Fairfield University is pleased to collaborate with the Peace Corps to offer a unique interdisciplinary preparatory program which prepares students for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service. This program will enable Fairfield University to reach more students with global opportunities, better prepare students with cultural competency skills, and encourage students to learn in non-traditional destinations. 

The program concentrates on the following four core competencies:

  1. Training and experience in a work sector
  2. Foreign language proficiency
  3. Intercultural competence
  4. Professionalism and leadership

The program includes a diverse faculty who teach within the six Peace Corps sectors:  education, health, environment, agriculture, youth in development, and community economic development.

For questions, please contact Fairfield University Peace Corps Prep Program co-directors, Anita Deeg-Carlin, associate director of the International Studies Program, and Julie Mughal, assistant director for Humanitarian Action, Center for Faith & Public Life, at peacecorpsprep@fairfield.edu


Hear from Ashley Toombs '07 talk about her enriching experience serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Peru.

Program Requirements

The Peace Corps (PC) Prep program at Fairfield will prepare students for international development fieldwork and potential Peace Corps service. To accomplish this, students will need to meet the following four core requirements:

  1. Training and Experience in a Work Sector: Students must complete at least three courses that align with one of the Peace Corps' six sectors (www.peacecorps.gov/volunteer/what-volunteers-do/) and accumulate a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer or related work experience in that same sector, preferably in a teaching or outreach capacity.
  2. Foreign Language Skills: Requirements vary by placement region.
  3. Intercultural Competence: In order to meet this requirement, students will need to complete three approved courses or one-to-two courses plus substantive intercultural experience.
  4. Professional and Leadership Development: Peace Corps service and similar international development work opportunities are highly professional and selective. PC Prep requires five specific activities that will strengthen students’ candidacy for the Peace Corps, including their resume, interview skills, and leadership experience.

Training and Experience Requirements

Leveraging concrete knowledge and skills is central to on-the-ground international development work. Through Fairfield’s PC Prep program, students will begin to build a professional specialty, which will serve their career, whether or not they become a Peace Corps volunteer.

For PC Prep, students are required to complete at least three courses that align with a specific work sector. Students must also accumulate a minimum of 50 hours of volunteer or work experience in that same sector, preferably in a teaching or outreach capacity.

There are six sectors in which Peace Corps Volunteers serve—outlined below. Students will choose one sector to focus on and complete at least three courses plus 50 hours of related experience in that sector.

Learn more about the six Peace Corps sectors:

Foreign Language Skills Requirement

Requirements vary by placement.

Most students must hone their capacity to interact professionally using a non-English language. Minimum course requirements vary by desired placement region as follows:

Latin America: Students indicating an intention to serve in Spanish-speaking countries must build strong intermediate proficiency, having completed two 200-level courses or have learned Spanish through another medium.

West Africa: Students indicating an intention to serve in French-speaking African countries must build proficiency in French or another Romance language, having completed one 200-level course or learned the language through another medium.

Everywhere else: Students indicating an intention to serve anywhere else do not have explicit language requirements to complete the program, but are encouraged to study a foreign language.

Students who are strong native speakers, or who can demonstrate fluency, who wish to serve in a country that speaks the same language are exempt from taking the Foreign Language Skills Requirement.

Intercultural Competence Requirement

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

Engaging thoughtfully and fluidly across cultures begins with one’s own self-awareness. With this learning objective, students will deepen their cultural agility through a mix of three introspective courses in which they will learn about others while reflecting upon their own self in relation to others. The goal is for students to build their capacity to shift perspective and behavior around relevant cultural differences.

Students are required to take at least one of the following core courses:

  • AY 10: Intro Four-Field Anthropology
  • AY 111:  Cultural Anthropology
  • CO 241: Comm & Culture: East and West
  • EN 352:  Cultural Studies Theory
  • HI 242:  Immigration, Race, Ethnicity
  • HR 201:  Non-Western Culture
  • IL 50:  People, Places & Global Issues
  • LAC 300:  Justice and the Dev. World
  • RS 235:  Liberation Theology
  • RS 236:  Christian Feminist Theology
  • SO 162:  Race, Gender, & Ethnic Relations
  • MG 320:  Diversity in the Workplace
  • PH 360:  Critical Race Theory
  • PO 153:  Politics, Race, Class, and Gender


Students are required to choose two additional electives from the above or below list:

  • AE 276: Ethical Dimensions / Global Business Practice
  • AE 262: Ethics and the Community
  • AE 265: Ethics in Education
  • EC 120: Environmental Economics
  • ED 200: Explorations in Education
  • EN 101: Introduction to Literature and Cultural Studies
  • EN 102: Introduction to Contemporary World Literature
  • HI 270 : History/ Global Humanitarian Action
  • HI 280: The West and the Middle East
  • HI 289: Modern Latin America 1800 - Present
  • MG 385: Managing People for Global Business
  • MK 312: Global Marketing
  • NS 330: Community, Public, and Global Health Nursing
  • PH 240: Introduction to Asian Philosophies
  • PO 12: Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • PO 140: Islam and Muslim Politics
  • PO 14:  African Politics
  • PY 111: Developmental Psychology for Non-Majors
  • PY 212: Developmental Psychology for Majors with Lab
  • SO 151: Sociology of Religion
  • SP 271: Hispanic Film
  • SP 359: Culture, Civilization, Literature / Spanish-American Caribbean Region


  • Studying or volunteering abroad may count as the Intercultural Competence Requirement if the student travels to a country that has at some point hosted Peace Corps Volunteers.
    • Studying/volunteering abroad in these countries for a minimum of one month may substitute for one course.  Students will be asked to submit a statement describing the experience, elaborating on what intercultural challenge(s) they personally faced, and what they learned.


  • Other intercultural experiences, such as helping new immigrants/refugees acculturate to the U.S. or volunteering in diverse schools for a minimum of one full semester, may also satisfy the Intercultural Competence Requirement. Students will be asked to submit a statement describing the experience, elaborating on the intercultural challenge(s) they personally faced, and what they learned. If the experience also aligns with one of the Peace Corps’ six sectors, it may simultaneously count for that hands-on experiential requirement.

Professional and Leadership Development Requirement

Resume and Interview Support + Leadership

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

  1. Have their resume critiqued by someone in the Academic and Career Development Center
  2. Attend a workshop or class on interview skills at the Academic and Career Development Center
  3. Participate in a networking event (select at least one):  Attend a non-profit career fair, a panel with a Returning Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV), or a job shadow program
  4. 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.
  5. Complete a Clifton Strengths Training program with the Academic and Career Development Center and be prepared to discuss strengths

Faculty / Advisors

Advising Committee

David Crawford

Director, International Studies

Professor of Sociology & Anthropology


Anita Deeg-Carlin

Associate Director, International Studies

International Studies



Patrick W. Kelley

Distinguished Fellow of Nursing & Health Studies




Julie Mughal

Assist‌ant Director

Faith & Public Life


‌Melissa Quan

Director, Center for Faith & Public Life



Peace Corps Volunteers

Luke Fain ’17

Luke graduated with a degree in Environmental Studies and currently serves as an agriculture volunteer for the Peace Corps in rural Ethiopia. While at Fairfield, Luke was a member of LEAF, Students 4 Social Justice, and co-president of the Outdoors Club. His service with the Peace Corps consists of improving food security and nutrition by encouraging and assisting families in building small, at-home gardens and raising and properly caring for small animal husbandries such as chickens and bees. Ethiopia has over 50 languages, and Luke is currently learning two of them: the national language and the local language of Keffa where he lives. After his time in the Peace Corps, Luke is interested in hiking the Appalachian Trail and spreading the word on the wonders of Ethiopia - a country he’s grown to love and call home.


10991_ug_aca_resources_pc-prep_patience_06072018Patience Mhlanga ’14

Patience currently serves as a Peace Corps Health Volunteer in rural Zambia.  She lived in Zambia as a refugee for five years and was excited to be able to return to Zambia to serve in the Peace Corps. While at Fairfield, Patience tutored English and mentored middle school students in Bridgeport through the AmeriCorps Program.  She then served full-time as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Minnesota through Minnesota Alliance with Youth organization. While in Minnesota and after discernment, Patience decided to pursue Theology at Duke University. From there, she joined the Peace Corps. In Zambia, she focuses primarily on HIV and malaria prevention, nutrition, and sanitation. Patience also works with women to develop activities to generate income for themselves and their families.  After the Peace Corps, she hopes to pursue a public health degree in maternal and child health.

Peace Corps Alumni

10991_ug_aca_resources_pc-prep_emma_06072018Emma Cannon ’14

A JUHAN fellow at Fairfield, Emma double majored in International Studies and Spanish with a focus on Latin America. Emma was a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala for two years, where she worked in support of the Healthy Schools Project, a national initiative that aims to improve basic health and hygiene in primary school students in rural Guatemala. She received the JUHAN Humanitarian Citizenship Award in 2014. She currently works at University Research Co., LLC (URC) & Center for Human Services (CHS) Support Zika Response activities in Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador and Jamaica.



10991_ug_aca_resources_pc-prep_ashley_06072018Ashley Toombs ’07

Ashley graduated from Fairfield University in 2007 with a double major in International Studies and Spanish. In 2015, she earned her Master’s of Public Administration, Environmental Science, and Policy from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Ashley is currently the manager of External Relations at BRAC USA where she supports technical assistance efforts, public engagement, and strategic fundraising initiatives. Previously, Ashley was part of the fundraising team at the Nature Conservancy’s New York office. She also spent four years working with the Peruvian Environmental Ministry, both as a Peace Corps Volunteer and as a technical facilitator specializing in community-based environmental management and youth development.

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