The Design for Global Health Internship is a 2-4 month paid internship in Ann Arbor, MI and a field site abroad. Previous field sites include: Accra, Ghana; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Flint, Michigan; Gondar, Ethiopia; and Meru, Kenya.

Interns use design ethnography techniques to define global health challenges and conceptualize, prototype, or evaluate design solutions. Internship scopes may include needs and context assessment, front-end design, design evaluation and iteration, or implementation.

The internship consists of three components:

  1. Design ethnography planning and initial problem definition in Ann Arbor, MI (2-4 weeks)
  2. Design ethnography and co-creative ideation and design at field site (2-6 weeks).
  3. Concept evaluation and report out (1-4 weeks)


Interns will divide their time between the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, MI and at a low-resource clinical or community setting. The internship includes an hourly wage, travel stipend, benefits, and funding for project-based materials and supplies. The duration of the internship and field site work is dependent on the internship project.



This internship is open to University of Michigan students from all departments who currently have sophomore, junior, senior, or Masters level standing. This is a highly selective application process. There is no foreign language requirement for this program. GHDI strives to create multidisciplinary teams and students of all disciplines and departments are encouraged to apply.

The clinical immersion component of this program is highly independent with guidance from the Global Health Design Initiative staff and faculty being delivered remotely.  Applicants must demonstrate an ability to exercise initiative, independence, and good judgment.

GHDI offers internships in four main areas with varying scopes of work:

Type 1) Needs and context assessment internships

  • Interns perform design ethnography studies including observations, interviews, and focus groups to systematically identify unmet global health needs. Once identified, needs are prioritized and one or more needs are studied in depth with the goal of defining user requirements and engineering specifications, developing preliminary concept solutions, and/or creating low-fidelity prototypes to confirm stakeholder needs and wants. Typically, this internship work is performed at a new or relatively new field site and is highly exploratory in nature. The goals of the needs and context assessment internships include developing relationships with community partners, and identifying, defining, and developing preliminary solutions to needs that will be pursued by undergraduate and/or graduate students following the internship in a capstone design course.

Type 2) Front-end design internships

  • Interns perform “deep dives” on a limited number of previously identified high-priority needs. Design ethnography techniques including observations, interviews, and focus groups are used to elicit user requirements and define context. One or more needs are explored through concept development, low-fidelity prototypes that demonstrate form and/or function, and preliminary concept evaluation including usability studies. Typically, this internship work is performed at an existing field site with partners that have supported prior student-led needs and context assessments. The goals of the front-end design internships are to define and develop a select number of high-priority needs, building upon prior work performed at the field site, and to generate concept solutions including prototypes that demonstrate form and/or function. Design work performed during this internship will likely be furthered through capstone design and/or independent design activities by non-interns during the subsequent academic year.

Type 3) Design evaluation and iteration

  • Interns develop and execute usability and feasibility studies for existing concept solutions to previously identified needs including human subject testing and validation studies in Ann Arbor and at a field site. Typically, the data generated during this type of internship will be used to inform design iterations and interns will advance the technology through high-fidelity prototypes that demonstrate form and function. The goals of the design evaluation and iteration internship are to further develop promising concept solutions through a co-creative design process. Design work performed during this internship will likely support the development of competitive grant proposals and will be furthered throughout the subsequent academic year by undergraduate and/or graduate student research assistants.

Type 4) Implementation

  • Interns will explore manufacturing, regulatory pathways, distribution, and other relevant implementation factors for a mature global health technology solution. The goals of the implementation internships are to develop an implementation plan and business model. Design work performed during this internship will likely support the development of competitive translational grant proposals that will be furthered throughout the subsequent academic year by undergraduate and/or graduate student research assistants.

Interns will be placed into cohorts. Each cohort will spend their immersion component at an assigned field site abroad. Students will have the opportunity to list their field site preferences in their application.

Possible field sites include:

  • Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    • Consolata Hospitals – Meru, Kenya (type 3/4 internship)
    • Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital – Kumasi, Ghana (type 1 internship)
  • Ophthalmology
    • St. Paul’s Hospital – Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (type 1 internship)
  • Clinical Operations and Workflow
    • Hamilton Community Health Network – Flint, Michigan (type 2 internship)

Past internship themes include:

  • Water access needs assessment in Meru, Kenya
  • Front-end design of a contraceptive removal device in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Evaluation and validation of a contraceptive insertion device in Gondar, Ethiopiadsc_0221
  • Traffic safety needs assessment in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Needs identification and design of a postpartum hemorrhage treatment device in Accra, Ghana
  • Needs identification and design of a fetal heart rate monitor in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  • Clinical operations and workflow needs assessment in Flint, Michigan
  • Evaluation and validation of a contraceptive removal device in Accra and Kumasi, Ghana
  • Evaluation and re-design of a patient turning aid in Meru, Kenya




Students will be responsible for arranging their own accommodations. Hostel/guesthouse, student dormitory, and/or homestay options can be recommended based on prior student experiences.

The field site experience is remotely mentored by the Global Health Design Initiative faculty and staff by phone, video chat, or email contact. Applicants must be comfortable with navigating a new setting and independently making decisions while at field sites. Participants, in teams of 2-4, will be responsible for managing their time, arranging and using local accommodations and transportation, and maintaining contact with their mentors and family.


The Design for Global Health Internship is full time (i.e., 40 hours/week) and lasts for 3-4 months.  Interns will earn an hourly wage dependent on experience for the full 3-4 months.

Interns are eligible to receive a travel stipend of up to 1000 USD to offset the field site immersion costs (e.g., HTH traveler’s health insurance, airfare, accommodations, food). Past field site immersion costs in Ghana and Ethiopia have ranged between 2500-4000 USD.

Dates and Deadlines

Applications for 2018 internships are now open.

Program Duration: The 2018 Internship dates are: May 7 – August 17, 2018.

Application Deadline: The deadline to apply for the internship is February 1, 2018. Interviews will be held during the month of March or sooner. Applicants will be informed of their application decision by March 15, 2018. Accepted applicants will have 10 days to confirm their space.

*Note: Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. It is highly recommended to apply early.


Please direct advising inquiries and program-specific questions to Caroline Soyars at globalhealthdesign@umich.edu

Interested in this Opportunity?

Applications for the Design for Global Health Internship are accepted online through MCompass. Follow this link to login and apply.

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What to Know About The Global Health Design Initiative

Program History

Program History

GHDI has been working with stakeholders for more than eight years to identify and address global health design challenges. Learn more about our history and core values.

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Project Outcomes

Project Outcomes

Since inception, we have worked on projects in maternal health, family planning, minimally invasive surgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, and more. Explore our past and current projects.

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Get Involved

Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved in global health work with GHDI. From taking on a need statement, to participating in an opportunity, or becoming a partner.

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