indicating 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
It is recommended that application materials be submitted no later than February 1st.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who would be my advisor if I joined the Coverdell Fellows program?
A. Dr. Looye is the advisor for all Coverdell Fellows.
Q. What are the chances of getting financial aid in the form of assistantships or scholarships?
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.
Q. Should I send my résumé as part of my application? Where should I send the digital copy?
A. Yes, please send a digital copy of your résumé directly to Dr. Looye.
Q. How does the Coverdell Fellows program differ from the regular MCP?
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 aid (tuition and/or graduate assistantship with stipend) in exchange for working as an intern with a community organization involved in working with underserved groups. In addition, each student in the program is required to take a special Peace Corps seminar class that meets weekly.
Q. What types of internships do Coverdell Fellows students get?
A. The organizations where Fellows are placed all work to address issues affecting underserved groups. In recent years, we had students working in the following agencies: Working in Neighborhoods, Communities United for Action, Groundwork Cincinnati, Green Umbrella, The Center for Great Neighborhoods, Over-the-Rhine Community Housing, Price Hill Will, Cornerstone Renter Equity, and more!
Q. What is the Peace Corps Practicum like?
A. The primary purpose of this course is to explore ways in which overseas Peace Corps service is related to domestic work with underserved communities. Through lectures, open discussions, reading and writing exercises, students explore issues of community development work as a professional planner, including reflection on how to use the knowledge and skills developed during overseas service to improve people’s lives.
Q. Is the application to the Coverdell Fellows program a separate process from the graduate program (i.e., separate essays, recommendations, application, etc.) or do all materials need to be sent to the graduate school with no distinct Coverdell Fellows application?
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) and digital résumé. Additionally, if your essays do not address why you want to pursue the Coverdell Fellows program please submit a short essay explaining your reasons to Dr. Looye.
Q. Is there a deadline for the Coverdell Fellows application?
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.
Q. I did not complete my full term as a volunteer and opted for an early termination (ET). Does this affect my eligibility for the Coverdell Fellows Program?
A. Your eligibility for the Coverdell Fellows program depends on “satisfactory completion” of the Peace Corps. You need to send our office a copy of your Description of Service. We then check with the Peace Corps as to your eligibility. No matter the situation with the Coverdell Fellows Program, you are welcome to apply to the Master of Community Planning program. Official eligibility standards are found here.
Q. Do you accept students for the Coverdell Fellows Program for the spring term or do you only accept students for the fall?
A. In special circumstances, we do accept students for the spring term. However, there is no financial aid available at that time.