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Peace Corps Masters International

Peace Corps Masters International: MPA with a Nonprofit Specialization

If you’re interested in combining Peace Corps service with a Master’s degree program you’ve come to the right place. Here’s some information about the program. You can also visit the PC-MI website at

How is the Peace Corps Experience and the MPA course of study integrated?

Students begin by taking an academic course of study that exposes them to Public Administration and Nonprofit Management principles and practices. Typically a student can expect to be on campus for a little over a year before a Peace Corps placement. MPA students are required to have 60 credit hours to graduate: 30 credit hours in the MPA core, 24 credit hours in nonprofit specialization and 6 credit hours of field experience (PA 509)

A student may link their academic studies and PCV experience in one of several ways. One, a student could use their PCV experience to satisfy the requirements of the PA 509 field experience (more on this later). Or a student in consultation with his/her faculty advisor could develop a PA 505 Reading and Conference course. For example, a PA 505 for 3 credits would include keeping a journal or log and submitting a final reflective paper as well as possibly some additional readings. These options would be up to the student to initiate so connecting with your advisor and/or PA 509 faculty is important.

If a student opts to use their PCV placement as their field experience they are required to have completed 42 credit hours.  A student attending full time will have completed 5 terms of study. It’s advisable for a student interested in this program to apply for spring or fall admissions.

A student can have completed as many 54 credit hours, or nearly the entire program, before undertaking the PA 509.

Academic requirements post PCV service.

Unless a student has completed more than 42 credit hours prior to their Peace Corps placement, he/she will need to return and enroll for an additional 9-12 hours (3-4 courses). Depending on the course of study prior to their PC service, and what a student does academically during their PC service, a student’s remaining course list will be variable. The student’s advisor will work with them to insure that they have completed substantive work before leaving on their Peace Crops assignment.

If a student does not use their PC service to complete the PA 509 field experience, they will need to do so on their return. If they have used their service for the requirements of the PA 509, they will need to submit a final presentation and paper(s) that complete the PA 509 experience and allows the Instructor of Record to issue a grade.  Overall, we expect a student will need to be on campus for 1-2 terms to complete the program and be awarded their degree unless they have progressed further in their coursework before embarking on their Peace Corps service.

What courses are available?

Students have 30 credit hours (10 courses) in the required MPA core.

An additional 24 courses are in the nonprofit specialization. Required nonprofit core courses include:

PA 520 Introduction to Nonprofit Management

PA 521 History and Foundations of the Nonprofit Sector

PA 522 Governance of Nonprofit Organizations

PA 524 Financial Management


Examples of skill building and nonprofit electives include:

PA 510 Global Leadership

PA 510 Effective Marketing

PA 523 NGOS: Nonprofits on the World Stage

PA525  Grantwriting

PA 528 Organizational Leadership and Decision Making

PA 543 Creating Collaborative Communities

PA 536 Strategic Planning

PA 549 Cross-cultural  Communication

PA 555 Program Evaluation

PA 526  Fundamentals of Fundraising

PA592  Volunteerism/ Volunteer Management

PA 598 Values Based Management


Finally students have a 6 credit field experience requirement (PA 509)


Sample course of study

Term 1

PA 511 Public Administration

PA 520 Introduction to Nonprofit Management

PA 533 Public Policy


Term 2

PA 513 Administrative Ethics and Values

PA 521 History and Foundations of the Nonprofit Sector

PA 551 Analytic Methods in Public Administration I 


Term 3

PA 534 Administrative Law and Policy Implementation (3)

PA 552 Analytic Methods in Public Administration II 

PA524 Financial Management in Nonprofit Organizations


Term 4

PA 522 Governance of Nonprofit Organizations

PA 510 Global Leadership

PA 540 Administrative Theory and Behavior


Term 5

PA 582 Public Budgeting  

PA523 NGOs: Nonprofits on the World Stage

PA 549 Cross-cultural communications


Peace Corps Service (27 months)

The University is currently developing a system to keep Peace Corps volunteers “active” in their student role.  While a student is completing their Peace Corps Service, they will be expected to complete any assignments related to a PA 505 “Reading and Conference” or PA 509 Organizational Experience.


Term 6

Registration for coursework completed while in PC service.

PA 590 Human Resource Management in the Public Sector

At least 2 additional nonprofit skills courses OR PA 509 Field Experience



Application process (Public Administration Division)

Applications to the Public Administration program are processed throughout the year as rolling admission with the following deadlines:


PSU Admissions

PA Department Admissions


April 1st

April 1st


September 1st

September 15th


November 1st

November 1st


 Prospective Students can apply following the Apply for Admission link on the Office of Graduate Admissions website.

Students are typically notified of admissions approximately 4 weeks after the application deadline. The review committee examines the student’s record, statement of intent, recommendations, transcript, resume and GRE scores. All elements of the student’s application are weighed in the decision to admit a student. Students are occasionally admitted on a provisional basis when they have an application with significant merit but one that one does not warrant an automatic admittance. Approximately 100 students per year are admitted to the overall Public Administration program (MPA, MPA:HA, MPH)


Financial Aid Opportunities:

Graduate Assistantships
Graduate assistant (GA) positions provide teaching or research services working with faculty. Levels of appointment are between .15 and .49 FTE, granted on a one-term, nine-month, or 12-month basis. The typical full time assistantship is .15 FTE, which is equivalent to 7.5 hours per week, or .30 FTE which is equal to 15 hours per week. These positions provide services such as teaching lab sections of courses, facilitating discussion sessions, grading papers, providing research assistance, etc. In all cases, the assistantship is regarded as a contribution to the graduate student's learning experience.  The number of assistantships varies from year to year, although 3-5 positions are typically available.

Students interested in applying for graduate assistantships must have regular admission status and maintain good standing in the graduate program. GA positions also require that students be registered for, and satisfactorily complete, a minimum of nine graduate credits each term with the exception of summer term.

Graduate assistants usually receive tuition remission and a stipend.


Ron Cease Founder’s Award
In 2001, retired professor Ron Cease and his wife Jane established the Ron Cease Founder’s Award endowment program. The endowment is supported by contributions made by the Ceases, as well as faculty, alumni, and friends of Portland State and the public administration program. The endowment currently provides funds to assist three to four students each year. Applications are available in the Division of Public Administration Office and are usually due in February.


Frank Roberts Community Service Scholarship
Awarded to a PSU graduate student who exemplifies a spirit of public service and commitment to community, applicants must be admitted to a PSU graduate program, in good academic standing, and enrolled for at least 6 credit hours per term. They must also have excellent undergraduate portfolios and demonstrate financial need.


The University has additional financial aid opportunities including access to loans and work study.