Graduate Certificate in Global Health

Students enrolled in any Vanderbilt graduate program who receive the approval of their program coordinator/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. 

Please note: Only degree-seeking graduate-level students at Vanderbilt are eligible for this certificate.


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.

Objectives of the Certificate

  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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Earning the Certificate

Steps-to-complete-certificate.jpgFor students interested in pursuing the certificate in global health, please follow these steps:

  1. Review requirements and information on this page.
  2. Complete and submit the VIGH Intent to Enroll form.
  3. Complete one core course (3 credit hours):
    • Foundations of Global Health (offered in the Fall)
    • Essential Skills in Global Health (offered in the Spring)
    • Fundamentals of Global Health (offered online course in the Fall & Spring)
  4. Complete at least 9 additional credit hours of graduate-level coursework in global health.
  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.
  6. Contact to discuss any questions or concerns, and to discuss a possible field experience.

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Certificate Requirements & Courses

Certificate Requirements

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. At least one 3-credit-hour core global health course: Foundations of Global Health; Fundamentals of Global Health; or Essential Skills in Global Health
  2. At least 9 credit hours of additional global health electives.
    • These credit hours may be a combination of VIGH global health courses or other approved courses that have relevance to global health.
    • Students may individually tailor and/or design electives in consultation with faculty mentors.
    • Practicum, thesis, research immersion, and individual learning courses that have relevance to global health may be approved for Certificate credit.
    • Global health fieldwork can satisfy up to 6 elective credit hours (see Field Experience section below for more information).
    • Students wishing to count a non-VIGH course towards the Certificate should complete the Course Proposal form in which they explain how the course relates to the Certificate objectives (listed above in a previous section) and describe their final course deliverable, which must relate to global health.
    • All courses for the Certificate must be taken for graduate credit and involve global health content.

This checklist will help you to plan and track your global health credits.


To fulfill the 9 elective credit hours, you can take global health courses taught both by VIGH and other programs at Vanderbilt:

  • View VIGH’s global health courses
  • View other courses that relate to global health
  • Search for other global health courses on YES using the code “PUBH” or typing “global health”
  • Courses must relate to health, low-resource settings, foreign-born populations, economics, community development, and similar topics to be considered for certificate credit and your main projects/assignments should focus on an aspect of global health. For example, in a course on international economic development, an appropriate term paper would be a literature review on the economic impact of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
  • Students may also tailor a practicum, thesis, or individual learning course to relate to global health and to be considered for Certificate credit.
  • For non-VIGH courses, please submit the “Course Proposal” form to have the course be reviewed and considered for the certificate requirements 
Field experience:

A field experience is highly encouraged, but not required, and can count for up to 6 credit hours. To count for the Certificate, field experiences should be a structured time (such as a 6-week block, 20 hours/week for 12 weeks, or 1 day/week for 30 weeks), include a final reflective report, and be registered for MD or graduate credit hours. When deciding on a field experience, the student should meet with VIGH faculty/staff to develop an appropriate experience. Students should have an on-site faculty supervisor and submit written agreements with both domestic and international supervisors.

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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 | 2016 | 2017

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Frequently Asked Questions

I'm not a Vanderbilt student, what are my options?

Only individuals who are degree-seeking graduate students at Vanderbilt are eligible for the Certificate. If you are interested in earning credentials in global health, Unite for Sight's Global Health University has a variety of certificates available. Additionally, the Consortium of Universities for Global Health has educational resources on global health and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health has a wide range of open courseware available in public and global health topics. 

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 VIGH 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 and explain that you are a candidate for the Graduate Certificate in Global Health and wish to enroll in the course as part of the certificate.

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 (VUnetID login required). 

What is required for the field experience written reflective report?

A final written self-assessment with appendices will serve as the final product. The self-assessment is different than typical academic writing. Students should write in first-person and describe their field experience.

1) Self-Assessment (10 pages total, 12 point font, double-spaced)

  • Introduction (2 pages)

    • Site/Organization with which student worked and its history, mission, and programs overview

    • Practicum specifications: programs engaged, responsibilities, goals, and objectives

  • Practicum Activities (2 pages)

    • Briefly describe activities completed over the practicum
  • Evaluation (2 pages)
    • Analysis of organization’s programs
    • Evaluate objectives (Were they met? Did they change? Why or why not?)
  • Perceptions (2 pages)
    • Relationship to past work experiences, didactic/academic experiences, & career interests
    • Most valuable aspects of practicum experience
  • Recommendations (1 page)
    • Programmatic (How can our program improve the field experience for students?)
    • Organizational (Would you recommend the site for future students? Why or why not?)
  • Conclusion (1/2 – 1 page)

2) Appendices (1 or more deliverables created for the site)

  • May include: literature reviews, data analysis reports, strategic plans, policy memos, PowerPoint presentations, survey instruments, training materials, curricula, manuscript drafts, best practice recommendations, grants, etc. If your products are not shareable (e.g., protected interview or survey data, computer programs, databases, etc.), provide a brief description.
  • Include a copy or picture of thank you note(s) to your supervisors and/or on-site colleagues.

How does tuition work?

Students are responsible for discussing tuition concerns with their own departments. Courses taken for the certificate generally also fulfill requirements in the student's primary program (i.e. core or elective credit).

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 VIGH 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 reviewed and considered for the certificate requirements, please submit the course proposal form.

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, MPH, M.Ed.

Training and Development Coordinator

Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health