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UAB’s School of Education (SOE) began hosting the Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows program in 2016. This program is for returning Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) who, upon arriving back in the United States, wish to pursue a graduate degree. The SOE had also hosted the Peace Corps Master's International (PCMI) from 2013 to 2016, which is when it was discontinued by the Peace Corps.

Coverdell Fellows may pursue an ESL master’s degree at UAB in one of three tracks: International Track, Traditional Track, or Alternative Track. The International Track is an MA without K-12 certification; it is for applicants who wish to teach ESL to adult learners. The Traditional Track is an MA with advanced K-12 teacher certification; it is for applicants who already hold valid teacher certification from any state and in any teaching field and who wish to become certified to teach ESL. The Alternative Track is an MA with initial K-12 teacher certification; it is for applicants who do not already have teacher certification and who wish to become certified to teach ESL in grades K-12. Another option for Coverdell Fellows is an ESL Education Specialist degree; it is for applicants who already have an MA in ESL.

To learn how Coverdell Fellows can combine their Peace Corps service with an ESL degree at UAB, prospective applicants should contact Dr. Susan Spezzini at or 205-934-8357. Having served as a PCV in Paraguay (’76-’79), Dr. Spezzini coordinates the Peace Corps programs at UAB’s School of Education where she serves as Associate Professor of ESL Teacher Education.

Graduate Assistantships
Coverdell Fellows are encouraged to seek student assistantships, such as through the INTO-UAB Academic English Programs. Such assistantships are usually only available for starting in August. To be considered for an assistantship, applicants must adhere to the following timeline:
May 1
Submit degree-seeking application to UAB Graduate School
May 10 Participate in initial interview with SOE selection committee for Coverdell Fellows
May 15 Inquire about competitive student assistantships with Dr. Susan Spezzini,
June 15 Be admitted to Graduate School, and be accepted as a Coverdell Fellow
June 20
Participate in an interview to be considered for a student assistantship at UAB
June 30  
Receive confirmation of having been selected for an assistantship


Course Plans for the Coverdell Fellows
Fellows MA International Track/ESL (31-33 credit hours): for teaching adults, non-certification
Fellows MA Traditional Track/ESL (34-37 credit hours): with advanced K-12 certification
Fellows MA Alternative Track/ESL (44 credit hours): with initial K-12 certification
Fellows Education Specialist—EdS/ESL (31 credit hours): beyond an MA in ESL (information available upon request)

Peace Corps Links
Peace Corps programs in UAB's School of Education
Other Peace Corps programs at UAB
Peace Corps and its Graduate Programs

Greater Birmingham Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (GBRPCV)