Issues dealing with health and disease have extraordinary reach into the breadth of sciences that make up modern biology. The Major in Biology of Global Health (BGH) addresses current public health issues, at the local, national, and international levels, combining strengths from across the University in basic science and disease research with interdisciplinary work in policy, economics, ethics, law, and sociology. BGH majors will gain a thorough understanding of the science underlying health concerns - from biology to chemistry to quantitative science foundations - overlaid with an education about the societal issues that impact health. Students will develop skills in evidence-based analysis, quantitative reasoning, and communication. The broadened perspectives and applied curriculum reinforce the Jesuit qualities of character, conscience, and citizenship.

Students begin their studies as Biology Majors and declare as Biology of Global Health majors in the fall of their sophomore year.

Coursework

The BGH major includes extensive coursework in the basic sciences, in three areas of biology, including: biochemistry, molecular and cell biology; evolution and ecology; and host-disease topics.  This coursework is supplemented in the curriculum with requirements for chemistry, mathematics, and computational science. In addition, students integrate perspectives from policy, economics, ethics, law, anthropology, and sociology (see program description for details). Many students choose to minor (or even double major) in a complementary discipline. 

Global Health at Georgetown

Global Health is a vibrant area of focus for the university with participation of faculty, staff and undergraduate and graduate students from every academic unit across the main campus, medical school, and law school. This breadth reflects the fact that work in the global health arena requires professionals from every sector. Indeed, most successful efforts involve multidisciplinary teams of individuals who bring their own expertise and the ability to work together using their diverse skills synergistically.

Georgetown College, the School of Foreign Service, and the School of Nursing and Health Studies all offer variations on a Global Health major for undergraduates with the explicit goal of preparing students from diverse fields to become leaders of these multidisciplinary teams in the field of global health. It is important for undergraduates to identify their own interests within this landscape and pick the major most appropriate to their goals. A brief comparison of the three programs follows. Note that all three programs are compatible with the course work necessary for application to medical school.

  • Georgetown College, Department of Biology

The BS in Biology of Global Health is a degree in natural sciences.  BGH students take many biology courses as well as corollary work in chemistry, mathematics, and statistics, but will also explore the connections between science and society more broadly. Study abroad is encouraged but not required. 

  • School of Nursing and Health Studies, Department of International Health

The BS in Global Health is a public health degree. The program focuses on global health and development with courses in natural sciences, epidemiology, health economics and policy, and includes a required Global Health Research Semester Abroad.

  • School of Foreign Service, Science, Technology and International Affairs Major with a Biotechnology and Global Health Focus

The BSFS in Science, Technology, and International Affairs (STIA) provides a concentration in global health, with an interdisciplinary perspective for students to think about critical global health problems and innovative technological, political, and social solutions.  Students are encouraged to study abroad at least one semester, take two semesters of lab sciences, and the foundational SFS courses

More information about these related programs can be found at the School of Foreign Service and the School of Nursing and Health Studies websites. 

Career Paths

The Biology of Global Health major prepares students for tremendous diversity of graduate programs and careers in scientific research, education, medicine, law, policy and public health.  Beyond coursework, undergraduates have many opportunities in the Washington, DC area for internships in scientific research, policy, education, and health.  Many majors also choose to study abroad as an important component of their global health education.   

Research

As with all majors in the Department of Biology, Research Tutorial (for juniors) and the RISE program (for seniors) allow students to gain independent research experience during their undergraduate years.  The Biology of Global Health major allows a great range of projects, befitting the breadth of the discipline and the diversity of student interests.