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The Global Health Program (GHP) is an interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate degree program at the University of California San Diego (see UC San Diego Campus Profile).

Beginning Fall of 2014, the GHP includes a Bachelor of Arts in Global Health (BA), a Bachelor of Science in Global Health (BS) degree effective Fall 2019, Global Health Minor, and a Master of Arts in Global Health (MA) degree effective Fall 2019.

The program is the first of its kind within the University of California and one of only a handful in North America where students can gain a comprehensive initiation to the exciting and rapidly growing field of Global Health. The GHP is student-centered and emphasizes a balance between critical thinking and real world experience. 

Degrees in the Global Health Program provide students with an in‐depth understanding of factors related to illness, health, and healing from a comparative and interdisciplinary perspective that transcends national borders and regional interests and takes cultural difference and diversity fully into account.

The program’s degrees are designed to be intellectually comprehensive, integrating the social sciences, biological sciences, and humanities. They combine academic and experiential learning, striking a balance between acquisition of hard skills, critical thinking, and real world knowledge .

The GHP's unique research and writing opportunities make the BA, BS, Minor, and MA excellent preparation for medical and graduate school, and for careers in health sciences, research and teaching, service-providing organizations, government agencies, or law.

The program has faculty participation from the Divisions of Social SciencesBiological Sciences, and Arts & Humanities, the School of Medicine, the Rady School of Management, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, as well as collaboration from the International CenterAcademic Internship Program, Career Services, the Center for Iberian and Latin American Studies, the Center on Global JusticeBlum Cross-Border Initiative, and Aya Healthcare.


Aya Healthcare Partnership

The UC San Diego Global Health Program is supported in part by Aya Healthcare, a data-driven market leader in healthcare staffing. Through its transformative use of technology and digital engagement, Aya has become the largest travel nurse and allied staffing agency in the United States, as well as a leading provider of locums, per diem and non-clinical staffing. Aya’s managed marketplace hosts the largest pool of active job seekers with algorithm-driven personalized touchpoints to drive further engagement, and adds transparency and unrivaled efficiency to healthcare systems. While technology drives efficiency and scale, Aya employees power the company to deliver unparalleled accountability and exceptional experiences for clients and clinicians. Aya’s company culture is rooted in giving back and supports organizations that provide food security, equity, healthcare and education.

Global Health related resources on and off- campus:


Global Health is directly concerned with achieving equity in health for people worldwide. 


The curriculum is highly student-centered and closely articulated with the UCSD Global Health Initiative and with themes outlined in UCSD’s Strategic Plan (Enriching Human Life and Society, Understanding and Protecting the Planet, and Understanding Cultures and Addressing Disparities in Society).


Global Health Program - Program Learning Outcomes

1) Students will describe how social and structural determinants of global health and disease are influenced by cultural, social, and political contexts and explain the importance of diverse framings of health and healing practices. 

2) Describe the Global Burden of Disease and display an understanding of the major global causes of morbidity and mortality. Students will demonstrate an understanding of epidemiological concepts and research and describe the epidemiology of various major diseases and population health concerns.

3) Engage in a global health field experience to gain an in-depth understanding of the complexities of global health problems first hand. Students will gain skills in working with diverse populations in low-resource settings and display critical self-reflection, cultural humility, and ongoing learning in global health.

4) Students will be able to argue for the engagement of key stake-holders, including international organizations and diverse populations, to disseminate research findings and support evidence-based policies and programs.

5) Students will identify ethical approaches in global health research and practice that contribute to achieving global equity in health status and access to health care, developing awareness and understanding of the relationship between health, social justice, and human rights. Students will be knowledgeable on major global health efforts in place to reduce disparities in the field (such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)). 

6) Students will examine and become familiar with prominent case studies of global health programs, policies, interventions, and outcomes, considering the social determinants of health and illness specific to the local community and region.

What is Global Health?

Global Health is different from "international health" because it is inclusive of all countries (including the United States) as well as those that are developed and underdeveloped, high-, middle-, and low-income. Global health issues are shared across borders, boundaries, and socio-economic status. 85% of the world’s population is in low and middle income countries

"Global health addresses the health of people living in low- and middle-income countries that include not only infectious and tropical diseases (such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases and malaria), but also chronic and non-infectious diseases, as well as age-related illnesses and conditions. Global health also addresses mental illness and the health consequences of trauma, violence, war and displacement.  Maternal and child health is a high priority for global health professionals. This is because so much of the avoidable morbidity/mortality in the developing world is attributable to a lack of access to good prenatal and obstetric care and/or to preventable or treatable childhood illnesses, such as diarrhea and respiratory infection. Another key focus in global health is the organization, financing and management of health service systems. Global health experts help developing countries to establish and implement an effective and efficient health care infrastructure."  (Source: Explore Health Careers)

"The rise to prominence of the term “global health” has occurred in parallel with the popularization of globalization, an enhanced awareness of common vulnerabilities, and a feeling of increased shared responsibility for inequities present in the world today (Macfarlane, Jacobs, & Kaaya, 2008). For instance, let’s consider escalating health threats posed by climate change. By recognizing the role of globalization in driving greenhouse gas emissions, we realize how greenhouse gas emissions may impact population health not just in one region, but globally. We come to recognize how efforts to combat these issues will require substantial international collaboration. Within academia, these processes have produced a rise in the usage of the term “global health” (Macfarlane et al., 2008). Public health students today are more eager and feel better equipped to tackle the issues that global health is typically associated with. The evidence base for solutions has grown, and technological advances have facilitated easier collaboration between countries." (Source: Journal of Global Health)

What is included in Global Health?

"Global health has to embrace the full breadth of important health threats. This broad set of priorities might mean accepting that, for many countries, the epidemiological transition is a continuing process. Simultaneous effort needs to be expended on undernutrition and overnutrition, HIV/AIDS and tobacco, malaria and mental health, tuberculosis and deaths due to motor vehicle accidents. Infectious agents are communicable and so are parts of the western lifestyle (ie, dietary changes, lack of physical activity, reliance on automobile transport, smoking, stress, urbanisation). Burden of illness should be used as a criterion for global-health priority setting....Global health also addresses health issues such as tobacco control, micronutrient deficiencies, obesity, injury prevention, migrant-worker health, and migration of health workers." (Source: Lancet: Towards a Common Definition of Global Health)

Other Global Health Topics Include:

  • health care
  • health education
  • environmental effects on health
  • infectious disease
  • mental health
  • health inequalities
  • medical sequelae of natural disaster or political violence
  • indigenous healing practices
  • reproductive health

How does improved global health help the United States?

"The health of the U.S. population can be affected by public health threats or events across the globe. Recent examples of this include the 2003 SARS epidemic and the 2009 spread of novel H1N1 influenza. Improving global health can improve health in the United States and support national and global security interests by fostering political stability, diplomacy, and economic growth worldwide.

U.S. investments in improving health in developing countries provide significant public health benefits within the United States. Many global health issues can directly or indirectly impact the health of the United States. Outbreaks of infectious diseases, foodborne illnesses, or contaminated pharmaceuticals and other products, cannot only spread from country to country, but also impact trade and travel. The United States can also learn from the experiences of other countries. Standard health measures of life expectancy and chronic disease, including depression among adults, can be compared to other Organization for Economic and Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries. For those countries with better health outcomes than the United States, health agencies within the United States can use these comparisons to identify ways to improve the Nation’s public health." (Source:

What can I do with a degree in Global Health?

The Global Health Program's unique research, writing, and field experience opportunities make each degree program an excellent preparation for advanced training in health professions including; 
  • medicine, psychiatry, dentistry, nursing, public health, and pharmacy, as well as graduate training toward the Ph.D. and research or teaching careers in health sciences, medical social sciences, health policy and health law, environmental studies, or medical humanities.  

Resources for exploring Global Health

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