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The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program provides an opportunity for Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) to build upon the communication, facilitation, organization, and planning skills gained while serving overseas. Coverdell Fellows work toward a Master of Science in Community Development and Applied Economics or a Master of Public Administration.

Service Requirements

As part of the program, Paul D. Coverdell Fellows undertake a minimum of 150 hours of community service in underserved communities here in the US. As part of this service experience, Fellows gain experience with and ties to a local organization, leveraging an opportunity to apply their Peace Corps skills to a broad range of development issues. The CDAE department is part of a well-developed network of local organizations, and possible service-learning opportunities run the gamut of student interest.

Past CDAE activities have included collaborations with organizations such as the following:

The UVM Office of Community-University Partnerships & Service Learning (CUPS) whose mission is to connect the university and community as partners in addressing real-world challenges through engaged scholarship and transformative learning experiences. CUPS offers matchmaking services for community partners with UVM faculty and students.

The UVM Community Outreach Partnership Center (COPC) whose mission is to build the capacity and effectiveness of citizen organizations while developing strategies to ensure that university decisions have a positive economic impact on the city, and to open up Burlington's suburbs to housing for low-income residents. Specific projects have included a study of local economic impact of UVM spending, community leadership training and development, fair housing programs, and community network development.

The Center for Rural Studies (CRS), a nonprofit research organization that addresses social, economic, and resource-based problems facing rural people and communities in Vermont, the United States, and abroad. Housed within the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, CRS provides consulting, research, and program evaluation services in all aspects of community and economic development. CRS also serves as the U.S. Census Bureau's Vermont State Data Center.

The University of Vermont's Extension Services which provides education and training to citizens of Vermont in sectors ranging from organic gardening to household finance and computer technology. Its purpose is to "improve the quality of life of Vermonters by bringing the benefits of research and technology to them, and to provide educational programs and practical information concerning Vermont communities, families, homes and farms." This mandate is undertaken though research and outreach; working to improve agriculture, natural resources and the environment, health and food safety and economic and community development.

Financial Information

Coverdell Fellows are eligible to receive nine tuition-free credits toward their degree through the Peace Corps Analysis course, in which they prepare a paper reflecting on their Peace Corps service and the UVM studies. Application fees will be waived. Contact Julie Starr at jstarr2@uvm.edu to request a fee waiver code. Coverdell applicants will also be considered for additional financial aid, including partial tuition scholarships, on an individual basis. In addition, out-of-state applicants to our professional Master of Public Administration program automatically receive a 33% tuition reduction. Reflecting the Peace Corps’ “Bring the Lessons Home” focus, Coverdell Fellows will commit to undertake 150 hours of community service over the course of their studies with local organizations of their choice.

CDAE also houses UVM's on-campus Strategic Peace Corps Recruiter. This assistantship is available to applicants every other year and provides full two-year funding for a RPCV to pursue their MPA or CDAE MS degree.

Vermont and UVM

Organization, communication and mobilization are critical steps in the sustainable development of any society. As local communities across the country work toward becoming economically and socially viable, they are often faced with problems such as stagnant growth or, on the other hand, uncontrolled development.

Vermont shares these challenges. VT faces serious problems of underdevelopment and economic dislocation. Contributing factors include a shrinking but important agricultural sector, population shifts and a reduction in the long-established manufacturing base. Vermont's tradition of community-based activism has long striven to balance the often competing demands of economic development and community resilience.

Building on Vermont's unique culture of grassroots and civic participation, the University of Vermont has a long record of accomplishment in supporting participatory-based community development. A UVM education facilitates 'real-world' experiences through internship opportunities as well as service-learning and problem-based community workshops. Through their coursework, Peace Corps Fellows at UVM have the opportunity to earn either a Master of Science in Community Development and Applied Economics or a Master in Public Administration.

In addition to academic and extension programs, UVM provides students with career building resources through the Office of International Education, Non-Profit Service Division of the Career Services Office, the African Latino/a Asian Native American (ALANA) Student Center, the Office of Community-University Partnership and Service-Learning, and a wealth of campus clubs and organizations. Coverdell Fellows also have access to an extensive support network from the Peace Corps Recruiting office on campus and the Green Mountain Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Association based in Burlington, the home of UVM. This support network will facilitate the transition of newly RPCVs into the Burlington community and assist Coverdell Fellows in achieving the third goal of the Peace Corps: promotion of a better understanding of other peoples on the part of all Americans.

Campus steps of Waterman building

How to Apply

Follow the directions for applying to either the MS in Community Development and Applied Economics or the Master of Public Administration

To designate yourself as a candidate for the Peace Corps Fellows Program, please note your Peace Corps service on your resume and submit a Description of Peace Corps Service in the supplemental materials section of the master's program application. To be considered for a fellowship position (and any other available funding), the department recommends that you complete your application by January 15 for fall admission.

Don't hesitate to contact us early and often for assistance with the application and decision process.

Good luck, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Program Contacts

  • Travis Reynolds, PhD
    Associate Professor
    Email Travis Reynolds | +1 802-656-8115 | 205 Morrill Hall

  • Julie Starr
    CDAE Graduate Student Services Coordinator
    Julie.Starr@uvm.edu | +1 802-656-0009 | 205 Morrill Hall