Online degree helps reach and teach more health professionals across the world


Mosquitoes hover over a pool of water

Public health expertise is vital for combating the global spread of infectious diseases, such as malaria.

The 'Global Master of Public Health' degree challenges the teaching status quo and aims to create a global community of experts sharing new insights.

By dramatically increasing the reach and impact of our degrees Imperial is taking the lead in imagining what a modern education will look like in the years to come. Professor Simone Buitendijk Vice-Provost for Education

The Masters course, developed using the online education platform Coursera, was one of a range of online degrees unveiled at a conference on 6 March in Arizona, USA.

The College’s Vice-Provost for Education, Professor Simone Buitendijk said: “By dramatically increasing the reach and impact of our degrees Imperial is taking the lead in imagining what a modern education will look like in the years to come.

“Transforming our teaching style is only worthwhile if it leads to the College maximising the potential of our current and prospective students. This degree meets that high standard by offering a flexible and more accessible route to a career in public health."

Global health as a priority

Imperial’s online degree is being rolled out at a time of upheaval in the world of health policy and healthcare. As recently as November 2017 the WHO gathered in Dublin, Ireland, for the Human Resources for Health Forum. Delegates discussed the 18 million additional health professionals that will be required by 2030 to meet the demands of a growing global population. As a result over 70 countries signed the Dublin Declaration, committing to unlocking resources that will improve the teaching, employment, and deployment of health professionals.

The College is aiming for the degree to be popular globally, including in those countries the WHO identified as being in the greatest need in the decades to come. In providing an innovative solution to training the next generation of experts, it is hoped online degrees will be a game changer for populations that urgently require preventative, comprehensive, and bespoke public health leadership to deliver policies to address global health challenges including emerging infections and epidemics of chronic disease.

Professor Helen Ward, of the College’s School of Public Health, said: “What is exciting is that the course gives our experts the opportunity to reach a bigger audience and have a greater impact. The global nature of public health means the better connected the professional community becomes, the stronger the health outcomes for populations.

“For our campus degree we currently receive applications from far more students than we would ever be able to enrol. By creating an online degree we’re bringing together a wider audience of professionals, with a more flexible course of study.”

Imperial's ambition to transform teaching and learning

The degree is part of a plan to radically transform teaching at the UK’s most international and innovative university. By investing significantly in education the College is empowering students to solve challenges facing the world today and in the future.

Professor Buitendijk said: “Delivering ambitious public health policy is one of the biggest challenges facing governments around the world. If measures aren’t taken to combat the poor health outcomes related to factors as diverse as poverty, lifestyle issues, the environment, and inequality, then the resulting human and financial cost will be significant.

“Imperial advocates ‘big thinking’ in a rapidly changing world - we see no reason why a high quality education cannot be delivered on a global scale. This is a ground-breaking approach, yet it is not a leap into the dark. We know there is the demand and we know we have the expertise to meet it.”


Murray MacKay

Murray MacKay
Communications Division


Public-health, Strategy-educational-experience, Education
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