Experiential Learning & Field Research

Work and learn with our global partners

Experiential learning is a cornerstone of global health education at Duke. Field-based projects are part of the requirements of many of our educational programs, and while the length and depth of the projects vary, they provide students with unparalleled opportunities to understand the many contexts of health in low-resource settings. 

In a typical year, Duke students are involved in field-based projects in more than 20 countries, where they work closely with community partners to understand and address health challenges. These transformative experiences teach students how to conduct ethically grounded, collaborative research while fostering critical thinking, self-awareness and cultural humility. 

Students can choose from several Duke and DGHI field programs that are designed to help you address a global health question, context or challenge.  


  • Student Research Training (SRT) Program: We offer second- and third-year undergraduate students an opportunity to develop, implement and assess a community-based project. 
  • DukeEngageDukeEngage empowers undergraduate students to address critical human needs by fully funding a summer of immersive service in the U.S. or internationally.
  • Faculty-mentored independent research projects: Undergraduate students also have the option to work directly with faculty mentors on independent research projects. To see which faculty are working on projects in your area of interest, you can browse our faculty directory
  • See fieldwork funding grants for information on funding. 


  • Bass Connections: A university-wide initiative to provide undergraduate through doctoral students greater exposure to inquiry across disciplines, and opportunities for team-based learning and mentoring.
  • Internships: We work with numerous U.S. and international organizations that offer internships for undergraduate students. You can learn more about how an internship meets the ELA requirement for the co-major here. Graduate students are also eligible for internships, which can meet both academic and program requirements. 
  • Master's thesis projects: Most master's students work directly with faculty to design a field research project that will become the basis of a thesis paper. See Fieldwork for M.S. in Global Health Students for more information. 
  • Graduate certificate and medical students and trainee: Students in these programs have opportunities to design field research projects. See Requirements below for more information. 

Read stories about recent student fieldwork:

A mobile unit serving women in Ate, Peru
Voices of DGHI

In Peru, Understanding the Importance of Small Things

The neurosurgery ward at Mulago Hospital. Photo by Kelsey Graywill.
Voices of DGHI

New Perspectives on Infection Care at Mulago National Referral Hospital

Example of Scarf
Research News

When a Scarf Meets a Bike


Global health majors are required to complete an experiential learning activity (ELA) of 320 hours or 8 weeks duration that addresses a global health question, context, or challenge.

The ELA provides the opportunity to engage with the applied experience of global health practice and may be completed through the programs and opportunities outlined above. Students are encouraged to connect their work to their academic pathway and utilize the ELA to deepen their understanding of what global health is and can be

Steps to complete the ELA requirement:

  1. Completion of an approved global health ethics course prior to departure. 
  2. Pre-approval of the proposed activity is required.
    • Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis from December 1, 2023 until April 1, 2024 
  3. Completion of required pre-engagement training before beginning their approved projects and attendance at a post-experience reentry workshop. 
  4. Completion of the experiential learning report. 

Students are encouraged to meet with their global health advisors early in the major planning process to discuss their ELA. 

Master of Science in Global Health

  • You must complete 10 weeks of fieldwork. Fieldwork typically occurs between your first and second years.
  • Field experiences may include work with ongoing individual faculty research projects, participation in research team activities or internships with global health organizations.

Third-Year Global Health Study Program

  • Research projects focus on reducing health disparities in low- and middle-income countries. See program page for information about field research and funding opportunities. 

Graduate Certificate

  • Your field research experience must include at least 4 weeks or 160 hours and can be completed at any point during the academic year or summer. See program page or contact the program coordinator for more details.