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The Peace Corps Master’s International Program
at Western Kentucky University
Founded in 1987 at Rutgers University, the Master’s International program allows students to combine Peace Corps service with their graduate studies. Selected students typically spend one year on campus, subsequently complete 27 months of Peace Corps training and service while undertaking an academic project, and then return to campus to fulfill any remaining degree requirements. The Master’s International program is currently offered at more than 80 universities across the country.
Master’s International at Western Kentucky University (WKU)
The Western Kentucky University (WKU) Master’s International partnership was founded in September 2010. The Master’s International program at WKU combines interdisciplinary academic coursework tailored to meet the needs of each student with practical experience acquired during Peace Corps training and service. Successful Master’s International students will earn a Master of Science in Biology along with a Graduate Certificate in Leadership Studies. Completion of both programs requires 32 semester hours; 12 hours may be applied to each program. The typical timeline for program completion is one year of coursework comprising 18-21 semester hours and development of a research project that will evolve once the Peace Corps Volunteer’s assignment and placement in country have been determined. After one year on campus, students begin their 27-month Peace Corps training and service. Following completion of service, students return to WKU to complete their academic program requirements.Upon completion of the WKU-PCMI program, graduates will possess a robust and attractive blend of characteristics including a Master’s degree and 27 months of real-world experience in an international setting/developing country. Moreover, students will make a substantial impact in their own personal and professional lives, as well as the lives of others.
Note: During Peace Corps service, a volunteer’s primary responsibility is to their assignment! Academic projects may only be performed with the approval of the Peace Corps Country Director.
Master of Science in Biology
The WKU Biology department offers the Master of Science in Biology degree. Training in Biology provides many opportunities in teaching, research, and public service and provides excellent preparation for many other areas of basic and applied sciences. WKU Biology faculty have interests in a variety of areas that we classify broadly as Biotechnology (and the associated area of Bioinformatics) and Biodiversity. Faculty are members of one or more of the WKU Research Centers but most relevant to faculty are the Biotechnology, Bioinformatics and Biodiversity Centers. For a list of current faculty interests, please go to our faculty profiles pages. Our faculty are supported by research grants from federal (e.g., NSF, NIH, USDA, USFW) and state sources as well as from non-governmental organizations. Graduate students pursuing the MS thesis option often write grant applications for funds to supplement their research needs. Such funds come from internal sources such as the WKU Graduate School as well as numerous appropriate outside agencies, foundations, institutions and societies. Students in our non-thesis program also conduct a project as part of their degree requirements (BIOL 516). Our in-residence graduate students come from all over the globe, forming a dynamic group of future professionals in the biological sciences. For a list of current and some of our past graduate students, go to the Student Information, Research and Teaching page.
Leadership Studies Graduate Certificate
The goal of the Leadership Studies Graduate Certificate program provides an opportunity for students to study leadership theories, ethical and social responsibility issues, human relations and interpersonal communication, and critical thinking and decision-making. Students will acquire skills necessary for leadership roles in school systems, government agencies, and non-governmental/ non-profit organizations. Graduates of this program are identified as possessing special understanding of, and experience at leadership development. Students will be able to carry these characteristics into various phases of their lives, including occupational, civic, social, political, and educational areas. Effective leadership is a necessary function in virtually every type of organization.
In addition to WKU Graduate School admission requirements, prospective students must apply separately to the Department of Biology Master of Science program (reference #056) and to the Leadership Studies Graduate Certificate program (reference #163); Leadership Studies does not have program specific requirements; admission to the Graduate School is sufficient.
Biology Master of Science Requirements:
• Bachelors degree in biology or equivalent including supporting courses in science and mathematics
• Undergraduate GPA 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)
• GRE general score (quantitative + verbal) 300 if taken on or after August 1, 2011 or 1050 if taken prior to August 1, 2011, and analytical writing score of 3.5. If the GRE has not been taken previously, exam scores from the MCAT (24) or DAT (16) may be substituted.
• A biology graduate faculty member must be willing to serve as advisor before a student is admitted to the program.
• Three letters of reference
• As part of the graduate application, prospective students must include a statement of purpose, in which the applicant must specify the program to which they are applying, indicate their academic and career interests, and summarize relevant experiences.
Exceptions to possessing a Biology degree may be made for students with undergraduate degrees in biology-related areas. Examples include, but are not limited to the following: agriculture, bioinformatics, biotechnology, botany, ecology, evolution, horticulture, microbiology, natural resource management, and zoology. However, additional courses may be required and will be determined by the student’s graduate advisory committee (or graduate advisor for online program students).
Please note that acceptance into the PCMI-WKU program is conditional based upon being nominated by Peace Corps for volunteer service. WKU will attempt to accommodate within its regular graduate degree programs, MI candidates deemed ineligible for Peace Corps service or volunteer participants who do not complete their service.
*Note that 12 credit hours can be applied to both academic programs*
Master of Science in Biology Degree Requirements—30 hours minimum
The M.S. in Biology program offers thesis and non-thesis plans. Thesis options (Plan A) comprise Biology, Biochemistry, and Environmental Science. Non-thesis options (Plan B) comprise online, traditional in-residence, and Peace Corps Master’s International (32 hours required for both the M.S. in Biology and Graduate Certificate in Leadership Studies).
Biology Core Requirements – 8-11 hours
BIOL 500 Introduction to Graduate Study and Research (3 hrs, first term)
BIOL 598 Graduate Seminar in the final term of coursework (2 hrs)
BIOL 599 Thesis Research for thesis students (6 hrs, Plan A)
BIOL 516 Investigations in Biology for non-thesis students (3 hrs, Plan B)
Electives – 19-22 hours; specific courses are determined by the student’s graduate advisory committee.
Potential Biology Courses:
BIOL 405G Aquatic Insect Taxonomy
BIOL 415G Ecological Methods
BIOL 458G Fisheries Management
BIOL 459G Mammalogy
BIOL 475G Individual Topics in Biology
BIOL 483G Multivariate Analysis
BIOL 485G Field Biology
BIOL 490G Plants as Alt. Therapeutics
BIOL 497G Aquatic Field Ecology
BIOL 505 Aquatic Insect Ecology
BIOL 506 Environmental Seminar
BIOL 515 Advanced Ecology
BIOL 518 Population Ecology
BIOL 519 International Wlidllife Management and Policy
BIOL 522 Systematics and Evolution
BIOL 524 Ecological Genetics
BIOL 526 Physiological Ecology
BIOL 530 Animal Behavior
BIOL 543 Environmental Science Concepts
BIOL 569 Professional Work in Biology
BIOL 577 Advanced Marine Biology
BIOL 675 Adv Independent Topics Biology
Other Potential Courses:
GEOG 485G Population and Resources
GEOS 505 Biogeography
GEOS 506 Environmental Seminar
GEOS 543 Environmental Science Concept
GEOS 544 Practical Environmental Ethics
Graduate Certificate in Leadership Studies Requirements—14 hours
Leadership Studies Core Requirements – 5 hours
LEAD 500 Effective Leadership Studies (3 hrs, first term)
LEAD 600 Capstone Leadership Experience (2 hrs, normally completed after the last leadership studies elective)
Electives – 9 hours (3 hrs each category)
Students will complete one course in each of the following categories:
Ethics and Social Responsibility
ECON 434G The Economics of Poverty & Discrimination
GEOG 580 Problems in Urban Geography
PH 447G Human Values and the Health Sciences
PH 583 Public Health Administration
PHIL 525 Ethics and Leadership
PS 538 Ethics & Bureaucracy
PSY 541 Professional Issues and Ethics in Psychology
PSY 670 Equal Employment Opportunity, the Law, & Ethical Considerations
GWS 545 Theories of Gender, Race & Class
BA 500 Management Dynamics
BA 510 Organizational Theory
BA 560 Contemporary Human Resource Management
CNS 555 Social and Cultural Diversity
COMM 561 Multinational Business Communication
COMM 564 Crisis Communication
COMM 565 Communication & Conflict
COMM 578 Seminar in Interpersonal Communication
COMM 586 Processes of Group Communication
ECON 595 Labor and Human Resource Economics
EDAD 590 Administration of School Personnel
HCA 542 Health Care Human Resources Administration
HIST 505 Cultural Diversity in American History
PS 541 Public Personnel Administration
PSY 571 Personnel Psychology
PSY 572 Organizational Psychology
SOCL 542 Health Services Human Resources Management
GWS 555 Feminist Methodologies & Global Perspectives
Critical Thinking and Empirical Assessment
BIOL 500 Introduction to Graduate Study and Research (required)*
Master’s International students at Western Kentucky University may earn up to 6 credit hours based on their Peace Corps service. Tuition costs incurred during Peace Corps service will not be charged to the student. Program participants will be responsible for their own tuition, fees and residency costs while on-campus at WKU. Tuition scholarships may be available for participants in their final academic semester after completion of Peace Corps service.
To learn more about Western Kentucky University Master’s International partnership, please contact:
Dr. Larry Alice (RPCV Niger 1990-1992)Master’s International University Coordinator
Department of Biology
1906 College Heights Blvd.
Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Phone (270) 745-7029
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