Elena Buff, PharmD
"I learned so much, not only about Costa Rica and its health care system but also about its government and legal structure, the many systems in place to allow for a powerful Zika response, what the response itself was, and more. I was also able to expand on my knowledge about the United States as well as recognize similarities and differences that would allow or complicate our ability to mimic Costa Rica's response. Moreover, I reflected on similarities and differences that exist culturally between the two countries. Through this global experience, I was able to bring concepts that I've learned in the classroom to life."
(Participant in UMB/CISG Interprofessional Grant Program in Costa Rica 2018)
This unique 12-credit graduate certificate offers students an opportunity to learn about global health and health care innovation in Costa Rica, a country recognized as a global leader in translating good ideas into positive health outcomes—especially in the areas of biotechnology and health care delivery. The certificate is designed to be completed in one 10-week semester with all of the content delivered during a 10-week learning experience in Costa Rica. The program offers courses in Intercultural Communication and Conflict Resolution; Global Health and Social Innovation; Innovations for Universal Health Care; Urban Health and Social Innovation; and a final practicum, all of which are taught by bilingual Costa Rican faculty from the InterAmerican Center for Global Health (CISG).
The program concludes with a hands-on practicum that provides students the opportunity to integrate theory and practice to address real-world challenges faced by policymakers and communities looking to create lasting change in the global health area. It will provide students the possibility to engage and support public, private and non-governmental organizations to solve complex issues related to global health in Costa Rica, a developing country with unique demographic, epidemiological and urbanization conditions. After completing their foundational course requirements, students will have their practicum experience either in the southern region of Costa Rica or in San José and its vicinities. Students will be partnered mainly with non-governmental organizations, although opportunities exist for partnerships with other stakeholders, such as government institutions.
The final practicum will require students to conceptualize the transfer of a health care innovation across borders, considering the steps required to approve, scale up, and introduce innovations to a new setting. The students’ analysis will be guided by a recognized need for community input and empowerment and opportunities for students to develop cultural sensitivity, humility, and business ethics while supporting their desire to make an impact.
During the teaching portion of the program, students will live and learn in two unique settings. The first three weeks will take place in San José, the capital of Costa Rica. In addition to in-class activities, students will engage in field visits to meet with Costa Rican leaders in the Ministry of Health, public and clinical health officials, communities and their leaders, civil society organizations, and biotechnology companies.
Weeks 4-6 will take place at the spectacular Las Cruces Biological Station in San Vito, located in southern Costa Rica. This field station is the ideal location to introduce students to some of the grand challenges in the field of global health: migration, achieving universal health care coverage, impeding environmental degradation, and accommodating demographic and epidemiological transitions. Students will also engage with various non-governmental organizations that work hand-in-hand with the Ngöbe-Buglé indigenous people.
Another highlight of this portion of the program will be a visit to the Osa Peninsula, which is home to approximately 50% of all animal and plant species in the country, representing 3% of the world’s biodiversity. Students will learn about species native to the region as well as the importance of involving local communities in conservation efforts that improve health and wellbeing.
The final 4 weeks will take place in the location in Costa Rica selected for the student’s practicum – either in San José or San Vito.
Las Cruces Field Station
The Global Health Innovation Certificate is a 12-credit, five course graduate certificate program that takes place during a 10-week living and learning experience in Costa Rica. Although the certificate is considered a semester-long program, the entirety of each course will be taught in-person during the 10-week experience in Costa Rica. Some orientation and assignments will take place in an online format (which will be available in Costa Rica). The program will launch in Fall 2020 with exact travel dates TBD. Learn more about the program objectives and course descriptions. Learn more about the program objectives and course descriptions.
Housing and transportation within Costa Rica will be arranged by the Graduate School.
The interprofessional program is open to students with diverse academic backgrounds.
The program will be taught by Costa Rican facilitators from the InterAmerican Center for Global Health (CISG) who have faculty appointments at the University of Maryland Baltimore Graduate School. Instruction will be in English. While in Costa Rica, field visits will be conducted (with interpreters when necessary) to communities, organizations, and important leaders engaged in public health and innovation. The final 4-week practicum project challenges students to identify an innovation in Costa Rica and create a roadmap for scaling the innovation and delivering it to the US and broader contexts. Throughout this process, students work closely with CISG faculty and a local, project-specific preceptor. While studying concepts in innovation, students will learn about community development priorities, human rights, health care access challenges, social justice initiatives, environmental sustainability programs and other important elements of innovation aimed at protecting the most vulnerable.
Costa Rica has emerged as a global leader in biotechnology investment and innovation. In addition, Costa Rica’s health care system is a global success story. Its single-payer national health service, created in 1941, provides Costa Ricans with near universal access to a full range of health care services, including the most technologically complex, with life expectancy exceeding many high-income countries. This makes Costa Rica the perfect place to study innovation in health care delivery and technology while supporting access to high quality care for all. In addition, students will be exposed to the challenges, despite the progress in near universal access, faced by vulnerable populations such as indigenous peoples and migrant workers.
The following graphs demonstrate Costa Rica’s unique position as a world leader in health care and environmental metrics:
The Global Health Innovation Certificate will prepare students from diverse personal and professional backgrounds to organize, lead, and support effective global health practice initiatives across the world. Depending on their individual academic profiles, students will have access to leading positions in the health care industry, innovation strategy and consulting, tech transfer, global health, basic and translational biomedical research, community health, and non-profit organizations. The certificate will emphasize concepts, practices and skills that professionals need to be effective in a wide range of organizations. Potential career paths include positions such as Global Health Data Analyst, Global Health Project Manager, Global Health Strategy Leader, Innovation Consultant, and Health Tech Transfer expert.
- IMPORTANT: Applicants will need a valid passport, airplane ticket, visa (if necessary – not necessary for US passport holders), and CDC-required and recommended vaccinations to participate in the program.
- Note that the average length of time to get a new passport or renew a passport is 6-8 weeks so be sure to start that process early.
- The health of the UMB community is our top priority. Please visit this page regarding the latest information about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, measures implemented to reduce its spread, and the impact on travel and other activities. At this time, no change has been made to the Fall 2021 start date of the Global Health Innovation Certificate.
- Please note that admitted students will automatically be enrolled in the UMB Student Health Plan, and will need to process a waiver request if they have proof of alternative insurance.
- The program requires travel to and from Costa Rica and a 10 week intensive study and work experience on the ground in various locations in Costa Rica.
- Much of the program takes place in rural and hard-to-access areas of Costa Rica where certain services and amenities (such as wi-fi and grocery stores) may not be available at all times.
- In addition, unforeseen weather and travel events and agenda changes may alter the daily or weekly schedule. However, experienced Program Directors on the ground will work to ensure that the any changes and/or additions to the schedule will be consistent with the overall goals of the program.
- It is critical that students approach the program with an attitude of flexibility and adaptability which are essential elements of global health practice.
- At this time, federal need-based financial aid is not available for this program. We hope that it will become available before the start of the fall term. Details are available upon request.
The Global Health Innovation certificate is a stackable credential that can be applied toward a Master of Science in Global Health. The 31-credit MS Global Health program uses online and in-person facilitation to help advance your career in the field of Global Health. Upon the successful completion of the certificate, all 12 of the credits are completely transferrable to the MS Global Health Program. This means that when you finish your certificate if you choose you'll be 19 credits away from a Master's degree!
Check out the curriculum for the MS Global Health
Tuition and Fees
The tuition rates listed above include the cost of tuition, fees, lodging, and meals for the entire program but does not include airfare, any vaccination or travel clinic costs, or spending money.
Federal need-based financial aid is available for this program. Details are available upon request.