Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health

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Graduate Certificate in Global Health

Students enrolled in any Vanderbilt graduate program who receive the approval of their dean and fulfill the requirements listed below are eligible for the certificate.  Students must submit an Intent to Enroll form upon their decision to pursue the certificate and must complete the Certificate Application at least two months prior to graduation detailing the ways in which requirements were met.

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Global health is not limited to clinical health professionals. Practitioners from various fields, including business, education, and engineering, are vital to global health work. This interdisciplinary graduate-level certificate program promotes joint training opportunities in global health between various departments and schools at Vanderbilt. Students earning this certificate learn basic knowledge and skills that will help them make positive contributions in global health. Any Vanderbilt professional or graduate student who fulfills all requirements will be granted the certificate when they receive their graduate degrees.

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Steps for Enrollment

For students interested in pursuing the certificate in global health, please follow these steps:

  1. Review the information on this page and the Certificate Requirements.
  2. Print, fill out, and have your Director of Graduate Studies/Program Director sign the VU Notification of Intent to Enroll (signatures of the certificate director and graduate school will be completed by VIGH). Then, submit this paper as part of the VIGH Intent to Enroll form.
  3. If you wish to submit a request for a non-global health course to be considered as part of your 9 elective credit hours, please do so here.
  4. Contact to discuss any questions or concerns, and to discuss a possible field experience.
  5. At least two months prior to graduation, submit the Certificate Application. You may initiate the form at any time during your graduate program to track your progress toward the certificate using the “Save and Return Later” feature.

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  1. To equip students with analytic and problem-solving skills that can be applied to current and emerging global health challenges.
  2. To prepare students for internationally-focused careers in academia, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, immigrant health agencies, philanthropic foundations, and industry.
  3. To help students assess public health challenges within international cultural and socioeconomic contexts.
  4. To instruct students in the fundamental principles of research, planning, and management methodology in resource-constrained settings.
  5. To facilitate student synthesis and analysis of global health data from existing and de novo sources.
  6. To ensure student acquisition of core competencies in global health care and prevention, including the mastery of a basic vocabulary in these disciplines.

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All degree-seeking Vanderbilt graduate and professional students are eligible. Individuals who are not enrolled in a Vanderbilt graduate program are ineligible for the certificate, although they are encouraged to enroll in VIGH global health courses and contact VIGH for guidance on global health initiatives.

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Certificate Program Requirements

Certificate Requirements

NEW REQUIREMENTS as of Summer 2015: Students will be granted a global health certificate at the time of graduation from their respective graduate degree-seeking program if they have successfully completed the requirements stipulated below:

  1. One 3-credit-hour core global health course: Foundations of Global Health or Essential Skills in Global Health
  2. Nine (9) credit hours of additional electives which can include global health courses or other courses as approved by VIGH.
    1. Global Health fieldwork can meet up to 6 of the 9 elective credit hours. Examples of fieldwork include participation in global health-related practicum, internship, research clerkship, or clinical rotation. Fieldwork should be pre-approved by VIGH, have a final product, and be conducted under a course code for credit-bearing hours.

Note: Students must be enrolled in credit-bearing course codes for all 12 required hours. Audited courses will not fulfill the requirements and neither will field experience without academic credit.

Global Health Course Credits:

VIGH’s global health courses and their descriptions are detailed here. A current schedule of these courses can be found here.

Additionally, approved global health courses that are not offered by VIGH but are eligible for certificate credit include: Project Pyramid, VUSM Global Health ISC and ACE (MD students only), and Addressing Global Health Disparities: An Interdisciplinary Perspective (Nursing students only).

Courses that are not listed above or as VIGH global health courses but do relate global health, low-resource settings, low- and middle-income countries, underserved populations, economic development, and the like can be considered for certificate credit. Your final deliverable for the course must focus on an aspect of global health. For example, in a course on international economic development, an appropriate final deliverable would be a literature review on the economic impact of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. To have a non-listed global health course be considered for the certificate requirements, please submit this form one month before registering for a potential course.

Field Experience:

A Field Experience of at least six weeks’ duration, e.g., a global health practicum, internship or clinical rotation, with a final scholarly product, can satisfy up to 6 of the 9 additional required credit hours. This can be fulfilled by other graduate and professional school requirements such as a Peabody IEPM Practicum or MD Research Clerkship. Alternatively, the Field Experience can be completed by a year-abroad global health experience such as a Fogarty, Fulbright-Fogarty, Medical Scholars, or Doris Duke international fellowship. Typically, global health field experiences are abroad, though certain circumstances and interests may allow students to engage in global health research and work in Middle Tennessee, particularly with immigrants and refugees. Click here to read examples of past field experiences.

It is expected that the student will spend approximately 240 hours at the field site(s) and/or performing work directly related to the practicum. This should be structured time, such as a 6-week block, 20 hours/week for 12 weeks, or 1 day/week for 30 weeks. The student will meet with VIGH faculty/staff to develop an appropriate practicum experience. Students will be required to develop the goals of the study or project in a proposal, based on inputs from the faculty mentor and in tandem with the current research and educational activities that are being undertaken at the collaborating institution/organization. Each student is required to also have an on-site faculty supervisor. Written agreements with both domestic and international supervisors are required.

A final written report (10-12 pages, double-spaced) is required in order to receive credit for the field experience. The report should include a brief literature review of the topic area, concrete learning objectives, a description of the organization and the student’s role during the practicum, and analysis of the services or programs offered through that organization.

Students traveling overseas are required to register with International SOS at least two weeks prior to departure.To help prepare for your field experience, you can find information about Travel Resources, Pre-departure Preparation, and Safety (VUnetID login required).

*Please note: If a student plans to travel to a country that is on the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning list, s/he must submit a “Request for Exception to Travel.” For more information, visit the Global Support Services Office.

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Information for Graduating Students

graduation capTo be considered for the Graduate Certificate in Global Health, complete and submit the Certificate Application form. Students may initiate the form at any time during their graduate program to track their progress toward the certificates using the “Save and Return Later” feature. The form must be completed and submitted at least two months prior to graduation.

Deadlines for submission (approximately two months before your graduation date):

May graduates: March 1 August graduates: June 1 December graduates: October 1

The online application form requires students to provide the following:

  1. Information on global health coursework, including an unofficial transcript, detailed academic record, or courses report from YES.
  2. Information on global health field work and final product (if a field experience was completed).
  3. A 1-paragraph bio and professional headshot to be used on our alumni pages.
View recipients of the Graduate Certificate in Global Health:
2014 |  2015

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Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I find course descriptions?

Visit the course description page for general overviews. Log into YES for the most up-to-date information on faculty and times.

Do courses require faculty approval?

Due to limited class sizes, all students outside of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine will require approval from VIGH and course faculty. Please contact the course professor prior to enrolling.

How do I identify a good field experience?

Students are encouraged to pursue their own field experiences. You can begin your search by exploring the VIGH Global Health Opportunities Database. Contact for additional support and to set up a meeting to plan your experience. Remember, you will need to set goals for your experience, have an on-site mentor, and complete the final written report. See the Field Experience section above for more information.

Is there funding available for travel?

The Certificate in Global Health does not have any funding available. Students are encouraged to explore funding at their host institutions and departments, as well as external sources. View further information about internal and external sources of funding here (you will need to login with your VUnetID – if you have trouble, contact Be sure to check out the Global Health Education Consortium’s “How to Find, Plan, and Fund Your Global Health Opportunity” guide, too.

How does tuition work?

Students are responsible for discussing tuition concerns with their own departments.

Can I propose a course to count towards the certificate if the course does not have a health or global health focus?

Yes. Courses that are not listed as global health courses but do relate global health, low-resource settings, low- and middle-income countries, undeserved populations, economic development, and the like can be considered for certificate credit. Your final deliverable for the course must focus on an aspect of global health (ex: the course is about economic development in low- and middle-income countries and your final deliverable is a literature review on the long-term economic impact of child feeding programs). To have a non-listed global health course be considered for the certificate requirements, please submit this form at least one month before registering for a potential course.

What if I have already taken a global health-related course and I would like it to count towards the certificate?

If the course relates global health, low-resource settings, low- and middle-income countries, undeserved populations, economic development, and the like, and your final deliverable focused on an aspect of global health, you may submit a course proposal for consideration. You will need to upload the course syllabus as well as your final product.

What if I cannot fit either of the global health core courses into my schedule?

Contact Elizabeth Rose ( to discuss other options.

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For additional information on the Graduate Certificate in Global Health, please contact:

Elizabeth Rose, MEd, MPH Training and Development Coordinator,
Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health