Eight Degrees for People Who Care About Global Health and Infectious Disease Control

Published on: June 04, 2024

As travel times have become shorter and the cost lower, global trade and tourism have increased. While this is beneficial in many ways, it also means that the world has become much more connected, and regional health issues can have a global impact. Infectious diseases can quickly spread via the movement of people and, if left unchecked, could cause epidemics or pandemics. The COVID-19 pandemic is a sobering reminder of how quickly health issues can impact the world. Students who care about global health and issues like infectious disease control will find many career opportunities in this field. However, having the right qualifications and a relevant degree is essential because it is such a demanding and competitive domain. The following degrees are some of the most useful for people who care about global health and infectious disease control. 

Public Health

A public health degree teaches students the foundational knowledge of key areas in this field and helps them develop the skills needed to solve public health challenges. Core areas covered in this degree include biostatistics, epidemiology, environmental health, social determinants, and more. Completing this degree prepares students to identify, interpret, evaluate, and synthesize public health information, data, and evidence, apply ethical considerations when working with diverse populations, and communicate public health information effectively. Students can specialize in epidemiology, global health, infectious disease, and more.  

Global Health

Global health degrees are transdisciplinary and can prepare students to understand and solve global health challenges. This degree teaches students the cultural, historical, biological, and ecological factors that can influence global health. Global health degrees also offer students the opportunity to choose from electives such as Epidemics and Outbreaks, Global Trends, and Cultural Aspects of Globalization. 


Students who desire the knowledge, skills, and credentials to participate in rigorous population health research can complete a Master of Science in Epidemiology degree. Existing health professionals can complete a Doctor of Public Health degree program in epidemiology research to gain the advanced knowledge and skills needed for research methods in the field. Students interested in epidemiology often also complete programs in biochemistry or molecular biology to specialize in the numerous applications or variations of this field. 

Infectious Disease

A degree in infectious disease covers the fundamentals of molecular biology, cell biology, and immunology. This type of degree also teaches students the basic, translational, and clinical aspects of diseases. In addition, students can choose elective courses with highly focused studies of relevant topics, such as vaccines and vaccine development, viral, bacterial, parasitic, and fungal pathogens, or biocontainment principles. 

Tropical Medicine

Tropical medicine is available as a degree for students interested in expanding their knowledge of infectious diseases that are of global public health importance. The coursework covers topics such as parasitology and vector biology, and specialty courses include biology and cellular and epidemiological aspects of pathogens. In most cases, students must also carry out their own original research and write a thesis to complete a tropical medicine degree.

Environmental Health

The environment can play an important role in public health, and an environmental health degree can teach students what aspects can cause adverse health effects. Basic and advanced courses in biology, chemistry, physics, math, and microbiology are included in his degree, along with applied environmental health science courses such as environmental toxicology, food microbiology, and public health law. Students can also choose major electives to focus on specialty areas such as Environmental Protection or Public Health.  

Microbiology and Immunology

A microbiology and immunology degree can benefit students who are interested in laboratory work and understanding the science underlying living things. Courses included with this degree range from microbiology and human virology to microbial physiology, microbial genomics and genetics, and medical microbiology and immunology. It can prepare students to work as a microbiologist who studies bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms or related careers in global health. 


Students interested in understanding the biology of parasites and vectors and how they interact with hosts can benefit from a parasitology degree. Parasitic infections are on the rise in the world and can even cause infections in non-endemic countries due to globalization and the climate crisis. Students are taught the biology, pathogenesis, immunology, epidemiology, and diagnoses of parasitic infections, along with strategies for controlling the vectors and intermediate hosts. After completing a master's degree in parasitology, some students pursue a PhD for research or work in the field to help control parasites. It is also a pathway into the pharmaceutical industry to work on the creation of new drugs to combat parasites.  

Are All Global Health and Infectious Disease Control Career Paths in The Medical Field? 

While medical professionals often get the most attention, they are not the only ones working tirelessly to keep the world safe. In addition to medical degrees, there are also plenty of other non-medical degrees that are useful to students who want to make a difference in the field of global health. These range from business administration and public administration to public policy and health economics and can lead to diverse career paths for students who want to make a difference in this field.  


New threats or dangers always present global health concerns. As countries and economies around the globe become even more interconnected, it is crucial to monitor health issues and devise practical solutions to potential problems. This responsibility falls on the shoulders of global health and infectious disease control professionals, highlighting the importance of their role in safeguarding public health. It has become increasingly clear that health care should be viewed with a global lens to ensure the well-being of the world's population.

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