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USF teams with Peace Corps for degree program

Last week, USF revealed that it has joined forces with the Peace Corps Master’s International Program. The university has designated three graduate degree programs to offer international experience and partake in the collaboration.

The partnership enables students to earn a master’s in special education, business administration or public health, and provides them with two years of international experience.

“We were invited by the Peace Corps as a university to apply and be a partner in this program and they accepted our proposal,” said Steven Baumgarten, director of MBA programs for the College of Business Administration.

The relationship will become official Nov. 3 in the Phyllis P. Marshall Center Ballroom. Representatives from the Southeast Peace Corps region and from the various academic departments included in the program will be present for the agreement signing and luncheon. The International Affairs department will host an information session following the event in MC Room 296.

Ginger Phillips, assistant to the dean of the College of Public Health, offered some preliminary information for students pursuing an MPH. The college offers waived tuition for nine credits of field experience and a special project, which will be completed during Peace Corps service.

“We live in a global society and there is an increasing student interest in the issues that global health addresses and our partnership with the Peace Corps gives students a wonderful option for their field experience,” Phillips said.

Students who take part in the program will also be responsible for some type of conclusive project inspired by the Peace Corps experience, approved by the Peace Corps overseas staff and under the direction of corresponding faculty. Students pursuing an MPH will complete all coursework before fulfilling the Peace Corps commitment, and will receive a degree upon evaluation of the submitted project.

However, students pursuing an MBA will complete about three semesters of coursework before fulfilling the Peace Corps commitment, and will then return to finish the curriculum and present the project to other students.

“It will benefit us because these students are required to come back and share the knowledge they’ve acquired,” Baumgarten said. “They will hold presentations about what they learned, and I think that’s going to give an even broader array of international knowledge.”

USF Tampa campus’ Peace Corps recruiter Christian Reed was thirsty for more knowledge upon his return from serving in the Peace Corps, Phillips said.

Phillips explained that Reed, who was unavailable for comment, came back from volunteering with the Peace Corps and sought out a master’s in public health with a concentration on epidemiology and biostatistics as a result of his experience abroad.

“That really says something,” Phillips said.

Phillips added that students are already showing interest in the new programs. The COBA already has one applicant who has been accepted into the program on the university side, although the Peace Corps must also accept him, along with any other student wishing to participate, in a separate application process.

“Personally, I think it’s a great opportunity for at least some of our students to do public service along with the curriculum,” Baumgarten said. “The Peace Corps experience and the knowledge learned here will make them very valuable potential employees.”

For more information on the Peace Corps Master’s International Program, please contact Christian Reed at or (813) 974-4579.