Course Registration and Enrollment 

For all students:  A number of required and elective courses require permission of the instructor.  Students should e-mail the instructor explaining that they are Graduate/Professional/Capstone Certificate in Global Health Program candidates.  The instructor will make arrangements for certificate students to be able to register.  Please note that courses fill quickly, so please register early.

For Capstone students:  As Global Health Certificate candidates, capstone students are eligible to register before other Special Students. Please contact the Division of Continuing Studies, Adult Career and Special Student Services at or 608-263-6960 for help regarding Special Student status.

Overall curriculum requirements

A minimum of nine credits are required for the certificate, including six core course credit requirements, one of which is a credit-based global health field experience, and three elective credits. A description of the core requirements and electives is provided below.

Graduate | Professional | Capstone Core and Elective Courses

Core course requirements

(6 credits)

PHS718, section 1: Fundamentals of International Health Care Systems (2 credits)

This course addresses and analyzes differences in health status and methods of organizing and providing health services in countries with varying levels of development and types of sociopolitical systems. Students develop an understanding of the various avenues of international cooperation in health. It is offered during 7 weeks of the fall semester. (See note below regarding optimal sequencing of PHS718 and PHS640.)

PHS904: Topics in Epidemiology – Global Health (2 credits)

This course explores the relationship between globalization and health and provides students with an understanding of:

  1. major indicators and determinants of health and health disparities across populations, from less to more developed countries;
  2. the role of epidemiology in developing proven and potential interventions to improve global health and reduce health disparities; and
  3. methodological and ethical considerations in international health research.

The course is also designed to expose students to health research and clinical work of faculty working in a range of disciplines relevant to global health, and to help students identify ways in which they might contribute in the future to improvements in global health.  It is offered during seven weeks of the fall semester.

PHS640: Foundations for Global Health Practice (1 credit) or PHS644: Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Global Health (1 credit)

These courses help students to prepare for a global health field experience. Students study general precepts of global health, learn to use quantitative and qualitative data to gain an understanding of the health situation related to their selected field site country/population, and explore a pertinent health topic of focus.

PHS640 is for students planning to do an independent global health field experience. It includes selecting a site, identifying a counterpart organization, developing a scope of work that is of mutual benefit to the student and the counterpart organization, and preparation for travel (health and safety).

Please note: if possible, for optimal preparation, PHS718 should be taken prior to PHS640 and undertaking an independent field experience

Certificate students planning on taking part in the Guatemala faculty-led field course are also required to take PHS 640 but will focus on slightly different elements than those preparing for independent study.

Fourth year PharmD students who intend to fulfill the field requirement with an Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experience (APPE) may use PHARM 673: Seminars in Global Health Pharmacy as the pre-requisite course in place of PHS 640.

PHS644 is for students planning to participate in the Uganda, Thailand, or Ecuador faculty-led field coursers and includes site-specific course work.  Eligibility for enrollment in PHS644 is contingent upon acceptance into one of the PHS645 field courses (see below). 

Global Health Field Experience

(1-6 credits in total; 1 credit counts toward certificate requirements)

See Guidelines for Field Experiences (Appendix D) for complete information on global health field courses and experiences. 

A global health field experience is an academic credit-based learning experience in a setting relevant to global health. Field experiences are generally carried out during winter, spring, or summer breaks within the normal academic calendar; 1 week of on-site learning is equivalent to 1 credit(Please note that only one field experience credit counts toward Certificate requirements; additional field course credits earned cannot be applied to the elective requirements.) Global health field experiences may also be carried out during the academic semester if they do not interfere with class attendance or completion of requirements for registered coursework.

Students may elect to do: a faculty-led interdisciplinary group field course administered by the UW-Madison Office of International Academic Programs (IAP); a faculty-led health professions (primarily medical students) group field course, requiring registration as an independent study and administered by GHI; or, they may choose to design an independent field experience at the site of their choice, with approval of an academic advisor and the Certificate Program Director. Field experiences usually take place in a country outside the U.S., but may also be carried out in the United States, working with international/underserved populations or addressing health issues that have global implications. Students may also work with international agencies, such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or non-governmental organizations.

Field experience requirements:

Students must be in good academic standing to participate in a global health field experience.

For PHS645 faculty-led group courses (Thailand, Uganda, Ecuador), students are required to take the related prerequisite campus-based course (PHS644) and apply to participate in the field course through the campus-wide Office of International Academic Programs. Upon satisfactory completion of the field course, students will receive credit for PHS645: Global Health Field Study.

For the faculty-led group health professions course in Guatemala, certificate students must register for independent study credit in the department of the faculty leader (a 699 course number in most health sciences and graduate departments) and take PHS 640, Foundations for Global Health Practice.

Guatemala: Service-learning for medical students

For independent field experiences, certificate students must prepare a proposal, to be reviewed and approved by his or her advisor and the Certificate Program Director, which describes project goals and objectives and outlines a tentative schedule of activities.  Students must register for independent study credit in an appropriate school or department (a 699 course number in most health sciences and graduate departments).  MPH students who are also global health certificate students and doing an independent field experience may register for PHS788, Public Health Field Experience, in place of a 699. Please note that PHS640, Foundations for Global Health Practice, is still a prerequisite for PHS788 for these dual MPH/global health certificate students.

All students completing independent field experiences are required by the SMPH to execute an affiliation agreement between the field site organization and the SMPH/University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Upon completion of the field experience, all students must submit to the Certificate program office:

  • A reflection paper (based on a journal kept throughout the field course/experience);
  • An instructor evaluation of the student; and,
  • A reference-cited, academic paper/project report.

Students completing an independent field experience will also need to submit a site evaluation.

Please see Appendix D for detailed guidelines and expectations for field experiences.

Proposed course schedule for faculty led field courses 2017-2018

* Students should confirm these course offerings after the campus timetables are published by the university and IAP posts its summer field course offerings.

Note: Students may petition to have other academic credit-bearing group field experiences used to fulfill the field course certificate requirement. These petitions should be made in writing and should include a brief description of the experience and an explanation of why it is relevant for the student’s particular global health goals and course of study. These requests will be reviewed by the Certificate Director/Faculty Advisor. Only field experiences conducted after enrollment in the Certificate Program and following completion of the appropriate pre-field experience preparation course will be considered.

Elective Course Requirements

(3 credits)

Criteria for Global Health Electives

  •  Course objectives are aligned with some or all educational benchmarks of the Graduate/Professional/Capstone Certificate in Global Health (see above and Appendix A).
  • A substantial portion of the course content pertains to health in an international setting or deals with international populations in the U.S.
  • The class is a graduate level course.  (Note: upper level undergraduate courses that have content highly relevant to global health may be included as electives with the approval of the Certificate Director.)
  • Students are encouraged to use the elective requirements to develop breadth or depth in their interest areas that will take them beyond their major course of study.

(Note: credit for certificate elective courses may not be awarded for courses from the student’s required core curriculum for their degree program, but may be degree program electives/selectives.)

Special Requests to Count Other Courses as Electives toward the Graduate/Professional/Capstone Certificate in Global Health

In addition to the list of approved electives (see Appendix C), students may petition to be granted permission to include other courses as electives toward their certificate. These petitions should be made in writing and should include a brief explanation of how the course is relevant to the student’s particular global health goals and course of study. It is the responsibility of the student to attach a copy of the syllabus of the course in question, as well as a summary of global health courses taken to date. These requests will be reviewed by the Certificate Director/Faculty Advisor in light of the following criteria:

  • The class is 400 level or higher. (If 300 level or lower, additional review and approval is required.)
  • The course topic is relevant for global health as it pertains to the student’s particular career path.
  • A substantial proportion of the course content pertains to health in an international setting or deals with health-related issues in international/underserved populations in the U.S.
  • In the case of area studies courses that do not emphasize health as a major theme, the student’s major paper should be written on a health topic and submitted to the certificate program director/faculty advisor.
  • The course may not be part of the student’s required core curriculum for their degree program, but may be degree program electives/selectives.

Updated August 8, 2017