The undergraduate certificate in global health is a 15-credit program open to all undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

All students, especially those who identify as pre-health, are familiar with the concept of health care, the idea of preventing and treating mental and physical health conditions in individuals. The certificate's coursework discusses medicine and particularly the need to improve access to care for all, but it also introduces students to the field of public health, a model for promoting health and well-being that seeks to identify and address the root causes of health problems for populations rather than for individuals.

Public health practitioners focus on preventive, population-level approaches to health promotion. For example, public health work related to substance abuse among UW–Madison students involves education and outreach to high-risk groups as well as facilitating access to treatment. Other public health researchers, government officials, nonprofit staff, and community leaders might work with entire rural communities in a developing country to improve access to clean water, or work on a global scale to try to reduce migration driven by climate change-related declines in food production. 

Solutions to global health problems require expertise from many disciplines, and the certificate welcomes both pre-health science students and a diversity of other students who are passionate about improving the well-being of humans, animals, and the environment through changes in politics, economics, culture, and society in general. 

Certificate students must complete credit-bearing field work, but may or may not actually go abroad to do it—the "global" in "global health" refers both to our desire to achieve equity in health for all people worldwide and to the goal of studying and finding solutions to health issues that cross both geographic and socioeconomic boundaries. There are large differences or "disparities" in health and well-being between different populations in Madison and across the United States such that many students choose to study a health problem locally and make connections to the handling of the same problem in other populations and places.

The certificate is administered by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) and the Global Health Institute (GHI) in partnership with faculty and staff across campus.            

Learn more about the program on its website.

Undergraduate students from all majors on campus are encouraged to consider completing the Certificate in Global Health. Keep in mind that once you finish the requirements of your degree and major, you may not extend your time on campus just to compete a certificate.

Students may declare after completing any one of the program's three core courses. To declare, either make an appointment with your assigned Global Health certificate advisor or fill out the brief form on the program's website.

Minimum Requirements

  • 2.0 GPA in certificate courses
  • At least 50% of certificate coursework taken in residence
Core Courses
NUTR SCI/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM  203 Introduction to Global Health3
MED HIST/​ENVIR ST  213 Global Environmental Health: An Interdisciplinary Introduction 13
or POP HLTH 370 Introduction to Public Health: Local to Global Perspectives
Field Experience
Field experiences range in length from one week to an entire semester and typically carry from one to four credits. The field experience can be completed in the US or abroad but must be completed for credit and must be approved by certificate staff. Some experiences are "preapproved" while others such as internships must be submitted for approval. Volunteering that includes clinical work is strongly discouraged and is not accepted as field experience. See the program's field experience web page for more details.1-4
Select from electives list (see below) to reach a minimum of 15 credits total for the certificate.6-8

Global Health electives grouped by functional AREA

Agronomy/Horticulture/Plant Breeding
AGRONOMY 377 Cropping Systems of the Tropics3
BOTANY/​PL PATH  123 Plants, Parasites, and People3
BOTANY 240 Plants and Humans3
BOTANY/​AMER IND/​ANTHRO  474 Ethnobotany3-4
HORT 350 Plants and Human Wellbeing2
HORT 370 World Vegetable Crops3
Animal Science/Dairy Science
AN SCI/​DY SCI  370 Livestock Production and Health in Agricultural Development3
DY SCI/​AN SCI/​FOOD SCI/​SOIL SCI  472 Animal Agriculture and Global Sustainable Development1
Community Health
C&E SOC/​SOC  532 Health Care Issues for Individuals, Families and Society3
C&E SOC/​SOC  533 Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities3
Environmental Health/Environmental Science/Environmental Economics
A A E/​ENVIR ST  244 The Environment and the Global Economy4
A A E/​ECON/​ENVIR ST  343 Environmental Economics3-4
BOTANY/​ENVIR ST/​ZOOLOGY  260 Introductory Ecology3
BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  460 General Ecology4
CIV ENGR 422 Elements of Public Health Engineering3
CIV ENGR 423 Air Pollution Effects, Measurement and Control3
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  471 Introduction to Environmental Health3
ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  502 Air Pollution and Human Health3
ENVIR ST/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  513 Environment and Health in Global Perspective3
POP HLTH/​ENVIR ST  560 Health Impact Assessment of Global Environmental Change3
SOIL SCI/​ATM OCN  132 Earth's Water: Natural Science and Human Use3
ENTOM/​ZOOLOGY  371 Medical Entomology3
Exercise Science
KINES 353 Health and Physical Education in a Multicultural Society2
KINES 355 Socio-Cultural Aspects of Physical Activity3
Health Economics/Health Finance
ECON/​POP HLTH/​PUB AFFR  548 The Economics of Health Care3-4
Health Education/Behavioral Sciences
ED POL 150 Education and Public Policy (Sexuality and Education; Education and Global Change) 13
Health Policy
POLI SCI/​INTL ST  434 The Politics of Human Rights (Health Policy) 13-4
SOC WORK 206 Introduction to Social Policy4
Health Promotion and Communications
COM ARTS/​JOURN/​LSC  617 Health Communication in the Information Age3
LSC 515 Social Marketing Campaigns in Science, Health and the Environment3
Infectious Diseases
M M & I 301 Pathogenic Bacteriology2
M M & I 554 Emerging Infectious Diseases and Bioterrorism2
M M & I 555 Vaccines: Practical Issues for a Global Society3
PATH/​PATH-BIO  210 HIV: Sex, Society and Science3
PATH 404 Pathophysiologic Principles of Human Diseases3
POP HLTH/​M M & I  603 Clinical and Public Health Microbiology5
Maternal and Child Health
SOC WORK 646 Child Abuse and Neglect2-3
DS 527 Global Artisans3
DS 341 Design Thinking for Transformation3
Minority Health and Health Disparities
AFROAMER/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  523 Race, American Medicine and Public Health3
ASIAN AM 240 Topics in Asian American Studies (Hmong Refugee History) 13
RP & SE 660 Special Topics (Health Promotion for Disabilities and Chronic Illness) 11-6
Multicultural Studies
ANTHRO 104 Cultural Anthropology and Human Diversity3
ANTHRO 365 Medical Anthropology3
Nutrition/Public Health Nutrition
A A E/​AGRONOMY/​INTER-AG/​NUTR SCI  350 World Hunger and Malnutrition3
C&E SOC/​SOC  222 Food, Culture, and Society3
NUTR SCI 132 Nutrition Today3
or NUTR SCI 332 Human Nutritional Needs
NUTR SCI/​BIOCHEM  510 Nutritional Biochemistry and Metabolism3
PL PATH 311 Global Food Security3
M M & I/​ENTOM/​PATH-BIO/​ZOOLOGY  350 Parasitology3
Population Sciences
SOC 170 Population Problems3-4
Poverty and Development
A A E/​INTL ST  373 Globalization, Poverty and Development3
A A E/​ECON  474 Economic Problems of Developing Areas3
A A E/​ECON  477 Agricultural and Economic Development in Africa3
C&E SOC/​F&W ECOL/​SOC  248 Environment, Natural Resources, and Society3
C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST/​SOC  540 Sociology of International Development, Environment, and Sustainability3
C&E SOC/​AMER IND/​SOC  578 Poverty and Place3
C&E SOC/​SOC  630 Sociology of Developing Societies/Third World3
ECON 448 Human Resources and Economic Growth3-4
HDFS/​CNSR SCI  465 Families & Poverty3
GEOG 307 International Migration, Health, and Human Rights3
INTL ST 101 Introduction to International Studies3-4
INTL ST 402 Topics in Politics and Policy in the Global Economy (Global Poverty and Inequality) 13-4
Public Health Ethics
MED HIST/​PHILOS  505 Justice and Health Care3
MED HIST/​PHILOS  515 Public Health Ethics3
MED HIST 559 Topics in Ethics and History of Medicine (Climate Change Ethics) 13
Public Health Leadership
POP HLTH 504 Health Care Quality Improvement in Low Resource Settings1
SOC WORK 659 International Aspects of Social Work2-3
Public Health Medicine
INTER-AG/​INTER-LS  152 Ways of Knowing: Medicine and Society1
MED HIST/​HIST SCI  212 Bodies, Diseases, and Healers: An Introduction to the History of Medicine3
NURSING/​S&A PHM/​SOC WORK  105 Health Care Systems: Interdisciplinary Approach2
PHM SCI 310 Drugs and Their Actions2
PHM PRAC 305 Consumer Self-Care and Over-the-Counter Drugs2
NURSING 436 Health and Illness Concepts with Individuals, Families, and Communities: Experiential Learning2-4
Public Health Practice
CSCS 500 Global Health and Communities: From Research to Praxis3
MED HIST/​HIST SCI  509 The Development of Public Health in America3
MED HIST/​HIST SCI/​POP HLTH  553 International Health and Global Society3
Social Determinants of Health
ART HIST 103 Topics in Art History (The Body, Sex, and Health in Art) 13-4
HISTORY/​HIST SCI/​MED HIST  504 Society and Health Care in American History3
MED HIST/​HIST SCI/​HISTORY  564 Disease, Medicine and Public Health in the History of Latin America and the Caribbean3
RELIG ST 101 Religion in Global Perspective3
RELIG ST 102 Exploring Religion in Sickness and Health3
RELIG ST 103 Exploring Religion and Sexuality3
S&A PHM 490 Selected Topics in Social and Administrative Pharmacy (Health Equity and Social Justice) 11-4
F&W ECOL/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​M&ENVTOX  632 Ecotoxicology: The Chemical Players1
F&W ECOL/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​M&ENVTOX  633 Ecotoxicology: Impacts on Individuals1
F&W ECOL/​AGRONOMY/​ENTOM/​M&ENVTOX  634 Ecotoxicology: Impacts on Populations, Communities and Ecosystems1
Veterinary Public Health
F&W ECOL/​SURG SCI  548 Diseases of Wildlife3
Women's Health
GEN&WS 102 Gender, Women, and Society in Global Perspective3
GEN&WS 103 Gender, Women, Bodies, and Health3
GEN&WS 320 Special Topics in Gender, Women and Society (The Female Body in the World: Gender and Body Politics) 11-3
GEN&WS 424 Women's International Human Rights3
GEN&WS/​PSYCH  522 Psychology of Women and Gender3
GEN&WS/​INTL ST  535 Women's Global Health and Human Rights3

Footnotes related to electives


This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

  1. Understand the global burden of disease, threats to well-being, and the root causes of these conditions.
  2. Identify parallels between local, domestic, and international health issues.
  3. Become informed citizens in an increasingly interconnected world.
  4. Collaborate and communicate effectively with diverse colleagues and local partners.
  5. Respectfully engage with other cultures.


Students interested in the Certificate in Global Health can schedule an appointment with an advisor.


Last names A-K:
Todd Courtenay
Link to schedule an appointment through Starfish

Last names L-P:
Katie Freeman
Starfish appointment schedule link

Last names Q-Z:
Devika Suri
Starfish appointment schedule link


The knowledge and skills developed through the Certificate in Global Health prepare students for success in a range of career paths. Some graduates may use their global health education to go into a healthcare profession, while others may choose careers as researchers, policy-makers, administrators, non-profit workers, educators, data analysts, and communicators in fields related to public health, epidemiology, environmental health, or international development. The certificate supports students who intend to go directly into the workforce after graduation, as well as those who intend to further their education through graduate or professional programs.

Because an interest in global health can lead to many different careers, students are encouraged to begin the career exploration process early in their UW-Madison journey by working with advisors, faculty, and career resources on campus. These resources can help students reflect on their values and goals, identify career paths, and outline strategies for pursuing their goals. UW-Madison has a number of dedicated career resources for undergraduate students, including CALS Career Services, the Career Exploration Center, L&S SuccessWorks, and the Center for Pre-Health Advising.

Please see the Certificate in Global Health website for a list of certificate staff and ways to contact them.

A unique aspect of the certificate is the requirement of a field experience, which can take the form of a study abroad field course, an internship, or site visits right here in Wisconsin. You will have the opportunity to get out of the classroom and see the connections between human, animal, and environmental health while deepening your understanding of the social and cultural contexts that influence health and wellness. The experience also increases your comfort in working with a diversity of people and introduces you to many types of careers in global health.

Click here to learn more about our field experiences or set up an appointment to talk with an advisor.