Global Health MA

Global Health MA FAQ

For information on the application process, deadlines and funding, please see our Graduate Admission FAQs.


General information

Q: What is "global health" in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change?
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 – factors that are, among other things, 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. Ill health in all these contexts is understood as 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 is 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 bioarchaeology) inform health problems and solutions. 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.

Our school's broader global health initiatives are organized in research teams/clusters that are addressing specific global health problems that defy easy solutions, and master's students are all placed within these clusters as active participants, along with participating faculty and doctoral students. These research efforts are also tied to specific community partnerships our school maintains around the globe. Examples of teams/clusters include reemerging infectious diseases in hunter-gatherer communities; climate change-related disease issues, such as water quality; and the rise of obesity among the very poor.

Q: What can I do with a master's degree in global health? 
A: Nationally and internationally, the health field provides enormous and varied career opportunities, and demand for skilled graduates is already high and increasing rapidly. The degree 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 is similar to a master's in public health in terms of employment opportunities but provides a slightly different skill set – one more conversant with the challenges of working in vulnerable communities and across cultures. The MA degree also provides real-world experience doing transnational team-based research, which provides a hirable skill set for a range of professions.

Q: What research areas are available for students to work on once admitted to the master's program? 
A: Currently, we have five main research clusters:

  • Climate change-related disease
  • Health education and culture change
  • Neglected, reemerging and new infectious diseases
  • Obesity/food insecurity as conditions of poverty
  • Reproductive health

The clusters evolve through time based on community needs, faculty interest and emerging opportunities, so flexibility is required for all participants.

Q: Why do an MA (not an MPH) in global health? 
A: The MA in global health is specifically focused on how to address the broader (structural, cultural) bases of ill health in complicated, ever-changing health challenges in low-resource community settings and a globalizing world. As such, it combines both social and life science theory with on-the-ground training at specified field sites as part of transnational research teams. A number of universities nationally are introducing new master's degrees in the area of global public health. This is an area of rapidly growing student interest, employment and funding opportunities, nationally and globally. Most of these new degrees are taught within a traditional disease-focused public health model, usually within colleges of medicine or public health. This degree is different because it centers on skill sets for addressing global health challenges that are from outside of a traditional public health model (and thus often thoughtfully critical of conventional approaches to complex health problems). The MA capitalizes on ASU's considerable and established strength in the social and life sciences, where there is a very wide range of faculty working on health-related issues, such as in anthropology, global studies, applied mathematics, political science and human biology. It gives students important skills from outside of public health that are especially needed in communities that are socially excluded or otherwise highly vulnerable – such as complex understandings of the roles of history and culture in disease and health solutions, of the power relationships inherent in disease and public health solutions and of the possibilities for using local and cultural knowledge to create sustainable, meaningful health solutions "outside of the box."

Q: Can I advance from the MA to the PhD in global health? 
A: The MA in global health is considered a "terminal" degree. This means students will have to make a separate application to join the PhD program. If they are accepted, however, the 30 credit hours of the MA can be applied toward the PhD degree.


Degree requirements

Q: What are the degree requirements for the MA in global health? 
A: The degree requires 30 hours, which include 12 credits of core coursework, a minimum of 6 credits of internship/practicum, 6 credits of electives and 6 credits of applied project.

Q: What is the practicum/internship requirement? 
A: Students must each complete a minimum of 6 hours of research collaboration, internship or practicum. The goal of the practicum experience is for students to have firsthand experience of tackling health issues or questions in the real world. These can take a range of forms (supervised research, service learning, excavation, etc.) and are expected to be in a form that expands the student's 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.

Q: What is the applied project? 
A: Each master's student must complete a 6-credit-hour applied project towards the end of their program. The applied project can take a wide range of forms, based on student talents and preference. It may be a global practicum/internship, participating heavily in a research project, writing a scholarly research paper or conducting an outreach project.

Q: What is the timeline for completing the degree? 
A: Accelerated BA/MA students must complete the MA within one calendar year of their official admission into the master’s program.

Q: How many credit hours need to be completed per semester? 
A: In order to complete the program within one year, students need to take between nine and 12 credits. Students who wish to graduate within two years must take between six and nine credits per semester and/or take summer classes.

Q: What does a suggested course sequence look like for accelerated BA/MA students?
A: The BA/MA curriculum is much more prescribed since students must fulfill requirements for their BA as well as their MA. Thus, it is important to plan accordingly and consult with your undergraduate advisor well in advance of applying for the accelerated program. Here is an example of what this might look like:

(Senior Year)
500-level practicum course (3) (counts for BA practicum) in process of completing BA requirements
(Senior Year)

500-level practicum course (3) (counts for BA elective)

400-level GH course (3)

Complete BA requirements and apply for graduation from BA program.


Officially start MA program.

ASB 500 Ethno Methods (3)

ASB/SSH 510 Health Bio/Soc Theory (3)

GH Elective (500 level) (3)


ASB/SSH 503 Med Anth (3)

AML 613 or SSH 591 (3)

Optional: SSH 593 Applied Project (6)

Apply for graduation from MA program.


SSH 593 Applied Project (6) (if not completed in spring)

Apply for graduation from MA program.


Accelerated BA/MA questions

Q: Can I do an accelerated BA/MA in global health? 
A: Outstanding undergraduate students in the global health BA program are encouraged to apply to the accelerated BA/MA degree program. Students accepted into the accelerated BA/MA program apply three hours from the BA to the MA, and six hours from the MA to the BA. This “saves” nine credit hours of work for the degrees combined. Students can complete both degree requirements in five years. Students must apply for the accelerated program in December of their junior year, so it is important to plan early and speak with your advisor about the correct pathway to be eligible for the accelerated program. Please see the Admissions Questions below for eligibility criteria.

Q: How does the accelerated BA/MA degree work?
A: The undergraduate major consists of a minimum of 39 credit hours, and 30 for the master's. Given three credits from the BA count to the MA and six hours from the MA count to the BA, the timeline to both degrees is accelerated because students only have to complete 21 graduate credits beyond the BA, which is possible within two semesters of full-time coursework.

Students must maintain a B+ (3.25 GPA) or better average in their remaining bachelor's-level courses to be retained in the MA program, as well as meeting GPA expectations for the MA (B [3.0 GPA] or better in core courses). If they do not complete both degrees within four semesters of being admitted, they are deemed as making unsatisfactory progress. Further, ASU requires that undergraduate students who have been accepted into an accelerated bachelor's/master's degree program prior to the awarding of their undergraduate degree must complete all of their bachelor's degree requirements and graduate within 12 months of the first day of the semester for which they were admitted to the accelerated program.

It is also important to understand that undergraduate students enrolled in accelerated BA/MA programs are eligible to enroll in graduate-level courses and seminars. Otherwise, however, students are considered undergraduates until all undergraduate requirements have been met and the bachelor’s degree has been posted to the student’s transcript.

Q: Does my MA applied project count as my BA Honors thesis?
A: No. But if your faculty advisor agrees, you can expand upon an Honors thesis as your applied project.

Q: Does/can my MA applied project count as my BA capstone if I do the accelerated degrees? 
A: Not really. You may be able to begin your applied project in the 3-credit BA capstone course (senior seminar) and finish it as the MA applied project, but you will need to consult with your faculty advisor if you wish to pursue this option.


Admissions questions

Q: What is required or desired to be admitted into the accelerated BA/MA degree? 

A: To be eligible for admission to the accelerated program, students must:

  • be declared global health majors at the time of application;
  • have accumulated 75 hours toward the BA at the time of application and be on track to have completed 90 hours by the fall of the senior year;
  • have a 3.5 GPA in all global health major coursework and an overall 3.5 GPA;
  • have completed at least 12 credits of upper-division (300- and/or 400-level) courses in the global health major with an A- or better grade (at least six credits of those must be core required courses) by the time the application is due in December;
  • have completed the required study abroad program; and
  • complete the BA requirements as May graduates.

Current ASU undergraduates interested in the accelerated degree must apply in the fall of their junior year for admission in the fall of their senior year, and must complete the BA requirements as May graduates.

Admission is competitive, based on the following:

  • Statement of purpose GPA (3.5 minimum)
  • A minimum of two letters of recommendation (at least one must be from core or affiliated global health faculty specifically addressing the student's readiness for the MA-level work and include a notation of whether that faculty member is willing to supervise the student)
  • Relevant experience or skills (e.g., research experience, language)
  • Fit to current faculty interests Proposed timetable*

No GRE score is required for application to the accelerated program. It is expected students will complete the MA requirements in no more than two additional semesters and a summer (if needed) after graduating from the BA and officially beginning the MA program.

*Students must include a timeline/explanation showing how they intend to meet this requirement.

Q: What should my statement of purpose contain?
A: An important part of the application is the statement of purpose because the fit between the candidate and the faculty/research teams with which the student will work is considered an important part of the decision to admit. Students must nominate one of the following research areas they wish to work with (although this may change later with supervisory permission).

  • Climate change-related disease
  • Health education and culture change
  • Neglected, reemerging and new infectious diseases
  • Obesity/food insecurity as conditions of poverty
  • Reproductive health

In addition to identifying a research area, students may wish to identify any global health faculty with whom they wish to work. Students should highlight their relevant experience and skills and why they want to pursue a degree that is in a high-speed, team-based, research-collaborative environment.

The expectation of timely progression through the program is also a criterion for admission, so preference is given to students demonstrating a timeline and funding plan for how they will complete the degree in a timely fashion. As noted, MA students can finish the program within one calendar year (two semesters and a summer), but it is allowable to finish within two years. However, accelerated applicants must finish their MA within one calendar year from admission. Thus, it is important that applicants acknowledge their timeline to complete the degree within the statement of purpose.

Q: Can I start the degree in the spring?
A: No. We only accept applicants to begin classes in the MA program in the fall. Applications follow the school's normal timeline, which has applications due mid-December for admission in the following fall. It may be possible to complete some elective/internship/practicum hours in the summer prior to the fall of entry, but check in advance once you have been accepted.

Q: Does the school offer any funding for global health MA students? 
A: No. We have no scholarships or other forms of additional or special support for MA in global health students.

Q: When do I apply? 
A: Deadlines for admission for fall close the prior winter, following the school's deadlines. Usually this is early December.