UW-Eau Claire becomes first in Wisconsin to offer Peace Corps Prep program

Certificate now offered at Eau Claire through partnership with The Peace Corps gives Peace Corps applicants an edge on getting accepted

More stories from Faith Hultman


Photo by Faith Hultman

Information for interested students was available at the Peace Corps Prep open house on March 16. Interested students should contact the Eau Claire Liberal Studies program.

The Peace Corps is a federal agency through which volunteers are sent around the world to serve in a variety of capacities. In 2015, UW-Eau Claire became the first university to offer a Peace Corps Prep program for students.

The average acceptance rate of Peace Corps applicants is about 20 percent, but among those who applied after having earned the Peace Corps Prep certificate, it is 100 percent, Janice McInerney, a Peace Corps representative, said.

“What I always like to emphasize is that you are a volunteer,” McInerney said. “You’re making a difference, you’re helping people with very basic needs around the world, but you are fully supported.”

Housing, travel, medical care and a living stipend are covered, McInerney said. It’s important for students to know it’s accessible to everyone, she said.

This certificate can be earned along with a normal degree, McInerney said, and it requires students to receive training and experience in a specific work sector, such as education, health, agriculture, youth in development, or community economic development.

“It really demonstrates a commitment to global awareness,” McInerney said. “There are core competencies that are a part of it. People who ultimately do Peace Corps need relevant work or volunteer experience.”

Earning the certificate does not add time to a lot of degrees, said David Jones, the director of the liberal studies program at Eau Claire. It typically takes about 12-17 credits to earn a certificate like this, and depending on the major of the student, it can sometimes be built into a preexisting concentration.

“A lot of students will already have those competencies fulfilled,” McInerney said. “You do want to demonstrate some foreign language skills and intercultural competence. There are specifically identified courses on campus that students can choose from.”

The Peace Corps Prep program sets Eau Claire apart from other schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota, Jones said. Completing this program gives applicants a distinct advantage when seeking global volunteer placement through the Peace Corps.

“We’re very happy to be providing this opportunity to students,” Jones said. “It strengthens your application significantly to have guidance in your application from the Peace Corps. We’re excited to have the program and are looking forward to working with interested students.”

Sophomore student Anastasia Rauland said she’s interested in applying for the Peace Corps.

“It sounds like a really good opportunity,” Rauland said. “You get to travel around the world and help people.”

Students who are interested in the Peace Corps Prep program should contact the liberal studies department, Jones said.

For those interested, there’s an informative meeting at 5:00 p.m. on March 31 in the Ho-Chunk room of the Davies Center, Jones said.