Public Health in Mexico

  • Northwestern students surveying local high school students in Mexico
  • Student group photo in front of fountain
  • Students walking to classes
  • Girls with baskets of flowers at festival
  • Student at archaeological site

About This Program

Summer 2018

  • Application deadline: March 1
  • IPD study abroad fellowship application deadline: March 1
  • Anticipated program dates: Monday, June 25, 2018 (the date you must arrive in Mexico City) to Sunday, August 19, 2018 (the date you must depart from Mexico City)

Summer 2018: $9,500

Total fees charged by Northwestern: $7,200, includes: 

Estimated additional costs: $2,300, includes:

  • $700 round trip airfare to Mexico City (students book their own airfare; rates vary)
  • $100 for books and supplies
  • $1,500 for discretionary expenses, including meals, transportation, personal expenses, and incidentals

Students applying to this program are eligible for IPD study abroad scholarships and may be eligible for external funding opportunities.

Students participating in this program are subject to the Withdrawal and Refund Policies for Northwestern-Sponsored Programs.


The Northwestern IPD Public Health in Mexico program gives students insight into Mexico’s public health system. Students will learn about the outcomes and challenges of healthcare reform since the beginning of the twenty-first century and in light of the country’s increasing migrant population. They will also have the unique opportunity to conduct public health research projects under the supervision of renowned UP Medical School faculty. Additional courses in Spanish language and the History & Culture of Mexico, supplemented by visits to captivating cultural and historical sites, such as Mexico City’s famous boroughs Xochimilco and Coyoacan, or the holy city of Teotihuacan with its Mesoamerican pyramids, introduce students to the rich history, language, traditions, and customs of Mexico.

Thanks to a 100,000 Strong in the Americas grant, Northwestern students participating in the Summer 2015 program and five medical students from Universidad Panamericana will have the unique opportunity to participate in pre-departure workshops comparing nutrition, obesity and physical activity of Mexico City's population with Mexican immigrant populations in Chicago. The workshops will take place at Northwestern University during Spring Quarter. Additionally, the grant, which is generously supported by the Coca-Cola Foundation, will cover up to $700 for Northwestern students’ airfare to Mexico City.

Host Institution

Universidad Panamericana (UP), founded in 1966, is a private Catholic university with campuses in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Aguascalientes. UP offers degrees in 15 different schools to over 11,000 students. UP’s programs in Medicine, Business, Law, Nursing and Education are among the top ranked programs in Mexico.

Housing & Meals

Students stay with a Mexican host family arranged through the Global Affairs Office at UP. Host families will provide breakfast and dinner during weekdays and breakfast, lunch, and dinner on weekends, and the costs of these meals are included in the program fee. Students eat lunch in the UP cafeteria during weekdays.


This program offers a set curriculum, so students must enroll in all courses listed below. Students will receive a transcript issued by the host institution, and course credit will be eligible for transfer back to Northwestern as long as students earn course grades of C or better. 

Public Health in Mexico

This course introduces students to the Mexican public health system and community health in Mexico. Students learn about healthcare infrastructure, major diseases and their incidence in particular regions and groups, health policy debates concerning obesity, drugs, alcoholism, violence, and other topics, as well as the unique challenges of pandemic control and migrant health. Students also visit community health clinics in Mexico City or Malinalco.

Supervised Research in Public Health

This course offers students the opportunity to learn about qualitative and quantitative public health research methods through participation in an existing research project led by a faculty member at UP’s School of Medicine. Possible research subjects include: nutritional disorders, preventive and alternative medicine, healthcare economics, and environmental health. Students conduct research at major hospitals and research institutes where UP faculty work.

Spanish Language

  • Taught by Spanish language instructors from Universidad Panamericana

While there is no language pre-requisite to participate in this program, students are required to take a Spanish language class while in Mexico. Three to four levels are offered, depending upon students’ skill levels.

History & Culture of Mexico

  • Course Instructor: María Hortensia Contreras Villarreal, PhD.

This course provides students with a general overview of the different historical periods that have shaped Mexican history and culture, from the Pre-Hispanic period to the 21st century. The primary purpose of the course is to help students to understand present day Mexico through an exploration of past events.


Students will have the opportunity to participate in several guided excursions to historical and cultural sites in and around Mexico City, such as Teotihuacan, Centro Historico (Historic Downtown), National Palace, Xochimilco, and Coyoacan. Students will also visit hospitals and community health clinics as part of their public health courses.