How to Become a Global Health Professional

How to Become a Global Health Professional

1. Earn a Bachelor's Degree (4 Years)

Aspiring global health professionals typically must complete a bachelor's degree prior to entering a master's or doctoral program for entry into the field. Due to the nature of global health, there is no specific undergraduate degree that must be pursued prior to earning a graduate degree.

Choosing an undergraduate major may largely depend on which field of global health candidates wish to pursue. The academic programs offered to future global health professionals are extremely diverse and vary considerably from university to university.

Areas of study can include food security and nutritional health, maternal and childhood medical care, infectious disease control, international health research, financial and economic structures for medical care and emergency services, and many others.

2a. Take the Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE)

Most graduate programs revolving around forensic science require the GRE for admittance. It's a 3 hour and 45 minute, standardized, multiple choice exam that covers analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.

The GRE is broken down into six primary sections:

Section Section Breakdown
1 Analytical Writing Section
  • 2 writing assignments
  • 60 minutes
  • Tests student's abilities to assess arguments and communicate ideas.
2 Quantitative Reasoning Sections
  • 20 multiple-choice questions
  • 35 minutes per section
  • Tests student's abilities to solve mathematical problems and interpret data.
2 Verbal Reasoning Sections
  • 20 questions per section
  • 30 minutes per section
  • Tests the ability to understand and analyze written material
1 Unscored Section
  • A duplicate of one of the above sections

You can find study materials, GRE registration, and test scores on the GRE website.

2b. Take the Medical School Admission Test (MCAT)

To be admitted into medical school, candidates must first take the MCAT, or Medical College Admission Test, a 7.5 hour, standardized, multiple choice exam used to assess the applicant's knowledge of science, reasoning, communication, and writing skills.

The MCAT is divided into four sections:

Section Section Breakdown
Biological & Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, and biochemistry
Chemical & Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests biochemistry, biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics
Psychological, Social, & Biological Foundations of Behavior
  • 59 multiple-choice questions
  • 95 minutes
  • Tests introductory psychology, sociology, and biology
Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills
  • 52 multiple-choice questions
  • 90 minutes
  • Tess reading comprehension, humanities, and social sciences

You can find study materials, MCAT registration, and your test scores on the MCAT website. If you are unsatisfied with your score on any of the aforementioned exams, you are free to retake them. Depending on the school, some will average your scores and others will simply take your most recent.

3. Earn a Master's, Doctoral, or Medical Degree (2 - 4 Years)

Depending on the specific field of study that candidates wish to pursue, varying levels of degrees are required. Those looking to go overseas for work typically will require, at minimum, a master's degree in public or international health.

Candidates who are unsure about whether global health is a field they definitely want to pursue may want to seek a medical degree due to its flexibility, allowing individuals a broad range of choices in employment.

Field experience, such as through the U.S. Peace Corps or other high-profile organizations, greatly improves a global health worker's career prospects.

Volunteer work and field placement in developing nations is a very valuable addition to any master's degree in this discipline and is usually available during the educational process.