GlobalHealth Lab offers students a unique–potentially life-changing–opportunity to work on the front lines of health delivery on site in Africa and Asia.

Student Applications available here and will close Midnight 7 November!

If you’re an MIT graduate student and are eager to apply your skills in ways that help people across the world, you’re a great candidate for our class. You need not be experienced in healthcare.

In GlobalHealth Lab, you work directly with your team’s assigned host organization to create and implement solutions that could have a real impact on people.

Collaborating with staff and leaders at host enterprises, faculty-mentored student teams leverage their work experience, MIT’s analytical tool kit, and selected best practices for both remote and onsite work. At the end, they draw on their field work and research to present practical, co-designed, field-tested recommendations and innovations for the leaders and staff of partner enterprises.

Key facts

  • The intensive portion of each project runs from February to April, with project development starting in October and students’ first meetings starting in December; we follow up in May and beyond
  • Two weeks of collaborative onsite work takes place in March within each partner enterprise in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, bookended by 6 weeks of intensive preparation and a month of follow up on-campus work to distill, iterate upon, and improve what was learned onsite.
  • Each team is made up of four experienced MIT students from our MBA, Masters, and PhD programs, usually with several decades of collective work experience, mentored by a member of the MIT Sloan faculty.
  • Project domains cluster in five areas: operations, strategy, marketing, management, and technology adoption.

The projects. Each project is carefully designed to enable a partner enterprise to deliver more or better health care. Even before the spring semester starts, teams of four MIT MBA, Masters, or PhD students partner with an organization on the front lines of care delivery. Then, when the class gets going, teams work on intensive collaborations over several months, from campus and also via two weeks on site. In Spring 2013, teams were in South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Bangladesh, India, and Nepal; check out this highlight video featuring content from every 2013 team!

What students contribute. Students put their management skills to work in a variety of ways. They begin by refining plans, conducting research, developing topical briefings, and planning their field work. The task is to bring to bear the best of every student’s MIT toolkit, aiming to deliver a sustained improvement for each host organization by the end of the classroom and field-based components of the course.

The intensive on-site group project puts students to work inside the enterprise alongside its staff while they live and participate in the community. In the third segment of the course, students return to the classroom to distill what they learned in the field and continue refining their work.

The vision. Our aspiration is for projects to go beyond offering observations or even advice. GlobalHealth Lab aims to enable joint action projects that deliver lasting improvements. We’re gratified to learn that we often help to do just that. Not only have we made some great new friends in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, but we also now see the potential for an ongoing dialog about the value of management tools and business thinking in health care delivery. The projects have led to multi-year relationships with leaders in healthcare, industry, and the social sector across our partner settings and with MIT alumni in a variety of industries. Our reflection on the first five years of GlobalHealth Lab appears here.

An overview of the project process. Check out our great new video here and you’ll see how we frame GlobalHealth Lab for our partners.

The Groundwork Initiative. Originally a special version of MIT Sloan’s G-Lab, the course has also been called GHD Lab. Now GlobalHealth Lab serves as the foundation for the Groundwork Initiative, a broader effort designed to build an even larger community of learning. Come back to this website to learn more as we continue to develop the Groundwork Initiative. Our work is made possible by the inspired and generous support of valued friends of MIT Sloan. We are grateful for any support that enables our work.

How to apply

GlobalHealth Lab is open to MIT graduate students only. Admission is by application and interview in November. Students get 12 units of letter-graded academic credit plus 2 SIP credits, if applicable. Enrolled students must be able to spend SIP (the week before MIT Spring break) and Spring break in the field, on site in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia, and attend class sessions and meetings in both H1 and H2, as well as an early December event to form teams and assign projects. We expect teams to engage in several email interactions and phone calls before the start of class, and the class itself wraps up shortly before the last week of the spring semester.

Online application is now live and will close at midnight November 7, 2013.

To receive updated GlobalHealth Lab information, deadline reminders, application materials, and events, join our email list via: http://mailman.mit.edu/mailman/listinfo/globalhealth.lab.students

A selection of  Frequently Asked Questions


What do you look for in applicants?

Enrolled MIT graduate students are eligible, listeners or auditors will not be permitted. First-years and second-years are both welcome. We seek a mix of MBA students, including those in LGO and other dual and joint degree programs, and other MIT Masters’ and PhD students with relevant backgrounds. We look for dedicated students with a strong commitment to working as partners with the leaders and staff of organizations that aim to reach and serve those in most need of health care. Students need to be self-starters and be able to manage their work, logistics, and planning in an independent and professional manner while collaborating with fellow students, the course team, and everyone from volunteers and administrative staff to the CEO. A medical or global health background is not required. That said, students taking 15.232, Business Models for Scale and Sustainability, this Fall H1 are encouraged to apply as we seek to include those who have had exposure to this important background material. Students with this background are likely to gain preferential admission to GlobalHealth Lab, but to enable a mix of students we encourage everyone who is interested to apply.

Where do the projects come from and how committed are the partners?

GlobalHealth Lab partners are diverse and include for-profit companies, charitable organizations, international medical device developers, public-sector organizations and rural health clinics. We find partner organizations in two ways. First, to identify innovative, potentially high-impact organizations, we conduct our own research, tap into a great network of colleagues at MIT and the greater Boston area, consult with global health experts, and attend conferences related to GlobalHealth Lab topics. Second, we invest in building long term relationships, which we believe lead to deeper, broader-reaching, and more impactful projects. Thus, when possible and appropriate, we are happy to continue to work with past partners.

Every organization completes a detailed application for each proposed GlobalHealth Lab project. The GlobalHealth Lab course team collaborates with prospective partners to refine their proposals, setting the stage for them to work closely with students throughout the course and particularly during on-site time. We also seek their commitment to share certain costs of the program with Sloan. We interact with every partner multiple times throughout the process, and often visit sites ourselves, so we get to know them well.

Who pays for the on-site team project?

Major expenses, including point-to-point travel, accommodations, and project-related expenses during the two-week onsite project, are covered by MIT (thanks to our generous supporters) with contributions from our hosts as well. Each host’s contributions are individually negotiated by the course team.

The program and hosts pay for:

  •  Economy-class, round-trip airfare between Boston and your host locaion
  • Safe, clean lodging during your time on site
  • Translation services and other office services as needed on site (as feasible)
  •  Transportation for work-related travel (e.g. to visit patient homes for interviews)

You pay for and arrange:

  • Food
  • Visas
  • Local travel, including getting to and from worksite for day, in many cases
  • Vaccinations and immunizations, malaria prophylaxis, and other medications
  • Recreation
  • Communications before, during, and after your trip (phone, fax, FedEx, internet,etc.)
  • Office supplies that may be needed, including posters.

How are teams formed?

Subject to our requirements, students form their own teams, with advice and guidance from us. In a required early December meeting, we assist you in getting to know others in the class and facilitate team formation and project selection. Teams must include a mix of backgrounds and interests.We seek the right selection of students for each project based on our conversations with hosts in which we discuss the tasks, project requirements, and student backgrounds they seek. Foreign language skills may come into play, but usually are not a key factor. The right team mix also helps ensure you benefit the most from this learning opportunity.

Do I have to attend class sessions? Do I have to travel?

Both H1 and H2 class sessions and the two-week on site project are essential parts of the course and all are required; so too are several meetings outside of class time, to be arranged at convenient times.

Still have more questions? Click here to download the indepth FAQ for students.