International Health Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in an international health master's degree or Ph.D. program? Read about the master's degree or Ph.D. requirements, the pros and cons of a master's degree and Ph.D. and potential careers.
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International Health Master's Degree and Ph.D. at a Glance

Although master's degree and Ph.D. programs specifically in international health are rare, if you're interested in earning a graduate degree in the field, you can pursue a doctorate or Master of Public Health degree program that has a concentration in international or global health. These programs will advance your training and education in the health field to cover areas outside of the U.S. During your program, you will take courses such as global health economics, environmental health and health policies across the globe.

Upon receiving your master's degree or doctorate, you can move forward in your career as a researcher, consultant, government employee, professor or health professional in the U.S. or abroad. Professionals with advanced degrees such as a master's degree or Ph.D. will be sought after for their specific skill sets and knowledge. Please read on to find out more.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for?Students interested in a career in helping to solve international health issues in the U.S. or abroad Students who want to advance their careers in research or academia in international health
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) Manager - Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals ($93,000)*\ - Manager - General Medical and Surgical Hospitals ($102,000)*\ - Manager - Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories ($103,000)* \ - Manager - Outpatient Care Centers ($93,000)* - Professor ($74,000)\ - Manager - Scientific Research and Development Services ($139,000)*
Time to completion Two years4-5 years
Common Graduation requirements fieldwork practicum fieldwork practicum \ dissertation
Prerequisites bachelor's degree in biology or related field master's degree
Online Availability yes yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master's Degree in International Health

With a master's degree with a concentration in international health, you will have the opportunity to work within different organizations whether governmental or private, studying and evaluating public health problems. You can make a difference in the lives of those who live in countries where violence, poverty and environmental disasters determine the quality of health care.

Master of public health degree programs with a concentration in international health are often interdisciplinary and combine health science with social science. You will have the option to focus your course of study in areas such as infectious diseases, gender and health, health program management, and managing disasters. You may also have the opportunity to do field work in the Peace Corp as part of your requirements for graduation.

Pros and Cons of Master's Degree in International Health

Pros

  • You develop skills that enable you to work in many locations around the world
  • You learn research methods and analysis that help you to work on solutions for international health issues
  • You have the ability to communicate across cultures and understand differences among these cultures

Cons

  • Travel costs for an internship in a developing country add to your tuition
  • Working abroad as a health professional in poor countries may involve health risks
  • If you are interested in working in the U.S., your coursework may still be more focused on helping solve health issues in developing countries

Courses and Requirements

Courses in a Master of Public Health program with a concentration in international health gives you an overview of health policies and procedures in many different countries and regions of the world. You learn theories about global health issues as well as cultural differences. A bachelor's degree in biology or a related field may be required. Some courses may include:

  • Environmental health
  • Health policy in developing countries
  • Research methods
  • Epidemiology
  • Biostatistics
  • Global health economics

Online Course Info

Although master's degrees programs are not typically offered online, it is possible to take some online classes while also doing coursework on campus. This can help provide more flexibility in students' schedules if it is needed.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

If you are interested in health services management, it is important to keep up with new technology used in health care. Health care facilities typically use software for classification and coding, as well as electronic health record systems.

Ph.D. in International Health

Doctoral programs with a concentration in international or global health offer more advanced courses about international health issues and strategies to help solve them. You can earn a Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) degree to become a public health professional focused on international health problems. You can also enroll in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program that is more focused on academic research. In doctoral programs, you can specialize in a wide variety of areas such as environmental health, substance abuse or health policy. Doctoral programs prepare graduates for becoming a professor or researcher in academia, as well as taking positions in governmental organizations and businesses around the globe.

Pros and Cons of a Ph.D. in International Health

Pros

  • You will be qualified to work as a researcher or teacher in academia
  • You develop advanced research skills to help solve international health issues
  • You learn about community health issues in-depth by completing an international field practicum

Cons

  • It will take four or more years to complete a doctoral program
  • You will most likely be required to complete a field practicum in addition to a dissertation
  • If you are interested in becoming a professor, you may find that competition for tenure-track positions is intense

Courses and Requirements

A doctoral program with a concentration in global or international health focuses on research in a wide range of areas, such as quantitative and qualitative research methods, environmental health, chronic diseases or substance abuse. The doctoral program typically requires previous graduate training and completion of an international field practicum and dissertation. Some courses you might take include:

  • Global health economics
  • Global health policy
  • Chronic diseases
  • Research methods
  • Biostatistics

Online Course Info

Online doctoral programs in global or international health are unusual, but programs may offer some classes online. This allows students to have more flexibility in their schedules, although you will still have to complete some coursework on campus.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

You can begin seeking publication for your research. When you are applying for work at academic institutions, you will stand out if you have a publishing track record. If you would like to work as a researcher, you can also get research experience by working with professors or getting a job as a research assistant.

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