Photo Illustration by Michael Howells
Graduate students at Fresno State will soon be able to participate in a hands-on master’s program that will allow them to gain in-depth knowledge and international experience.
This past April, Fresno State was awarded partnership for the Master’s International program through the Peace Corps. The proposal to incorporate MI into Fresno State’s graduate program was submitted last year, and the final approval was made when Karen Carey, dean of division of graduate studies, met with Peace Corps headquarters recently. Fall 2011 will be the kick-off semester for the MI program at Fresno State.
“Provost Covino became interested in it and asked me to begin working on the proposal to send to the Peace Corps,” Carey said. “Now we have been awarded to run the program here at Fresno State.”
MI incorporates academic learning with the Peace Corps volunteer experience and currently has partnerships with more than 45 academic institutions, offering more than 60 degree programs. The degree programs range from public health to education and economics.
Carey said Fresno State is going to open MI to the agriculture and teaching English graduate programs, which are strong areas to recruit students.
MI consists of one year of master’s program at the partnership school, followed by 27 months of service in the assigned country. Students then return to their home institution to finish their master’s program. While serving their time in the assigned country, Carey hopes students can acquire nine elective units in which tuition for those units can be waived.
“This allows students to use experiences and knowledge from their service in their master’s project,” Carey said.
Carey also hopes to expand MI at Fresno State to other graduate programs such as business.
Bhoj Rai, regional recruiter from the Peace Corps, has already come to campus to speak to juniors and seniors studying agriculture. Fresno State hosted another session this past Thursday on campus and at the Fig Garden Regional Library.
Graduate Recruitment Coordinator Marco Diaz has been working closely with Rai to develop ways to encourage students to join the MI program. More recruitment will begin to take place on campus, including presentations, workshops on how to prepare for graduate school, and working with clubs and organizations.
“I had a student who wanted to be involved in service, and study for her master’s while traveling abroad,” Diaz said. “This is the perfect program for that.”
The Peace Corps began in 1960 when John F. Kennedy challenged students at the University of Michigan to serve their country by working and living in developing countries to promote peace and friendship. With their 50th anniversary coming up next year, the Peace Corps is looking to fill at least 1,000 new volunteer positions.
The length of service is 27 months and volunteers are placed where their skills match the needs of the host countries. They live in the community they serve, whether it is a small rural village or large urban city.
The application process to become a Peace Corps Volunteer is competitive and more people apply than there are positions available.
Diaz said that since the application process is lengthy, the earlier students contact the Division of Graduate Studies office, the more that staff is going to be able to help them.
For current graduate students wanting to participate in MI, Carey encourages them to apply to the Peace Corps by the end of this month.
“I think this is a great opportunity for students to receive their master’s and give service,” Carey said. “Working outside of the country for two years gives students an international edge.”