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Notre Dame revamps Master of Science in Global Health program through collaboration with Keough School

| Monday, August 30, 2021

Notre Dame is expanding its one-year Master of Science in Global Health (MSGH) program to two years in an effort to provide students with more flexibility to take a wider breadth of courses and have a broader experience in global health, according to director of the Eck Institute for Global Health Dr. Bernard Nahlen.

The Eck Institute, Keough School of Global Affairs and College of Science collaborated to revamp the MSGH program, which is on hiatus this year, following a review from a team of external consultants that began in Jan. 2020. The program will begin accepting applications for the first class on Aug. 30. 

Nahlen said the consultants’ recommendation to extend the program to two years was met with a lot of support from faculty. 

“A lot of the faculty also thought that was a great idea because they were more interested about taking a student under their wing and working with them for two years, rather than just a one-year intense period,” he said.

The consultants drew on their own experience from other universities’ in addition to conducting a review of other programs across the country to better understand how Notre Dame can leverage its own resources to create an interdisciplinary program that can stand out from other programs. 

“Global Health is a big tent so it involves a whole variety of things and we try to work with students and based on their real interests,” Nahlen said.

Courtesy of Kim Merz-Bogold
A student participates in a Capstone Field Research project through the Eck Institute and College of Science’s MSGH program

The three areas of concentration in the new MSGH program are vector biology/parasitology, health policy/governance and health analytics. Each of these concentrations was designed to take advantage of Notre Dame’s strengths in existing programs, such as vector biology and parasitology, according to Nahlen.

“Notre Dame — going back to the 1970s or earlier — has always had an incredibly strong internationally recognized program in vector biology and parasitology,” Nahlen said. “I don’t think I’ve ever worked with a vector biologist or medical entomologist who hadn’t done their undergrad, their grad school or their postdoc at Notre Dame, and that continues.”

The collaboration with the Keough School of Affairs allows students to connect global health issues to development and policy making, according to Ted Beatty, associate dean for Academic Affairs in the Keough School of Global Affairs. 

Classes in the Keough School’s Master of Global Affairs program and in the MSGH program are offered to each other’s students in order to bring students together to pursue interests in development and global health.

“Students have access to a much broader range of classes whether those are sort of general politics and policy classes or skills classes of your research methods, data management; we’ll throw in hard skills of monitoring and evaluation of health programs or development programs,” Beatty said. “Issues related to economic and social development, in places like Africa or Latin America or Asia, always involve issues of global health, so we want to bring students who are interested in both development and global health issues together.”

Beatty added that another form of collaboration between the Eck Institute and Keough School is the two schools work together to hire new faculty members. He said last year they worked together to hire a faculty member whose expertise is in maternal health and global health and she now teaches for both the Eck Institute and Keough School.

A key component of the MSGH program is the Capstone Field Research, where students have the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned to hands-on projects with faculty and partners both in the US and abroad. Students have traveled to locations such as Ecuador or Kenya to apply what they learned in the two one-credit courses they took during the first year in the program to prepare for the Capstone research project.

“We have an ongoing collaboration with the Hesburgh Hospital in Ecuador on antimicrobial resistance, so we’ve had quite a few students who have gone to Ecuador,” Nahlen said. “One student I remember was in Kenya, and worked with faculty to look at women’s experience with antenatal care and, frankly, violence against women and their experience with antenatal care.”

In addition to offering more flexibility, Nahlen anticipates the expanded program might attract applicants who are not applying directly after completing their undergraduate studies.

“I suspect with a two-year program there may be more students who’ve been out and about in their careers and now they have a good idea of why they would want to come to Notre Dame and spend that two-year period of time to do this,” Nahlen said.

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About Ryan Peters

Ryan is a sophomore in Knott Hall who hails from Lake Forest, Illinois. He is majoring in marketing and — temporarily — political science. He currently serves as an associate news editor for The Observer. Follow him on Twitter @peterrsryan.

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