The independent news organization of Duke University

Duke Global Health Institute opens certificate to graduate students

Duke graduate students will be able to earn a global health certificate, starting this Fall.

The new Global Health Doctoral Certificate, sponsored by the Duke Global Health Institute, will be available to any student pursuing a Ph.D. who wishes to learn more about the subject. Specifically, it targets students who have had limited or no previous experience in global health, allowing them to investigate side interests while conducting research in a separate field. The program’s creation came from increasing interest in global health in both undergraduate and doctoral studies, DGHI Director Dr. Michael Merson said.

“The student demand for global health courses has grown at Duke and around the U.S. over the past 10 years,” he wrote in an email Monday. “The success of the undergraduate certificate program, along with the demand by doctoral students to learn more about global health led to our desire to create the program.”

This certificate program also caters to a wider array of Duke graduate students than some other DGHI programs because it fits global health into other areas of study.

“It offers a formalized, structured way for [a graduate student] to be able to focus parts of their research career on global health as they are getting a degree,” said Kathleen Sikkema director of doctoral studies at DGHI and professor of psychology, neuroscience and global health.

Some administrators noted that the interdisciplinary nature of this new certificate will bring many different scholars with a variety of specialties under the same roof. Sikkema said the group work also facilitates networking across a spectrum of fields, which is uncommon in many graduate programs.

“You don’t often get to work with other doctoral students from other schools and programs unless you bring them under some umbrella like this,” she said.

This certificate is DGHI’s second formal graduate degree, in addition to the Master of Science in Global Health. The Institute also hosts various graduate-level courses and the Global Health Scholars program, targeted toward graduate students interested in pursuing global health as a primary area of study. The scholars program pairs students with DGHI faculty mentors and requires a global health research project and dissertation.

In comparison, the doctoral certificate program is intended to complement a student’s academic focus in and outside of global health. The program requires four academic courses as well as fieldwork research. The certificate students will discuss ethical issues as well as the current literature and research in the developing field, DGHI Academic Programs Manager Sarah Martin wrote in an email.

“The Global Health Doctoral Certificate will appeal to Duke doctoral students looking for more foundational exposure to global health,” she added.

This certificate speaks to Duke’s fundamental goals, in finding solutions to worldwide problems using multiple areas of knowledge, Merson said.

“Working across disciplines is central to the mission and ethos of Duke University,” he said. “That’s why Duke is now widely recognized as a leader in global health.”