Peace Corps Prep Program








NMSU is proud to partner with the United States Peace Corps to offer the PC Prep Program. The Peace Corps Prep (PC Prep) program is a non-NMSU certificate awarded by the U.S. Peace Corps itself.  Getting this certificate requires completion of the International Studies minor at NMSU, plus some additional requirements. Obtaining this certificate enhances NMSU students’ opportunities to better prepare them to make a difference in the lives of people both internationally and at home.  Being in the southern border area of New Mexico, we are confronted everyday with issues of health, poverty, education and the environment as they relate to the United States, Mexico and other Latin American countries.   PC Prep provides a cross-discipline program, increasing cross-cultural awareness to undergraduates regardless of their future goals.

Peace Corps Prep Guide:

The Peace Corps Prep program will prepare you for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service. To accomplish this, you’ll build four core competencies through interrelated coursework, hands-on experience, and professional development support. These four competencies are the following:

1. Training and experience in a work sector
2. Foreign language skills
3. Intercultural competence
4. Professional and leadership development

Below explains each of these requirements in detail. Use this as a guide to map out your Peace Corps Prep course of study. In particular, refer to this when completing your PC Prep application, where you’ll need to document how you plan to fulfill each requirement. This guide aligns point-by-point with each section of the application! Work with a mentor for any questions!


1. Training and experience in a specific work sector

Leveraging concrete knowledge and skills is central to on-the-ground international development work. Through this PC Prep program, you will begin to build a professional specialty, which should serve your career well whether or not you become a Peace Corps Volunteer. For PC Prep, you need to complete at least 3 courses that align with a specific work sector (they can but do not need to come from your academic major or minor). You also must accumulate a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer or work experience in that same sector, preferably in a teaching or outreach capacity.


If you intend to apply to the Peace Corps, the best way to assure that you will be a strong candidate is to explore Peace Corps’ openings and identify the type of assignments in which you’d like to serve, then review the positions’ required and desired qualifications and build them up accordingly. In the process, you should fulfill these PC Prep experiential requirements!


There are six sectors in which Peace Corps Volunteers serve—Education, Health, Environment, Agriculture, Youth Development and Community Economic Development. Choose one sector to focus on then complete at least 3 courses + 50 hours of related experience in that sector. Note: Actual Peace Corps assignments are based on local needs, and thus may or may not align seamlessly with your qualifications. Flexibility is central to the Peace Corps experience!


EDUCATION: Teach lessons that last a lifetime. Education is the Peace Corp’s largest program area. Volunteers play an important role in creating links among schools, parents, and communities by working in elementary, secondary, and postsecondary schools as math, science, conversational English, and resource teachers or as early grade reading and literacy teacher trainers. Volunteers also develop libraries and technology resource centers. NMSU has opportunities to pursue degrees in education from the College of Education and the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Sciences in Agricultural and Extension Education and Family Consumer Science Education. Students may pursue a teaching license for primary, secondary or special education program in public school systems or work in non-formal settings or community based organizations such as NGO’s or the Cooperative Extension Service (CES).

If you choose Education, take 3 courses from one of the following areas:
– Elementary/Secondary/Special Education
– Math or computer Science
– Physical or Biological Sciences
– Agricultural Education (AXED) or Family Science Education (FCSE)

Recommended courses include but are not limited to areas of:
Instructional Delivery:
EDUC 300 Instructional Methodology
AXED 446 Methods for Teaching Agricultural and Technology Education
FCSE – 446/447 Teaching Methods for Family and Consumer Sciences

Curriculum and Design:
AXED 444 Planning Community Programs
EDUC 162/163 Project WET or Project Learning Tree
EDUC 200 Foundations in Education

Working with Special Audiences:
EDUC 315 Multicultural Education
AXED 430 Adult and Nonformal Education
SPED 350 Introduction to Special Education

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:
– Teaching in a public school (student teaching experience)
– Teaching in a non-formal setting with community organizations such as Cooperative Extension, after-school programs or local NGO’s
– Tutoring – may include any subject content (peer tutor) or ESL, STEM etc.


HEALTH: Serve on the front lines of global health. Health Volunteers work within their communities to promote important topics such as nutrition, maternal and child health, basic hygiene, and water sanitation. Volunteers also work in HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs to train youth as peer educators, develop appropriate education strategies, provide support to children orphaned by the pandemic, and create programs that provide emotional and financial support to families and communities affected by the disease. Students interested in health and related areas may take classes and pursue degrees in the Colleges of Health and Social Services, Agriculture, Consumer and Environment Sciences or the Colleges of Arts and Sciences. In addition NMSU is aligned with the Dona Ana Community College in which many technical classes may be taken in areas of mechanics, water resources, building technology, etc.

If you choose Health, take three courses from one of the following areas:
-Public Health    -Nutrition/Dietetics     – Nursing     – Biology     – Social Work

Recommended courses include but are not limited to:
HNDS 251 Human Nutrition
HNDS 403 Community Nutrition
PHLS 275 Foundations of Health Education
PHLS 395 Foundations of Public Health
PHLS 469 US/Mexico Border Health Issues
PHLS 464V Cross-Cultural Aspects of Health
AGE – 384V Water Resource Economics
WATR 120 Introduction to Water systems

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:
– Volunteer or work experience with various agencies organizations addressing a variety of issues (border health concerns, diabetes, hospice, etc.)
– Community health education (WIC, Cooperative Extension, hospitals, clinics)
– Volunteer or professional experience in building maintenance, construction or repair


ENVIRONMENT: Help forge a global movement to protect our planet. Volunteers lead grassroots efforts in their communities to protect the environment and strengthen understanding of environmental issues. They teach environmental awareness in elementary and secondary schools and to youth groups and community organizations, empowering communities to make their own decisions about how to protect and conserve the local environment. Volunteers also address environmental degradation by promoting sustainable use of natural resources. Students interested in environmental and related areas may take classes throughout campus in many different colleges and the Dona Ana Community College to get a varied and interdisciplinary perspective of the environmental issues and impacts.

If you choose Environment, take three courses from one of the following areas:
– Environmental Science     – Natural Resources Management/Conservation     – Fisheries/Wildlife    
– Biology     – Forestry      – Geology      – Conservation Ecology      – Management

Recommended courses include but are not limited to:
BIOL 111G/111L Natural History of Life
BIOL 301 Principles of Ecology
FWCE 110 Introduction to Natural Resource Management
GEOL 295 Environmental Geology
MGMT 375V Global Environmental Assessment and Management

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:
– Volunteer work at local parks and recreation areas including protected areas such as state and federal lands (Bosque, Dripping Springs, etc.)
– Educational programs for community and school based programs in natural and environment sciences
– Assist local agencies (Game & Fish, BLM, etc) with educational and research efforts, including data collection


AGRICULTURE: Lead grassroots efforts to fight hunger in a changing world. Agricultural Volunteers work with small-scale farmers and families to increase food security and production and adapt to climate change while promoting environmental conservation practices. They introduce farmers to techniques that prevent soil erosion, reduce the use of harmful pesticides, and replenish the soil. They work alongside farmers on integrated projects that often combine vegetable gardening, livestock management, agroforestry, and nutrition education. Students interested in agriculture and related areas may take classes throughout campus or obtain a bachelors’ degree in one of 6 departments in the College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Science (Agriculture Extension and Education; Agricultural Business and Economics; Animal and Range Science; Fisheries and Wildlife Science; Entomology, Plant Pathology and Weed Science; and Plant and Environmental Sciences.

If you choose Agriculture, take three courses from one of the following areas:
– Agronomy      – Horticulture      – Agricultural Business/Economics     – Fisheries/Wildlife      – Entomology  
– Animal Sciences      – Range Science/Management       – Biology       – Agriculture and Extension Education

Recommended courses include but are not limited to:
AGE 210 Survey of Food and Agricultural Issues
AGE 315V World Agriculture and Food Problems
FWCE 255 Principles of Fish and Wildlife Management
EPPWS 100 Introduction to Pest Management
HORT/AGRO 100 Introductory Plan Science

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:
– Volunteer or work experience with local, state and federal agencies related to agriculture such as USDA, NMDA, CES, Farm Bureau, US Forest Service, BLM, etc.
– Conduct educational programs for community and school based programs such as community gardens, Farm To Table
– Assist local agencies and NGO’s (Colonias Development Council, La Semilla Food Center, Border Farmworkers Assoc, etc.) that educate and support local agricultural issues such as food insecurity and migrant worker conditions.


YOUTH DEVELOPMENT: Empower the next generation of changemakers. Volunteers work with youth in communities on projects that promote engagement and active citizenship, including gender awareness, employability, health and HIV/AIDS education, environmental awareness, sporting programs, and info technology. Students interested youth development may take class or pursue degrees in multiple departments or colleges on the NMSU campus.



If you choose Youth Development, take three courses from one of the following areas:
– Family and Child Development       – Social Work      – Counseling     
– Psychology     – Agriculture and Extension Education      – Social work

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

– Volunteer or work experience with local, state and federal agencies related to youth development.
– Conduct educational programs for community and school based programs


COMMUNITY ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Harness 21st-century tools to help communities lift themselves. Volunteers work with development banks, nongovernmental organizations, and municipalities to strengthen infrastructure and encourage economic opportunities in communities. They frequently teach in classroom settings and work with entrepreneurs and business owners to develop and market their products. Some Volunteers also teach basic computer skills and help communities take advantage of technologies such as e-commerce, distance learning, and more. Students interested in community and economic development may take classes throughout campus including but not limited to the College of Business, College of Agriculture, Consumer and Environmental Science and the College of Arts and Sciences.

If you choose Community Economic Dev., take three courses from one of the following areas:
– Business/Finance      -Nonprofit Management        – International Business
– Communication Studies       – Agriculture Business/economics

Recommended courses include but are not limited to:
GOV 335 Management of Non Profits
ECON 324 V Developing Nations
COMM 376 Communication and Culture
BUSA 111 Business in a Global Society

And build 50 hours of related field experience through an activity such as:

– Assist local agencies and NGO’s to support cooperatives


Nearly two-thirds of Peace Corps Volunteers serve in Education or Health. Coursework and meaningful experience in one of these areas—especially

teaching English as a second/foreign language—produce some of the strongest candidates.



2. Foreign language skills – Requirements vary by language

Working across cultures often entails verbal and nonverbal languages distinct from your own. Building foreign language skills is thus a second key component of the PC Prep
curriculum. Where would you like to serve? PC Prep minimum course requirements align with those needed by applicants to the Peace Corps itself, which vary by linguistic region. Work with the Office of Education Abroad to find out how you can learn a language over the summer!

• Latin America: Individuals wanting to serve in Spanish-speaking countries must apply with strong intermediate proficiency. This typically means completing two 200-level courses.
• West Africa: Individuals wanting to serve in French-speaking African countries should be proficient in French (or, in some cases, any Romance Language), usually through one 200-level course.
• Everywhere else: The Peace Corps has no explicit language requirements for individuals applying to serve in most other countries. However, you will still likely learn and utilize another language during service, so it is only helpful to have taken at least one foreign language class.

Note: If you are a strong native speaker and hope to serve in a country that speaks your same language, you can skip this requirement!


3. Intercultural competence

3 approved courses or 1-2 courses + substantive intercultural experience

Engaging thoughtfully and fluidly across cultures begins with one’s own self-awareness. With this learning objective, you will deepen your cultural agility through a mix of three introspective courses in which you learn about others while reflecting upon your own self in relation to others. The goal is for you to build your capacity to shift perspective and behavior around relevant cultural differences. Students enrolled in the Peace Corps Prep program at NMSU will be required to declare a major area of study in an appropriate field. Students will  also complete the requirements for the 18 credit proposed interdisciplinary minor in International Studies. The minor consists of 6 credits of required core classes/experience and 12 credits of electives from an approved list of offerings.

Some example courses:

Core Class – 3 credits – choose one: (required)
ANTH 125 G Introduction to World Cultures
AXED 480 Introduction to International Agriculture Development

Requirements vary by language

3 approved courses or 1-2 courses + substantive intercultural experience

International Experience – 3 credits (min) (required):
AS 350 Faculty Led Travel (or approved substitute: semester abroad, international research, extended work experience abroad, domestic or international
internship with global implications.

Areas of Concentration (12 credits):

Students are required to take 4 courses, one in each of the following thematic areas: (choose from approved list).

A copy of the approved list of courses for each of the areas of concentration in the International Studies Minor. If there is another course in the catalog that you feel meets this requirement, please discuss it with your PC Prep Coordinator.


Prolonged intercultural experiences—such as studying or volunteering abroad, supporting new immigrants or refugees acculturate to the United States, or volunteering in diverse schools—would also strengthen your Peace Corps candidacy significantly.


4.Professional and leadership development – resume and interview support + Leadership experience

Peace Corps service and similar international development work opportunities are highly professional and selective. PC Prep requires three specific activities that will strengthen your candidacy for the Peace Corps (or any other professional endeavor):

1. Have your resume critiqued by someone in Career Services.
2. Attend a workshop or class on interview skills at Career Services
3. Develop at least one significant leadership experience and be prepared to discuss it thoughtfully. For example, organizing a campus event, leading a work or volunteer project, or serving on the executive board of a student organization.



For more information, and to fill out the application for the Peace Corps Prep, contact one of the Peace Corps Prep Mentors today!

Peace Corps Prep Mentors:

Dr. Patti Wojahn
Department Head, Interdisciplinary Studies
College of Arts & Sciences
Director of International Studies Minor
PC Prep Coordinator


Marcela Monger
International Education Advisor
Office of Education Abroad
International and Border Programs
PC Prep Coordinator
(575) 646-4334  




Dr. Sue Forster-Cox
Associate Professor
Public Health Science
College of Health and Social Services
RPCV Colombia, 1978-79    

Dr. Brenda Seevers
Agricultural and Extension Education
College of Agriculture, Consumer and
Environmental Sciences
(575) 646-4511