On this page
- Forms used by the certificate
- FAQs about global health in general
- FAQs about completing this program in general
- FAQs about core courses
- FAQs about field experiences
- Planning out your completion of the certificate — Want to figure out if you can complete the certificate or not? Use this planning sheet together with the program’s completion checklist.
- Declaring the certificate — If you have read about the declaration process, are eligible to declare, and want to get started, fill out the form.
- Canceling the certificate — If you have declared the certificate but are sure you won’t complete it, cancel your declaration by filling out the form.
- Seeking approval for a field experience that you find or create yourself — Completion of this form requires that you have gathered quite a bit of information about the experience you plan to propose. If you have read the field experience section of the certificate’s handbook (particularly the part titled “Seeking approval for a field experience you find or create yourself”) and have gathered the necessary information, fill out the form. You can use this Word doc to plan your answers.
- Seeking approval for an elective that is not on the program’s approved list — If you have looked at our electives list and read the electives section of the certificate’s handbook and would like to propose an elective that we don’t normally accept, fill out the form.
- What is global health?
- Is medicine part of global health?
- Why earn a certificate in global health?
- Where do I find global health at UW-Madison?
- What kinds of careers might I pursue in global health?
- I have filled out the form to start the declaration process, but when am I actually declared?
- Why does my certificate DARS audit say that I haven’t completed a field experience or elective that I know is approved by the program?
- My certificate DARS audit says that I haven’t completed enough credits in residence, but I have. What’s going on?
- My certificate DARS audit says that my GPA in certificate courses is below 2.0, but it’s not. What’s going on?
- I graduated recently and I think I earned a certificate — do I get a paper certificate that’s like my diploma?
- I’m having trouble getting into the program’s core courses — what can I do/who can I talk to about that?
- Can I complete the certificate without having taken two of the core courses?
- I’m close to graduation. What field experience options are still available?
- Can I apply to more than one global health field experience?
- I want to or need to design an internship. How do I do that?
- Why does my certificate DARS audit say that I haven’t completed a field experience or elective that I know is approved by the program?
Global health is closely aligned with public health in its focus on prevention, longevity, justice and the health of communities and populations. Global health activities target all factors that affect human health, including environment (e.g. lack of access to clean water or vitamin-rich foods), human behavior or lifestyle (e.g., physical inactivity), and the accessibility and/or quality of medical care (e.g., lack of access to prenatal health screenings for pregnant women). Global health practitioners focus on addressing the root causes of infectious and non-infectious disease issues that cross geographic and socioeconomic boundaries,
Global health relies on collaboration and a two-way exchange of resources, knowledge and experience among nongovernmental, governmental, academic, and community partners. Together, they identify problems and develop strategies to provide solutions.
Successful global health practitioners have in-depth knowledge of places, languages, cultures and the life situations of particular populations and understand that sharing knowledge and resources is a two-way street. They are able to collaborate closely with local leaders and communities to devise solutions for local health challenges.
See our program handbook for more detailed definitions of public health and global health.
You might also learn from this short video:
Is medicine part of global health?
With the exception of advanced nursing students, undergraduates do not provide medical care while completing UW-Madison’s global health certificate. In general, however, providing medical care for underserved populations in Wisconsin and abroad is a crucial aspect of global health and, often, a first step toward enabling communities to look for lasting solutions to health challenges.
In addition to medical care, global health also includes identifying and addressing the root causes of disease, such as working to identify sustainable, culturally appropriate ways to meet nutritional needs, treat water, and dispose of human waste. Done in respectful partnership with local communities, these are the sorts of projects that undergraduate students will explore as they complete the certificate.
Why earn a Certificate in Global Health?
The certificate will help prepare you for living in a global society. You will learn from experts who collaborate with partners around the world, be introduced to a wide variety of global health careers, and have the chance to participate in projects that improve the well-being of people, animals, and the environment.
The certificate should help you identify and prepare for both professional experiences in global health and the graduate and professional degree programs that provide more in-depth global health education and experience. Though the certificate has only existed since 2011, large numbers of the program’s alumni have already entered or completed graduate or professional programs in public health, health care administration, medicine, veterinary medicine, nursing, physical therapy, law, education, social work, and other fields closely allied to global health. Many more alumni have joined non-degree service programs such as Americorps, Peace Corps and Teach for America.
Where do I find global health at UW-Madison?
You will find global health opportunities across campus and find global health in the classroom and in service-learning experiences. You will also find many global health-oriented student organizations.
In 2001, the then School of Medicine recognized the need to coordinate and establish policies for UW-Madison’s global health efforts. As a result, the Center for Global Health was born to coordinate campus global health activities. The scope of global health expanded to include all UW-Madison schools, colleges and units in 2011, when the center became the Global Health Institute.
In 2005, the School of Medicine also became the School of Medicine and Public Health, a recognition that health is not only about the well-being of individuals but is concerned with promoting well-being in communities and building bridges between physicians, public health workers and community leaders to improve lives in Wisconsin and around the world.
The Global Health Institute is dedicated to addressing the root causal factors of health and disease. Its work is guided by a new “global health ethic” that calls us to improve health today while ensuring that natural and other resources are available to provide health for all tomorrow. The Undergraduate Certificate in Global Health introduces you to this integrated, collaborative model.
What kinds of careers might I pursue in global health?
Global health involves people from many different fields using their expertise to improve well-being of humans, non-human animals, and the environment as a whole.
Medical and health care professionals such as physicians and nurses often embark on global health careers. Epidemiologists, occupational health specialists, and researchers in the health sciences are also part of global health.
Global health also has need of many more other professions than we can list here. You can find a place in global health, for example, if you are a clinical or counseling psychologist implementing group therapy for survivors of sexual violence, a teacher who manages smoking cessation or physical activity programs or a lawyer, policymaker or health care administrator interested in shifting America’s laws, tax system and health infrastructure toward prevention. Urban planners and engineers can make cities more liveable and find technical solutions to pressing natural resource-related problems. Agronomists, plant breeders, soil scientists, dieticians, biochemists, and others work to improve the amount and nutritional quality of food grown around the world while reducing the environmental impact of food production. Professionals like interpreters, fundraisers, IT managers, graphic designers, and writers can contribute to global health efforts by helping organizations communicate clearly with target audiences, raise money, and advocate for policy changes.
For more information on global health careers, see Opportunities outside the classroom.
As noted on our “Declaring and Completing the Certificate” web page, we have deadlines for starting the declaration process (October 15 for the fall semester and March 15 for the summer). Starting the process involves filling out a form linked to that web page. Finishing the process involves work by certificate staff. That work might happen at any time after you complete the form, but is only guaranteed to happen AFTER the deadline in question. That means, for example, that if you declare any time after October 15th (even 1 am on October 16th), certificate staff may not deal with your form until after March 15th.
Once staff have reviewed your form and done work in the staff side of your student center, the certificate should show up as something you are doing on the “Academics” tab of your student center. That assumes that they didn’t find anything odd in your form (for example, totally implausible plans for meeting the certificate’s field experience requirement). If that happens, you should get contacted by e-mail, but that also may not happen until after the deadline in question.
About 90 percent of students completing the Certificate in Global Health meet the program’s field experience requirement by joining a “preapproved” small-group course that ends up on their transcripts as Nutritional Sciences 421. DARS is programmed to “see” 421 and one other course (Nursing 419, an option only for nursing students) as approved field experiences, but it’s not programmed to look for any other combination of department and number.
The other 10 percent of students completing the program have their field experience approved by program staff but complete it with a name other than Nutri. Sci. 421. Common names include 299- and 699-level independent studies with UW faculty in varied departments, as well as more-or-less random combinations of department and number that get assigned by UW study abroad staff to field work students do abroad on programs that are not run by the certificate. A student’s certificate DARS audit does not see a course like this as a field experience unless a CALS administrator takes the time to go in and manually point DARS to the course in question for that student. While this kind of fixing could in theory happen at any time, certificate staff have found it works best to accumulate many such changes for many students who are about to graduate, and ask to have those changes made at the same time the students are completed for the certificate (that’s a process that happens shortly before or sometimes after your graduation date!).
What this means for students who have completed such courses is that right up to and through their graduation dates, their DARS audits say they have not met their field experience requirement. Certificate staff understand that this can cause anxiety, and students who feel they have met the field requirement but for whom DARS does not agree are strongly encouraged to check in with a program advisor. It’s a common situation.
The situation with respect to electives is very much the same. There are two sets of “problem” electives as far as the certificate’s DARS audit it concerned: 1) electives that are not on the program’s approved electives list at all, and for which a student gets approval to count the elective, and 2) electives that are on the approved list, but which are “special topics” courses — for these courses, some sections in some semesters are approved, but others are not, and it isn’t possible to proactively program DARS to know which is which. In both cases, a CALS administrator needs to fix an individual student’s DARS audit to make it “see” the course in question. This kind of fixing also happens AFTER a student’s formal graduation date. When in doubt about your electives for the certificate, check with a program advisor!
There are two possible reasons why this section may be showing problems. The first reason is that, until you are completely done with the certificate, our DARS audit does not know that you have completed enough credit in residence to meet this requirement. The second reason (much more likely to be the case for most students) is that this section is ALSO checking for your GPA in ALL certificate coursework. Until you have finished ALL of the certificate’s requirements, the DARS audit does not know for sure that you have earned a 2.0 or better in all required classes. If you finish all certificate coursework with a C or better, this section should clear up for you.
Our DARS audit is checking for your GPA in ALL certificate coursework. Until you have finished ALL of the certificate’s requirements, the DARS audit does not know for sure that you have earned a 2.0 or better in all required classes. If you finish all certificate coursework with a C or better, this section should clear up for you.
Alas, no — we don’t send out paper certificates. While the term “Certificate” might very understandably cause you to think you get a fancy piece of paper on completing our program, you don’t — the only thing that happens is that there is a line at the end of your transcript saying that you completed the certificate in addition to your BA or BS. As you may or may not know, your transcript is all that matters to graduate/professional schools and potential employers — a diploma or printed certificate is just a pretty (and easily forged) sheet of paper. We do still understand that you might like to have a paper certificate as a public display of your accomplishment and we apologize that we don’t print them — we just don’t have the resources to do that. When it was created, our program was expected to enroll about 1/6th as many students as it now has, and we’ve had to make careful choices about what we do and don’t do with limited staff time.
To confirm that you actually did officially finish the certificate, you should be able to request either an unofficial or official transcript and check for the short mention of the certificate described above. You are also welcome to contact certificate staff who can check for you in the student information system. Please do wait at least a month after your graduation date before checking with staff – it often takes that long or longer to get you officially finished up!
There are three different answers for three different courses:
- All certificate students must take Nutritional Sciences 203. This typically fall-only course is administered by the Department of Nutritional Sciences. The course has approximately 325-375 seats, depending on the availability of funds to support TAs. If you are not able to get into the course, you are strongly encouraged to put yourself on the waitlist, which holds up to 300 people. In fall 2014, more than 80 people got off the waitlist and into the class, though some of those people did not find that out until the very end of the add/drop period. As of spring 2015, the person to contact with questions about 203 is Robin Mittenthal (firstname.lastname@example.org), but Robin asks that you do not contact him with questions about whether you can get off the waitlist or not — with the waitlist, there are no guarantees. Please just attend lectures the first week of classes, wait and see if you get into the class, and plan out alternative options for useful coursework (approved electives, in other words) in case you don’t get in.
- Some certificate students take Population Health Sciences 370. This spring-only course is administered by the Department of Population Health Sciences. The course has approximately 275 seats in a lecture, plus many discussion sections with about 15 students each. If you are not able to get into the course, you are strongly encouraged to put yourself on the waitlist for a discussion section that would fit into your schedule. Because few people drop, however, the wait lists for each discussion section are small (just 3-5). If you get on a wait list, please make sure to attend the first day of class and talk with the instructor. If you do not get onto the wait list for any discussion section, odds are that you will not get into the class, though you can certainly attend the first lecture and talk with the instructor. If you have questions about 370, please start with Robin Mittenthal (email@example.com) and he will refer them on as appropriate.
- Some certificate students take Medical History and Bioethics 213. This spring-only course is administered by the Department of Medical History and Bioethics. The course has approximately 175 seats in a lecture, plus many discussion sections with about 15 students each. The course does not maintain a waitlist. If you don’t get in, make sure to attend class the first day and talk with the instructor. If you have questions about 213, please start with Robin Mittenthal (firstname.lastname@example.org) and he will refer them on as appropriate.
Sorry, but the short answer is “no.” You must complete Nutritional Sciences 203 and at least one of the two spring core courses. All three courses are important and when our program began we were orginally going to require you to complete all three. We are particularly firm about the requirement for 203 because even if you continue on to graduate school in public/global health, it may be the only training you get regarding the fundamental importance of nutrition and agriculture in supporting the well-being of humans, non-human animals, and the environment.
It’s small consolation to you, perhaps, but a fair number of people complete some but not all of our certificate, and we think that’s okay. While we’re very happy to have you finish the program formally, we don’t think that having it on your transcript is magically helpful for getting into jobs or graduate/professional programs. We do hope that whatever work you did complete toward the certificate is helpful (and seems to be, from reports by alums) in two ways: a) in getting students aware of and interested in the field to begin with and b) in preparing them to speak knowledgeably with graduate programs and potential employers about key concepts such as social determinants of health.
Situation 1 of 3: If you are asking the above question during either the SUMMER or FALL and are intending to graduate the following MAY, your options may be as follows (note that you CANNOT delay your graduation just to complete a field experience for the certificate!):
- Winter break group field courses — Apply to any of the Certificate’s short, small-group field courses that may be happening during the upcoming winter break and that may have not filled yet. Be aware that if any such courses exist in a given year, they may have filled long ago, or at least by the start of the fall semester. Check the program’s field experience page for details.
- Spring semester field courses — Apply to any of the Certificate’s short, small-group field courses that may be happening during the upcoming spring semester. Be aware that if any such courses exist in a given year, they will not be announced until November, and you may not know for sure if you have been accepted until January. Check the program’s field experience page for details.
- A winter or spring break Wisconsin Express field course — In some recent years, an organization outside UW has run one or more field courses over winter and/or spring break collectively called “Wisconsin Express.” If students are accepted to one of these courses AND complete a one-credit independent study during the spring semester, that can count as a field experience. We (the Certificate in Global Health) won’t know until about Sept. or Oct. of a given year if Wisconsin Express will happen over the following winter and spring breaks. We encourage you NOT to rely on this as a field experience — Wisconsin Express is not always offered over these breaks, and when it is, admission is very competitive.
- A spring semester internship or independent study — If you are willing to do the work to find or create one, an internship or independent study that you complete for credit in or near Madison could be an option if the supervision and content are approved by certificate staff. Check the program’s field experience guide for more information about these options. Be aware that while program advisors are happy to help you with creating such an option, there is no list of faculty or organizations that are just waiting for you to work with them — you must create the opportunity yourself.
Situation 2 of 3: If you are asking the above question during the SPRING semester and are intending to graduate the following AUGUST or DECEMBER, your options may be as follows (note that you CANNOT delay your graduation just to complete a field experience for the certificate!):
- Summer field courses — Apply to any of the Certificate’s short, small-group field courses that may be happening during the upcoming summer and that may have not filled yet. Be aware that if any such courses exist in a given year, they may have filled long ago, or at least by the start of the spring semester. Check the program’s field experience page for details.
- A summer Wisconsin Express field course or CHIP Internship — An organization outside UW runs a set of one-week field courses in early summer that are collectively called “Wisconsin Express.” They also run an 8-week summer internship program that uses the acronym CHIP. If you are are accepted to either Wisconsin Express or CHIP AND you complete a one-credit independent study during the FALL semester following your experience, that can count as a field experience. NOTES: Wisconsin Express and CHIP are NOT options if you will be an August grad (you won’t be here for the fall course!). The deadline for both programs is usually in mid-February, so if you are reading this after that time, these are not options.
- A summer semester internship or independent study — If you are willing to do the work to find or create one, an internship or independent study that you complete for credit either in or outside the US could be an option in the summer or fall if the supervision and content are approved by certificate staff. Check the program’s field experience guide for more information about these options. Be aware that while program advisors are happy to help you with creating such an option, there is no list of faculty or organizations that are just waiting for you to work with them — you must create the opportunity yourself.
Situation 3 of 3: If you are asking the above question during the SPRING semester and are intending to graduate in MAY of the same semester, you’re really out of luck. Do talk with a program advisor, but there may be few or no options left.
UW doesn’t have the resources to support this, but we think it would be great if every UW student could complete at least one internship during their undergrad years. Once you graduate, employers and graduate schools don’t care very much about what your major was — they care what you know how to do. If you can secure an internship and complete it successfully, creating something you can show an employer and/or collecting experience you can talk about on a graduate school application, you will be ahead of many of your peers.
Some students in the certificate complete “formal” internships (ones that are advertised somehow, have an application form, deadline, etc.), but many more complete “informal” ones (ones that are not advertised and in fact may not exist at all until you convince an organization that they should take you on and supervise you in completing a project that you cook up with them).
Be aware that finding/creating an internship can take substantial time (weeks or even months) and a lot of persistence on your part. It’s kind of like finding a job that way.
If you want to complete an internship just to have the experience (not for credit, and not for the Certificate in Global Health’s field requirement), we suggest the following steps:
- Download the certificate program’s handbook.
- Find the section titled “Work in global health during college.”
- Read all the parts of that section that have to do with internships.
- Proceed as described to identify possible host organizations, contact them, and work out details of a possible internship. If desired, talk with a certificate advisor for help in identifying possible candidate organizations and working through other issues.
If you want to complete an internship to have the experience and, for some reason, earn credit but not count it for the Certificate in Global Health, we suggest steps 1-5 above plus either:
6) having your internship evaluated by the International Internship Program as a possible Worldwide Internship (if it will take place outside the US)
7) having it evaluated by the L&S Internship Program (if it will take place inside the US including Madison).
Both of those programs are described in detail in the field experience section of the certificate’s handbook. If your major or school/college has its own internship course that could provide supervision of your internship, definitely feel free to explore that as well.
If you want to complete an internship to have the experience and have it count for the Certificate in Global Health’s field experience, we suggest steps 1-5 above, step 6 or 7 as appropriate, and submission of your field experience using the certificate’s form titled “Seeking approval for a field experience you find or create yourself.”
As of fall 2015, all field courses run by the certificate and partners on campus (either CALS Study Abroad or International Academic Programs) will be using the same database to collect and store your applications. This database is designed such that you should not be able to apply for two courses that take place in the same term. You should (we think) be able to apply for a winter course and a summer course, but not two summer programs. Other field experience options associated with our program (for example, the Wisconsin Express field courses) use their own application systems and you can apply to those in addition to our own field courses — the only limit is how much time you want to spend applying! If you are interested in multiple courses that happen in the same term, apply to the course that is of greatest interest to you. This doesn’t always work out, but we try to get course leaders to accept and reject students quickly such that if you are not accepted to one course you can still apply to others that are not yet full.