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 this survey at least two months prior to graduation detailing the ways in which requirements were met.


Global health has become an inextricable component of modern-day medical, public health, and nursing practices. There are increasing demands for health professionals who can function competently in a global marketplace, who have research or service interests in health problems of developing countries, or who wish to address global manpower inequities through training or service. This interdisciplinary graduate-level certificate program in the study of global health is a vital step in initiating and promoting joint training opportunities in global health between various departments and schools at Vanderbilt. Students fulfilling all requirements will be granted a global health certificate at the time of graduation.

Steps for Enrollment

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

  1. Review requirements and information on this page.
  2. Contact to discuss any questions or concerns.
  3. To be considered for the Graduate Certificate in Global Health, complete and submit the online application. 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.


  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.


All degree-seeking Vanderbilt graduate and professional students are eligible.

Individuals who are not enrolled in a Vanderbilt graduate program or Meharry Medical College 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.

Certificate Program 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 hour VIGH core course: Foundations of Global Health or Essential Skills in Global Health
  2. Nine hours of additional electives which can include VIGH courses or other courses as approved by VIGH; and/or an up to 6 credit hour field experience (practicum/internship) involving global health research project for academic credit (the Research Clerkship of VUSM applies).

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.

Course Details:

Certificate Requirements

Click here to see VIGH course descriptions. Project Pyramid and NURS 470 are also eligible for certificate credit.

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 requirement 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 experiences are abroad, though certain circumstances and interests may allow students to engage in global health research in Middle Tennessee.

If students choose to participate in a practicum experience to meet the requirements of the certificate program, they can do so working with international populations domestically or in international settings. It is expected that the student will spend approximately 240 hours at the practicum 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.

*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.

Field Experience Objectives

  • Provide students with a supervised practical field experience in an organization, agency, or other setting that provides planning or services relevant to global health
  • Provide a means for acquiring or enhancing practical skills that are useful to global health professions and are not available in a classroom setting
  • Foster understanding of the political, economic, social and organizational context within which public health activities are conducted
  • Provide exposure to an organizational and/or community context for global health activities

Capstone Project:

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.

Field Experience Examples

See 2014 recipients.

Information for Graduating Students

graduation capTo be considered for the Graduate Certificate in Global Health, complete and submit the form below. 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.


Deadline: 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
  3. A 1-paragraph bio and headshot

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.

I’m a Meharry student. How do I register for global health classes?

Contact Malynda Gaines at the Meharry Medical College Office of the Dean and Cc’ Susan Hintz at the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance to request to be added to a course. All courses require faculty and VIGH approval, which Ms. Gaines and Ms. Hintz will help facilitate.

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.

How do I identify a good field experience?

Students are encouraged to pursue their own field experiences. Contact if you need additional support.

Is there funding available for travel?

The Global Health Certificate 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. 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.


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

Marie Martin, M.Ed.
Assistant Director, Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health