The Graduate/Professional Certificate in Global Health Program is designed to advance the knowledge and capabilities of learners with interests in global health. The certificate is available to graduate students and students in a professional degree program (typically in the health sciences).

The certificate curriculum focuses on global health topics and health issues that transcend national boundaries. Through this nine-credit program, which includes academic course work and a global health field experience emphasizing two-way learning, students will be prepared to better address health challenges and disparities in a context of cultural diversity, both at home and abroad. Certificate candidates often work with partners and sites internationally, but may also apply a global lens to issues of health and wellbeing in Wisconsin and other parts of the United States. This global-to-local philosophy is important to the program. Through choices of elective/selective courses, students may focus their studies on health promotion, detection and treatment of disease, prevention and management of outbreaks, health policy, environmental health, or other current and important global health topics. The certificate emphasizes multidisciplinary learning and approaches to global health challenges.

Educational Benchmarks for Certificate Program

  • To demonstrate self-guided learning habits, recognizing that experiential learning opportunities exist in many forms and that learning is a life-long endeavor.
  • To interpret quantitative and qualitative information from the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities to inform global health work.
  • To integrate contextually-grounded information about a location’s health, history, politics, culture, and environment into one’s learning experiences.
  • To practice directed self-assessment and reflection about one’s experiences and chosen profession, including consideration of one’s role as a member of an interdisciplinary team.
  • To compare and contrast the practice of health-related activities in different settings, including the social production of health and well-being.
  • To draw connections between global experiences and local needs.
  • To work effectively as a member of a diverse team to achieve shared goals.
  • To effectively communicate ideas about health to other professions, as well as to community leaders and members of the general public.
  • To recognize valuable opportunities for high and low-middle income countries to learn from one another, and creatively evaluate assets in addressing problems.
  • To model ethical models of community-based engagement, recognizing the mutual benefit to learners and to the host community.

The application period is January 15 through April 30 for the following academic year. 

In addition to the Certificate in Global Health application form, which will be available during the application period, program applicants are required to submit a current resume and original transcripts from all postsecondary schools attended. (Applicants who are currently enrolled in or have been accepted to a UW–Madison health sciences or graduate studies program may request to have copies of their transcripts sent from their program administrator to the SMPH Office of Global Health.)

Students who already hold an Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health from UW–Madison are encouraged to contact the SMPH Office of Global Health to discuss options for advanced study. Please do not apply for the graduate/professional certificate. 

Completion of a minimum of nine credits is required for the certificate, including six core course credit requirements, one of which is a credit-based global health field experience, and three elective credits. A description of the core requirements and electives is provided below.

Core course requirements

POP HLTH 718 Principles of Global Health Care Systems 12
POP HLTH 810 Global Health Epidemiology2
Students choose one of the following sequences:
POP HLTH 640 Foundations in Global Health Practice 21
Independent Study 699 31
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Global Health and Disease
and Global Health Field Course 4
Students take electives to complete credit requirements. Consult with SMPH Office of Global Health program staff for updated list.3

Global Health Field Experience

(1-6 credits in total; 1 credit counts toward certificate requirements)

A global health field course/experience is an academic credit-based learning experience in a setting relevant to global health. Field courses/experiences are generally carried out during the summer (less commonly within the normal academic calendar if they do not interfere with class attendance or completion of requirements for registered coursework); 1 week of on-site learning is equivalent to 1 credit(Please note that only one field experience credit counts toward certificate requirements; additional field course credits earned cannot be applied to the elective requirements.)

Students may elect to do: a faculty-led interdisciplinary group field course administered by the UW–Madison Office of International Academic Programs (IAP) or they may choose to design an independent field experience at the site of their choice, with approval of an academic advisor and the certificate program director. Field experiences usually take place in a country outside the United States, but may also be carried out in the U.S., working with international/underserved populations or addressing health issues that have global implications. Students may also work with international agencies, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or nongovernmental organizations.

Field experience requirements:

Students must be in good academic standing to participate in a global health field experience.

For POP HLTH 645 Global Health Field Course faculty-led group courses (Thailand, Uganda, Ecuador), students are required to take the related prerequisite campus-based course (POP HLTH 644 Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Global Health and Disease) and apply to participate in the field course through the campus-wide Office of International Academic Programs. Upon satisfactory completion of the field course, students will receive credit for POP HLTH 645 Global Health Field Course.

For independent field experiences, certificate students must prepare a proposal, to be reviewed and approved by his or her advisor and the Certificate Program Director, which describes project goals and objectives and outlines a tentative schedule of activities.  Students must register for independent study credit in an appropriate school or department (a 699 course number in most health sciences and graduate departments).  Master of Public Health (MPH) students who are also global health certificate students and doing an independent field experience should register for PUBLHLTH 788 Applied Practice Experience, in place of a 699. Please note that POP HLTH 640 Foundations in Global Health Practice, is a prerequisite for PUBLHLTH 788 Applied Practice Experience for these dual MPH/global health certificate students.

All students completing independent field experiences are required by the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) to execute an affiliation agreement between the field site organization and the SMPH/University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Upon completion of the field experience, all students must submit to the Certificate program office:

  • A summary of reflections on the field course/experience. (This may take the form of a journal kept throughout the field course/experience, or if a journal was not kept, a template will be provided.);
  • An instructor evaluation of the student; and,
  • A reference-cited, academic paper/project report.

Students completing an independent field experience will also need to submit a site evaluation.

  1. Exhibit the ability to describe and compare the health care systems in different areas of the world (such as: an understanding of pros and cons of systems, comparison to the US system, and trends in the evolution of health care systems over time).
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the epidemiology of common global health concerns, both communicable and non-communicable (such as: differences between high/middle/low income countries and programs to mitigate the impacts of these health issues such as the millennium and sustainable development goals).
  3. Demonstrate the ability to integrate information from multiple perspectives into an assessment of a country/location's health status (such as: history, politics, culture, societal structure, economics, environmental sciences, health care system(s), health databases, disease epidemiology, human rights, human subjects protections).
  4. Model ethical behavior in global health engagement (such as: appreciation of the bidirectional nature of learning and mutual benefits between stakeholders and learners, cultural humility and flexibility, recognition of the importance of program sustainability over time, openness to new information/ideas).
  5. Demonstrate professionalism, effective communication, leadership, problem-solving, and collaboration across multiple health education disciplines and stakeholders in addressing a global health issue (including an understanding of One Health approaches).
  6. Exhibit the ability for growth in one's approach to global health work through self-assessment and structured reflection (such as: personal biases and perspectives, views on equity and disparities, personal limitations)

Key Contacts:

Christopher Olsen
Director and Faculty Advisor

Betsy Teigland
Programs Coordinator

James Conway
Director, School of Medicine and Public Health Office of Global Health