What is the MSGH Practicum?

The MSGH Practicum is the program’s culminating experience and an opportunity for students to apply learned skills in underserved regions around the world. Practicums include partner rotations abroad, collaborating with global projects virtually, or working on “glocal” (global/local) projects in a local community. Former global health students have completed practicums in Uganda, Ecuador, South Africa, Mozambique, and other countries. Practical fieldwork experience is a valuable complement to the program curriculum, earning students academic credit in the practicum course, which is overseen by MSGH faculty. The Practicum is constructed so that students are not simply observers but are able to add value to our global partner's work through the skills and competencies gained through the MSGH program. 


An overview of the MSGH practicum from MSGH faculty member Martha McGivern. 


Many students encounter severe poverty and inequity and deep cultural differences for the first time. They learn to respond in an appropriate way that doesn’t undermine dignity. The practicum provides an authentic space to apply, synthesize, and evaluate what they’ve learned in the program. ”

Ashti Doobay-Persaud, MSGH faculty director
Ashti Doobay-Persaud

What is the Practicum timeline?

The timeline and structure of the Practicum course may be unlike any other course you have taken. The MSGH Practicum course spans three to four academic terms. While all students who begin Practicum in the same quarter start together, completion times vary from student to student. Completion time is dependent upon each student’s individual project. Please note that if you enroll in the practicum course that begins in summer term, all travel and assignments must be completed two weeks before the end of the following spring term. If you enroll in the practicum course that begins in winter term, all travel and assignments must be completed two weeks before the end of the following fall term. Please be mindful that you will need to complete all coursework and fieldwork within the four-term time frame as described above.

What are the prerequisites to enroll in Practicum?

Completion of any four of the following courses is required prior to enrolling in Practicum: MSGH 405, MSGH 408, MSGH 410, MSGH 417, MSGH 419, MSGH 480. All six courses listed here must be completed by the end of the second term of the Practicum. If you would like to discuss your course plan and understand when you can enroll in Practicum, please contact your academic advisor.

How can I prepare for the Practicum?

All Practicum coursework is completed within the Practicum course and students do not complete any work in advance.  While students may want to fast track through the program, it is not recommended that coursework be taken at the same time as their field experience due to both time and wireless connectivity constraints.

It is also important to consider that practicum projects require a minimum of 110 hours of work logged. This does not include travel, transportation, or free time. Most students conduct projects intensively—either in-person or virtually—over four weeks, but some students spread project work out across several months. With this in mind, one of the most important things to consider when determining when to enroll in the Practicum is when you may have more dedicated time to travel or complete your fieldwork experience.

With whom does Northwestern partner with for Practicum fieldwork?

Northwestern partners with Child Family Health International (CFHI), offering global health education programs throughout the world. CFHI is the leading international non-governmental organization (INGO) placing health science students in global health immersion programs in ways that are socially responsible and financially just. The organization models best global health education practices which demonstrate a priority commitment to community engagement and local integrity. CFHI is an INGO in Special Consultative Status with the ECOSOC of the United Nations. CFHI has many international programs in nations such as Bolivia, Ghana, the Philippines, South Africa, and Uganda. CFHI offers both in-person and virtual Practicum modalities. 

What could the costs be for an international Practicum? 

The cost of an international experience through CFHI varies depending on the program location and length. The cost of a four-week program is approximately $2,875, not including travel. The cost of an eight-week program is approximately $5,475, not including travel. Please see the CFHI website for the most up-to-date information about international program fees.

Students accepted into the MSGH program have access to financial assistance through federal and private loans. Students working with CFHI may also secure additional funding through a variety of CFHI-based options, including scholarships. Students may also have to secure their own additional funding for components of the practicum course. Please note that tuition is charged for the first quarter of the Practicum; quarters 2, 3, and 4 of the Practicum course are not credit-bearing, and therefore do not count towards meeting federal financial aid requirements. Given the federal financial aid requirement of enrolling in two credit bearing courses to be eligible for aid, students in need of federal financial aid are advised to register for the practicum course at the end of their program. Please contact your student adviser for further details.

Recent Practicum Topics

  • HIV Survey Data Collection in Southwest Uganda
  • Patient-Centered Leprosy Care: An Assessment of Patient Satisfaction with Care at Three Leprosy Referral Centers in Mumbai, India Run by the Maharashtra Lokahita Seva Mandal Leprosy Control Project
  • Preventing Unnecessary Deaths in Southwest Uganda
  • Understanding the Barriers That Contribute to Childhood Obesity in Puerto Escondido and Oaxaca, Mexico
  • An Assessment of the Quality and Impact of eHealth in Nigeria
  • Asian Human Services, Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP)
  • Assessment of Ventriculoperitoneal Shunt Procedure in Guatemala
  • Establishing a Sustainable Community Health Worker Program in Rural Mozambique

Comments from Recent Practicum Students

"I would have stayed for longer than one month if I knew the amazing opportunities that awaited me. KIHEFO is an incredible organization that really has a sustainable model for healthcare. There are many opportunities that await students there and I hope many will choose to participate in their program both in the medical field and public/global health." 


“I thought online learning detached you from your peers and instructors but I was wrong. I had great virtual interactions with my classmates — some of them I met in person and even traveled to Mozambique with for a health project.” 


"Working with a fellow MSGH classmate was a good experience. Teaming up in a new country made the tasks more manageable. And we were able to apply our classroom lessons in the field effectively since we were covering each other's back." 


"The two biggest traits I think an MSGH student will need when conducting their global health practicum are flexibility and independence. If you are willing to go in with an open mind and be proactive about your project (i.e. make efforts to get to know all the people at your site and really understand how you can help them through your work) you'll be successful." 

(South Africa)

Graduate Global Health Fieldwork Scholarship

Deadlines to apply: September 1, March 1

The Practicum experience of the SPS Masters of Science in Global Health (MSGH) provides students with the opportunity to directly apply their education and positively impact underserved regions, in partnership with global organizations. To support this important work, the SPS International Fieldwork Travel Scholarship for the program provides funding to MSGH students to partially support fieldwork abroad as part of practicum. Scholarships will be awarded to students who demonstrate academic merit and financial need. Please see the Scholarships page for more information.


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