Penn Med Students

The Center for Global Health (CGH), in cooperation with the Office of the Registrar of the Perelman School of Medicine, invites you to expand your knowledge of and experience in global health. CGH coordinates global health experiences, provides course work in global health, and advises students on how to earn a Master of Public Health, Global Track or Global Health Certificate to accompany the MD degree.

Dual Degree MD/MPH — Global Track

Penn Med students may apply for the MD/MPH dual degree with a global health track.  The MPH Global Health Track offers a curriculum designed specifically for applicants to the interdisciplinary Master of Public Health Program who are interested in both the theory and practice of global public health. Recognizing that global health is an emerging area in the field, Penn's global health curriculum delivers core public health skills within a global context. Funding opportunities exist for MD students interested in a dual degree with the MPH program.  Click here for an application to this dual degree. 


Global Health Certificate

The Global Health Certificate program is designed to benefit students who are interested in pursuing careers in this area by allowing them to demonstrate active engagement and longstanding commitment to global health.  It is hoped that this commitment, as documented on the student's academic record, can help to overcome what is often a barrier for professionals seeking their first international health post.


  1. Complete two field experiences (*see Bridging the Gaps below for alternative), each lasting a minimum of 4 weeks (preferably 6-8 weeks), usually occurring the summer between MS1-MS2 and during MS3-MS4.  To have these experiences qualify, student must:
    • Complete the Global Health Experience Registration 6 weeks in advance of each experience;
      • Note: The Registrar and CGH will not recognize any experience that is not registered before departure for international location
    • Complete the Evaluation Form by your mentor/supervisor for the global health experience; you must provide the form to the evaluator before you return to Penn
  2. Enroll in PUBH519: Issues in Global Health course, offered by the Master of Public Health program in the Perelman School of Medicine. (More details can be found within the "Global Health Courses" section below)
    • Note: To request a waiver of PUBH519, please contact Megan Doherty and submit a transcript and syllabus documenting the course or courses cover all the material in PUBH519. If a waiver is granted, you may use another global health-oriented PUBH course to satisfy the certificate requirement.
  3. Complete a scholarly pursuit (or equivalent in rigor) that is global health focused, as determined by CGH. Students should consult with CGH prior to initiating their scholarly pursuit to ensure appropriateness of their projects. Registration is via the standard MD scholarly pursuit process which includes approval from the Associate Dean for Curriculum.
    • Note: To count for the Global Health Certificate, the Scholarly Pursuit must directly address: a health issue discussed in a global context; health issues affecting peoples in low-resourced countries; or health issues faced by transnational populations including immigrants, refugees, asylees and/or internally-displaced peoples. 
  4. Submit a Global Health Certificate Request by the fall of your senior year. 
Bridging the Gaps, a Community Health Internship Program

As an alternative for the summer between MS1 and MS2, students may wish to participate in this Penn Medicine program and have this experience credited as one of the required experiences for the Global Health Certificate.

BTG matches student interns with approximately 100 nonprofit community partners in Philadelphia, Erie, Pittsburgh, and the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, and in New Jersey. Students' projects are designed in collaboration with the community organizations, based on community-defined needs and the professional discipline and interests of the students.  To learn more about how you can get involved, please visit the Bridging the Gaps website


Med Student Year-Out in Global Health

Penn medical students are eligible to take a Year – Out during their third year of medical school.  A number of special year-out opportunities (and opportunities for short periods but best suited to year-out students) tied to specific programs are described below.  Please note that you should see the Registrar to discuss the financial implications of taking a year out (i.e. leave of absence vs. active student). See Global Health Funding Opportunities


Volunteer Global Health Research Opportunities

The Penn Med Center for Global Health coordinates global health research assistant opportunities for Penn students.  By engaging in ongoing global health research at Penn, these opportunities provide Penn students with insights into global health careers and scientific discovery while sharpening or gaining skill-sets useful in the field. Most of these opportunities are available in the summer, though some are open throughout the academic year. For MS1 students, summer research opportunities are usually distributed in the beginning of each Spring semester.  For more information, please contact the Center for Global Health.


Global Clinical Rotations for 3rd and 4th Year Medical Students

MS3/4 students who are qualified and approved by The Center for Global Health (CGH) for clinical work and who could be exposed to blood/body fluids must review PEP instructions and have a reliable source of PEP drugs.  If the planned experience could include phlebotomy, IV placement, para- or thoracentesis, and/or lumbar puncture, the student must also complete ITD357 and a phlebotomy log before departure. Students must never agree to engage in activities at a global health site that they would not be qualified for at Penn Medicine.

Botswana clinical elective

In coordination with the Botswana-UPenn Partnership (BUP), the Center for Global Health coordinates the Botswana Clinical Elective, an enriching experience providing exposure to multiple levels of healthcare in a low-resource setting. The 7 week general medicine elective allows students to experience:

  • Understanding the importance of context when working in different settings
  • Diagnosis and management skills in a resource-limited area, including end-of-life care
  • Impact of culture on patient presentation, doctor-patient and team relationships, and the provision of medical care
  • Exchange of knowledge with other students, health professionals, and trainees
  • Spend time with dynamic, smart, resourceful University of Botswana and Penn faculty committed to working in resource-limited settings

The Center for Global Health sends cohorts of three students throughout the year starting in mid-May. Andie Yost sends an information session announcement to MS3s in mid-August.

Click here to read student reports from the Botswana Clinical Elective.

Max Kade Fellowship in Vienna, Austria

Through the generosity of the American Austrian Foundation (AAF), Penn medical students entering their final year are invited to apply for the Max Kade Fellowship for a one-month clinical elective (observership) in Austria in March or April 2018. The Fellowship provides a travel stipend and modest accommodations, as well as a small amount of “pocket money.” Please note that food, personal, and local travel expenses are not covered by the Fellowship and prices in Europe are high. You can find details on the AAF website.

Application deadline is in mid-August; Andie Yost sends an announcement to students in mid-June with application information.

Click here to read student reports from the Max Kade Fellowship.

Clinical Clerkships with Ben Gurion University of the Negev’s Medical School for International Health (MSIH)

The goal of the MSIH Global Health Clerkship is to enable the student to experience the practice of medicine in a cultural environment other than his/her own and to apply theoretical knowledge to different cultures and ethnic groups, while working under varied conditions affected by the economics, traditions, religious beliefs, resource limitations, and geography of the site. Through participation in the clerkship, the student will learn how to promote community health and provide the best possible primary medical care with limited resources. They will learn first-hand about how ethnicity, customs and beliefs influence medical care. A primary objective of the MSIH global health clerkships is for students to be part of the community and to learn how primary care is integrated with community health education and factors such as sanitation, economic development, empowerment of women, and to learn how different countries are coping with these kinds of challenges.

The two-month clerkship runs from mid-January to mid-March. Clerkship sites vary from year to year but have included India, Israel, Peru, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Mexico, and Ethiopia. Application deadline is in mid-August; Andie Yost sends an announcement to students in mid-June with relevant clerkship and application information. Click here for more information.

To propose any other clinical location, at least four months before the planned experience, students must make an appointment with the Center for Global Health (CGH) office to propose the activity.  The scope of activities and background of the onsite supervisor/mentor (i.e. CV) are essential.


Global Health Courses

PUBH519: Issues in Global Health

(1 CU, Fall Semester, Tuesdays 5-7 PM & 1 hour breakout session)

This course presents an overview of issues in global health from the viewpoint of many different disciplines, with emphasis on economically less developed countries.  Themes include the state of the planet, including populations, resources, and environment; determinants of global health, ethical perspectives, challenges in communicable and non-communicable disease, and intervention strategies.

Registration:   Please note that before registering for this course, each student is responsible for ensuring that s/he has the approval of the home school. Medical students should contact Helene Weinberg

Frontiers: Challenges in Global Health

This one-week Frontiers course is designed for medical students in their final year with a serious interest in global health. The course assumes a general background in global health and utilizes a problem-solving approach with active student participation, including student-prepared and -led sessions. The course has two components, discussion of selected strategic issues in global health and important methods in global health:

  1. Each strategic issue is initiated with a lecture/discussion followed by a student presentation of a relevant case study. Case studies address topics such as control of HIV/AIDS, the great neglected diseases, demography and population dynamics, maternal mortality, and child survival.
  2.  Each methodological exercise is assigned to 3 students who act as instructors for the rest of the class. For each exercise, the student instructors are given a few structured questions and asked to provide answers using worked examples.

Registration:   Admission is by permission of the course director and the course is limited to 12 students. Medical students should contact Helene Weinberg

Other Penn Global Health Courses

Working with schools across Penn's campus, the Center for Global Health has identified a number of courses that could be of interest to students exploring various aspects of global health.

MPH Global Health Track Courses »

Beyond Penn


Student-arranged activities

Students may explore other opportunities that meet the requirements of the Center for Global Health with respect to location, length, and relevance.  Students who identify their own experience typically have a previous working relationship with the proposed organization. Clinical experiences require CGH approval at least four months before your planned start date before you proceed to make arrangements.


Global Health Student Advisory Council

The Global Health Student Advisory Council (GHSAC) convenes global health student groups across schools and disciplines to integrate, strengthen, and expand global health opportunities for the Penn community and beyond. This collaborative effort brings together students, faculty, and staff with a focus or interest in global health. Integrating various groups mirrors the notion that global health is an interdisciplinary field and working in global health requires collusion with individuals and groups with varying perspectives and skill sets.

More information can be found here »