Undergraduate Field Experiences

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Perhaps the single most important thing to understand about the certificate’s field experience requirement is that, without exception, the options for completing the requirement are programs to which you must apply and to which you might not be accepted. Certificate staff cannot guarantee that you will get into the field experience of your choice or any experience at all.

For the most comprehensive overview of the global health field requirement, please see the certificate’s handbook. Besides providing many details on ways to complete the field experience, the handbook discusses what a field experience is for, what to avoid when planning a field experience, how to pay for your time in the field, and more.

We have also created a decision tree and posted a video of a panel discussion by students who completed five very different field experiences. Those resources might help you choose the field experience that’s most appropriate for you.

What is a field experience? Briefly, your global health field experience will introduce you to the many facets of multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches to global health. A typical field course includes some combination of internship, site visits, service learning and meetings with government agencies, nonprofits, community groups and researchers. Field courses offer you the chance to see connections between human, animal and environmental health. They also allow you to compare your perceptions of health and wellness in new settings among diverse populations. With the exception of senior nursing students in supervised clinical programs, students on field courses do not provide medical care to patients.

Though most students join preapproved field courses run by the Certificate in Global Health with partners across campus, there are many ways to fill your field requirement, including internships and other experiences you design yourself and propose for approval. Field experience options vary greatly in duration, cost and other dimensions, but any field experience you wish to count toward fulfilling your certificate requirement must be completed for credit and must be approved by the certificate’s executive committee.

Your field experience must be completed by the date on which you plan to be done with the requirements of your major(s). That is, you cannot stay on at UW (even through the summer) just to finish a field experience.

Seeking approval for a field experience you find or create yourself

Certificate staff are happy to have informal discussions of possible field experiences at any time, but if you believe that something you plan to do could count as a field experience, there are a few things to do and know before asking certificate staff to formally approve your experience:

  • You must have completed at least one of the certificate’s core courses before your proposed experience takes place.
  • We don’t approve experiences retroactively.  In other words, the experience you would like us to count must not have happened yet.
  • You must have read the field experience portion of our handbook and thought about how your potential experience does or does not fit our guidelines.
  • An independent field experience with a UW faculty mentor is more likely to get approved.

If you know and have done each of these things and you still believe that something you did or plan to do could count as a field experience, see our forms page to propose your experience to us.

Important factors to consider about field courses

  • Do you meet listed prerequisites for the course?
  • Will you be free when the course is scheduled to take place?
  • Have you taken all associated costs (fees, airfare, tuition, passport, immunizations, etc.) into consideration and do you have a plan to pay them?
  • Do you have thoughtful answers ready for the application questions? Most course applications involve essay questions in addition to asking for your name, address and other basics.
  • Will the course and all required preparation and/or post-trip assignments be completed before your planned graduation date? You cannot delay graduation just to complete your field work.

Field options available most fall, spring, and summer terms

There are some field options that are available most fall, spring, and summer terms.  Some of these options are preapproved, meaning that if you apply to and are accepted to them, the certificate will count them no matter what. There is also the option in most fall, spring, and summer terms to design an experience and get it approved by the certificate’s leadership team.

Be aware that many summer and semester-long options (preapproved or otherwise) require action on your part substantially in advance of when the experience starts. For example, semester-long programs in a given fall term usually have deadlines around February or March of the preceding spring.

Preapproved summer/semester-long options

The certificate’s handbook describes these longer, preapproved courses in some detail.  To find these options, go here. Under “Experience Type,” choose “Certificate in Global Health” and choose the relevant term under “Duration.” Click “search” and look through the results for “Exchange and Affiliate Programs.” All of the preapproved options are offered by organizations off campus called SIT, CIEE, and DIS.

Summer- and semester-long options needing approval

If you are interested in any of the options in this section, be aware that you will need to submit details of your project in advance through a form (see #4 here) and must then receive approval from the certificate’s executive committee in order to proceed. Please see the program’s handbook or talk to an advisor for many more details on these options.

  • A local or domestic internship in the US for which you earn credit through Inter-L&S 260
  • An internship completed outside the US for which you earn credit through the Worldwide Internship
  • An internship or practicum course associated with a summer or semester-long program at a foreign university
  • An independent study, thesis, or other project supervised by a UW faculty member

Field options in January 2018 – CLOSED

The following courses are planned for January 2018. All applications are now CLOSED.


Field Options in Spring 2018


  • Madison, WI – Slow Food UW South Madison Internship – Do you believe in “good, clean and fair food for all”? Are you interested in making local, community-conscious foods more accessible? Paired with a 1 credit SOHE course, Slow Food South Madison internships will count as a field experience for the certificate. To learn more and apply, review the internship descriptions here (note that only South Madison internships are pre-approved for the certificate) then follow the application instructions here. Applications closed
  • Minoqua, WI –  Wisconsin Express (Spring break) — Wisconsin Express is a set of one-week small-group field courses in Wisconsin run by the Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Deadline for priority consideration is Dec 22
  • Madison, WI – School Nutrition and Food Equity – Application closed
  • Madison, WI – Legal Studies 400: Understanding the Impacts of Social and Legal Issues on Health. Application closed

Field Options in Summer 2018

Applications opened October 23, 2017. Note that application due dates vary by program!



  • Odanah, WI — Exploring Ecology, Culture, and Health in the Wisconsin Lake Superior Basin – Due Feb 19
  • Wisconsin (various locations) — Wisconsin Express is a set of one-week small-group field courses in Wisconsin run by the Area Health Education Center (AHEC). Applications for priority consideration due Dec 22.
  • Wisconsin (various locations) — The Community Health Internship Program (CHIP) is an eight-week-long paid summer internship, also run through AHEC. Applications due Feb 6
  • Madison, WI — Experience the Public Health Laboratory (Nutritional Sciences 421, section 1): This 1-week, 1-credit summer course will introduce you to how laboratory testing can be used to identify and prevent the spread of diseases, monitor outbreaks and provide surveillance, in Wisconsin and around the world, during placement with the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene. Also counts for global health elective credit. The course will be held May 21-25, 2018.

Semester/Summer Study Abroad Options

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