Global health is about improving health for everyone, while considering the connections among people, animals, plants, and the planet. Students explore how human health intersects with economic development, healthcare access, food systems, environmental health, and climate change in order to address the root causes of disease around the world. The program helps students develop a broad, planetary-scale perspective that can be applied to community, state, national, and international health challenges.

Students in the global health major study human health and well-being with an emphasis on empathy, cultural awareness, and collaborative approaches. The major, which covers bioscience and public health, provides students with foundational knowledge in disease and epidemiology, food systems, environmental health, and public health and policy. Majors are encouraged to pursue their own areas of interest through coursework and by participating in field experiences, laboratory research, internships, and volunteer work.

The global health major prepares students for a wide variety of careers. Students can become healthcare professionals well-informed about the systems that impact patient health. They can become epidemiologists or research scientists in academia or with government agencies, or community health professionals working on policy, education, or communication for governmental agencies or non-governmental organizations anywhere in the world. The program supports students who intend to go directly into the workforce after graduation, as well as those who plan to further their education through graduate or professional programs.


Students can apply their course learning to real life by participating in global health field experiences, which provide opportunities to study and help mitigate real world health challenges. Additionally, students gain experience through laboratory courses and through independent study in research labs that focus on health-related issues such as infectious diseases, environmental health, sustainable agriculture, and community engagement. Campus internship programs through the Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers, Center for Patient Partnerships, and International Division are also options for global health majors.


Many advanced courses enroll 15-50 students allowing students to get to know faculty and instructors personally. Students also have opportunities to connect with other global health major and certificate students through classes, events, field experiences, and student organizations.


In addition to a set of core courses, students are encouraged to take classes to explore and identify their particular areas of interest within the broader field of global health. Students also tailor their major and Wisconsin Experience through global health field programs, laboratory research, capstone courses, internships, and volunteer work.


A number of first-year seminar courses are available to help new students understand academic programs, access student services, and develop time management and study skills.


Global health students learn to take a broad, planetary-scale perspective, and apply it to challenges at community, state, national, and international levels. This big-picture perspective is interwoven through nearly all aspects of the global health major, including classes, capstone experiences, lab opportunities, and internships. Global health field experiences, which range from one week to a full semester, expose students first-hand to complex global health challenges in diverse settings, and give them the opportunity to learn from community members and practitioners who are working to address these issues. Students can explore studying abroad as a Global Health major by utilizing the Global Health Major Advising Page. Students work with their advisor and the CALS study abroad office to identify appropriate programs.


To declare this as the primary major, students must be admitted to UW–Madison and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS).

Students who attend Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) with the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences have the option to declare this major at SOAR.  Students may otherwise declare after beginning their undergraduate studies at UW-Madison (see Entering the College). For more information, contact the advisor listed on the Advising and Careers tab.


Current UW-Madison students in other schools and colleges interested in completing an additional (“double”) major in Global Health should consult with a global health advisor.  Advisor contact information is found on the Advising and Careers tab. 

Students cannot earn both the Global Health certificate and the Global Health major. Additionally, students declared in the Global Health major cannot earn the Health and the Humanities certificate.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Requirements

In addition to the University General Education Requirements, all undergraduate students in CALS must satisfy a set of college and major requirements. Courses may not double count within university requirements (General Education and Breadth) or within college requirements (First-Year Seminar, International Studies, Science, and Capstone), but courses counted toward university requirements may also be used to satisfy a college and/or a major requirement; similarly, courses counted toward college requirements may also be used to satisfy a university and/or a major requirement.

College Requirements for all CALS B.S. Degree Programs

Quality of Work: Students must maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.000 to remain in good standing and be eligible for graduation.
Residency: Students must complete 30 degree credits in residence at UW–Madison after earning 86 credits toward their undergraduate degree.
First Year Seminar1
International Studies3
Physical Science Fundamentals4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Biological Science5
Additional Science (Biological, Physical, or Natural)3
Science Breadth (Biological, Physical, Natural, or Social)3
CALS Capstone Learning Experience: included in the requirements for each CALS major (see "Major Requirements")

Major Requirements

Major Requirements Overview
Fundamental Courses29
Core Courses15
Depth Courses15
Total Credits62

Fundamental Courses

Fundamental Course Requirements
Mathematics: complete one sequence (or satisfy through placement exam)5-6
and Trigonometry
Algebra and Trigonometry
Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry I
and Calculus with Algebra and Trigonometry II
Statistics: complete one course3
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Data Science Modeling I
Introduction to Statistical Methods
General Chemistry: complete one sequence5-10
General Chemistry I
and General Chemistry II
Advanced General Chemistry
Chemical Principles I
and Chemical Principles II
Introductory Biology: complete one sequence10
Introductory Biology
and Introductory Biology
Animal Biology
and Animal Biology Laboratory
and General Botany
Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics
and Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics Laboratory
and Cellular Biology
and Cellular Biology Laboratory
Global Health Introductory Social Sciences6-8
Group A: complete one course (see list below)
Group B: complete one course (see list below)
Total Credits29-37

Social Science Group A

AFROAMER 151 Introduction to Contemporary Afro-American Society3
AMER IND 100 Introduction to American Indian Studies3
ANTHRO 265 Introduction to Culture and Health3
GEN&WS 102 Gender, Women, and Society in Global Perspective3
GEN&WS 103 Gender, Women, Bodies, and Health3
GEN&WS 104 Gender, Sexuality, and Global Health3
SOC 134 Sociology of Race & Ethnicity in the United States3-4
SOC 170 Population Problems3-4

Social Science Group B

A A E 215 Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics4
A A E/​ENVIR ST  244 The Environment and the Global Economy4
AGROECOL/​AGRONOMY/​C&E SOC/​ENTOM/​ENVIR ST  103 Agroecology: An Introduction to the Ecology of Food and Agriculture3
C&E SOC/​SOC  140 Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology4
C&E SOC/​F&W ECOL/​SOC  248 Environment, Natural Resources, and Society3
GEOG 101 Introduction to Human Geography4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  139 Global Environmental Issues3
INTL ST 101 Introduction to International Studies3-4
LSC 212 Introduction to Scientific Communication3
LSC 251 Science, Media and Society3
MED HIST/​ANTHRO  231 Introduction to Social Medicine3
PHILOS 241 Introductory Ethics3-4
POLI SCI 272 Introduction to Public Policy3-4
RELIG ST 102 Exploring Religion in Sickness and Health3

Core Courses

Global Health Core Course Requirements
Gateway Core Requirement: complete one course3
Our Planet, Our Health
Public Health Core Requirement: complete one course3
Introduction to Public Health
Introduction to Global Health
Food Systems and Health Core Requirement: complete one course3
Global Food Production and Health
Global Food Security
Environmental Health Core Requirement: complete one course3-4
Global Health: Economics, Natural Systems, and Policy
Global Environmental Health: An Interdisciplinary Introduction
Global Disease Biology and Epidemiology Core Requirement: complete one course3
Introduction to Disease Biology
Introduction to Epidemiology
Total Credits15-16

Depth Courses

Complete a minimum of 15 credits of depth courses, with at least 9 credits from one category and at least 6 credits from the other categories. NUTR SCI/​INTER-AG  421 Global Health Field Experience can count for a maximum of 3 credits in the additional 6 credits from this requirement. Note: Courses used as Depth courses cannot double count as either Core or Capstone courses.

Public Health, Policy, and Development Depth Electives

A A E/​INTL ST  373 Globalization, Poverty and Development3
C&E SOC/​SOC  533 Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities3
CSCS 410 Human Trafficking: Global and Local Perspectives3
CSCS 470 The Human Rights of Children and Youth: Global and Local Perspectives3
CSCS 500 Global Health and Communities: From Research to Praxis3
ECON/​POP HLTH/​PUB AFFR  548 The Economics of Health Care3-4
ED POL 677 3
FRENCH 288 Doctors without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières)3
GEN&WS 525 Gender and Global Health in Critical Perspective3
GEN&WS 534 Gender, Sexuality, and Reproduction: Public Health Perspectives3
GEN&WS/​INTL ST  535 Women's Global Health and Human Rights3
GEN&WS/​HIST SCI  537 Childbirth in the United States3
GEOG 307 International Migration, Health, and Human Rights3
HISTORY/​INTL ST  330 Global History of Humanitarianism3-4
I SY E 417 Health Systems Engineering3
LEGAL ST 473 Health Impacts of Unmet Social Needs3
LSC/​COM ARTS/​JOURN  617 Health Communication in the Information Age3
LSC 625 Risk Communication3
MED HIST/​PHILOS  505 Justice and Health Care3
MED HIST/​HIST SCI  509 The Development of Public Health in America3
MED HIST/​PHILOS  515 Public Health Ethics3
MED HIST/​AFROAMER/​HIST SCI  523 Race, American Medicine and Public Health3
MED HIST/​PHILOS  558 Ethical Issues in Health Care3
MED HIST/​HIST SCI/​HISTORY  564 Disease, Medicine and Public Health in the History of Latin America and the Caribbean3
NUTR SCI 379 Introduction to Epidemiology3
POP HLTH/​C&E SOC  370 Introduction to Public Health3
POP HLTH/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  553 International Health and Global Society3
PUB AFFR 520 Inequality, Race and Public Policy3
RELIG ST 475 Religion, Global and Public Health3
SOC/​C&E SOC  343 Sociology of Health and Medicine3
SOC/​AMER IND/​C&E SOC  578 Poverty and Place3
SOC/​C&E SOC  630 Sociology of Developing Societies/Third World3

Food Systems and Nutrition Depth Electives

A A E 319 The International Agricultural Economy3
A A E/​ECON  477 Agricultural and Economic Development in Africa3
AGRONOMY/​HORT  338 Plant Breeding and Biotechnology3
AGRONOMY 377 Global Food Production and Health3
AN SCI/​DY SCI  370 Livestock Production and Health in Agricultural Development3
BIOCHEM/​NUTR SCI  510 Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism3
BOTANY/​AMER IND/​ANTHRO  474 Ethnobotany3-4
C&E SOC/​A A E/​SOC  340 Issues in Food Systems3-4
C&E SOC/​SOC  341 Labor in Global Food Systems3
DY SCI/​AGRONOMY  471 Food Production Systems and Sustainability3
DY SCI/​AN SCI/​FOOD SCI/​SOIL SCI  472 Animal Agriculture and Global Sustainable Development1
DY SCI/​AN SCI/​FOOD SCI/​SOIL SCI  473 International Field Study in Animal Agriculture and Sustainable Development2
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  309 People, Land and Food: Comparative Study of Agriculture Systems3
HORT 350 Plants and Human Wellbeing2
HORT/​AGRONOMY  360 Genetically Modified Crops: Science, Regulation & Controversy2
HORT/​AGRONOMY  376 Tropical Horticultural Systems2
HORT 380 Indigenous Foodways: Food and Seed Sovereignty2
MED HIST/​AGRONOMY/​C&E SOC/​PHILOS  565 The Ethics of Modern Biotechnology3
MICROBIO/​FOOD SCI  325 Food Microbiology3
NUTR SCI 332 Human Nutritional Needs3
NUTR SCI/​A A E/​AGRONOMY  350 World Hunger and Malnutrition3
NUTR SCI 377 Cultural Aspects of Food and Nutrition3
NUTR SCI 431 Nutrition in the Life Span3
NUTR SCI/​POP HLTH  621 Introduction to Nutritional Epidemiology1
PL PATH 311 Global Food Security3
SOIL SCI 301 General Soil Science3

Ecosystem Sustainability and Planetary Health Depth Electives

A A E/​ECON/​ENVIR ST  343 Environmental Economics3-4
A A E 352 Global Health: Economics, Natural Systems, and Policy4
AGRONOMY/​BOTANY/​SOIL SCI  370 Grassland Ecology3
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology4
BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  651 Conservation Biology3
CIV ENGR/​G L E  421 Environmental Sustainability Engineering3
CIV ENGR 423 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control3
C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST/​SOC  540 Sociology of International Development, Environment, and Sustainability3
C&E SOC/​SOC  541 Environmental Stewardship and Social Justice3
ENVIR ST/​AMER IND  306 Indigenous Peoples and the Environment3
ENVIR ST/​PHILOS  441 Environmental Ethics3-4
ENVIR ST/​HISTORY  465 Global Environmental History3-4
F&W ECOL/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  360 Extinction of Species3
GEOG/​ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  332 Global Warming: Science and Impacts3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  337 Nature, Power and Society3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  339 Environmental Conservation4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​F&W ECOL/​G L E/​GEOSCI/​LAND ARC  371 Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing3
GEOG/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST  377 An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems4
GEOG/​SOIL SCI  526 Human Transformations of Earth Surface Processes3
LAND ARC 360 Earth Partnership Restoration Education: Indigenous Arts & Sciences1
LAND ARC 363 Earth Partnership: Restoration Education for Equity and Resilience3
M&ENVTOX/​CIV ENGR/​SOIL SCI  631 Toxicants in the Environment: Sources, Distribution, Fate, & Effects3
M&ENVTOX/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​F&W ECOL  632 Ecotoxicology: The Chemical Players1
M&ENVTOX/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​F&W ECOL  633 Ecotoxicology: Impacts on Individuals1
M&ENVTOX/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​F&W ECOL  634 Ecotoxicology: Impacts on Populations, Communities and Ecosystems1
MICROBIO/​SOIL SCI  425 Environmental Microbiology3
POP HLTH/​ENVIR ST  471 Introduction to Environmental Health3
POP HLTH/​ENVIR ST  502 Air Pollution and Human Health3
SOIL SCI/​PL PATH  323 Soil Biology3
SOIL SCI/​ENVIR ST  324 Soils and Environmental Quality3
URB R PL 550 Transportation and the Built Environment3

Disease Biology Depth Electives

ANAT&PHY 335 Physiology5
ANAT&PHY 435 Fundamentals of Human Physiology5
AN SCI/​DY SCI  320 Animal Health and Disease3
BIOCHEM 301 Survey of Biochemistry3
BIOCHEM 501 Introduction to Biochemistry3
BIOCORE 485 Principles of Physiology3
BIOCORE 486 Principles of Physiology Laboratory2
BIOCORE 587 Biological Interactions3
ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  371 Medical Entomology3
GENETICS 466 Principles of Genetics3
GENETICS 548 The Genomic Revolution3
GENETICS/​MD GENET  565 Human Genetics3
M M & I 301 Pathogenic Bacteriology2
M M & I 341 Immunology3
M M & I/​PATH-BIO  528 Immunology3
M M & I 554 Emerging Infectious Diseases and Bioterrorism2
M M & I/​BIOCHEM  575 Biology of Viruses2
MICROBIO 303 Biology of Microorganisms3
MICROBIO 304 Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory2
MICROBIO 330 Host-Parasite Interactions3
MICROBIO/​AN SCI/​BOTANY  335 The Microbiome of Plants, Animals, and Humans3
MICROBIO 345 Introduction to Disease Biology3
PATH 404 Pathophysiologic Principles of Human Diseases3
PATH-BIO/​ENTOM/​M M & I/​ZOOLOGY  350 Parasitology3
POP HLTH 603 5


Global Health Capstone Requirement (complete one option) 3
Systems Thinking in Global Health
Biological Interactions
Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities
Global Health and Communities: From Research to Praxis
Food Production Systems and Sustainability
Women's Global Health and Human Rights

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Describe the current status of health, well-being and sustainability for humans and all life, the environment, and the planet.
  2. Compare and contrast health and environmental conditions in the context of local settings and our state with national, international and global settings.
  3. Quantify health challenges in terms of the global burden of disease, the human development index, and the metrics associated with the sustainable development goals and the planetary health boundaries.
  4. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary initiatives and programs to improve global public health and sustainable systems.
  5. Use socioeconomic and political frameworks to characterize health challenges and demonstrate social awareness.
  6. Demonstrate interpersonal and communication skills necessary for teamwork and leadership, ethical conduct, cross-cultural collaboration and civic engagement.
  7. Use a systems approach to analyze complex relationships related to creating conditions for healthy life, sustainability and survival and describe the challenges and opportunities related to sustainable systems and survival.


First Year
Global Health Core Course3Global Health Core Course3
CHEM 1034CHEM 1045
MATH 1133LSC 1003
CALS First Year Seminar1Social Science Category A or B3-4
 13 15-16
Second Year
Global Health Core Course3Global Health Core Course3
STAT 3713Social Science Category A or B3-4
Ethnic Studies3Electives4
 14 15-16
Third Year
Global Health Core Course3Global Health Depth Courses6
Global Health Depth Course3Humanities3
 16 15
Fourth Year
Global Health Depth Course3Global Health Depth Course3
Global Health Capstone3Humanities3
 16 15
Total Credits 119-121

Students must complete at least 120 total credits to be eligible for graduation.


Each student is assigned an academic advisor who works to understand student goals and helps each student shape their unique Wisconsin Experience and make the most of their time at UW–Madison. Advisors also provide students career advising, as well as resources and guidance on planning for post-college activities such as graduate/professional school and “gap year” experiences.

Connect with Global Health Advisors

Career opportunities

The knowledge and skills developed through the global health major prepare students for success in a wide range of careers. Global health students are prepared to become physicians, nurses, researchers, public health officials, policy makers, data analysts, administrators, non-profit employees, educators, and communications specialists in fields related to public health, epidemiology, environmental health, and international development.

Examples of employers seeking individuals with global health training include international agencies (such as the World Health Organization); federal agencies (such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention); state and county health departments (such as the Wisconsin Department of Health Services); non-profit organizations (such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), hospitals; universities; research centers; and biotech companies.

Faculty and instructors

Jeri Barak, Department of Plant Pathology

Kerri Coon, Department of Bacteriology

Lori DiPrete Brown, Department of Civil Society and Community Studies

Joshua Garoon, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology

Malia Jones, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology

Richard Keller, Department of Medical History and Bioethics

Susan Paskewitz, Department of Entomology (faculty director)

Jonathan Patz, Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies

Paul Peppard, Department of Population Health Sciences

Daniel Phaneuf, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics

Sherry Tanumihardjo, Department of Nutritional Sciences

Valentin Picasso Risso, Department of Agronomy

Devika Suri, Department of Nutritional Sciences

Monica White, Department of Community and Environmental Sociology

Advising hub Staff

Todd Courtenay, Advisor and Associate Director

Kelcey Daniels, Advisor

Megan Juneau, Advisor



Issues related to global health occur everywhere—at community, state, national and international levels—and global health majors are strongly encouraged to participate in one of many field experience options to learn about and help mitigate these challenges. Field experiences can take place locally or internationally, and they range in length from one week to an entire semester. All options emphasize human health and sustainable systems, and help provide students a more personal connection to what they are learning—whether in Kenosha or Kenya.


Students have numerous volunteer activities to choose from related to health improvement. The Morgridge Center for Public Service provides resources to help students connect with volunteer opportunities based on their interests and goals.


Global health majors are encouraged to join research teams and laboratories, where they can get involved in health-related research on infectious diseases, environmental health, sustainable agriculture, and community engagement. Many students take advantage of such research opportunities, receiving direct mentorship from professors, scientists, and graduate students.


There are numerous campus student organizations that global health majors can join to connect with students with similar interests. A full list of organizations is available on the Wisconsin Involvement Network website.


A number of campus internship programs are available that are a good fit for global health majors, including opportunities through the Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers, Center for Patient Partnerships, and the International Division.


Students in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences receive more than $1.25 million in scholarships annually, including funding to help support global health majors who participate in field experiences and study abroad. Students apply for these scholarships through a single application in the Wisconsin Scholarship Hub (WiSH). To learn more about college scholarships please visit the CALS scholarship website.