Skip to main content
Skip to main content

WKU Graduate School - Peace Corps Master's International

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.


Admission Requirements

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.

Program Requirements

*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 474G Environmental Planning

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


Human Relations

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.


Program Contacts

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

Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
download excel.

Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
download word.

Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
download powerpoint.

Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,
download quicktime.

 Last Modified 8/15/16