All students in the MSGH program are required to engage in at least four weeks (excluding travel time) of non-clinical work in a health delivery setting, which may include rotations abroad, working remotely on projects abroad, or working in your own community on “glocal” projects. Practical fieldwork experience is considered 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 partners work via the skills gained through the MSGH program. 

Northwestern partners with Child Family Health International (CFHI), offering global health education programs throughout the world, in nations such as Argentina, Bolivia, Ghana, Ecuador, India, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

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

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.

The cost of an international experience through CFHI varies depending on the program location and length. The cost of a four-week program ranges from $2,275 to $2,625, not including travel. The cost of an eight-week program ranges from $4,320 to $5,000, 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 quarters 2, 3, and 4 of the Practicum course are not credit-bearing, and therefore do not count towards meeting federal financial aid requirements. 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.

More about 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. All fieldwork experiences must be at least four weeks in duration excluding travel time.

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.

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

Practicum Timeline

The MSGH practicum course spans four academic terms. Students may choose one of the two MSGH practicum courses offered within the academic year. 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. Total effort from each term listed below is divided into week designations to model a standard ten-week course. These week designations may not reflect actual time commitment for completion of each part of the course. Please be mindful of the four-term timeframe of the MSGH practicum course. You will need to complete all course work and fieldwork within the four-term timeframe as described above.

1st quarter: Prerequisites for Practicum (2 weeks)

  • Introductory didactic lectures explaining best practices in partnership
  • Introduction of sites and projects and literature review
  • Student chooses partner site

2nd quarter: Partnering with the Host (4 weeks)

  • Host partner identified, student must engage partner to determine existing implementation gaps and what will be addressed
  • Student submits a letter of intent, describing site and the knowledge or implementation gap they will address during the practicum — letter must include statement of support from collaborating partner

3rd quarter: Proposal Development and Field Experience* begins (2 weeks)

  • After approval of letter of intent, each student works with the partner to develop proposal
  • Final proposal is due and field experience begins

4th quarter: Field Experience* (2 weeks)

  • Practicum experience in the field with regular web conference meetings is completed
  • Develop and deliver professional presentation and final practicum report


*Essential Fieldwork: The MSGH Practicum fieldwork –minimum of four weeks

All students in the MSGH program are required to engage in at least four weeks (excluding travel time) of non-clinical work in a health delivery setting, which may include rotations abroad, working remotely on projects abroad, or working in your own community on “glocal” projects. Practical fieldwork experience is considered a valuable complement to the program curriculum.

Practicum prerequisites: Any four of the following courses; MSGH 405, MSGH 408, MSGH 410, MSGH 417, MSGH 419, MSGH 480. All six courses must be completed by the end of the second term of the practicum course and all can be taken concurrently with the practicum.

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

Deadline to apply: September 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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