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Masters in Science in Global Health Equity at the Medical College of Wisconsin

"The Masters of Science in Global Health Equity Program was developed to prepare students to be global health leaders who will learn by engaging with diverse local and global populations. A common theme is health equity with an emphasis on community engaged approaches. We have designed an experiential learning program that is hands on and project based," says Laura Cassidy, MS, PhD; Director, MS in Global Health Equity. Our program is a refined career-builder for those who are interested in advancing equity in medicine.


The mission of MCW’s School of Graduate Studies is to provide world‐class research and training opportunities for students in the biomedical and health related sciences environment, which cultivates and integrates basic science and clinically oriented research, applied learning and community.

Why Join the Global Health Equity Program at MCW?

You can expand your career with a MS in Global Health Equity degree, and the program is set up so it may be completed in as few as 16 months. This highly interactive program offers courses primarily in person and allows for full-time or part-time study. Our program offers a high faculty to student ratio with a focus on individualized student mentorship. No GRE is required, and you can apply now to begin in the Fall or Spring Semester.

About the MS Global Health Equity Program

The Masters of Science in Global Health Equity program at the Medical College of Wisconsin was created to meet the growing demand of global health professionals. Our small cohorts make it possible for local and intentional mentoring from faculty who have a wide range of global health experience. Students will conduct a global health research project with one of our local or international partners. Our flexible, interactive program allows students to choose from a variety of elective courses to gain expertise in areas they are most interested in.

All students will learn the core competencies needed for a successful career in global health, including:

  • How to formulate a culturally appropriate research question, practical steps to study design, interpretation and dissemination of results.
  • Factors that shape the health of global populations and how multidisciplinary, multinational partnerships can improve health.
  • Develop programs and identify activities which can be implemented to improve health outcomes in a variety of settings.
  • Use epidemiological information to properly monitor, inform upon, and shape the health responses to humanitarian aid, water and sanitation, nutritional relief, and health care.
  • Compare the determinants of health and risk factors for conditions of major importance in global health and their relationship to culture.
  • Understand human subjects’ protections in research with diverse communities.

Important Dates

April 1: Priority deadline for Fall admission
July 1: Final deadline for rolling admissions
November 1: Application deadline for Spring admission.

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Memorial Fund of Dr. Rachel Thompson

The Dr. Rachel Thompson Global Health Equity Scholarship funding support will be competitively provided to support students’ faculty-mentored global health research projects that address health inequities both locally in Milwaukee, in Wisconsin, and across the world. This fund will also pay tribute to Dr. Thompson’s research efforts by sponsoring an annual global health equity research event that will disseminate the outcomes of MCW students, faculty and their local/global collaborators.
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Program Faculty

MCW has one of the lowest student-to-faculty ratios in the world. Our faculty are highly supportive and dedicated to educating and training the next generation of Global Health professionals. Read more about our faculty’s research interests and backgrounds.

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Program Partners

Our program connects students to local and global organizations involved in global health. Learn more about our partners and their areas of research. 

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MS Global Health Equity Program

Admissions Requirements

Admissions Requirements

The priority deadline for Fall admission is April 1 followed by rolling admissions through a final deadline of July 1. Students are also able to apply to begin the program in the Spring semester, November 1 is the application deadline for Spring admission.

The MCW Graduate School operates on a rolling admissions basis, which means there is never a time that we do not accept applications and related materials. The GRE is not required for admission to the program.

Students should satisfy the minimum requirements for admission:

  • Baccalaureate degree- official transcripts required
  • 3.0 cumulative GPA preferred
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Personal statement describing career goals and reasons for interest in the program
  • Strong foundation in quantitative, behavioral, and biological sciences
  • TOEFL scores for students who do not use English as their primary language of communication is required. The Institution Code is 1519.
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Courses for the program were developed using the competencies toolkit from the Consortium of Universities for Global Health. Our 36-credit program can be completed in 18 months and can accommodate both full time or part time students. The program requires a 6-credit thesis work experience which students can complete with one of our local or global partners. The thesis work can be spread out throughout the semesters and/or the summer.

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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Core Courses

29275 Global Health Consulting and Research Methods 3 credits

This course is an applied, project-focused, “real-world” overview for individuals in healthcare consulting. Students will learn about planning, executing, and evaluating research that is applicable to advising with respect to relevant needs to help organizations serve their stakeholders more effectively, efficiently, and efficaciously. This course provides you with an introduction to a range of established and emerging consultancy practices such as design thinking, open innovation and sourcing, stakeholder journey mapping, and agile methodology.

29219 Introduction to Global Health Equity 3 credits

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that ten great public health achievements worldwide in the last decade have been their science and programmatic role in global health including the prevention of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis control, access to safe water and sanitation, control of neglected tropical disease, reductions in child mortality, vaccines, malaria prevention and control, and tobacco control. In seeking to address and understand complex global health concerns, the MS GHE Program is uniquely positioned to enlist multidisciplinary faculty to present the world’s burden of disease and propose solutions to decrease health disparities.


A focused approach to local and global health issues adds value to public health professionals’ roles. As the United States becomes increasingly more globally diverse, there is a growing need to understand and serve the global populations in our own neighborhoods and communities. By training our future public health professionals to be culturally sensitive and world thinkers they can better understand the unique distinctions each culture brings.

29239 Ethics and Global Health 3 credits

This course will be in the intersection between bioethics, global public health, and international biomedical research and practice. It will look at global health issues and their ethical challenges from the perspective of culturally diversity communities and their local experience related to health and health care. This course engages in a debate of the main ethical issues of clinical practices in health care and research institutions and health care actions in global health. It aims to provide students resources and practical skills to handle ethical dilemmas and lead decision-making processes in clinical contexts, related to research with human subjects, healthcare delivery, and public health policies. To achieve this goal, this course is divided into two parts: First, it examines the foundational structures of bioethics, letting them to be challenged by pluralistic worldviews. Second, it discusses ethical dilemmas and concrete clinical situations in which students are challenged to lead decision-making processes in order to deal with moral stress and to address ethical dilemmas, at the same time that high ethical standards are considered. In addition, participants will be exposed to firsthand data from ethnographic and participatory action research in global health and challenged to read authors that show special consideration for the voices and experiences of vulnerable and historically marginalized populations.

29230 Epidemiologic Research Methods in Global Health Equity 2 credits

The overall focus of the course is on quantitative methods of epidemiology that can be applied globally. The course provides: 1) an overview of epidemiologic concepts; 2) the importance of determinants of health, theoretical models and how they apply globally, 3) practical steps to study design, and 4) dissemination of results.

29220 Statistics for Global Health 2 credits

This course will provide a foundation for statistical analysis in global health research using Stata software. First, we will cover research design and data collection, including questionnaire design, sample selection, sampling weights and data cleaning. Second, we will emphasize the use of code or command files in Stata to ensure that students are taught how to write programs. Third, the students will learn how describe statistical results for technical and non-technical audiences. The students will be introduced to univariate, bivariate, logistic regression and linear regression analyses. The students learn to formulate a research question that addresses a sustainable developmental goal, analyze data using existing international data sets, and interpret the results. They will learn to present their results to the scientific community as well as to local communities and will prepare a final research paper.

29236 Digital Storytelling for Public Health 1 credit

The translational aspects of Public Health sciences require creative approaches to stakeholder engagement, communication, and trust building. Digital storytelling has become a recognized methodology to build relationships for community engagement as well as generate useful qualitative data. The latter are particularly useful for developing cultural context in health communication. This course will provide an overview of how indie filmmaking techniques can be used to efficiently produce digital stories. We will also present examples of how this process facilitates community (stakeholder) engagement for research projects.

29279 Thesis Work Prep course 1 credit

Experiences in global health have proven to be invaluable in shaping the interests and careers of students. Participation in global health educational and research activities is associated with increased likelihood of addressing health disparities and the social determinants of health. However, there are also potential pitfalls associated with sending students to research arenas in which they are unfamiliar- processes are different, the resources available for research may be limited, there are language and cultural barriers, and students face safety issues pertaining to travel and occupational exposures.  This type of experience is a means for professionals-in-training to learn important lessons about health disparities and cultural diversity. This course will provide a step by step guide to prepare students for successful thesis work.

29299 Thesis Work 6 credits

Thesis work is a required component of the MS in Global Health Equity program. It is a planned, supervised, and evaluated practical experience designed to enhance and complement the educational training. Students will engage in research or a community engagement project. Students are encouraged to choose a thesis placement that aligns with their career interests. Global and local placements are available with MCW’s established partners.


Elective Courses

29100 Community Health Needs Assessment 2 credits

Understanding the health needs of communities is central to the success of programs designed to address the most pertinent health challenges of vulnerable communities. Participants will get an understanding of why community health needs assessments are necessary. They will delve into the steps taken in designing, conducting and analyzing the findings of a health needs assessment, with a focus on rural communities in developing country settings. They will get insights on the types of data needed for a health needs assessment and the indicators used for this type of assessment in the context of rural communities in low income country settings.

29150 Global Environmental Health 3 credits

Global Environmental Health will examine environmental problems that manifest at a global scale, with implications for human health and health equity. This course provides (1) a survey of major global environmental issues impacting human health, and (2) a focused examination of global climate change, related health impacts, and approaches to environmental sustainability, mitigation, and resilience. Issues to be considered include urbanization, air quality, water and sanitation, energy, food systems, biodiversity, waste, drivers of emerging diseases, climate change, and green infrastructure. The course will consider relevant social, economic, and political factors and approaches to controlling or eliminating risks. We will apply a global health equity perspective, examining causes and effects of environmental issues and implications for vulnerable populations. Environmental health issues in both developed and developing countries will be presented.

29235 Fragile Lives: Understanding Vulnerability in Old Age 2 credits

In bioethics, vulnerability is a very important concept along with ethical principles such as autonomy, justice, beneficence, integrity, and dignity. The notion is an integral part of several international ethical and legal guidelines such as the Nuremberg Code and the Belmont report which aimed to protect the vulnerable from inhuman medical practices. Despite being at the heart of bioethical inquiry, the concept of vulnerability has no clear-cut definition. Vulnerable populations are generally believed to include (but are not limited to) minors, incapacitated adults, prisoners, institutionalized individuals, minorities, refugees, nomads, homeless persons, unemployed, poor persons, pregnant women, women, and older persons. This labeling approach to vulnerability has been strongly criticized in the bioethics literature for being broad and thus lacks discrimination of individual and situation differences.

29245 Health and Forced Migration 2 credits

Introduction to displaced populations and refugee health with special attention to:  vulnerable populations; the intersection of human rights, health policy, and health systems; and the health consequences of forced migration.  This course will describe some aspects of the causes for populations to flee their homelands, common ways refugee camps are set up and structured, frequently seen health effects of displaced populations, specific vulnerable sub-groups within displaced populations, and the legal and ethical challenges of the displaced.  This course is suitable to anyone interested in the effects of forced migration on population health.

29250 How to Build Health Research Partnerships with Native American Communities 2 credits

Working with Native American communities to conduct health research presents unique challenges. Many of these challenges align with community-based participatory research principles. However, the unique socio-political context of Native American tribal groups requires that health professionals reach beyond standard best practices. This course will provide the contextual information to navigate cultural competency, historical distrust, and government-to-government policy necessary to build durable health research partnerships with Native American groups.

29160 Infectious Disease Epidemiology 2 credits

This course addresses the epidemiological, clinical, and practical issues important to the study of infectious diseases of public health significance. The epidemiology of selected infectious diseases commonly occurring nationally or internationally, or of potential use as a bioterrorism weapon, will be discussed in detail. Subjects discussed include; immunizations, microbiology tools for the epidemiologist, nosocomial infections, outbreak epidemiology and emerging infectious diseases.

29110 Introduction to Chronic Diseases in Global Health 2 credits

This course will provide an introduction to chronic disease. The major groups of chronic diseases that will be discussed in this course include: cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, major forms of cancer, diseases of the respiratory tract, metabolic and digestive diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases. Specifically, it will describe the major causes of chronic disease morbidity and mortality around the world, and how the risk of disease varies with regions. It will discuss major public health efforts to reduce disparities in chronic health around the world. Students will have the opportunity to develop country reports on specific chronic diseases, reports of global and public health efforts within those countries, as well as demonstrate the ability to identify opportunities for specific health interventions and create evidence-based programs aimed at chronic diseases with a focus on cultural values, integration of community assets and resources, and utilization of the expertise of identified global health professional and groups with similar interests.

29325 Maternal and Child Health in Developing Countries 2 credits

Global Maternal and Child Health provides students with an introduction to underlying health challenges as they pertain to women and children in a global setting. Students will develop a broad understanding of the factors that shape the health of populations and understand how healthcare system shortfalls might be effectively addressed. The goal of this course is to prepare students with knowledge and skills to improve the health of women and children, through primary prevention, interventions strategies, broadening accessibility to quality health care, and enhancing public awareness of special needs among vulnerable populations.

29240 Multicultural Mental Health Guidelines in Native American Populations 3 credits

This course is designed to familiarize students with essential, and largely Pan-cultural information about the mental health issues facing the First Nations populations of North America.  First Nations persons include those also generally referred to as American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native American Indians.  Demographic, historical, sociopolitical, and inter- and intra-ethnic contexts critical to understanding the First Nations will be addressed.  Specific knowledge constructs such as historical context, identity formation, acculturation, enculturation, language, family and community values, religion and spirituality. Traditional beliefs about health and illness, gender role socialization, and social class are emphasized. Attention will be given to contemporary issues facing the First Nations that influence service delivery and the receipt of care. Culturally relevant interventions are presented.

BISC 5461 Comparative Health Politics and Policy 3 credits

How do different countries seek to reconcile the goals of equitable access to affordable, quality health care? What are the similarities and differences in the health care challenges confronting industrialized nations and developing countries? To answer these questions, this course takes as its starting point that health care systems and health policies fundamentally reflect politics. We will explore how the structure of the political system, the power of health care interest groups and
political parties, the influence of dominant values and ideology, and past policy legacies shape health policy choices across different nations. We will employ comparative analysis to consider a broader range of possible policy options than would be afforded by studying a single nation or health care system. And we will draw on international politics to understand how global forces interact with national and local actors to shape health politics and policies.

This course is taught at Marquette University.

BISC 7150  Outbreaks, Epidemics and Pandemics 3 credits

Have you ever wondered why some infectious diseases spin out of control, causing widespread panic whereas others are effectively controlled?  This course expands upon your knowledge of microbiology to examine not only the biological determinants of infectious disease spread but also the human determinants, that is the social, cultural, economic, political, geographical factors that also impact disease spread in populations.  As you will learn, to understand epidemics, you cannot study infections in isolation.  Instead, we need an appreciation of the dynamics of transmission, the resistance and the susceptibility of the hosts, and the behavior of people and their responses to infectious disease.  We have to see the connections between the biological and social mechanisms of disease dynamics. 

We can use mathematical models that can help capture our understanding of an outbreak and allow us to ask important questions regarding interventions such as who do we need to vaccinate?  How many do we need to vaccinate?  How can we break the chain of transmission?  How is the infection going to evolve? As you can see, understanding outbreaks requires teams of multidisciplinary thinkers with various skills and expertise which is why much of the work we will do this semester will be done in groups.  Through case studies, discussion, group work and service learning we will examine these dynamic processes.  By the end of the course, you will understand how infectious disease epidemics occur, what can be done to control them and why control efforts succeed or fail. 

This course is taught at Marquette University.

29237 Researching, Analyzing and Profiling Global Health Trends, Issues, Policies, and Stakeholders 2 credits

This course grows students’ awareness of and engagement with significant, urgent, and uncertain global healthcare issues and policies, with an emphasis on their equity considerations and outcomes. The course provides data- and evidence-driven, “real-world” contexts and applications. Students will examine subject matter areas that their research has the highest potential of producing valued results (i.e., analyzing data and translating evidence and science into policy) for stakeholders, especially healthcare organizational leaders, practitioners, and policymakers. Practical knowledge will be developed in conducting issues research and policy analysis, shaping different briefs and communicating findings for leadership audiences, developing partnerships, promoting, and implementing evidence-based interventions. Lastly, it aims to connect how students can help move data and evidence-based insights about problems toward desired actions and improvement of health and medical practices.

29238 Global Health Initiatives 2 credits

Global Health Initiatives (GHIs) have been instrumental in the rapid acceleration of programs targeting specific diseases such as HIV, TB, malaria, malnutrition, maternal and child health in low- and middle-income countries. Early GHIs were created in response to rapidly growing public health crises and were implemented in an emergency fashion. The urgency of implementing these early GHI’s limited the extent to which their implementation was rigorously evaluated. However, some retrospective research has complained that early GHI efforts developed parallel health systems to those already established in the countries where GHI were being implemented. This was in some ways necessary due to deficiencies in health resources, but over time, it contributed to further weakening of health systems by drawing health personnel away from the national system to the better paid positions in GHI funded clinics and projects. More recently, GHIs have attempted to correct this by involving government health services in HIV prevention and treatment strategies and working with the civil sector, including grassroots organizations that serve key populations who belong to marginalized groups. The purpose of this course is to critically examine the GHIs’ roles in addressing public health emergencies and the effects of these efforts on the healthcare system and health of populations living in LMICs.

29239 Ethics in Qualitative Research 2 credits

This course examines ethical considerations beyond regulatory approval. Together, we assist in laying a foundation for ethical qualitative research practices as well as considering the ethical treatment of special populations, and the development/evolution of one’s own ethical stance. Topics will include ethics, culture and context, positionality, and reflexivity.

29295 Readings and Research 1-2 credits

This is an independent study course; the student is to independently conduct research in their chosen thesis topic. The number of credits selected by the student determines the number of hours per week that must be dedicated to working on the Readings and Research plan. The student is responsible for finding a faculty member who is willing to work with the student; together they will establish learning goals, deliverables, resources, timeline, and mechanism for feedback.

International Students

International Students

I received my degree from a University outside of the United States but the instruction was in English, do I still need to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores?

The graduate school requires that the applicant prove the degree was completed in English. This could be a letter from the Registrar from the University you attended stating that the language of instruction was English or if the University’s website states instruction is in English. The graduate school will review the information and decide on a case by case basis.

Are International students eligible for financial aid?

International students are not eligible to apply for FAFSA to receive government funded grants or loans. There may be private loan options available, students are encouraged to contact the MCW Financial Aid office to discuss their options.

Will the University issue me a student visa upon acceptance into the degree program?

The graduate school will work with you to obtain a F1 visa. The graduate school provide students the I-20 form after students complete a certification of finances. It is the responsibility of the student to meet the requirements of their country’s embassy to receive their visa in a timely manner. Visas are valid through the duration of stay.

Can an international student complete the program part-time?

International students are required to be full time students (9 credits per semester). During the summer term, international students are not required to take courses but if they decide to take credits, they must take a minimum of 6 credits during the summer.

Can I take online classes as an international student?

International students may take no more than one course per semester where the primary mode of instruction is online. This is a restriction of the student visa.

For any additional questions regarding international students please contact:

Current GHE Students

Current GHE Students

Find out more about the current Global Health Equity students.
Our Current Students

Frequently Asked Questions for the MCW Masters in Science in Global Health Equity Program

Members of the MCW School of Pharmacy's Class of 2022
What is global health equity?
Global Health Equity is providing the opportunity to everyone to pursue the healthiest life possible, no matter who they are or where they come from.

What can you do with a Masters degree in Global Health Equity?
There are a plethora of career options, job outlooks, and various organizations that focus on global health.>

Learn more about prospects for a Global Health Degree

What is the difference between a Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree and the MS Global Health Equity degree?
Masters of Public Health degrees focus on a broad public health curriculum which introduces students to the many disciplines of public health. MPH students typically complete a field work or capstone experience and write a paper on that experience. The MS Global Health Equity degree provides a global lens to the core public health subject areas. The elective course options focus on the health concerns of global populations. The culminating experience with the MS Global Health Equity degree is a thesis work experience where students focus on a research project and prepare a manuscript which would be ready for publication to further advance the career of the student and the knowledge of the global health community.
Is the GRE required to apply to the MS Global Health Equity program?
No, the GRE is not a required component of the application.

Do I need a degree in a specific field to apply to the program?
No, we encourage students from all undergraduate backgrounds to apply. We are looking for students with an interest in Global Health studies and Public Health and do not require a degree in a specific field.
Are there any prerequisite courses required in order to apply?
No, there are not prerequisite courses required to apply to the program. However, it is encouraged that students have strong writing skills as that is essential for success in the program.
Is there financial aid available?
Students may qualify for federal or private loans, additionally all U.S. citizens and permanent residents are encouraged to complete the FAFSA online to be considered for government loans. Funding through the Medical College of Wisconsin is not available to Masters degree seeking students.

MCW also offers the Dr. Rachel Thompson Global Health Equity Scholarship, wherein funding support will be competitively provided to support students’ faculty-mentored global health research projects that address health inequities both locally in Milwaukee, in Wisconsin, and across the world. This fund will also pay tribute to Dr. Thompson’s research efforts by sponsoring an annual global health equity research event that will disseminate the outcomes of MCW students, faculty and their local/global collaborators.

Learn about the Dr. Rachel Thompson Global Health Equity Scholarship

Do you offer application fee waivers?

The graduate school will waive your application fee if you meet one of the following requirements:

Within the last three (3) years you have:

  • Attended a MCW Expo (Open House) event or Virtual open house
  • Participated in a MCW-sponsored research program (i.e. SPUR, PURE, DSHREP)
  • Attended and presented at a local, regional or national conference (i.e. NCUR, ABRCMS)
  • Participated in a program that supports pursuit or graduate/professional programs for students from underrepresented programs (i.e. McNair, PREP, WiscAMP)
  • Received, or can provide proof of eligibility for, a GRE Fee Reduction Certificate
How often do classes meet in person?
The primary mode of instruction is in person, courses meet once a week for 2 or 3 hours each. Some elective courses such as those taught by our international faculty partners are taught online.
Of what organizations are the program a member?
The MS Global Health Equity program at the Medical College of Wisconsin is a proud member of the Consortium of Universities for Global Health. As a member we are connected to Universities and organizations around the world doing global health work.

What ethical standards regarding short term global health learning experiences does MCW follow?
At MCW, we make every effort to maximize the value and minimize the harm of short-term engagements in global health.

Learn about how we are following ethical standards

Learn about how we are following ethical standards

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Contact Us

Global Health Equity (MS)
Medical College of Wisconsin
Institute for Health & Equity
8701 Watertown Plank Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53226

Kelli Brown, MPH
GHE Program Coordinator

Please send program inquiries to:
(414) 955-4105

Financial Aid
(414) 955-8208

Graduate School
(414) 955-8218

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