The University of Michigan on Thursday announced it would offer a new graduate study option for Peace Corps volunteers, 50 years to the day of John F. Kennedy’s Ann Arbor speech announcing the launch of the volunteer program.

The university will offer credit hours to students in its education, natural resources and social work schools if they serve in the Peace Corps. There are about 60 Peace Corps Master’s International programs nationwide. Participants generally finish one year of graduate study in the U.S. before earning more credit while serving as Peace Corps volunteers.

“Fifty years ago today, then-Sen. John F. Kennedy visited the campus of the University of Michigan and inspired a movement that lead to the Peace Corps,” Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams said Thursday. Kennedy, who was a Massachusetts senator at the time, delivered his speech during a 1960 presidential campaign swing through Michigan.

“University of Michigan alumni have had a long history with Peace Corps, and it’s my great pleasure to welcome University of Michigan to the Master’s International program on this historic occasion,” Williams said.

In all, 2,331 Michigan alumni have served in the Peace Corps.

Coleman said the program adds “new and exciting opportunities for our students to combine excellent academic preparation with international service as they pursue their career goals.”

“We have a long history with the Peace Corps, and look forward to being a part of its future,” she said.

The Peace Corps said 7,671 volunteers are now serving in 77 host countries. About 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps in 139 countries. The program involves a two-year, three-month volunteer commitment.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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