Global Health Degree Programs

Oct 13, 2017

Global health professionals try to understand population health problems and seek solutions by taking culture, politics and biology into account. Keep reading to learn about global health degree programs, including coursework, admission requirements, and how to choose the best program for you.

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Global Health

Global health is a branch of public health concerned with identifying and addressing any type of international health concern. Bachelor's degree programs in global health are rare, but they are rapidly becoming more available nation-wide. As a student enrolled in a global health program, you will learn about conditions that affect people around the world and the factors like culture, conflict and poverty that make them difficult to address. Read on to learn admission requirements, types of coursework, and career information for a degree in global health.

Admission Requirements for Global Health Programs

Undergraduate global health programs tend to be competitive, but because of the interdisciplinary nature of the degree, applications are typically judged holistically. There is usually no specific prerequisite coursework. You should have a strong high school academic record and have completed either the ACT or SAT standardized tests. It is also helpful to have a firm idea of why you would like to enroll in a global health program, including what career path or further study interests you.

Global Health Program Coursework

At the undergraduate level, global health programs are typically multidisciplinary, with coursework broadly covering a number of core topics. While these topics can vary, most programs will require the following courses:

Principles of Biostatistics

Analysis of public health data is one of the core competencies of the field of global health. This course is designed to introduce basic concepts and techniques for manipulating, interpreting and visualizing data. Biostatistics education also often includes learning how to use the various software programs used by professionals in the field.

Behavioral and Societal Determinants of Health

Behavior and culture have enormous effects on human health. This course examines different societies, as well as the factors such as age, sex, ethnicity, and social status that affect what types of public health problems exist and how they are addressed.

Principles of Epidemiology

Epidemiology is the science of describing how diseases spread throughout populations. This course presents the basic methods for doing so, and also serves as an introduction to research methods important in the field of global health. You will learn about literature reviews, designing epidemiology experiments, proposing research studies, and presenting results.

Issues in International Development and Policy

This broad field covers everything from climate change and migration to how governments shape the health of their populations. The course is often comparative in nature, looking at how different policy decisions and implementation affect health system performance. This course is particularly multidisciplinary, using economic, political, and sociological perspectives to build an understanding of the types of health issues debated on a national or global scale.

Global Health Capstone Experience

Many programs require students to complete a hands-on learning experience. This may be domestic or in a different country. It could include doing a research project, volunteering in a clinic or community health initiative, or interning with a public health organization. The purpose of this requirement is to broaden students' exposure to public health issues and to increase their knowledge of the career opportunities available with a global health degree.

How to Choose a Bachelor's Degree Program in Global Health

Programs often focused on a particular topic in global health more than others. For example, if you know that you are interested in global health nutrition, you should choose a program that offers that specific course or concentration. You should also determine if you would like to attend medical school, as not all programs allow you to complete all pre-med requirements. You may want to choose a program that allows an international learning experience, since global health, by its nature, involves international work. Finally, another aspect to consider is whether a school has the connections to provide the opportunity to get involved with leading global health organizations, whether through field trips, seminars, or internships.

Career Options in Global Health

There is no 'typical' career to which a bachelor's degree in global health will lead. However, one option is to become a health educator. Health educators teach people how to improve their health and well-being. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth in this field is faster than average at 12% from 2014-2024, and the median salary in 2016 was $53,070. Other potential career options are listed below:


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