Completing the Peace Corps application is sometimes a trying process...a process filled with hurdles designed to weed out people who are not truly committed. If you really want to be a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer) just keep jumping and you’ll get there before you know it! For me, the application process officially took 10 months, although it will be 22 months from the day I decided to join until the day I will leave. Here’s the timeline of my application experience.

Note: I applied as a Master's International student; the process varies slightly for regular applicants.


Time from application to invitation: 10 months
Time from interview to invitation: 8 months Time from invitation to departure: 101 days


AUGUST 2011: 22 months prior to departure

STEP 1: Decided I wanted to be a Peace Corps Volunteer  

SEPTEMBER 2011: 21 months prior to departure

STEP 2: Met with RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) to learn about their experiences 

OCTOBER 2012: 20 months prior to departure 
STEP 3: Met with a Peace Corps Recruiter, got tips for application process
STEP 4: Began researching Masters International Programs, Chose 5 to apply to

NOVEMBER 2011: 19 months prior to departure 
STEP 5: Started working on the Peace Corps Application
STEP 6: Started working on graduate school applications
STEP 7: Submitted grad school applications that did not require GRE Scores
STEP 8: Took the GRE 

DECEMBER 2011: 18 months prior to departure
STEP 9: Received GRE scores 

JANUARY 2012 : 17 months prior to departure 
STEP 10: Submitted remaining graduate school applications

FEBRUARY 2012: 16 months prior to departure 
STEP 12: Received grad school acceptance letters (I got into all of the schools!!)

MARCH 2012: 15 months prior to departure 
STEP 13: Received graduate school funding offers
STEP 14: Accepted enrollment at University of Wyoming

APRIL 2012: 14 months prior to departure
STEP 15: Submitted Peace Corps Application (Many people would call this STEP 1)
STEP 16: Submitted Peace Corps HHF (Health History Form)

MAY 2012: 13 months prior to departure 
STEP 17: Graduated with my bachelors degree
STEP 18: Submitted my official transcripts to Peace Corps
STEP 19: Submitted my background check form to Peace Corps
STEP 20: Submitted my fingerprints to Peace Corps

STEP 21: Submitted my Reference verification forms to Peace Corps
STEP 22: Submitted my skill addendum worksheets to Peace Corps
STEP 23: Submitted my placement questionnaires to Peace  Corps 

JUNE 2012 : 1 year prior to departure 

STEP 24: Completed the Peace Corps Interview  

JULY 2012: 11 months prior to departure 
STEP 25: Received Peace Corps nomination
STEP 26: Accepted Peace Corps nomination 

AUGUST 2012: 10 months prior to departure 

STEP 27: Began first semester of graduate school 

SEPTEMBER 2012: 9 months prior to departure 

STEP 28: Medically “pre-cleared” for service based on HHF 

[painfully long time without hearing ANYTHING from Peace Corps...]

DECEMBER 2012: 6 months prior to departure 
STEP 30: Submitted additional paperwork at request of Peace Corps recruiter 
STEP 31: Submitted updated resume at request of Peace Corps recruiter
STEP 32: Submitted official Fall 2012 transcripts at request of Peace Corps recruiter

JANUARY 2013: 5 months prior to departure 

STEP 33: Received email saying I would get an invitation within 2-3 weeks
STEP 34: Started second (and last) semester of graduate school classes

[DID NOT get the invitation in 2-3 Weeks... 6 weeks later]

FEBRUARY 2013: 4 months prior to departure 

STEP 35: February 21, INVITED TO SERVE IN BENIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
STEP 37: Submitted updated resume at request of Peace Corps Benin Desk
STEP 38: Submitted Aspiration Statement at request of Peace Corps Benin Desk 
STEP 39: Reviewed Benin Welcome Book, Volunteer Handbook etc
STEP 40: Began Medical Tests (dental, blood work, optometrist, gynecologist, physical, etc.) 

MARCH 2013: 3 months prior to departure
STEP 41: Submitted passport application to SATO travel (SATO is the Peace Corps travel agency)
STEP 42: Submitted visa application  to SATO travel
STEP 43: Continued Peace Corps medical tests  & got vaccines
STEP 44: Completed all tasks on Peace Corps Medical Portal! 

STEP 45: Received email with Information about my “staging” group's Facebook groups
STEP 46: Joined “Peace Corps Benin” Facebook groups 
STEP 47: Started Benin Packing List 

April 2013: 2 months prior to departure 
STEP 48: Began Packing for Benin
STEP 49: Read countless Peace Corps blogs, watched plethora of Peace Corps videos

STEP 50: Began ACTIVELY Participating in Peace Corps Benin Facebook Pages 
STEP 51: Founded this blog! 

May 2013: 1 month prior to departure 
STEP 52: Completed Masters Coursework (5/3/13)
STEP 53: Medically Cleared for Service (5/9/13)
STEP 54: Contacted SATO Travel to book Peace Corps Flights (5/24/13)

JUNE 2013: Month of departure 

STEP 55: June 25, 2013 Depart for Peace Corps “Staging” in Philadelphia (Anticipated)
STEP 56: June 25, 2013 Peace Corps Staging (Anticipated)
STEP 57: June 26, Fly to Cotonou Benin (Anticipated)
STEP 58: June 27-30, Peace Corps Training in Cotonou (safety, site interviews, language interviews) 

JULY 2013: 1 Month after departure
STEP 59: July 1,Travel to Porto Novo to begin 10-week training (Anticipated)
STEP 60: July 1, Move-in with Host Family (Anticipated)
STEP 61: July 2, Begin Official Peace Corps Training (Language & Culture Immersion) (Anticipated) 

AUGUST 2013: 2 Months after departure 

STEP 62: End of month, find out 2-year post assignment (Anticipated)
STEP 63: End of month, visit post for first time (Anticipated)
STEP 64: Continue Peace Corps training (Anticipated)

SEPTEMBER 2013: 3 months after departure 

STEP 65: September 14, Swear-in as Peace Corps Volunteer (Anticipated)
STEP 66: September 15, Move to Post, begin official assignment! :) (Anticipated)

October 2013: 4 months after departure

[Only Time Will Tell....]

SEPTEMBER 2015: 27 months after departure

September 15, The journey comes to an end  (Anticipated)

DECEMBER 2015: 3 months after leaving Benin
Defend Peace Corps Service and research project, graduate with Masters Degree


  1. Wow looks like quite the ride! I'm thinking of applying for the master's international program for business. Do you know how difficult it is to get into the MI program? It looks like a really cool opportunity. I have a 3.5 gpa from USC and am just wondering what my chances of getting in would be. Any help is appreciated and best of luck!

  2. Great Questions; you should apply if you are interested. I think the difficulty depends on the school you are applying to. I had a 4.0 from Michigan Technological University and I got into all 4 programs I applied to, 3 with funding offers. If the school has a Faculty member who's interests match yours exactly, your chances of being accepted increase substantially, so doing research on the faculty is really important. When I was applying I called each school, explained my goals, and asked them if I should apply. They were all honest about how many spots they had available, when to submit the applications by (preferential deadlines), etc! Feel free to e-mail me if you have more questions (jebanda@mtu.edu).

  3. Jessica, I have been following your Blog since you have left. Reading your words almost always puts tears in my eyes - sometimes because I have to laugh so hard, and sometimes because I am simply moved by what you experience. Thank you so much for sharing your time abroad. I have never felt closer to a a Peace Corps volunteer and what they do, and I have developed so much understanding of what a courageous person like you goes through while serving. I am thinking of you often and hope you are well and happy! Manuela

    1. Manuela! This is the sweetest message. Thank you so much for your kind words. I think of you and Ruth all the time, especially of how lucky I was to have you both as bosses. I have such an appreciation for you both now that I work with some more challenging folks, on projects that aren't as good of a match for my skill set! You two are the best and I'm so thankful for all the advice and support you gave me before I left. I am delighted that you read my blog and I hope you'll still be in Laramie in 2015 so I can share all my stories with you; there is so much that doesn't make the blog. :) In fact, Cal and I were just writing to each other about how cool it would be to be a TA for you! I hope you're doing very well and holding up during this busy time of the semester. Thank you again for your support. You rock!! Also, how are the cats? :)

  4. Jessica, I like the idea of funding school for girls in your community. Maybe we can setup a fundraiser with our student club for the spring to specifically support this kind of purpose. I was thinking about getting together money for about 10 girls. What do you think about this? I will propose to the club and believe this would be a great collaboration. Cheers from freezing Wyoming where this morning we woke up to -26 F! Burrr :-)

  5. That would be AMAZING! I would love to work with the club on such a project! Maybe we can discuss details? Facebook is the most reliable medium for me right now; the one website that always loads, and the message feature works 80% of the time. E-mail and blog is about 30% reliable: https://www.facebook.com/jess.banda.9