University of Iowa

Global Health Studies

The UI Global Health Studies Program offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the complex factors influencing health and disease locally and around the world.

Students can choose from a B.A., B.S., a minor, or a certificate (which is available to both undergraduate and graduate/professional students).

The program encourages students to engage in experiential learning opportunities such as study abroad, internships, research, service learning, and capstone courses which allow them to develop real world skills related to major global health issues. These experiences help students define and achieve their post-graduation and career goals. Importantly, the Global Health Studies Program supports student involvement in experiential learning only if it is conducted through reputable organizations which uphold ethical and health standards for both students and local populations worldwide.

The Global Health Studies B.A. and B.S. do not require study abroad. They do require Capstone coursework, and Perspectives and Practices coursework, which in some cases can be satisfied by study abroad coursework (consult the Global Health Studies academic advisor for pre-approval of study abroad coursework for the major).

The Global Health Studies Certificate requires a Global Health Project during which students address an important global health issue in a systematic way. The Global Health Project may be completed as part of a study abroad program.

Global Health Studies graduates find employment in a range of global health related sectors such as non-profit organizations, immigrant and refugee health, community-based health education, governmental agencies, health policy, and advocacy. Global Health Studies alumni also go on to graduate/professional programs in public health, international development, medicine, pharmacy, nursing, law, urban and regional planning, sustainable agriculture, non-profit management, and public administration.

More information about the UI Global Health Studies Program can be found on the GHSP website.

Global Health Studies student while studying water quality in The Gambia
Global Health Studies student while studying water quality in The Gambia

Any time is a good time to study abroad for Global Health Studies majors.

For students completing the Global Health Studies Certificate, the summer after your sophomore or junior year is an ideal time to complete the Global Health Project.  If you choose the study abroad option for the project, semester–long programs are also recommended— the spring semester of your junior year and the fall semester of your senior year are the ideal times to go abroad.

Students must complete GHS:3010 Identifying/Developing a Global Health Project before completing the required Global Health Project, and this course is offered during the fall semester only.  This course will help you identify and develop a topic for your project that will satisfy the requirement as well as guide you in applying for funding to support that project.

During the semester immediately following the completion of the Global Health Project, certificate students must submit a report and give a presentation about their project, so be sure to leave yourself time after returning from abroad to do this.

Of course, your major requirements will also dictate when you can study abroad. As you schedule your study abroad experience, be sure to refer to the Major Advising Page corresponding with your major and/or contact an academic advisor in your major department for additional information.

A Global Health Studies student working on food sovereignty in the Dominican Republic
A Global Health Studies student working on food sovereignty in the Dominican Republic

Although study abroad is not required for the Global Health Studies B.A. or B.S., study abroad coursework can be used to satisfy requirements for the B.A. (Capstone or Perspectives and Practices) and the B.S. (Perspectives and Practices). Study abroad is also a way to begin exploring a major topic in global health firsthand, which can then become the basis for an honors thesis in Global Health Studies.

Global Health Studies student studying community-based palm oil production in Ghana
Global Health Studies student studying community-based palm oil production in Ghana

The Global Health Studies Certificate requires a Global Health Project which may be completed as part of a study abroad program, a service learning course, an internship, a volunteer experience, or an independent research project. Six to eight weeks is considered the optimal amount of time to meet this requirement. Detailed information about the Global Health Project (including examples of past student projects and instructions for submitting a project proposal for approval) is on the GHSP website.

Participating in a study abroad program related to Global Health is an excellent way to fulfill this requirement as it allows you to experience another culture without having to navigate life in an international setting on your own.  A maximum of 3 semester hours of transfer credit earned abroad can be applied toward your Global Health Certificate elective requirements. For a list of study abroad programs relevant to Global Health Studies, see the "Programs" tab.

Global Health Studies student evaluating the impact of biodigestors in rural Costa Rica

Consult the Global Health Studies academic advisor about pre-approval of credit toward the Global Health Studies major or certificate for courses, internships and/or research completed abroad, or use the online Global Health Studies petition form.

Global Health Studies student evaluating the impact of biodigestors in rural Costa Rica

Global Health Studies Certificate students may conduct research abroad in order to satisfy the Global Health Project requirement. Students completing the Honors Global Health Studies B.A. or B.S. might also choose to complete research abroad as part of their Global Health Studies honors thesis. Global Health Studies research projects can involve a variety of research methods. Past projects have focused on sickle cell anemia in Uganda, traditional and modern medicine in Madagascar, community health benefits of biodigestor technology in Costa Rica, and more. All students completing research projects abroad work closely with their Global Health Studies faculty mentor. For advice about finding a faculty mentor and developing a project, consult the Global Health Studies academic advisor.

Global Health Studies students interested in conducting research abroad are encouraged to apply for a Stanley Award to fund their project. Stanley Awards can be used to fund both independent research and projects completed in conjunction with a study abroad program. Global Health Studies students will be advised about the application process for the Stanley Award in GHS:3010 Identifying/Developing a Global Health Project (offered in the fall semester only).

Because it can be difficult to navigate life in an international setting, it is recommended that you travel abroad via a UI-sponsored or other accredited program that will provide you with basic infrastructural support (e.g. housing, access to public transportation, embassy contact, etc.). Many study abroad programs incorporate research and internship components. It is also possible to use your time in a program to establish contacts and familiarize yourself with the culture of the area, then return to complete an internship or research project later.

Various study abroad scholarships are available for UI students. Please visit the Undergraduate Scholarships for Study Abroad page for more information.

Global Health Studies student while researching her honors thesis on the health and environmental effects of cook stoves in India
Global Health Studies student while researching her honors thesis on the health and environmental effects of cook stoves in India

The following study abroad programs incorporate global health-themed coursework, internships, and/or research opportunities. All offer courses that may be approved as Global Health Studies Certificate Electives, Global Health Studies B.A. Capstone or Perspectives and Practices courses, or Global Health Studies B.S. Perspectives and Practices courses.

The programs that are 6 - 8 weeks or longer can also be considered for approval for the Global Health Project, which is required only for the Global Health Studies Certificate.

Consult the Global Health Studies academic advisor about pre-approval of credit toward the Global Health Studies major or certificate from courses, internships and/or research completed abroad, or use the online Global Health Studies petition form.

While we suggest that you first consider the recommended programs below, feel free to also browse the programs database on our website and/or consult materials and staff in the Study Abroad Resource Room (located in the Study Abroad office, 1111 University Capitol Centre).

Programs to Consider for the Global Health Project

Programs to Consider for GHS Elective, Capstone, or Perspectives and Practices

PROGRAMS TO CONSIDER FOR THE GLOBAL HEALTH PROJECT (6 - 8 WEEKS OR LONGER). THESE MAY ALSO BE APPLIED TOWARD GHS ELECTIVES, CAPSTONE, OR PERSPECTIVES AND PRACTICES REQUIREMENTS.

CIEE Community Public Health Programs

These programs combine coursework (on issues that global communities face in addressing the social determinants of health), with a community service practicum (during which students work in government-sponsored clinics or other public health-focused non-governmental organizations) or field research (guided by local public health practitioners and academics).

CIEE Buenos Aires Community Public Health Program (Argentina)

* Some previous study of the Spanish language required.

CIEE Gaborone Community Public Health Program (Botswana)

CIEE Khon Kaen Community Public Health Program (Thailand)

CIEE Santiago de los Caballeros Community Public Health Program (Dominican Republic)

Ewha University Exchange

Ewha Womans University Exchange (South Korea)

The Ewha Womans University Exchange program offers students of all genders the opportunity to study at the world's largest female educational institute and one of the top universities in Korea for a semester, academic year, calendar year. or summer. Participation in this program does not require any prior knowledge of the Korean language, as there are diverse course offerings in English. Health studies students may find major-related, English-taught courses, as well as language or Gen-Ed courses, to fill their minimum 12 s.h. schedule.

IES Programs

IES Cape Town Health Studies (South Africa)

Students learn about the South African effort to deliver health care effectively to the country’s urban and rural residents through a combination of classroom lectures and observational experiences.

IES London and Jamaica Health Practice and Policy (United Kingdom and Jamaica)

While based in London, students will take courses at both local universities and at the IES center focusing on health care systems. An extended excursion to Kingston, Jamaica is included and offers an opportunity to study and compare the British and Jamaican health care systems.

IES Santiago Health Studies (Chile)

All classes are taught in Spanish and proficiency in Spanish is required. This program includes 80 hours of observership which can focus on either clinical observation (in hospital and clinic settings) or community health observation (in non-profit organization settings).

Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research and Training (MHIRT)

MHIRT International Research Internship Program

UI-affiliated, for-credit summer internships funded by the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research and Training (MHIRT) program of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID)

These programs provide students direct contact with social and economic realities of communities through classes (seven weeks), field trips, and research or an internship (six weeks). Internship placement will be with an agency engaged in grassroots work related to your topic (such as women’s groups, small business development, environmental protection, sustainable agriculture, or public health). 

Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID) Ecuador

* Some previous study of the Spanish language required.

Minnesota Studies in International Development (MSID) Senegal

* Some previous study of the French language required.

SIT Study Abroad Programs

These global health programs combine classroom instruction and field study in a variety of locations. Students advance from a structured learning environment (i.e. an interdisciplinary seminar with field-based activities and a research methods course) to an independent field-based research project on a global health topic of their choice. Some projects may include community volunteering or a guided practicum experience.

SIT Argentina Public Health in Urban Environments

* Some previous study of the Spanish language required.

SIT Brazil Public Health, Race, and Human Rights

SIT Chile Public Health, Traditional Medicine, and Community Empowerment

* Some previous study of the Spanish language required.

SIT China Community Health

SIT India Public Health, Policy Advocacy, and Community

SIT India Traditional Medicine and Healthcare Practices

SIT Jordan Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action

SIT Madagascar Traditional Medicine & Healthcare Systems

SIT Multi-Country Programs

SIT South Africa Community Health and Social Policy

SIT Switzerland Global Health and Development Policy

USAC San Ramón Program (San Ramón, Costa Rica)

Courses in the Life and Health Sciences and Culture Studies program are taught in Spanish and English. Internships—which require some previous study of the Spanish language—are in Spanish-speaking environments such as local hospitals, pharmacies, NGOs, community/educational centers, and municipal health offices.

USAC Reggio Emilia Program (Reggio Emilia, Italy)

The Reggio Emilia program is ideal for students interested in studying Italian language, education, communications, and health issues in a charming, midsize city in north-central Italy.

PROGRAMS TO CONSIDER FOR GHS ELECTIVE, CAPSTONE OR PERSPECTIVES AND PRACTICES CREDIT (LESS THAN 6 WEEKS)

While the programs below do not fulfill the Global Health Project requirement for the certificate because they are less than six weeks long, they are recommended as opportunities to begin exploration of Global Health Studies in an international setting. These programs are also excellent opportunities to establish contacts and become familiar with the culture of an area where you are interested in conducting research or completing an internship.  All of the following programs are led by UI faculty.

Child Life Experiential Learning Program (Cape Town, South Africa)

This summer program is a three-week, faculty-led course based in Cape Town, South Africa. Students will have the opportunity to work with the Red Cross Children's Hospital, Maitland Cottage Home, and the Sarah Fox Convalescent Hospital. Students interested in health and child life are welcome to participate regardless of major or skill level.

A Global Health Studies student during an India winterim study abroad program

A Global Health Studies student during the India Winterim study abroad program

India Winterim (Various cities in India)

India Winterim is an intensive, three-week, field-based program that provides students with the opportunity to learn from and directly interact with leading social entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions within India’s diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and geographical mosaic. Each course is based in or near one of several cities throughout India.

International Perspectives: Xicotepec (Xicotepec, Mexico)

This is a three credit hour, interdisciplinary, spring break service-learning course co-sponsored by the University of Iowa and District 6000 of Rotary International. Students enroll in International Perspectives during the spring semester and travel to Mexico over spring break. In collaboration with Rotarians and local community members, students will work in teams to develop and execute discipline-specific projects that address community-identified needs. For more information, visit the program's website and talk to a study abroad advisor.