Distance Learning Program in Global Health

USU Courtyard

Graduate Certificate in Global Health and Global Health Engagement, offered via distance learning

USU is pleased to offer a "Graduate Certificate in Global Health and Global Health Engagement" via distance learning.  

USU's Global Health Distance Learning Program offers engaging, graduate-level education in global health and global health engagement. Since July 2016 this program has enrolled over 600 students from all four Services spread across six continents. The program has now expanded to include four partner countries as well as students from the USAID and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Students earn a graduate certificate upon successful completion of 18 credit hours of coursework as per the requirements below.

Graduate certificates are an increasingly recognized and valued credential in this rapidly-changing field. Many of our students are mid-career professionals seeking formal education to buttress their understanding which was previously based solely on intermittent experiences overseas. Other students are completely new to the field and motivated by a combination of intellectual curiosity and a recognition that it is prudent to prepare academically prior to jumping into global health projects or missions. 

The next cohort of students will begin the program in August 2021; unfortunately, we are no longer taking applications for that cohort at this time. The committee on admissions is currently reviewing the large number of applications already received and will begin sending notices of acceptance, rejection, or deferment to students in April.

A link to the formal application to join the August 2022 cohort will be posted on this page in February 2022. If you would to be notified via email when those applications become available, then add your name and information to this short Google form linked here. If that link does not work for you then it is being blocked by your workplace's network; simply access the link instead from home, or even from your phone or tablet.

Please note that this is a fully-accredited graduate program taught within the School of Medicine at USU and is likely more rigorous than other distance learning courses you may have previously taken elsewhere. It is estimated that you will have to set aside up to 10 hours per week for each of the four core courses, and perhaps a little less for one of the electives. Students take the four core courses and one elective to earn the graduate certificate.

A student who progresses through the program without interruption will begin in August and finish 18 months later in February. A typical student will take "GH1" in the fall, "GH2" in the winter, and "GH3" in the spring (see the program handbook for full descriptions of these course abbreviations). All students then take the summer off from May 15th through August 15th. Then most students take "GHD" the next fall followed by an elective in the winter. Students are not required to progress through the program that quickly, however, and may pause and restart the program to accommodate TDYs, deployments, and other life events, or to just take a well-deserved rest. Students who are currently in a clinical internship, residency, or another academic program, however, are strongly discouraged from applying until they finish their program. All who apply for admission in this cohort are committing to dedicating 10-hours per week for at least the first fall term which runs from approximately August 15th through November 3rd. 

Applicants should also understand that the program's courses each have a weekly, live class component that occurs via Zoom. These classes are usually 60 minutes in length, but may last up to 90 in the later courses. For the first two courses, students can choose from a variety of class times ranging from as early as 3:30pm U.S. EST to as late as 10:30pm U.S. EST. Many of the other courses, however, will only offer one option: usually 8:30pm U.S. EST. 

For more information on the program, you may browse the program handbook, or view a presentation that describes this program that was given at AMSUS in November 2019.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): 

What do the courses entail?

Each course in the program consists of a certain number of “modules.” Modules are single web pages of information with embedded lectures, faculty-authored text, links to required readings, and sometimes embedded panel discussions or other features. The courses are designed so that students (as a class-cohort) complete approximately one module per week. Students read the materials and watch the lectures and panel discussions on their own time, but then convene as a class once per week online to converse (via live video teleconference) with course faculty and their fellow students.  Individual courses may also require discussion board participation, a term paper, and possibly a final exam.


When are the courses offered?

Most courses will run for approximately 11 weeks each. Most courses have a live component (taught via video teleconference) that occurs once per week. While attempts are often made to accommodate students in different time zones, the most popular day/time for these sessions has always been Wednesday afternoon and evenings, Eastern Standard Time. 


Can I take coursework via distance learning at USU and then transfer the credit elsewhere?

Yes. Students will have a formal transcript maintained by the University Registrar. Upon successful completion of each distance learning course, there will be a letter grade recorded on the student’s transcript along with the credit value of each course. Any student may, at any time, request a transcript be sent and credits transferred to any other university or program that accepts transfer credits.


I might want to apply (or I am applying) to one of USU’s in-residence degree programs (i.e. MPH, MHAP, etc.). May I take a course or two now via distance-learning and then apply those credits toward my degree program at USU?



 Is the program limited to people from health fields?

Absolutely not. Global health is a multidisciplinary field that draws upon the experience and expertise of people from all disciplines. Successful global health engagement requires that we do so. Applicants from all disciplines are highly encouraged to apply. We welcome applications from across the spectrum of combat arms. We are especially interested in applicants from civil affairs, special forces, political and diplomatic attaches, legal professionals, planners and logisticians, and others whose work crosses into this space. Several have already completed the program and found it particularly valuable.


What are the prerequisites for applying to this program?

This is a graduate program and therefore all students must already have at least a baccalaureate degree before applying to the program. No exceptions can be made to this policy for several reasons, including the fact that this is a requirement of the program’s accreditation.

Otherwise, the program has wide latitude to admit students from disparate backgrounds and levels of experience. Students in USU’s graduate programs have typically included physicians, nurses, dentists, medical planners, veterinarians, medical technicians, and health administrators; but a background in the health professions is not an absolute requirement for matriculation into this program.  Particularly for our distance-learning courses, faculty are actively seeking students from a wide variety of non-health backgrounds in order to enhance the understanding of global health engagement across the Department of Defense and beyond, and to help our students from health backgrounds appreciate alternate perspectives.

In addition to our students who take this coursework early or midway through their careers, a number of students also enroll in our program who already possess significant academic credentials and an impressive amount of field experience in global health. We welcome these students into our program, too, as they add expertise, diversity, and valuable insight to class discussions, among many other benefits. Oftentimes these are highly motivated, fast-tracked individuals who smartly choose to “brush up” on global health material prior to assuming leadership positions at some of the highest levels of the DoD and other departments of the U.S. Government.


Who is eligible to apply to the program?

The program primarily admits members of the U.S. Armed Services who are on active duty or reserve status, State and National Guard personnel, as well as members of the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service. However, interested civilian federal government employees, particularly those who work for DOD, State, USAID, and HHS are also now encouraged to apply. The article linked here explains our vision for outreach to our U.S. government interagency partners. 

Applicants from any of our partner countries (the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand) must apply first through their country point-of-contact. Email globalhealth@usuhs.edu if you need to be pointed to that contact.


Is there any tuition or other costs associated with the program?

There is no tuition charge for eligible personnel to take distance-learning courses at USU. Depending on the course, there will be a variable (although always minimal) number of expenses that students will have to cover on their own. This would include the purchase of some (reasonably-priced) texts or other materials.


Is there any service commitment associated with this program?



I'm interested in applying for the fall 2022 cohort. What should I do?

Formal applications for the fall 2022 cohort will open on February 1st, 2021. If you would like us to email you a reminder when that application becomes available, you may add your name to this Google Form. If that link does not work for you, it is most likely being blocked by your workplace network; simply fill it out from home, or even from your phone, instead.


What if I have a question that is not answered by one of these FAQs?

Browse our program handbook, and you may also email globalhealth@usuhs.edu