Do You Need a Degree to Join the Peace Corps? Demystifying the Requirements

Robert Goetschkes
2 min readSep 1, 2023

The allure of the Peace Corps, an organization at the forefront of international volunteerism since 1961, has captured the imagination of many. From teaching English to implementing agricultural practices, volunteers’ roles in developing nations are vital and varied. However, a common hurdle many aspirants face is more certainty about the required qualifications. A frequently asked question is: “Do I need a college degree to be part of the Peace Corps?”

The Short Answer:

Technically, the Peace Corps only mandates a college degree for some positions. Yet, certain specialized roles require specific educational qualifications or equivalent experience.

For the High School Graduates

The Peace Corps acknowledges that a diploma does not solely determine potential. If you’re someone with a high school qualification:

Even without tertiary education, having relevant work experience can position you as a valuable candidate for specific roles. Adaptability, resilience, and communication are highly regarded, especially in diverse cultural settings. From proficiency in multiple languages to having been part of community projects, all experiences count.

Advantages of Holding a Degree

While it’s clear that a degree isn’t a strict prerequisite, there are undeniable benefits:

A related degree can be beneficial if you aim for roles in sectors like health, environmental conservation, or IT. Some countries have a higher demand for English educators or specialized trainers. Here, a degree can open doors. Those with a degree might have a more comprehensive range of opportunities within the Peace Corps.

Paths Less Traveled: Alternative Credentials

The Peace Corps has always been about more than just academic credentials. Real-world skills and diverse experiences play a crucial role:

Even if it’s not a full-blown degree, a certification in areas like first aid, project management, or TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) can make a difference. Ground experience working with NGOs or community groups can showcase your commitment and hands-on capabilities. Spending time in diverse cultural settings or long-term travel can be an asset, providing insights into adapting to different cultural contexts.

Gearing Up for the Journey

If you’re contemplating joining the Peace Corps:

Research the specific qualifications of the roles you’re keen on. This helps in presenting a tailored application. Connect with current or former Peace Corps volunteers. Their insights can be invaluable. The more adaptable you are regarding location and role preferences, the higher your chances of securing a position.

The question concerns not having a degree but the right skills, mindset, and experiences. While a college degree can be a boon, your passion, determination, and readiness to face challenges genuinely define your journey with the Peace Corps. Remember, at the heart of the Peace Corps mission is the spirit of service and cross-cultural exchange, and this spirit doesn’t necessarily come with a diploma in hand.

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Robert Goetschkes

Robert Goetschke is a man of many talents and accomplishments. He grew up in the suburban NYC community of Mahopac.