M.D. with Distinction in Global Health

The M.D. with Distinction in Global Health recognizes students who distinguish themselves in the conduct of meaningful activities in global health during the course of their Medical School training.

Individuals satisfying the program requirements will be recognized at graduation and on their diploma as graduating with the degree of Doctor of Medicine, with Distinction in Global Health.

Two medical students check a young boy's heart beat in a clinic
Two medical students check a young boy’s heart beat in a medical clinic.

There are three pathways to receive a Distinction in Global Health: The Integrated Four-Year Track, IMEP exchange program, and the Independent Year Track.

Integrated Four-Year Track

  1. Introduction to Global Health Elective (didactic course)
  2. A total of 24 weeks of global health-related activity, completed through:
    • International Service Learning Rotation (optional, one week)
    • ENRH 134 Global Health Summer Research Elective (eight weeks)
    • SCH 1705 Scholarly Activity (12 weeks)
    • Senior Clinical Elective in an international setting (four weeks)

    Students may choose to attend the weeklong Quality Improvement Summer Boot Camp. Time spent in the boot camp will count toward the Distinction requirements. If not taking the boot camp, the Global Health Summer Research Elective must be eight weeks long.

  3. Abstract submission/poster presentation to the UTSW Medical Student Research Forum (MSRF), and participation in a global health conference, such as Unite for Sight or Consortium of Universities for Global Health (CUGH).
  4. Mentorship throughout medical school by a global health faculty mentor.
  5. Capstone thesis and presentation before graduation, drawn from the student's research elective and/or scholarly activity experience.

Student Exchange Program with Université Paris Descartes

  • Requirements: To be eligible to participate, students must complete either the Global Health preclinical elective or an orientation provided by the Office of International Affairs, pass the Alliance Française standardized exam for language competency, complete the clinical clerkships, and be in good academic standing.
  • Activities: The Exchange Program includes a minimum of two clinical clerkships (three months each) at the Université Paris Descartes. Available rotations include internal medicine (rheumatology, orthopedics, dermatology), pediatrics (hematology), and obstetrics and gynecology. Students will be required to complete all academic responsibilities and pass all written and oral examinations to receive credit for the rotations.

Following the six-month experience in Paris, students applying to the M.D. with Distinction in Global Health will arrange activities along two distinct pathways:

  • Clinical pathway – Clerkship through the ERASMUS program in a low- or middle-income country (LMIC) for the remainder of the 12-month period abroad or an equivalent experience (global health project via SOLEM). These experiences must be approved by the designated liaisons at both schools. If the experience is composed solely of clinical activities, the student will prepare a scholarly work centered on a topic of direct relevance to global health. The scope and nature of this review must be approved in advance by the student’s committee.
  • Research pathway – Basic and clinical research clerkships are available to UT Southwestern students via Institut Fédératif de Recherche Necker-Enfants Malades (IRNEM) for periods up to one year. The project and program to be pursued must be reviewed in advance by the program directors. If elective credit is desired, the basic requirements of the research elective must be met. Students pursuing this opportunity must produce a scholarly document centered on their research activities.

Independent Track

Students interested in pursuing this track typically take a year off in between MS3 and M4 year to focus on global health research. Student-designed activities may fulfill the requirement but must be reviewed and approved in advance by the Office of Global Health. Examples of programs that are acceptable are formal structured global health research programs that provide mentorship to students such as the Fogarty fellowship.


1. Application

Before starting any requirements that count toward the Distinction in Global Health, students must submit a formal application to the program and a personal statement describing their interest in global health. The statement should include a description of how the experience will be used in their career path. Contact the Office of Global Health, global.health@utsouthwestern.edu, for more information. Contact Angela Mihalic, M.D., for questions regarding the IMEP Paris exchange program.

2. Capstone Paper

Students will select three faculty mentors of their choice for the thesis. The mentors will provide guidance and edit the student’s manuscript before final submission. They will also attend the student’s capstone presentation. Requirements (See Distinction in Global Health handbook for more details):

  • Due on March 15 of the student’s last semester in medical school
  • 25–30 pages long, fully referenced and in publishable format
  • Manuscript format:
    • A review of the literature in the field(s) of study
    • Statement of the hypothesis to be tested, or the purpose of the research
    • Detailed description of methods
    • Results generated by the student with specific discussion (Data from other sources must be clearly indicated and its inclusion must be justified).
    • A critical discussion of the overall significance of the work and suggestions for future directions
    • References

The student is the sole author of the dissertation and thus must assume responsibility for its integrity. The document should explore topics in depth and be suitable for online availability.

The Associate Dean for Global Health must sign the capstone paper by March 15 of the graduating year. Students should begin to circulate their thesis by Feb. 1 to ensure committee members have time for change feedback if needed.

A copy of the capstone paper will be archived within the library collection and the Associate Dean will keep the formal signed paperwork.

3. Capstone Presentation

A formal presentation of the program or results will be made to an audience that includes the members of the student’s committee. This presentation must be presented before March 15 of the graduating semester to be included on the diploma.

Distinction Process

Here is a general timeline:

  • Jan. 31 year before graduation: Complete an application for Distinction.
  • Aug. 15 of graduation year: Confirm that you are still seeking the Distinction and meet with your mentor to confirm that you have planned all the requirements.
  • Jan. 1: Have all courses completed or registered for to complete Distinction requirements.
  • Feb. 1: Send primary mentor thesis for approval and have presentation scheduled.  
  • March 1: Send all committee members the approved version of your thesis.
  • March 15 of graduation year: Deadline to complete the manuscript, present thesis, and submit to peer-reviewed manual.

If a student disagrees with the decision of the committee, it is first the obligation of the student to make a good-faith effort to resolve the matter with the faculty member involved. Further appeals should be directed to the Associate Dean, and then to the Dean of the Medical School. The Dean’s determination is final.