Global Health (Culture and Health), PhD

The PhD program in global health draws on the premise that sustainable and satisfying solutions to the most pressing global health challenges require a sophisticated understanding of how cultural context, social and ecological processes, and disease are really related.

The transdisciplinary graduate program trains students broadly in cutting-edge health social science research theory and methods. While it leverages the strength in medical anthropology at ASU (including the 15 medical anthropologists on campus), it also takes advantage of a much wider set of skills offered by such fields as medical sociology, demography, human geography and epidemiology. It is designed to train those who anticipate working in transdisciplinary academic settings, medical schools or nonacademic health settings, such as the commercial sector, government agencies or nongovernmental organizations.

Some particular thematic foci of the program are:

  • biocultural approaches to human coping
  • computer-based complexity modeling
  • culture and health
  • health in the Americas
  • indigenous and minority health
  • mathematical epidemiology
  • nutritional anthropology
  • social justice and vulnerable populations
  • social networks
  • urban and environmental health

The program draws together some 80 faculty members from across the university to consider how cutting-edge social science can be applied not only to understand, but also to substantively improve the health of populations. The program favors community-based research and runs collaborative projects in which students are encouraged to gain experience and conduct research, from large U.S. cities to hunter-gatherer communities. Students generally enter the program with a master's degree in a relevant field.

The concentration in culture and health provides focused, specialized training in theories and methods for researching the relationship between culture and health. This concentration utilizes the perspectives of medical anthropology and sophisticated ethnographic methods to study and interpret the role of cultural and social differences in shaping health. Students investigate these methods in the context of the community-based, participatory approaches that tend to promote the most mutually meaningful and lasting health solutions. Graduates are thus particularly prepared for leadership in addressing health disparities in cross-cultural settings and with the most vulnerable populations. This includes very complex, difficult settings where particularly nuanced and sophisticated (often anthropological) understandings of health-related challenges are needed.

Degree Offered

Global Health (Culture and Health), PhD
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study