Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship Program

peace corps2About the Coverdell Fellows Program

Founded in 1985 at Teachers College, Columbia University (and formerly known as (Fellows/USA), the Coverdell Fellows Program is now a network of partnerships between the Peace Corps and more than 90 universities across the country. Competitively selected Coverdell Fellows undertake service internships in high-need American communities and receive financial aid while working toward their graduate degrees. Returned Peace Corps Volunteers may apply to enroll in a Coverdell Fellowship at participating universities at any time after successfully completing Peace Corps service.

Coverdell Fellowship in the Masters of Food and Nutrition degree program

The Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Fellows Program (USA) is a graduate fellowship program that offers financial assistance to returned Volunteers who wish to earn, in this case, a degree in the Masters of Food and Nutrition (MFN) program. The MFN program officially became a Peace Corps Fellows program in December 2012. Aligning itself as a Peace Corps Fellows program illustrates the Peace Corps’ recognition of the MFN degree as one that academically builds upon returned volunteers’ practical international experience and provides the opportunity for returned volunteers to fulfill the Third Goal of the Peace Corps, which is to promote American understanding of the world and its people.

Financial Aid

A Coverdell Fellow admitted to the Masters of Food and Nutrition degree program will receive a tuition scholarship for a maximum of 16 credit hours per academic year (currently $6,784) and a stipend (average $4,500) for assisting faculty with teaching and research. Notification of Peace Corps Fellow awards are sent out by mid-April.

Coverdell Fellows’ overseas projects and training will be reviewed by the Food and Nutrition faculty, and graduate credit (1-3 credit hours) for these experiences will be awarded as appropriate towards the cognate (minor) requirement.

Admission Requirements

The Masters of Food and Nutrition degree is for students who have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university in a food, nutrition, or a related field (e.g. public health; kinesiology; biological sciences; allied health professionals) and have coursework in biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, and nutrition.

In order to apply for a Peace Corps Fellow position in the MFN degree program, returned volunteers must fulfill all the same application requirements as all MFN applicants in addition to submitting a copy of their signed Peace Corps Description of Service (DOS) document. The application deadline for Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows is March 15th.

Masters of Food and Nutrition Program Description

The Masters of Food and Nutrition degree program requires the completion of 37-39
total graduate credit hours. This includes:

  • 15 credit hours of Food and Nutrition core graduate courses (e.g. micronutrients, macronutrients, clinical nutrition, community nutrition, weight management, and/or phytochemicals)
  • 9 credit hours of cognate (minor) tailored to the student’s professional goals (e.g. graduate courses in public health, microbiology, psychology, exercise physiology, education, scientific writing, etc.)
  • 9 credit hours of research methods, statistics, and seminar
  • 6 credit hours of thesis or Masters project.

The Coverdell Fellow’s overseas projects and training will be reviewed by the Food and Nutrition faculty, and graduate credit (1-3 credit hours) for these experiences will be awarded as appropriate towards the cognate requirement. Coverdell Fellows must take FN 5880/5890, Internship in Food and Nutrition for 3 credit hours. The internship will be a practical cross-cultural experience focusing on dietary and nutritional concerns of an underserved community in the United States populations and will count towards the cognate requirement. The internship will be tailored to the student’s professional development goals, unique skills, and the needs of the community partner. Internships provide the Coverdell Fellows with opportunities for experiential and service learning in preparation for future career paths.  Fellows are also expected to complete volunteer service during their time as a Fellow working towards the third goal of Peace Corps (To promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans).

Application Procedures:

Submission of:

  • Scanned copies of official or unofficial transcripts from each degree granting institution. Upon admission, final official transcripts from each degree granting institution must be submitted.  (minimum 3.0 GPA)
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test scores (desirable applicants have GRE scores: Verbal—150, Quantitative—147, writing 3.5 and GPA 3.53)

GRE requirement may be waived if applicants meet any of the following criteria:

            1.  Already have earned a masters or doctoral degree
            2.  Successful completion of the Dietetic Technician Registered (DTR) exam
            3.  Successful completion of the Certified Dietary Manager (CDM) exam
            4.  Successful completion of the Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) exam

  • Contact information for three references
  • Resume and personal statement describing your background and professional goals
  • Copy of signed Peace Corps Description of Service (DOS) document

Pathway to becoming a Registered Dietitian:

Returning Peace Corp volunteers may wish to obtain the credentials to become a Registered Dietitian. In the United States, there is a demand for Registered Dietitians that have cross-cultural experience and can interact with diverse populations. To become a Registered Dietitian, an individual must: 1) complete didactic requirements as identified by the Accreditation Council for Education of Nutrition and Dietetics of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2) complete an approved 9-11 month dietetic internship, which includes experiences to enhance cross-cultural understanding, and 3) pass a national registration examination.

Coverdell Fellows who wish to pursue becoming a Registered Dietitian, and who have a F&N/dietetic undergraduate degree may wish to combine their graduate studies with a dietetic internship. BGSU’s dietetic internship program is currently granted initial accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Education of Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). In addition to completing the Masters degree admission requirements, applicants must participate through the D&D dietetic internship-matching program. Coverdell Fellows who wish to pursue becoming a Registered Dietitian, but do not have a F&N/dietetic undergraduate degree, should contact Carrie Hamady, Undergraduate Dietetics Director at carrieh@bgsu.edu. She will review the student’s transcripts and help to plan a course of study to meet the didactic requirements of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This may require one or more years of additional undergraduate coursework.

Employment Opportunities

Selected employment opportunities for those with a Masters of Food and Nutrition degree include:

  • Laboratory research careers in the food or pharmaceutical industry
  • Nutritionist analyzing the interaction of diet and exercise
  • Research scientist in the food and pharmaceutical industries
  • Product representative for a pharmaceutical company
  • Software developer for nutrient analysis of training table meals for athletes
  • Research scientist for a governmental agency
  • Academic career in food science and nutrition