Global Health Sciences (MS)

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Degree Offered: MS
Program Leadership:
Christopher Carpenter, MD, MPH, Program Director
Alden Blair, PhD, MSc, Associate Director
Ingrid Chen, PhD, MS, Associate Director
Admissions Inquiries:

Program Description

The Master of Science in Global Health in the UCSF Institute for Global Health Sciences (IGHS) is a four-quarter program designed for those who wish to gain global health knowledge, skills, and experience in one transformative year. The interdisciplinary curriculum emphasizes research methods, population health, and the social, economic, and environmental determinants of health in a globalized world. Become prepared for a career in research, policy, organizational leadership, academia, or program management and evaluation. The master’s curriculum is organized over four academic quarters in thematic blocks:

  • Foundations of Global Health
  • Scientific Methods
  • Diseases and Determinants
  • Systems and Policy

Lectures, seminars, case studies, debates, and team-based projects introduce students to critical aspects of global health practice. The learning environment is dynamic and emphasizes faculty involvement, peer teaching, problem-solving, and discussion.

A centerpiece of the program is each student’s individual capstone project, developed over a yearlong seminar and conducted in locations around the world, which emphasizes study design, practicalities of field research, and cultural humility. This project allows students to obtain depth of expertise in a specific topic and method.

Admission Requirements

Admissions Criteria

You must have the following qualifications to apply:

  • Bachelor's degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution, with at least a 3.0 GPA
  • Completion of at least one college-level course in each of the following areas, with at least a B grade:
  1. mathematics (e.g., calculus, algebra, statistics);
  2. general biology;
  3. health-related science (e.g., nutrition, microbiology, anatomy, physiology), or a second biology course
  • English proficiency for non-native speakers
  • Please note you can only apply to one graduate program at UCSF per application cycle/year

How to Apply

To be eligible for admission, submit the following materials via the UCSF Graduate Division online application by the application deadline. Please note, upon completion of the application and receipt of the non-refundable application fee ($120 for US citizens and permanent residents, and $140 for international applicants), or – alternatively – once your request for an application fee waiver has been approved (US citizens and permanent residents only), an admission file is established by the Graduate Division. All supporting documents, e.g. transcripts and letters of recommendation, are sent directly to the individual graduate programs. IGHS MS program specific application requirements include:

  • Three letters of recommendation: The letters should address your academic strengths, personal qualities, and accomplishments, as well as how the MS degree will contribute to your career growth. At least one letter should be from someone familiar with your academic strengths and weaknesses. All recommendations must be written on official letterhead and submitted electronically via the UCSF application. Contact your recommenders to ensure they receive the automated email request (in case it goes to a junk or spam folder) and they submit their letters before the deadline. You can monitor the status of your recommendations on your application.
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae (no more than 3 pages): Summarize your education, professional experience, publications, languages spoken, honors and awards, local and international experience, extracurricular interests, and special skills.
  • Personal statement (short responses): Address your reasons for applying, prior global health experience with underserved populations (local or international), personal expectations of the program, and global health career goals. If your GPA is less than 3.0, please thoroughly explain the circumstances here.
  • Transcripts from all academic institutions you attended: Upload to your application all unofficial transcripts from each institution you attended, even if you did not receive a degree. The program does not require official transcripts until admission. See additional details on the FAQ page.
  • Application fee: U.S. citizens or permanent residents may qualify for an application fee waiver. See guidelines on Application Fee Waivers to determine your eligibility for this exemption. To request the waiver, select the “application fee waiver” option in the payment area of the online application.
  • Test scores: Graduate-level tests are not required for entry to this program, but if you have taken the GRE, MCAT, LSAT, or GMAT, you may choose to self-report your scores. To do so, you may email a copy of your score report to You do not need to send official score reports to UCSF through the official test site systems.
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores: If you are a non-native English speaker, you must demonstrate English proficiency in one of three ways:
  1. Submit an official transcript showing you completed at least one year of study at an accredited college or university in the United States with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  2. Submit an official transcript showing you completed either your bachelor's or graduate degree or the equivalent from an accredited, English-speaking college or university with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
  3. Submit TOEFL or IELTS scores that are no more than two years old. Please submit official scores to UCSF’s institutional code 4840 and email a copy of your score report to

The program accepts the following minimum scores based on the type of test:

Test Type Minimum Score
Paper-based TOEFL 550
Computer-based TOEFL 213
Internet-based TOEFL iBT 80

Additional Admissions Process

  • When an application is complete and the application fee has been paid or waived, the graduate program’s admission committee makes a recommendation to the Graduate Division for admission or denial. Final authority to admit or deny admission resides with the dean of the Graduate Division. The dean will not admit a student without the concurrence of the faculty of a graduate program; however, the dean may deny admission even if acceptance is recommended by the committee.
  • Once the graduate program and graduate dean have made their admission recommendations, the Graduate Division sends a notice to the applicant via email. Applicants may then log into their online application account to view their admission status. They will also be able to view or print an official Graduate Division letter of admission (or denial of admission), signed by the dean of the Graduate Division. If offered admission, applicants will also indicate their intention to accept or not accept admission via the online application system.
  • All students are required to submit documentation of immunizations and complete a tuberculosis screening questionnaire. For more details on the requirements visit the Student Health and Counseling Service website.
  • Admission to an intercampus joint degree program requires approval by the deans and faculty of both campuses.
  • The Graduate Division does not admit students to non-degree or unclassified status for the purpose of course work only. Students must apply for a specific degree.
  • UCSF welcomes applications for admission from undocumented individuals, such as those who qualify under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and/or AB540. Please visit the website of the UC Office of the President (UCOP) for more information.

Learning Outcomes

  • Acknowledge one’s limitations in skills, knowledge, and ability
  • Apply leadership practices that support collaborative practice and team effectiveness
  • Apply project management techniques throughout program planning, implementation, and evaluation
  • Apply social justice and human rights principles in addressing global health problems
  • Apply the fundamental principles of international standards for the protection of human subjects in diverse cultural settings
  • Articulate barriers to health and healthcare in low-resource settings locally and internationally
  • Co-create strategies with the community to strengthen community capabilities and contribute to reduction in health disparities and improvement of community health
  • Collaborate with a host or partner organization to assess the organization’s operational capacity
  • Communicate joint lessons learned to community partners and global constituencies
  • Conduct a community health needs assessment
  • Conduct a situational analysis across a range of cultural, economic and health contexts
  • Demonstrate a basic understating of the relationship between health, human rights, and global inequities
  • Demonstrate a commitment to social responsibility
  • Demonstrate an awareness of local and national codes of ethics relevant to one’s working environment
  • Demonstrate an understanding of and an ability to resolve common ethical issues and challenges that arise in working within diverse economic, political, and cultural contexts, as well as working with vulnerable populations
  • Demonstrate diplomacy and build trust with community partners
  • Demonstrate integrity, regard, and respect for others in all aspects of professional practice
  • Demonstrate the ability to adapt clinical or discipline-specific skills and practice in a resource-constrained setting
  • Describe different national models or health systems for provision of healthcare and their respective effects on health and healthcare expenditure
  • Describe general trends and influences in the global availability and movement of healthcare workers
  • Describe how cultural context influences perceptions of health and disease
  • Describe how global trends in healthcare practice, commerce and culture, multinational agreements and multinational organizations contribute to the quality and availability of health and healthcare
  • Describe how travel and trade contribute to the spread of communicable and chronic diseases
  • Describe major public health efforts to reduce disparities in global health (such as Millennium Development Goals and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria)
  • Describe the role of WHO in linking health and human rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and International Ethical Guidelines for Biomedical Research involving Human Subjects
  • Describe the major causes of morbidity and mortality around the world and how the risk of disease varies by region
  • Describe the relationship between access to and quality of water, sanitation, food, and air on individual and population health
  • Describe the roles and relationships of the major entities influencing global health and development
  • Design context-specific health interventions based upon situation analysis
  • Develop understanding and awareness of the healthcare workforce crisis in the developing world, the factors that contribute to this, and strategies to address this problem
  • Exhibit inter-professional values and communication skills that demonstrate respect for and awareness of unique cultures, values, and roles/responsibilities
  • Identify how demographic and other major factors can influence patterns of morbidity, mortality, and disability in a defined population
  • Implement strategies to engage marginalized and vulnerable populations in making decisions that affect their health and wellbeing
  • Include representatives of diverse constituencies in community partnerships and foster interactive learning with these partners
  • Integrate community assets and resources to improve the health of individuals and populations
  • List major social and economic determinants of health and their impacts on the access to and quality of health services and on differences in morbidity and mortality between and within countries
  • Plan, implement, and evaluate an evidence-based program
  • Validate the health status of populations using available data (e.g., public health surveillance data, vital statistics, registries, surveys, electronic health records, and health plan claims data)

Additional Information

The master’s program boasts a low faculty-to-student ratio with courses taught directly by world-renowned global health researchers and practitioners. Dozens of faculty members from UCSF's four professional schools (medicine, pharmacy, dentistry, and nursing) and the Graduate Division, as well as from other UC campuses and the broader community, teach and mentor the master’s students.

Program Core faculty

Career Outcomes

Graduates with an MS in Global Health often pursue further degrees (especially MD or PhD degrees) or work in academia, governmental agencies, NGOs or other non-profit settings. Note that IGHS also offers a PhD program in Global Health Sciences.