What to Know About the Revised Peace Corps Application


The Peace Corps has been placing volunteers in interested countries since 1961. While the mission of the organization hasn’t changed“To promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals: to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women, to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples serve, and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans”the application and placement process has. Recent updates to the application have decreased the time it takes to complete the form and allows for more personalized placement. Before you decide if the Peace Corps could be for you, learn a little more about the history of the organization, their goals and how you could be utilized.


While I’d expect that many already know about the Peace Corps, you may not have known that the entire thing was started as a pilot program by JFK shortly after his inauguration. The idea was actually born a year earlier, in 1960 during an impromptu speech the soon-to-be president gave at the University of Michigan, challenging students to dedicate two years of their life to initiating social change. Within the first few months of the fledgling program’s life, they received over 11,000 applications and volunteers set off for Ghana and Tanzania. In 1981, the Peace Corps became a fully independent federal agency. Since their initiation and recognition as an agency,  the Peace Corps has been making enormous strides to respond to the troubling issues many countries are facing. The organization has been working with governments, communities, schools, and citizens on a grassroots level to bring attention to a number of things including AIDs education, the importance of environmental protection, the feasibility of new market economies, and how emerging technologies could improve work efficiency and day-to-day life.

Major Changes to the Application Process

Choose Your Assignment and Country

You may not know that the Peace Corps now offers a number of volunteer opportunities with different time commitments and requirements—no longer are you restricted to a two-year service. While that is still an an option, there is also the Peace Corps response— a 3-12 month targeted assistance program designed for high impact, and a one-year Global Health Service Partnership for nurses and physicians. Along with choosing the right assignment for yourself, you can also browse opportunities based on country, departure date and service opportunity. Current service categories include: agriculture, community economic development, environment, health, education and youth in development.

Shorter Application

The previous application was over 60 printed pages long and required upwards of eight hours to complete! The new form is online and can be done in just under an hour. But don’t let this fool you into thinking they’ve become more lenient qualifications wise, they are still looking for top-notch contenders. 

Apply By and Know By Deadlines

While assignments used to hang over your head until you were contacted with an invitation and departure notice, the Peace Corps is now including ‘apply by’ and ‘know by’ deadlines with each of the listed opportunities. This way, along with receiving notice that you were accepted, you’ll also know from the start when your departure date it. 

If you still have questions about how the process works, check out this helpful infographic.


Photo via Peace Corps

Deciding if the Peace Corps is For You

Though no one would dispute that volunteering with the Peace Corps is an admirable endeavor, it is also not something to jump into or take lightly. So how does one decide if they’re ready to devote two years of their life to service? To get the inside scoop on what the program is like and learn more about how to make your application as strong as possible, check out some of these invaluable resources.

Peace Corps Passport

The Peace Corps Passport is a blog run by the agency with pieces contributed by current and returned volunteers, staff and international development leaders. Under the ‘Becoming a Volunteer’ category you can find posts about how volunteers knew the program was right for them, what they did to prepare, and how living and working in a third world country has affected their world view.

Peace Corps FAQs Page

This page has all of those burning questionsand a few randomthat have been floating around in your mind as you decide whether or not this opportunity could be for you. Peruse the questions and answers and get a feel for the nitty-gritty of possible assignments.

Regional Recruitment Offices

If you contact your regional office, chances are you can arrange a meeting with a former volunteer and picking the brain of a seasoned Peace Corps member could provide you with the knowledge you just haven’t been able to find online. Those at the regional office are also there to help you with the application process, your interviews, and making sure you have all of the necessary qualifications before you submit. 

About the Writer 

chelsea.stuartChelsea Stuart is currently finishing up her degree in Writing, Literature & Publishing at Emerson College in Boston. After living on a ship for four months and visiting 15 countries with the study abroad program Semester at Sea, she’s presently dealing with some intense wanderlust. Aside from travel, she enjoys reading, writing, photography, thrifting, and drinking an absurd amount of coffee. She hopes to one day (soon) pursue a career in publishing and try her luck in The City that Never Sleeps.

Feature photo via Peace Corps 

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The Culture-ist