1. What is the Coverdell Fellows Program?

The Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows program allows Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) to attend the University of Arizona with reduced expenses while providing service that benefits an underserved domestic community.

2. Must I have completed my Peace Corps service to be eligible?

All Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who satisfactorily complete their service have lifetime eligibility to apply to Coverdell Fellows programs. "Satisfactory completion" means the Peace Corps Volunteer:
  • completed the full two-year tour of Peace Corps service, or the full tour minus up to 90 days if he/she/they returned home on an emergency leave;
  • was granted "Early Close of Service" or "Interrupted Service" status due to circumstances that were beyond his/her/their control; or
  • was medically separated as a Volunteer
In addition, returned Peace Corps Response (PCR) Volunteers and Global Heath Service Partnership (GHSP) Volunteers who serve a full 12 months are eligible.
  • This can come through one 12-month tour or a combination of shorter tours.
Applicants must document their eligibility by submitting a signed DOS.
Who is not eligible?
  • RPCVs who “early terminate” (ET) from Peace Corps for any reason not listed above, including administrative separation and voluntary resignation
  • Peace Corps Response and GHSP Volunteers who have not served 12 months with Peace Corps, regardless of the reason why (presuming that they did not already complete a satisfactory 2-year tour through Peace Corps’ primary program)
  • Individuals who are not Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (even if they completed similar service abroad)

3. Can I apply to Fellows or to the University of Arizona before I go abroad?

No. The Coverdell Fellows is only for volunteers who will have completed service by the time they enter school. We recommend that you apply 9-12 months prior to the date you wish to begin your studies.

4. Are most Fellows recently returned from service?

Most Fellows have returned from service within the last 3-5 years, however, RPCVs are eligible to apply to the program regardless of the date of their Peace Corps service. We encourage RPCVs to apply if they are interested in returning to academia and providing service in southern Arizona.

5. Do I receive academic credit for my Peace Corps service?

No participating departments give credit for Peace Corps service.

6. How can I find out what programs are available at the University of Arizona?

Visit Graduate College Graduate Programs and visit the departmental web site. Graduate Coordinators involved in admissions can also assist you.

7. Is support available for doctoral programs, medical or law school, or programs not listed?

If you are interested in programs that are not listed, you may contact us. We fund a small number of doctoral students. It is expected that the dissertation research of a Peace Corps Fellow will meet the spirit of the Fellows program. We do not fund medical, pharmacy, or law programs. We do not fund students in online programs or certificate programs.

8. Are GRE or GMAT scores required for admission to the Fellows program?

Departments generally require a standardized test for graduate admissions. Check Graduate Program descriptions and academic department for details on required tests. It may be to your advantage to take the GRE prior to departing for service because it is more difficult and costly to take the test abroad. GRE scores are valid for five years.

9. What is the average GRE/GMAT score required for admission?

Faculty of the academic unit evaluate applications, reviewing all materials provided. The minimum standard for admission  or statistics on entering classes is usually noted in the description of Academic Programs. The graduate coordinator for the department can provide details on the average profile of students in a particular program.

10. How is the GPA evaluated?

The Graduate College evaluates the GPA generally by the last 60 credits or last two years of undergraduate study. Students with a GPA below a 3.0 may take courses as a non degree-seeking student.

11. When should I apply?

The Coverdell Fellows priority deadline is January 15 for a fall start. Applications received by March 1 are reviewed in a second group. Applications received after March 1 are held for the following year. Applicants should also file the FAFSA by March of each year of study.

You must submit both an academic application and a Coverdell Fellows application. Submit the academic application in advance of the department deadline.

12. Can the UA application fee be waived?

The application fee is not waived for Coverdell Fellows applicants.

13. How can I obtain a Certificate of Reduction for ETS to have the GRE fee reduced?

Please visit the ETS website and the UA Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid for details. Contact Student Financial Aid at the appropriate university to request an evaluation and certificate.

14. What is my obligation as a Fellow at the University of Arizona?

Fellows commit to service and other requirements per year for two years (approximately a total of 800 hours over two years). Fellows hold a quarter-time outreach assistantship that benefits a domestic underserved community. This can generally be fulfilled by working an average of 10 hours per week during the fall and spring semesters. Some Fellows have also found funding through Work Study, certain graduate assistantships, AmeriCorps, or other employment.

Coverdell Fellows are expected to participate in orientation, a professional presentation of projects and research, end of year graduation and awards ceremony,  professional development events,  collective service learning activities, Peace Corps Week events, and Third Goal outreach talks. Fellows submit hours monthly, and evaluation reports at the end of each semester. Renewal of the fellowship is contingent on progression to degree, fulfillment of service obligations, and active participation as a Fellow. Fellows may go on "reserve" to complete a departmental internship or to take advantage of fellowships or opportunities which require a full-time commitment. Fellows conducting research or study abroad are placed on reserve.

15. How large is the University of Arizona Coverdell Fellows program?

In the last two years, the University of Arizona has had an average of 15-30 Fellows. The University of Arizona had the 2nd largest Fellows program from 2006 to 2010 and from 2012-2014 with 54-64 Fellows. In 2010-2011 the UA program was designated the largest program nationally. UA Peace Corps Fellows started with 5 Fellows in 2000. We admit an average of 20-25 Fellows each year from up to ~100 applications. The largest number of applicants have been in Public Health and Public Administration in recent years.

Our cadre of service-minded students also includes AmeriCorps members, Friends of Fellows, RPCVs, and other friends who are welcome to join us in service. A Peace Corps Prep program was initiated at the UA over the 2017-2018 year, and Fellows may invite and encourage participants in that program to join us in service-related activities.

16. Is it possible for my outreach assistantship to focus on the U.S./Mexico border area?

U.S. Peace Corps requires that service be focused in the United States or its territories. Occasionally, some assignments have a bi-national border component, and some Fellows have had assignments in Nogales or other southern Arizona communities. Opportunities do exist to provide service to refugee or international communities in Tucson.

17. Do I need a car for my outreach assistantship assignment?

Many assistantship sites are available near campus and some Fellows rely exclusively on cycling and public transportation. Fellows providing service on reservations, in border communities, and or on projects across Arizona will require access to a car if the agency does not have transportation to the site. Tucson is a bike-friendly city. Student bus and streetcar passes are available. Free UA shuttles are available in several corridors, and UA SafeRide provides weeknight transportation in the campus area. Zipcar, Uber and Lyft operate in Tucson, as do a number of taxi services.

18. How difficult is it to attend school and fulfill outreach requirements at the same time?

Fellows often state that the outreach assistantship is an extremely valuable part of the academic experience. It is a means to apply and extend what is learned in the classroom; additionally, it has opened doors to job opportunities.

Our Fellows are busy and must manage their time well, but they will tell you that it is definitely do-able. Many Fellows are student leaders, support family, or have additional jobs. The first semester is a transition with less flexibility in many departments. We want you to be successful in your academic endeavors and we encourage you to participate in orientation programs to help organize your year efficiently.

Students are encouraged to take advantage of resources, such as: Counseling and Psych Services (CAPS), Think Tank (tutoring), Writing Skills Improvement Center, Career Services, Disability Resource Center (DRC), and centers and programs for under-represented students.

Incoming Fellows are assigned a mentor to help with the transition. Fellows meet periodically, alternating social and professional development experiences. Many Fellows actively participate in sports such as soccer ( "PC United"), softball, rock climbing, cycling, running, hiking, camping, etc. This provides another way to connect with Fellows across the different departments. The large and welcoming Peace Corps community here is a major benefit of the program.

19. Where have the University of Arizona Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows served in Peace Corps and Peace Corps Response?

The University of Arizona Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows have served in 81 countries for Peace Corps and Peace Corps Response:

Albania, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belize, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote d’Ivoire, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Eastern Caribbean, Ecuador, El Salvador, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Ethiopia, Gabon, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada WI, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, New Orleans, LA., Nicaragua, Niger, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sri Lanka, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tanzania, Tchad, Thailand, The Gambia, Togo, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, and Zambia.

Let us know if you'd like to email a Fellow who served in a particular country.

20. How many RPCVs live in Tucson?

Approximately 700-800 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers live in the Tucson area, and 2,000+ live in Arizona. The Desert Doves/RPCVs of Southern Arizona meet bi-monthly, donate to Peace Corps projects worldwide, and welcome all Peace Corps Fellows. UA is often a top 25 recruiter school for Peace Corps; UA was ranked 12th overall for all years of recruitment through 2012.

21. Can I reuse a previously written essay or blog post for the Coverdell Fellows application essays?

The purpose of the Coverdell Fellows application process is to gauge not only your fit within the University of Arizona Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows Program but the greater Tucson community as well. The essay questions for the application are specifically tailored to identify your academic goals, lessons learned, and leadership/teamwork experiences as they relate to the Coverdell Fellows Program. While we do not suggest you copy previously submitted works verbatim it is entirely possible however, to modify portions of these works when developing your unique responses to any of the three required application essay questions.

If you would like to share your blog, LinkedIn profile, or other professional sites there is space on the application to provide the appropriate links.

22. When will applicants be notified if they are awarded the Coverdell Fellowship?

After submitting a Coverdell Fellows application, the Office of Fellowships and Community Engagement will confirm receipt via email. The confirmation email will include more details about when applicants can expect to hear back about their status. Generally, our office starts sending offers in mid-March to first round applicants. 

Do you have other questions?

Email us at bcaldare@arizona.edu and we’ll be glad to respond.