Peace Corps Fellows

UMB SWCOS Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program

The Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program (formerly known as Fellows/USA) is a graduate fellowship program that offers financial assistance to returned Peace Corps Volunteers. All Fellows complete internships in underserved American communities, allowing them to bring home, and expand upon, the skills they learned as Volunteers. These skills in adapting to new cultures, developing and managing projects, dealing with language barriers, and leveraging limited resources attract the attention of prospective schools. Since the inception of the Coverdell Fellows Program, more than 4,500 returned Volunteers have participated in the program and made a difference across the country.

Program Descriptions

Coverdell Fellows:
The SWCOS Coverdell Fellows program option began in 2004 and provides opportunities for Returned Volunteers to combine getting their MSW with community based field placements, often with marginalized populations. Already, twenty two RPCVs have completed or are completing this program. Some examples of SWCOS Fellows placements include:

• Health Care for All: to help advocate for affordable health care for everyone.
• Baltimore City Public Schools: to offer case management and clinical interventions in the city schools.
• International Rescue Committee (IRC): to help immigrant populations through counseling, education, and advocacy.
• Baltimore CASH Campaign: to help residents take advantage of federal earned income tax credit
• St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center, Belair-Edison Neighborhoods Inc., Greater Homewood Community Corp, Goldstream Homestead Montebello Community Development Corporation: examples of placements citywide to act as neighborhood builders and organizations helping citizens and organizations with individual counseling and needed individual and community services. 

Examples of positions taken by recent graduates of the SWCOS Fellows program are in agencies that include: Office of Refugee Resettlement ACF/HHS, Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma, International Youth Foundation, Chemonics, and Lutheran Immigration Refugee Services.

Title IV-E Fellows/USA:
The IV-E Fellows/USA option, with a specialization in Families and Children, began in 2010 as an augmentation of our longstanding IV-E program (which has included several RPCVs) and prepares students for social work practice in public child welfare agencies in Maryland through a partnership with Maryland’s Department of Human Resources. Social workers in public child welfare practice respond to reports of child abuse/neglect, provide services to assist families to safely care for their children, promote child well-being and family stability, recommend permanent family living situations, and provide adoption services for children in state custody. Students agree to an employment commitment in Maryland’s public child welfare system after graduation; this commitment is for 12 months for each academic year of participation.

Students participate in specialized coursework, internships, and training workshops designed to teach best practice in the delivery of public child welfare services. They participate in faculty-led multi-faceted internship programs in local Departments of Social Services. Each jurisdiction focuses on a specific aspect of child welfare practice, including an Urban Child Welfare Project in Baltimore City and a multi-cultural student unit in Montgomery County. Through field internships, students work with families and children through Child Protective Services, Family Preservation, Foster Care, Kinship Care, and Adoption Programs. Coursework, workshops, and field internships integrate a family strengths approach with core child welfare values, knowledge, and skill competencies. The graduates of our Title IV-E program are in nearly every local (county) agency in Maryland.

Faculty support:
Representative faculty members in both Coverdell Fellows options are RPCVs. In addition, a new UM SSW faculty member, , is a recent Peace Corps Deputy Director (2001-2009) as well as an RPCV.

International academic opportunities:
The School also offers four courses with an international focus, two additional international courses beginning Fall 2010, an international field placement in Kerala, India, and an annual international mini-course each January.


What is the program and how does it work?

The Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows program is designed to attract RPCV’s into graduate social work study at the University of Maryland School of Social Work.  We think returned volunteers make good social workers.  We offer a stipend of $3,000 for the first year field placement and $7,000 for the second year field placement.  The stipend is tied to the placement as it is often contributed by the community organization where the placement is located.  The field placements are done with the Social Work Community Outreach Service, which places students with marginalized populations.  Where possible we try to make placements which take advantage of the language skills of the RPCV.

If I am awarded a fellowship where will my placement be?  Do I have a choice?

The Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows program is wholly funded by student stipends.  Stipends come from local organizations who would like to have a graduate student do some work for them.  As long as the agency meets the school’s approval and determination that the site is appropriate for “field education” a partnership is then formed.  Our fellowships are contingent upon community organizational support.  Becoming a Fellow means you will be placed in an organization that is funding a slot designated for a student.  In the second year in order to receive a fellowship you must move into an organization that funds fellowships in order to remain a Coverdell Fellow.  Along the way you might believe that in your second year you would like to do something very specific and might even have an agency in mind.  You are free to apply to that agency but then you might have to give up your fellowship if we do not have a funding partnership with that agency.   

What is SWCOS? (Social Work Community Outreach Services)

SWCOS operates as a social service agency within the School of Social Work.  “Social workers in training” get to learn and do–much like a teaching hospital or a law clinic in the school of law.  The mission of the University of Maryland School of Social Work Community Outreach Service (SWCOS) is to create innovative models of social work education and services that strengthen under-served individuals, families, and communities in Baltimore and Maryland. Students, faculty, agency, and community representatives join forces in the design, implementation, and evaluation of those models.  

SWCOS is a unique agency for a variety of reasons.  One feature is that SWCOS is able to place, supervise, and support graduate social work students in organizations that do not have the capacity that you find in large agencies.  This means that students might be placed in very small organizations or programs and get the chance to be key support staff for a program.  

How does the fellowship program work with the school’s joint programs such as Law, Business or Public Health?

The University of Maryland School of Social Work does have a joint program with the University of Maryland School of Law across the street.  You get both degrees- MSW and JD.  We have not yet worked out how we would do this with the Coverdell Program yet.  We hope that we will work it in the near future.  But at the moment we can only offer the fellowship for the social work portion of the education.  The same is true of each of our joint programs at this point.

Is there a particular program in International Social Work?

We do not, at this point have a formal program in International Social Work or International Studies. But we are in the process of developing this area.  We do have a course in International Social Welfare Policy and we have several educational trips and opportunities that relate to India and Latin America.  We have a sister school relationship with The Rajagiri College of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work in Southern India.  In January of 2004 Dick Cook, Director of SWCOS took a group of students, as a part of a course in International Social Work, to Southern India to participate in an International Conference on World Peace and Social Work Education.  They also raised and brought funds for the tsunami relief work and visited NGO’s in the area.  More than half of our faculty has international experience.  The Dean of the school is a widely sought after speaker all over the world.  Our students have started an International Social Work Organization aimed at strengthening the international aspects of our program.

Do I have to be accepted into the School of Social Work in order to be eligible?

Yes.  However, you may apply for both simultaneously.

Are there other opportunities for additional financial support?

Yes. We have some Fellows getting Americorps awards.  Some get work study assistance and some receive Schweitzer Fellowships.  We continue to work at getting more assistance with tuition and we are always looking for ways to get additional financial support to Fellows.  Opportunities might surface even after you apply.  If you apply, be sure to contact financial aid and ask to receive all the assistance you are eligible for including work study.

Can I apply for the Shriver Center Peaceworker Program and the UMB School of Social Work Peace Corps Fellows/USA Program at the same time?

Yes.  If you are awarded the Shriver Center Peaceworker Fellowship, you will not also be eligible for the UMB award.  But if you are not successful with the Shriver Fellowship, you might still be awarded the UMB School of Social Work Peace Corps Coverdell Fellowship.  In either case your field placement would be with the Social Work Community Outreach Service.  Additionally “Peaceworkers” and SWCOS Fellows will jointly do some activities around training and orientation. ATTENTION! You must apply for both programs separately.  They are two complete processes of their own and in the application sense they are mutually exclusive. 

How to Apply


Remember that your application for Peace Corps Fellows/USA cannot be awarded until your application for admission to the University Of Maryland School of Social Work has been accepted. Write a brief letter containing the following information:

--  Your name, address, phone number(s), e-mail, and any other contact information.
--  Where you served, what you did there, what language skills you bring.  (Please include in your application a copy of your Description of Peace Corps Service--PDF and Word versions are acceptable.)
--  The skills and experience you bring to the field of social work,
--  The skills and knowledge you want to acquire while being a Fellow in the program.
--  What you see yourself doing when you graduate, and
--  Your GPA to indicate your preparedness for graduate education.
--  A copy of your current resume.

Send the above to:

Lane Victorson- Coordinator Peace Corps Coverdell Fellows @ UMB SSW
Social Work Community Outreach Service
University of Maryland School of Social Work
525 West Redwood Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Electronic Submissions are welcome.  Send to Do not assume they have been accepted until you receive an email acknowledging a successful transmission.

Application deadline for following fall award is March 1, however earlier applications are advised for best consideration.