Peace Corps and its Master's International Program

In 2013, UAB expanded a long-standing Peace Corps Master's International (PCMI) program at its School of Public Health to also include the School of Education (SOE). At the SOE, PCMI students combine their stateside master's program with two years overseas teaching English or training English teachers. Starting in 2015, UAB's PCMI will also be available to SOE students pursuing master's degrees in other teaching fields.

In the SOE's inaugural PCMI program, students pursue a Master of Arts in Education (MAEd) for teaching English as a Second Language (ESL). They complete 24 semester credit hours (8 courses) at UAB during the academic year immediately preceding their entry to the Peace Corps. They complete an additional 3 semester credit hours (1 course) between their final semester on campus at UAB and the 3-month Peace Corps training in their host country. They finish their MAEd/ESL degree overseas by completing 6 credit hours (2 courses) during the 24 months that they serve as Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) teaching English and/or training English teachers. Upon completing their Peace Corps service, they receive their degree from UAB without needing to return to Birmingham.

To learn more about the Peace Corps and its PCMI program at the SOE, you should contact Dr. Susan Spezzini (205-934-8357, As Associate Professor of ESL Teacher Education and Program Director in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Spezzini directs the SOE's PCMI program. She served as a PCV in Paraguay ('76-79).

You may also wish to speak with two other returned PCVs associated with UAB's MAEd/ESL program—Dr. Sue Seay (205-975-6710, and Dr. Jennifer Greer (205-996-6355, Dr. Seay is Assistant Professor of ESL Teacher Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She served as a PCV in Antigua ('72-74) and is co-founder of the Greater Birmingham Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (GBRPCV). Dr. Greer graduated from UAB's MAEd/ESL program and teaches academic writing in UAB's Graduate School. She served as a PCV in Costa Rica ('88-90) and Peace Corps staff in Panama ('90-91) and is a member of the GBRPCV. For additional information about the Peace Corps and its Master's International Program, call 855-855-1961 x1812.

Prospective PCMI students are encouraged to attend events for prospective PCVs and their families. Such events are organized by the GBRPCV  and co-hosted by UAB's School of Public Health and its Master's International Program and by the School of Nursing and its Peace Corps Fellows Program. These GBRPCV events provide an excellent opportunity to meet former and prospective PCVs and also to make contact with regional Peace Corps recruiters.

If you are interested in becoming a PCMI student, you must submit two applications—the first to UAB's Graduate School for admission to the MAEd/ESL program and the second to the Peace Corps for teaching English overseas as a PCV. You are also invited to apply to UAB's English Language Institute (ELI) for a competitive graduate assistantship through which you will be assisting ELI instructors and students approximately 10 hours a week for 30 weeks. If you are selected as a graduate assistant and are not an Alabama resident, you are encouraged to submit a request to the Graduate School for reclassification of residency and corresponding in-state tuition (which is less than 50% charged for out-of-state tuition).

PCMI program timeline
(This flyer provides instructions and deadlines for the application process)

On campus at UAB: August 2015 - August 2016
9 Courses (27 semester credit hours)

Fall 2015 (August 24 - December 11)
EESL 610 Second Language Acquisition (Professional learning communities: Mondays, 5:00-7:30 pm)
EESL 637 Methods for Teaching English as an International Language (Thursdays, 5:00-7:30 pm)
EESL 647 Instruction and Assessment: Reading/Writing (3 Saturdays, 8:00-4:45, plus also online)

Spring 2016 (January 4 - April 22)
EESL 617 Teaching English in a Global Context (online)
EESL 625 Phonology for Second Language Teachers (6 Saturdays, 8:00-4:45)
EESL 657 Instruction and Assessment: Listening/Speaking (Thursdays, 5:00-7:30 pm)

Summer 2016 (May 2 - August 10)
EESL 615 Grammar for ESL Teachers (one week in June, Monday-Friday, 8:00-4:45)
EESL 627 Teaching Adult English Language Learners (3 Saturdays, 8:00-4:45, plus also online)
EESL 687 Practicum Seminar (2 Saturdays at UAB and finish during Peace Corps training)
Comprehensive Examination

Practicum Activities
Co-teach the School of Education's Community English Classes (i.e., weekly "lab school").
Observe lessons, do 30-hour internship in UAB's Intensive English Program, and visit other IEPs.
If awarded graduate assistantship, work about 10 hours per week in UAB's English Language Institute (ELI) and be eligible for reclassification of residency and corresponding in-state tuition.

Overseas: September 2016 - December 2018 (targeted dates)
Participate in intensive training as Peace Corps trainees and finish EESL 687 (3 months)
Serve as Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) teaching English and/or training English teachers (24 months)
Complete final two courses (6 credit hours) as described in the PCMI program timeline.

  • EESL 697 ESL Practicum (targeted: January-December, 2017)
  • EESL 677 Field Studies (targeted: January-July, 2018)

Graduate with a master's degree (targeted graduation: August 2018)
Participate in UAB's commencement ceremony - optional (December 2018)

Benefits of Peace Corps & Master's International
First career-related job
Substantive professional experience
Immediate use of MA skills
Cross-cultural, language, and technical training
Full medical/dental coverage
Overseas living allowance
Travel to and from the country of service
Vacation time
Student loan assistance
Global, cultural, and language competencies for resume
Transition funds after service with job search support
Advantages when seeking federal employment
No fee to participate

Peace Corps: Universities and Programs
In 1987, Peace Corps initiated the Master's International (PCMI) program. UAB was among the first group of schools of public health to participate in this program. The PCMI program was expanded in 2013 to also include the School of Education. UAB is the only university in Alabama that partners with the Peace Corps by hosting the PCMI.

Peace Corps' Master's International Program at UAB
Greater Birmingham Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (GBRPCV)
UAB School of Public Health - Peace Corps Master's International Program