Global Health , PhD

There is a growing recognition that the solution to any global health problem – whether environmental pollutants, HIV, reproductive cancers, childhood diarrhea, malaria, depression, substance abuse, domestic violence, under-nutrition, obesity or diabetes – requires a sophisticated understanding of the social roots of disease.

Identifying social, cultural, economic and behavioral factors associated with diseases and their transmission is an essential component of effective health care policy and delivery.

Large-scale globalization and urbanization has created an urgent need for researchers and practitioners with a strong background in both the cultural and social aspects of health. To fill this demand, ASU offers the interdisciplinary PhD in global health, housed within the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in collaboration with over 70 faculty across campus.

Equipped with the ability to combine health knowledge and the latest social science research about how people live and interact with one another, graduates with this degree will be in high demand not only in academic settings, but also in commercial enterprises, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and government agencies.

Our focus is on identifying the best ways to use social, cultural, ecological, biological and historical insights to solve contemporary health problems rather than on the promotion of singular approaches or modes of enquiry. The research of global health faculty at ASU and the training they provide tend to be theoretically and methodologically varied and transdisciplinary.

The PhD in global health is designed to train those who anticipate working in transdisciplinary academic settings, medical schools or non-academic health settings, such as governmental agencies, NGOs and the private sector. While elective courses are the same for this degree as for students training in medical anthropology in the anthropology PhD, the emphasis of the training and thus the core requirements are different.

Global health graduates will be expected to have competency in health-relevant social science methodologies, such as epidemiology, GIS, ethnography, statistics and survey techniques.

If you want to develop a professional social science skill set and are driven, open-minded and willing to work as part of a collaborative team with the faculty and other students, this is definitely the right place for you. In this degree we train and professionalize you, not just provide supervision. Arizona State University’s fast-paced, dynamic campus is an academically demanding environment and a vibrant laboratory for encouraging adaptation, collaboration and innovation.

Note about medical anthropology: The PhD in global health steps off from the insights and comparative approaches of medical anthropology; however, the goal for the program is to move outward from this perspective into a broader approach to health. Students interested in careers in classic medical anthropology should apply for the health tracks of our PhD in anthropology.

 

For this interdisciplinary program that values real-world application, we seek students with a wide range of backgrounds and training and will accommodate those entering directly from a bachelor’s program or with a different background. However, a master's degree is preferred and recommended.

We are very interested in graduate students who wish to work in two or more of these areas, in which we provide particularly strong graduate-level training:

Primary Global Health Specializations:

  • Links between Culture, Society and Health
  • Social Justice
  • Health in the Americas
  • Community-Based Research
  • Indigenous and Minority Health
  • Nutritional Health and Nutritional Anthropology
  • Sustainability and Environmental Health
  • Urban Health
  • Biocultural and Life History Approaches to Health
  • Social Complexity and Social Networks
  • Health in the Past
  • Medical Epidemiology

Methods:

Culturally and Socially Oriented Health Research, including Ethnography, Survey, Spatial Analysis, Participatory Action Research, Demography, Epidemiology, Social Networks, Computer-Based Modeling

Current Regional Strengths:

  • Central America
  • South America
  • Southwest US

The PhD in global health requires a total of 84 credit hours. A previously awarded master’s degree in a related area can be used to satisfy 30 hours of this requirement. An additional 30 hours of coursework are required.

Our global health graduate students have diverse academic backgrounds and varied career goals, so we offer flexibility when planning the most appropriate path for you. Curricular tracks will tend to be individualized, and final determination of the most appropriate course of study or how each requirement should most appropriately be met will be determined by your advisory committee in consideration of your research and career goals. Each plan will ensure that you graduate with a strong basis in social science theory and appropriate health research methods, as well as considerable experience in community-level research and its application.

Students are free to develop their dissertations on a wide range of health-related topics in any world region. A normal curriculum would involve training in social science health theories; both quantitative and qualitative methods; practicum-based training in assessment, intervention and/or health education; and epidemiology, research design and ethics/social justice, along with the student’s chosen areas of interest. 

Core Program Entry Class (3 credits)
ASB 591/ SSH 510 Health: Social and Bio-cultural Theories (3 credits)

At Least One Course in Ethnographic Method (3 credits)
ASB 500 Ethnographic Research Methods (3 credits) or equivalent

A Course in Ethics Relevant to Global Health (3 credits)
SSH 511 Ethics, Social Justice and Health Social Science (3 credits)
ASB 591 Poverty, Social Justice and Global Health (3 credits)
Or another approved alternative.

A Research Design/Proposal Writing Course (3 credits)
ASM 579 Proposal Writing (3 credits) 
Or another approved alternative.

At Least Two Advanced Statistics Courses (6 credits), such as
GPH 603: Spatial Statistics/Modeling (3 credits)
MPH 579: Biostatistics 1 (3 credits)

At Least One Advanced Course in Epidemiology (3 credits)
AML 613: Methods and Concepts in Math Epidemiology (3 credits)
SSH 591: Principles of Epidemiology for Global Health (3 credits)

At Least Two Additional Methods Courses Relevant to Global Health Research (6 credits)
Examples include nutrition, exercise, survey, archival analysis, demography, social network analysis, GIS, modeling, text analysis, etc.

A Relevant Community-Based Internship/Practicum Experience Prior to Advancement to Candidacy (3 credits)
The appropriate form and duration will be determined by the student’s advisory committee as appropriate to the proposed dissertation project and/or career plans of the candidate.
ASB/SSH 512: Social Science Applications in Community Health (3-6 credits)
ASB/SSH 580: Practicum (1-6 credits)
ASB/SSH 583: Fieldwork (1-6 credits)
ASB/SSH 584: Internship (1-6 credits)

Electives (as needed /appropriate)
Elective courses should generally focus in global health areas, as relevant to a student’s dissertation research and career plans. Electives include courses in many fields. Students are encouraged to propose to the executive committee additional courses from any ASU unit as possible electives.

Research and Dissertation Hours (24 credits)
SSH 792 (12 credits)
SSH 799 (12 credits)

A Foreign Language 
In most cases, demonstration of language competency is expected; the form and level of competency required will be determined by the student’s advisory committee as appropriate to the proposed dissertation project and career plans of the candidate.

Also recommended is formal training in instruction, such as the short courses provided by the Center for Learning and Teaching Excellence.

Photo of Jonathan Maupin

Global Health Program Director
Jonathan Maupin, Associate Professor

Phot of John Anderies

John (Marty) Anderies, Professor
Professor & Graduate Director, School of Sustainability
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Associate Director, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment

Photo of Christopher Boone

Christopher Boone, Professor
Dean, School of Sustainability
Affiliated Faculty, School of Geographical Science and Urban Planning

Photo of Alexandra Brewis Slade

Alexandra Brewis Slade, President's Professor
Co-Director, Mayo Clinic-ASU Obesity Solutions
Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Jane Buikstra

Jane Buikstra, Regents' Professor
Founding Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Carlos Castillo Chavez

Carlos Castillo-Chavez, Regents' Professor
Joaquin Bustoz Jr. Professor of Mathematical Biology, School of Life Sciences
Director, Simon A. Levin Mathematical, Computational and Modeling Sciences Center
Distinguished Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

Photo of Monica Gaughan

Monica Gaughan, Associate Professor

Photo of Kim Hill

Kim Hill, Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins

Photo of Katie Hinde

Katie Hinde, Associate Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Daniel Hruschka

Daniel Hruschka, Associate Professor
Associate Director
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Social Dynamics and Complexity

Photo of Ana Hurtado

Ana Hurtado, Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Behavior, Institutions and the Environment
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Megan Jehn

Megan Jehn, Associate Professor
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

Photo of Kelly Knudson

Kelly Knudson, Professor
Director, Center for Bioarchaeological Research

Photo of Gary Schwartz

Gary Schwartz, Associate Professor
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Anne Stone

Anne Stone, Regents' Professor
Associate Director, Center for Evolution and Medicine
Faculty Affiliate, Institute of Human Origins & School of Life Sciences

Photo of Amber Wutich

Amber Wutich, Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Director, Center for Global Health
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability
Faculty Affiliate, Center for Evolution and Medicine

Photo of Abigail York

Abigail York, Associate Professor
Senior Sustainability Scientist, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability

With at least 75 nationally recognized participating program faculty from health, social, life and applied sciences, your major professor need not be in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, but will be selected from any of the program faculty across ASU

For a list of affiliated faculty, please see the Graduate Faculty page and select the appropriate degree from the drop-down menu.

The global health program offers concentrations in complex adaptive systems science,  evolutionary global health sciences, culture and health and urbanism.

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

 

Q: What is the global health PhD degree?
A: Our focus is on identifying the best ways to use social, cultural, ecological, biological and historical insights to solve contemporary health problems rather than on the promotion of singular approaches or modes of enquiry. The research of global health faculty at ASU – and thus the training they provide – tends to be theoretically and methodologically varied and transdisciplinary.

Q: What makes global health different?
A: We offer two relevant graduate degrees at the PhD level – the PhD in anthropology and the PhD in global health. The former is managed entirely within the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and is suited to those planning to enter more traditional medical anthropology careers. It requires a dissertation focused to some extent on disciplinary problems related to health and/or disease (i.e., those defined as anthropologically relevant). If you are suited to this more classic degree in medical anthropology, be sure to apply to the anthropology PhD and select an approach within the school to align with (e.g., sociocultural anthropology, evolutionary anthropology, bioarchaeology or the cross-cutting environment, technology and society area).

The PhD in global health is alternatively designed to train those who anticipate working in transdisciplinary academic settings, medical schools or non-academic health settings, such as governmental agencies, NGOs and the private sector. While elective courses are the same for this degree as for students training in medical anthropology in the anthropology PhD (and there is a very long list of options), the emphasis of the training and thus the core requirements are different.

Global health graduates will be expected to have competency in health-relevant social science methodologies, such as epidemiology, GIS, ethnography, statistics and survey techniques. Your major professor need not be in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, but will be selected from any of the program faculty across ASU. We offer five specific concentrations in the PhD in global health: culture and health; evolutionary global health sciences; global health governance; theoretical, mathematical, and computational epidemiology; and urbanism.

Q: Who is the ideal global health PhD student?
A: If you want to develop a top-notch professional social science skill set, are driven, open-minded and willing to work as part of a collaborative team with the faculty and other students, this is definitely the right place for you. In this degree we train and professionalize you, not just provide supervision. Arizona State University’s fast-paced, dynamic campus is an academically demanding environment and a vibrant laboratory for demanding adaptation, collaboration and innovation. If you find you like to do things only your way, need a lot of hand-holding or if you are more focused on the health part and not the social sciences part, this program may not be the best fit for you.

Q: What type of graduate-level training will I receive within the global health degree?
A: A few areas of faculty expertise at ASU where we provide particularly strong graduate-level training for this program include:

  • the links between culture and health;
  • social justice and the relationships between disease and social/environmental inequality;
  • health in the Americas (especially the Southwest U.S. and borderlands, Mexico and tropical South America) and Asia, where many of our faculty do fieldwork;
  • community-based health research that values the movement from theory to practice;
  • indigenous and minority health; children’s and women’s health; immigrant health;
  • nutrition/nutritional anthropology;
  • epidemiological approaches to social science and life science questions about health;
  • urban and environmental health;
  • formal social science methodologies for culturally and socially oriented health research (such as ethnography, text analysis, social survey, social network analysis, spatial analysis, participatory action research, demography and mathematical and computer-based modeling);
  • bio-cultural and life history approaches to contemporary health;
  • medical anthropology and medical sociology;
  • health in the past (such as seen through approaches from history, genetics and bioarchaeology);
  • with the recent addition of applied mathematics for the life and social sciences degrees in our school, we are also able to offer world-class training in mathematical epidemiology.

We are very interested in graduate students who wish to work in two or more of these areas.

Q: What faculty will I work with?
A: The degree is administered by the School of Human Evolution and Social Change and leverages ASU’s campus-wide strength in advanced training in the area of global health, with at least 75 nationally recognized participating program faculty from health, social, life and applied sciences. While we boast 15 or so medical anthropologists on campus, we also take advantage of a much wider set of skills offered by medical sociology, demography, human geography and epidemiology. ASU is also home to numerous environmentally focused research projects and centers, affording students opportunities for direct research experience. Please see http://graduate.asu.edu/graduate_faculty and select our degree from the drop-down menu for a complete list of faculty.

Q: What careers is this global health PhD degree suited for? 
A: Essentially, the application of the degree is similar to any social science PhD About 70 percent of our students intend to pursue academic careers, mostly as professors in transdisciplinary programs, just like this one, in which they will be doing research and teaching university students. Other students plan to use the degree to move into leadership positions in NGOs, government agencies and research positions in health fields, though the terminal master’s degree may be more suited to those with these types of career goals.

Q: What degree will I graduate with?
A: A PhD in global health.

Q: What are some of the baccalaureate degrees of current global health PhD students?
A: Our students come from areas such as anthropology, the biological sciences, physical therapy and sociology, but you can enter the PhD with an MA in a relevant field or directly from a bachelor’s degree. We generally recommend that people have a master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., MPH) before they join the program, and this is looked upon favorably in the selection process. Students entering without any background in health usually find the transition easier than those entering without a strong background in the social sciences. For those with no social science background, we highly recommend taking some key social sciences courses at the graduate level before applying (e.g., in human geography, medical sociology or medical anthropology), and to have completed a master’s degree.

Q: Can I talk to someone about the program? 
A: Yes, we have a full-time academic success specialist dedicated to our graduate programs. She can guide you through the process, refer you to others on campus as needed and answer or further research all of your questions. She can be reached at shesc.grad@asu.edu.

Degree Offered

Global Health , PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of

Location
Tempe

Plan of Study

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

View Plan of Study

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