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.

If your new to Penn or CGH, get started with our CGH Overview for Penn Med Students. 

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.


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 6 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 (Parts 1 & 2) (or the CGH Registration for IHS Rotations) no later than 6 weeks prior to the experience start date
      • Note: The Registrar and CGH will not recognize any experience that is not registered before departure for international location
    • Complete an 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


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.

Click here for the 2017 PUBH519 Syllabus

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 the registrar.

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 the registrar.

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


Year-Out in Global Health

In the spring of 2023 the Center for Global Health (CGH) announced the launch of a year-out program in global health. The primary program goal is to foster career development of medical students who intend to pursue careers that incorporate global health as a scholarly focus. Awards are competitively-based and conducted in association with projects led by CGH Scholar faculty.  A living stipend and travel expenses are provided. Admission is on a rolling basis and is currently open.  Successful candidates will have displayed a passion for global health, developed a potentially impactful research project, and be in good academic standing with completion of at minimum the core clinical clerkships.

It is important to confirm your ability to take a year out. Medical students who have completed their third year of Medical School may be eligible to take a Scholarly Year Out to conduct elective research. Make yourself familiar with the Year Out process and your eligibility prior to applying to this program. 

For more information and the application form visit the Student Application Portal

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).


Global Health Research Opportunities for 1st Year Students

The 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.

Summer research opportunities are distributed via email to the MS1 listserv, the GHSAC members, and the MPH Program beginning early in the Spring semester. Program details, as well as application instructions are included in these emails. Interested students can apply to any program; if more than one application, please rank your selections. Your application will be sent to the partner. If the partner is interested, they will reach out to CGH to set up an interview. 

To be eligible for funding, or counted as a Global Health Experience, research opportunities must be at least 6 weeks long. For more information, please contact the Center for Global Health.


Global Clinical Rotations for MS3/4 Students

Penn Students should never agree to engage in activities at a global health site that they would NOT be qualified for at Penn Medicine.

Penn med students can choose from a variety of CGH-approved clinical rotations, which are based at our partner institutions and provide appropriate supervision and clinical exposure for trainees. If you are interested in a Global Away Rotation, we suggest you reach out to us in your MS3 year. Some rotations require advanced planning. MS4s should plan to apply for away rotations no later than early Sept of their MS4 year.

Any clinical experience that could expose students to blood/body fluids will require the student to 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 departureCurrently, the only pre-approved site for such work is the Botswana clinical elective arranged via selection process. 

Once a student is approved for an away global rotation, a student must adhere to the dates of the rotation provided by the partner institution. Late arrivals or early departures from away global rotations are NOT ALLOWED. 

Review the list below of the current institutional partners where global away rotations can occur. In order to be considered for a Global Away Rotation, please first complete our Global Away Rotation Application.

Upon receipt and review of your application, CGH will follow up with next steps. This application is required of all students going on a global away rotation. 


Argentina - (Currently on Hold)

  • Universidad Austral Facultad de Ciencias Biomédicas 


  • Max Kade Clinical Clerkship - CGH will inform students when this opportunity opens each year



  • University of Chile, Faculty of Medicine

Dominican Republic


  • Cairo University


  • Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI): Students can apply directly to RCSI. Contact: Ms. Malgorzata Jankowska and cc CGH on that correspondence. You must apply at least 6 months in advance. Best suited for MS3's to apply for following year. Interested MS4s, must reach out to CGH no later than Sept 15th in the fall before the elective. 
  • University College Dublin


  • University of Tokyo School of Medicine
  • Hiroshima University


  • University of Nairobi School of Medicine


  • Lebanon American University


  • Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia


  • University of the Philippines

Singapore - (Currently on Hold)

  • National University of Singapore Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine - Must apply 6-12 months in advance. Best suited for MS3's to apply for following year. Interested MS4s, must reach out to CGH no later than Sept 15th in the fall before the elective. 


  • Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences

United States

More info on: Global Health Experience Procedures

More info on: CGH Student Funding


Peer Hosting

Hosting an International Medical Student at Penn

Throughout the year CGH welcomes medical students from our affiliated institutions to do research or a clinical elective. Help CGH welcome them to Penn by becoming a Peer Host! 

Peer hosts are Penn medical students who help visitors learn how to safely enjoy the campus and the city. Whether you are currently planning an international experience, have recently returned from one, or will engage in one sometime in the future, hosting an international medical student is an excellent way to reciprocate the hospitality you will no doubt experience in your travels. As a peer host, you will also develop another personal international contact.

Peer hosts do NOT provide housing. We are looking for students who will be able to free up sometime to interact with the student in the following ways:

  • Email/WhatsApp the student to let him/her know that you will be the peer host and that you are looking forward to your first meeting
  • Provide a brief orientation to Penn’s medical campus within the first week of the student’s arrival & show the student the reporting location for their elective (when appropriate)
  • CGH will pay for a lunch for you and your international guest
  • Other ways to engage with your guest: invitations on weekends or during other free time to participate in social events and/or visit places of interest in the area; helping the student to understand and enjoy University holidays and festivities

If you are interested in being a peer host please fill out our Peer Host Interest Form.


Student-Arranged Activities

Students may explore other research opportunities that meet the requirements of the Center for Global Health with respect to location, length, and relevance. Students who identify their own research experience typically have a previous working relationship with the proposed organization. The scope of activities and background of the onsite supervisor/mentor (i.e. CV) are essential.

If pursuing a non-CGH arranged opportunity, please put your onsite supervisor/mentor in contact with the CGH Office


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.

Current student groups on the GHSAC are:

If your group is interested, but not listed, please contact Maria Cortese Hering



CGH funding is NOT guaranteed. Students must submit their completed GHE registration (Parts 1 & 2) (or the CGH Registration for IHS Rotations) to CGH no later than 6 weeks prior to their experience start date.

View funding for Penn Med Students »