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


  • 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 EL 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. 
  • Doctoral 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
Research News

In Peru, Understanding the Importance of...

The neurosurgery ward at Mulago Hospital. Photo by Kelsey Graywill.
Research News

New Perspectives on Infection Care at...

Example of Scarf
Research News

When a Scarf Meets a Bike

See where our students and faculty are working now



Note: Due to travel restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, field requirements have been waived for global health students graduating in 2021 and modified for those in the class of 2022. Please check with your advisor to be sure you understand how this applies to you.

Global Health Major

  • You must complete an approved eight-week full-time or 320-hour activity, based in the U.S. or internationally, prior to the spring semester of your senior year. 
  • Applications for departmental approval of your proposed experiential learning activity must be submitted by April 1 of the year you intend to complete your experiential learning.
  • You must complete an approved global health ethics course (see course requirements for options) prior to your activity and attend a pre-experience workshop before departure.
  • After the experiential activity, you must attend a re-entry retreat and complete a post-experience report.

See more details and current project opportunities


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.

See more details and project examples


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. 

Doctoral 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.