Public health practitioners work locally and globally with communities to promote human wellness and prevent disease. Their ability to apply skills from areas such as social science, environmental science, math and statistics, laboratory science, and policy development must be complemented with an understanding of how their work affects the populations they serve. For public health students, study abroad provides a great opportunity to connect coursework to a broader global context.
Students who have studied abroad and reflected on their experience will find that it gives them a competitive advantage for post-graduation opportunities, whether that be employment, a Master of Public Health (MPH) program, or a graduate/professional program in another discipline. Study abroad provides an opportunity to develop self-awareness, practice adaptability, and learn the benefit of community integration. All of these skills are highly valued in the field of public health.
After reading through this MAP, make sure to head over to our Steps to Studying Abroad page to learn about our Discover Study Abroad sessions and how to start planning your time abroad. Ideally, you should begin to plan your study abroad experience at least two semesters in advance of your departure date. Be in touch with a Study Abroad advisor and your Public Health advisor early in the planning process.
For more information about studying abroad as a Public Health major, visit the College of Public Health's Experiential Learning page and click on “Global Learning” or contact the Undergraduate Program Office
New students are encouraged to spend their first year on campus, taking courses for general education and Public Health core requirements. Although the Second Year Undergraduate Public Health Seminar must be taken on campus during the fall semester of sophomore year, the spring semester could be an opportune time to study abroad for some students. Students will complete a majority of their Public Health core requirements and B.A./B.S. degree requirements on campus during their junior year. Senior year is also a good time to study abroad, with an eye toward completing courses that can be applied as Public Health major electives.
Summer programs are highly recommended, especially for double majors who do not have time to study abroad during the academic year. Students are not limited to coursework abroad that applies to their Public Health major and can take courses that fulfill general education requirements. Students who study abroad during the summer may be in a better position to complete their degree requirements during the regular academic year and stay on track for graduation. More information about fulfilling academic requirements abroad as a Public Health major is available on the Academics tab of this MAP.
Before you enroll in courses abroad, be sure to consult with your advisor in Public Health and a Study Abroad advisor to discuss which of your academic requirements can be taken abroad for credit.
Double majors should be sure to check out the Major Advising Page (MAP) corresponding with their second major, as there are likely study abroad options relevant to both majors.
General Education Requirements
The College of Public Health’s general education requirements differ from the general education requirements of other UI colleges, including the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, specifically in the area of the language requirement. For more information, check out the CPH Undergraduate Degree Programs page and click on “College of Public Health general education requirements.” You can ask your Study Abroad advisor to have specific courses evaluated to determine whether they will fulfill particular general education requirements before you depart for your study abroad program.
There are plenty of opportunities to fulfill major requirements for either a B.S. or B.A. in Public Health while abroad. Be sure to consult with a departmental advisor before your departure to discuss which overseas courses can apply towards your degree.
Study abroad coursework may be used to satisfy the experiential learning requirement for Public Health. Participating in a study abroad program is an excellent way to fulfill this requirement as it allows students to experience another culture without having to navigate life in an international setting entirely on their own. Your Study Abroad advisor can advise you on which programs have experiential learning components.
Up to half of a student’s Public Health major electives may come from transfer credits (i.e., issued on a transcript that is not from the University of Iowa). Consult with a Study Abroad advisor to determine which programs will earn transfer versus resident credit. Consult with the Public Health academic advisor about pre-approval of study abroad programs toward the Public Health experiential learning requirement and/or pre-approval of transfer credit toward the Public Health major or certificate from courses completed abroad.
Students may be able to receive Public Health Honors credit for courses taken abroad. If you are pursuing University Honors, it is possible to earn an Honors Commendation for 12 hours of Honors coursework taken abroad. For more information, please refer to the Public Health Honors page.
Research abroad can be used as part of an Honors thesis. Public health projects can involve a variety of research methods. All students completing research projects abroad work closely with a faculty mentor. For advice about finding a faculty mentor and developing a project, consult a Public Health academic advisor. While studying abroad, students may begin exploring a global public health topic that may later become the basis for an Honors thesis.
Consider completing an internship for credit while abroad as a practical way to transition into post-academic life. More information can be found on the Study Abroad internships page.
Public Health students may conduct research abroad. Because it can be difficult to navigate life in an international setting, it is recommended that students travel abroad via a UI-sponsored or other accredited program that will provide them with basic infrastructural support (e.g. housing, access to public transportation, embassy contact, etc.). Some study abroad programs incorporate research and internship components. Alternatively, students may use time during a program to familiarize themselves with the culture of the area, establish contacts, and develop a plan to return to complete an internship or research project at a later date.
Public Health 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. For more information on conducting research abroad, please see the International Programs Undergraduate Research Abroad page.
Funding your study abroad
Various scholarships are available for UI students planning to study abroad. Information about these scholarships is available on the Study Abroad scholarships webpage. Additional funding opportunities may be available to eligible Public Health majors. Please visit the College of Public Health Global Public Health Student Travel Grant and the CPH scholarship pages for more information. All students are strongly encouraged to consult with a faculty advisor and a Study Abroad advisor about financing their study abroad experience.
Public Health students seeking health-related service opportunities should take steps to safeguard their future professional reputation by following good practice standards that limit duties to those they are qualified to perform. For example, Pre-Medicine students are not qualified to practice medicine and should not participate in direct patient care. Students participating in health-related experiences are encouraged to complete the Global Ambassadors for Patient Safety (GAPS) course (free online through the University of Minnesota) to help them evaluate their limits and role in the community they plan to serve.
The following study abroad programs incorporate public health-related coursework, internships, and/or research opportunities. The wide variety of locations and themes allows students to choose an opportunity that fits well with their areas of interest.
You can start your search with the recommended programs below, but feel free to browse the Study Abroad program database for other possibilities. The specific programs recommended below may change, so check with your major advisor and Study Abroad advisor for the latest updates.
All students who study abroad must be in good academic and disciplinary standing. Each program listed has coursework taught in English unless otherwise stated. In addition, each program has specific eligibility requirements that may include GPA, prerequisites, and/or class standing. For more information about the program, click on the button below the program description.
Iowa Regents Semester in Australia: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year
The University of Tasmania offers numerous degrees within the health sciences and a range of resources including access to labs and clinics. Students learn from both researchers and practicing professionals and work with members of the public to apply their learning to real-life scenarios. Courses include Introduction to Epidemiology, Introduction to Public Health, Global Health Systems, Health Research Methods, and Introduction to Biostatistics.
TEAN Australia: University of New South Wales
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year
The School of Public Health and Community Medicine (SPHCM) at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is a leader in public health, community medicine, health management, and health systems. The newly created Bachelor of International Public Health provides students with an understanding of the key issues impacting the health of populations around the world. Courses include International Indigenous Health, Health Promotion, Public Health Policy and Programs, Global Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Women’s and Children’s Health, and Comparative Health Systems.
TEAN New Zealand: University of Otago
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year
The University of Otago has several health majors including Community Healthcare, Māori Health, and Pacific and Global Health. Students learn culturally responsive and integrated health approaches to navigate the way forward in our changing healthcare system. The University of Otago takes an interactive learning approach to give students the opportunity to connect with people, service organizations in community healthcare settings, and global health leaders. Courses include Population Health, Human Health Across the Lifespan, Māori Society, Health Policy and Politics, Public and Global Health: Current Issues, and Pacific Health: New Zealand and the Pacific Region.
Through the IES London and Jamaica Health Practice and Policy program, students study global health from a variety of international perspectives. While in London, students take courses focusing on health care systems at both local universities and the IES center. An extended excursion to Kingston, Jamaica, is included and offers an opportunity to study and compare the British and Jamaican health care systems. Courses include Social Welfare Policy in the United Kingdom and Jamaica: A Service-Learning Perspective and Practicum; Comparative Health Care Systems and Policies in Britain, Europe, and the United States; Health Policy and Politics; Migrants, Inequality, and the Cultural Politics of Health; and Planetary Health and International Health Policy.
IES London: University College London
Fall, Spring, Academic Year
Through the IES London: University College London program, students enroll at University College London (UCL), which is among the top ten universities in the world. Students take classes with their local peers and benefit from of a variety of cultural excursions and specialized student support services only available to study abroad students. UCL’s highly ranked Global Health program offers a robust selection of courses, including Conflict, Humanitarianism, and Health; Global Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases; Global Health Policy; Global Maternal and Child Health; and Health, Poverty, and Development.
Regents Semester in Scotland
Fall, Spring, Academic Year
With the Regents Semester in Scotland program, students enroll at the University of Edinburgh, living and studying with their Scottish peers. Edinburgh’s prestigious global health curriculum allows UI students to enroll in courses to complete their major requirements and supplement their studies with courses to fulfill nearly any other UI degree requirement. Courses include Contemporary Issues in Health and Wellbeing, Ethical Values and Challenges in Care, Health Management and Management of Health, Mapping Health and Illness Across Societies, and Psychological Perspectives on Health and Care.
Students participating in this program work to understand the pioneering links between public health, gender, and community action in India and Thailand. Key topics of this program include studying the role of community health workers in the healthcare system, exploring public health challenges, witnessing the management of diseases and mental health, and understanding “health” and its relationship to human fulfillment. Courses include Public Health: Key Determinants, Gender, and Equity; Health Rights Advocacy in South Asia; Hindi; Field Methods and Ethics in Social Science and Health; and an Independent Study Project (ISP).
Madagascar is one of the world’s globally recognized “megadiverse” countries, and traditional medicine is practiced as an available, accessible, affordable, and effective method of healthcare. Students explore traditional and allopathic healthcare; travel to rural areas to learn about ethnobotany, home and folk remedies, and healthcare access; and meet with leading academics, allopathic doctors, and Malagasy students. Courses include Social and Political Dimensions of Health and Healthcare Practice in Madagascar for a total of six semester hours.
This program is a three-week course led by Bri Swope, a lecturer in Therapeutic Recreation/Child Life. The goal of this course is to prepare students to work with children and their families in a variety of healthcare settings. Students will understand the impact of illness, injury, trauma, and healthcare environments on patients and families in South Africa. Students will have the opportunity to volunteer in a variety of hospital and clinical settings.
This program offers a wide range of health-related topics, including kinesiology, endemic diseases, and nutrition, as well as courses that focus on the business and social impacts of healthcare in Southern Africa. Opportunities are available to volunteer on rotation at a selection of organizations, such as hospitals, clinics, retirement homes, and health-related NGOs. Students take six semester hours. Courses include Developmental Kinesiology, Endemic Diseases and Their Socioeconomic Context, Nutrition and HIV, and Health and Community.
Students examine a range of health services across Durban, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, and other areas to gain a deeper understanding of how traditional healers, the state, the media, nongovernmental organizations, and state-of-the-art hospitals address health challenges. Key topics studied are healthcare access, promotion and prevention in rural South Africa, use of media campaigns to influence health outcomes, and the inclusion of traditional healing in the health system. Courses include Approaches to Community Health in South Africa, Social Determinants of Health in South Africa, isiZulu, Research Methods and Ethics, and either an Internship or an Independent Study Project (ISP).
This eight-week program is for students studying Spanish and any aspect of healthcare. The first four weeks provide classroom-based theory and language instruction. The second four weeks are done in the field at one of three offsite placements where students complete a practicum. Students must have four semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent to participate. All students take the following courses: Advanced Spanish Conversation and Grammar, Pre-Professional Healthcare Issues, and Community Health Practicum.
Students examine urban epidemiology and the challenges and inequities in public health policy in Buenos Aires during this program. Key topics of the program are the political process of defining a public health agenda, social determinants of health, and intercultural barriers to quality care. All coursework is conducted in Spanish, so students must have taken three semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent. Courses include Epidemiology and Social Determinants of Health; Health Systems, Policies, and Programs; Public Health Research Methods and Ethics; Spanish for the Health Sciences; and either an Internship or Independent Study Project (ISP).
This intensive eight-week program includes six weeks of language and healthcare courses. Students participate in a semi-urban community service practicum in an underserved area in Santiago while classes are in session. During this time, students will learn about public health with a focus on the health/illness process and its relation to health management, policies, and coverage. The program includes a ten-day clinical field rotation and a five-day urban stay. Students must have four semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent to participate. All students take the following courses: Advanced Spanish Conversation and Grammar, Pre-Professional Healthcare Issues, and Community Health Practicum.
USAC San Ramón
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Summer
This program focuses on life and health sciences and cultural studies. Students can study Spanish, biology, and health and complete an internship or conduct research. Courses are augmented with several field studies, tours, and field trips. USAC students take their classes at the Sede de Occidente, the oldest satellite campus of the University of Costa Rica. USAC students enjoy the same privileges as local students and are encouraged to join student clubs, organizations, and activities. Courses include Cell Biology (with a lab), Global Health, Independent Research, and Women’s Health: Global Health and Human Rights.
CIEE Monteverde STEM & Society
CIEE’s campus on the edge of a cloud forest offers unparalleled opportunities for students to take full advantage of all that Monteverde offers. Two courses are taken during each six-week block, and UI students participate in all three blocks for 18 semester hours. There are no required courses and no prerequisites to participate; however, some upper-level courses will have prerequisites for that topic. Courses include Global Health and Emerging Diseases; General Chemistry I (lab course); Family, Schools, and Child Development; Introduction to Biology I (lab course); General Chemistry II (lab course); Community and Public Health; Biology of Tropical Diseases; Directed Independent Research; and Service-Learning Project.
International Perspectives: Xicotepec
This service-learning course is designed to introduce Public Health students to community service projects in a less developed country. In collaboration with Rotary International, students develop discipline-specific projects aimed at improving community life in Xicotepec, Mexico and gain cultural and professional team work experience in an international environment.