Global Health (Culture and Health), PhD

Promoting human health is a complex task, and many of our global efforts seem somehow doomed to fail. From the epidemics of obesity to resurging infectious diseases, we are learning that technological fixes often fall short, and standard public health approaches provide few truly clear success stories. Increasingly, it is appreciated that the social and cultural nature of human life accounts for much of how and why certain diseases emerge; are recognized or given meaning; and what the most effective solutions are likely to be.

“Global health” is a wide field concerned with the transnational contexts of health vulnerabilities and the ways globalization shapes our connected health experiences. Within those concerns, the “culture and health” concentration under the PhD in global health provides specific and focused training in the theories that link culture to health. 

This concentration utilizes the perspectives of medical anthropology and sophisticated ethnographic methods to study and interpret the role of cultural and social differences in shaping health. Students investigate these methods in the context of the community-based, participatory approaches that tend to promote the most mutually meaningful and lasting health solutions.  

Standard policy, economic and technological fixes tend to be least effective in contexts where poverty, discrimination and/or lack of political power is present. Students earning the culture and health concentration in the global health doctoral degree are distinguished by a skill set that emphasizes tools for socio-cultural examination of health that are based on the most recent social science theory and methods. Graduates are thus particularly prepared for leadership in addressing health disparities in cross-cultural settings and with the most vulnerable populations. They are trained in specific skills for effective and sustainable approaches to health research, prevention and interventions at the community level. This includes very complex, difficult settings where particularly nuanced and sophisticated (often anthropological) understandings of health-related challenges are needed.


See the Global Health PhD page for further information on the degree program.


For the concentration in culture and health, 15 credit hours will be selected from an approved list of applicable courses. These courses are:

  • ASB 503  Advanced Medical Anthropology (3 credits)
  • One of the following (3 credits):
        •  SSH 512  Social Science Applications in Community Health
        •  ASB 502  Applied Medical Anthropology
        •  SSH 511  Ethics in Health Social Science
  • ASB 500  Ethnographic Research Methods (3 credits)
  • One of the following (3 credits):
        •  ESS 513  Institutions 
        •  ESS 514  Urban & Environmental Health
  • SSH 503  Instructional Internship in Global Health (3 credits)

Students without a master's degree apply to phase I of the program, where they will receive a master's-in-passing. Students with a master's degree in a related field begin in phase II of the doctoral program, where they receive training to become expert scholars able to contribute not only to their chosen field, but to finding solutions to humankind's greatest challenges.

For more information, please contact or 480-965-6215.

Degree Offered

Global Health (Culture and Health), PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study