Q: What is global health?
A: To us, global health is much more and very different from public health. We understand that major health challenges stem from many factors well outside of disease – ecological, cultural, institutional, historical, evolutionary, social and technological. Any effective, sustainable solutions to our most pressing global health challenges will need to take all of these factors into account, including the complex ways in which they relate to each other. To do this, we apply cutting-edge methods and theories from the social and life sciences, including anthropology, mathematics, genetics, history, human biology, sociology and geography. Ill health is often created or exacerbated by power imbalances, poverty and other forms of social exclusion. A commitment to the principles of social justice and of community-centered and community-serving research is evident in everything we do, and central to how we address health challenges. We also strongly hold that the value of evolutionary and Darwinian perspectives on health expand our capacity to understand and address contemporary health problems, and our degrees include a clear appreciation for how evolutionary biology and the study of long-term history (such as through bioarcheaology) inform health problems and solutions.
Q: What can I do with a degree in global health?
A: Nationally and internationally, the health field provides enormous and varied career opportunities, and demand for graduates with skills is high and only growing. The major would support the goals of those who plan to pursue careers in health services, whether in government agencies, NGOs or in private business or industry. The degree also provides those who plan advanced specialist health training, such as in nursing, medicine, dentistry or pharmacy, with a very broad intellectual base that will enhance the impact of later specialist training. This is because increasingly it is understood (e.g., Pew Health Professional Consortium report, Report of the National Commission on Allied Health) that the best health professionals will have interdisciplinary perspectives, social and cultural acuity (such as in cross-cultural settings) and team-oriented skills. In Arizona as elsewhere, there is a pressing need for professionals in just about every arena (public health, education, social services, nutrition, administration, policy, sales, market research, business, government agencies, etc.) with appropriate skills to work in cross-cultural settings or with underserved populations (such as migrants, minorities, those living in poverty), and many of these jobs are directly or indirectly related to health. Many of our graduates go on to medical or other professional schools, and others go on to work both in the US and internationally to pursue careers in academic research and teaching and in health services, whether in universities, government agencies, departments of health, international agencies, NGOs or in private business or industry. Graduates interested in pursuing research or scientific careers continue to graduate school to seek a master's or doctoral degree in fields such as public health, anthropology, evolutionary biology, infectious diseases, genetics, applied mathematics, geography, sociology, sustainability, environmental studies, demography or biology. Minors can use the insights gained to enhance their training in such diverse fields as business, law, medicine or biology, sustainability, nutrition or political science. The minor is relevant to almost all fields of endeavor because health is such a fundamental area of the human experience and also our national and global economy. Many jobs benefit from insights regarding why people get sick and what we can best do to address that.
Q: What are the requirements for a Bachelor of Arts in global health?
A: Students are required to take 39 credits of course work for the major or 18 hours for the minor. Students must take an introductory course; an evolutionary/time depth course; a poverty/social justice course; a culture, society, and health course; a practicum; and elective courses. In addition, all students must participate in a specified study abroad program led by our program faculty. Students in the major also take a senior seminar/capstone. For more information about requirements, visit the major map linked on the BA in global health page.
Q: In what sequence must I take the required global health courses (intro course, practicum, study abroad and capstone) for the global health major?
A: The following sequence of courses is suggested (other required courses not listed here can be taken in any sequence):
SSH 100 Intro to Global Health
Practicum (and Study Abroad if not taken earlier)
SSH 405 Capstone Seminar in the final semester prior to graduation
Q: What are the requirements for a minor in global health?
A: Students take 18 credit hours, of which 12 must be at the 300 or 400 level. At least 12 credits must be ASU credits, and the study abroad requirement must be taken at ASU on one of our School of Human Evolution and Social Change study abroad programs. More information on global health minor is available here.
Q: Where can I learn about the accelerated MA/BA in global health?
A: You can get general information on the global health MA page.
Q: In what sequence must I take the required global health courses (intro course, practicum, study abroad and capstone) for the global health minor?
A: The following sequence of courses is suggested (other required courses not listed here can be taken in any sequence):
SSH 100 Intro to Global Health
Q: Why does the program require a study abroad experience?
A: This degree is one of the only pre-medical degrees that does not charge a program fee in addition to your tuition. However, students are required to participate in an approved global health study abroad program to fulfill partial degree requirements. The goal of this required study abroad experience is to build students’ range of skills in relation to global health through first-hand experiences that are managed by ASU faculty. These experiences include exposure to health challenges and health systems in other countries, and most also integrate students to faculty research in non-U.S. settings and emphasize teamwork and collaborative skills. The study abroad experience is also a necessary preparation for the students' capstone projects. We expect students to participate in the faculty-led programs we specifically design for students in this major because they are designed to use specific case studies to integrate learning across the broader degree curriculum. However, another important aspect of the study abroad experiences is the opportunity to develop closer relationships with ASU global health faculty, graduate students and other students in the major/minor. These networks are extremely important as students plan to enter graduate school or careers. This is one reason we recommend that students take the study abroad program in their junior year, or as soon as possible.
Q: What study abroad programs are available for this major/minor?
A: Please consult an advisor for information on the school's current study abroad programs that satisfy this requirement. Other study abroad programs do not fulfill this requirement. Independent travel, even as enrolled as an independent study with ASU faculty, also cannot be substituted for this requirement. Please do not enter this major or minor if this requirement will be a problem for you, as exceptions are rarely given. However, we do strongly encourage students to pursue additional study abroad and travel experiences as they can, and will work with students to help them gain degree credit for these. For students with compelling, documented reasons why they cannot travel, alternative arrangements will be made. Any exceptions to this requirement are only allowed if approved in writing by the school. See the School of Human Evolution and Social Change's academic advisors for more information.
Q: Are there ways to help offset the costs of the study abroad requirement?
A: Under federal law, study abroad program costs, including airfares and program fees, are covered by financial aid, just like other educational expenses. The Center for Global Education Services can help you budget and prepare for financial aid. Also note, the costs of study abroad are the only additional fees above regular tuition paid by students in the global health programs. In the larger picture, this represents a very modest level of additional expenses; other undergraduate public health-related programs often apply significant additional program fees or differential tuition. Please refer to our page on planning and financing your study abroad program.
Q: Are there any summer or winter study abroad programs?
A: Typically, only summer programs are available. Planning ahead is crucial. The latest you should take the study abroad is the summer before the semester you plan to graduate.
Q: Can I take the required study abroad after I graduate?
A: No. Students need to take the study abroad before they graduate and before they enroll in the capstone seminar. You CANNOT graduate without fulfilling the study abroad requirement.
Q: Are there any exceptions to the study abroad requirement?
A: Because one of the goals is to get to know your peers in the degree program and our faculty, we do not allow exceptions to the study abroad requirement. However, if you have a truly extraordinary circumstance, you should schedule an appointment to speak with your advisor no later than Feb. 1 before the summer in which you would do your study abroad.
Q: What is a practicum (required for majors)?
A: The goal of the practicum experience is for students to have first-hand experience of tackling health issues or questions in the real world. These can take a range of forms (excavation, service learning, supervised research), and are expected to be in a form that expands the students' skill set (i.e., is something the student does not have much if any prior experience with). These can be completed in the Phoenix or immediate Arizona area. Students can either take these as approved specific courses or sign up with individual faculty. We particularly encourage students to conduct their practicum in low-resource settings, or those very culturally different from their own; we also strongly encourage students to articulate their activities with ongoing faculty research. To be beneficial, practica require sustained faculty supervision; thus independent activities not conducted as part of a supervised course do not qualify. Generally, practica should last at least one semester for at least 10 hours a week; or be conducted as part of a full-time multi-week experience in the summer (e.g., Kampsville Field School).
Activities taken prior to entry into the major or not cleared with the advisor before participation cannot be counted as completing the requirement.
Q: What is a capstone seminar (required for majors)?
A: The goal of the capstone is to demonstrate through an independent project the skills and knowledge the student has gained in the degree program, including levels of professionalism, and to make final preparations for life after graduation (e.g., preparing for graduate school, career). This is taken the last semester of the program, and students must have completed their practicum and study abroad experience before enrolling in the capstone.
Because students will be required to develop and execute an independent project by the end of the capstone, planning ahead is essential. We expect students to be ready to fully participate in the course by having developed a track record of working on faculty research projects in prior semesters; building on their practicum and study abroad experiences; and through independent study supervised by faculty throughout their degree programs.
The final project can take any form, but should identify and address some global health challenge. For example, it might be a web-based health education campaign, or it could be more traditional forms of student-led research. In the capstone the student will also work on his or her resume and identifying career opportunities, and will network with other students.
Q: When can I take the capstone seminar?
A: The SSH 405 Capstone is taken the last semester of your program and is only offered in fall and spring semesters. You MUST have completed the study abroad and practicum before you take this course and should also be completing the 39 required credit hours in the same semester. Students who have not completed the practicum and study abroad will not be allowed to enroll in the capstone seminar.
Q: Can I substitute classes I have taken at ASU or another college for the required courses?
A. You must submit the Petition for Substitution of a Course and provide proper documentation. Contact your advisor for more information.
Q: How does the BA in global health senior seminar/capstone requirement relate to an honors thesis?
A: The senior seminar/capstone credit hours (SSH 405) should be taken in addition to the 6 required honors thesis hours. However, it is possible to complete a related project for the capstone project you will complete in the senior semester (SSH 405), such as public presentation or an application of your honors thesis work.
Q: How can I get involved in research?
A: While not a formal degree requirement, majors are strongly encouraged to begin supervised research experience as early as possible in their programs. This helps students develop specific skills and networks that are important once the student reaches the capstone seminar. At the time of the capstone, students must have an independent project already in mind or underway. Research experiences are normally credited as SSH 499 Individualized Instruction, wherein a student works with a professor. A good way to begin is to offer to work with faculty on an existing research project in order to build research skills and to help the student develop ideas for an independent research project. Students can take SSH 499 multiple times (up to 9 credit hours), which can be applied to the 39 credit hours required for the degree. You can search for research opportunities by getting to know faculty and through the School of Human Evolution and Social Change's Research Apprenticeship Program.
Q: Is this degree good for pre-med students?
A: Yes, this is a great degree for students who wish to pursue a professional degree in health-related fields. If a student is interested in a doctoral health career, they are not required to major in a science to be a premedical or predental student. Students admitted to American medical schools and the other professions come from all possible undergraduate majors. Students should choose a major based on their interests, and global health offers a range of courses that is appealing to a variety of students. However, students must also take a number of science prerequisites and receive acceptable grades in those courses. Students pursuing the BA in global health will be able to fulfill their major requirements, as well as their pre-health prerequisites, in the 4 years it takes to complete the degree.
Q: How do I get pre-health advising?
A: Students pursuing admission to professional schools in the health professions must choose a major offered by ASU. However, specific courses must be taken to prepare the student to take the MCAT or other entrance examinations and to succeed in postbaccalaureate training. Therefore, students who plan to pursue a health profession should meet regularly with the Health Professions staff for guidance. While this guidance does not replace the need to meet with an advisor in the department of the student's major, health professions advising is a necessary supplement. Visit their website for further details.