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Public Health in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico

Program sponsor: Northwestern

Public Health in Mexico, Summer 2018
Public Health in Mexico, Summer 2018
Students in the Public Health in Mexico program visit Yaxunah, a Mayan community near Chichen Itza
Students in the Public Health in Mexico program visit Yaxunah, a Mayan community near Chichen Itza
Public Health in Mexico, at Universidad Panamericana in Mexico, City. Summer 2016
Public Health in Mexico, at Universidad Panamericana in Mexico, City. Summer 2016
Moneb Bughrara, Fei Wang, and Joo-Young Lee at Teotihuacan *Public Health in Mexico, Summer 2016
Moneb Bughrara, Fei Wang, and Joo-Young Lee at Teotihuacan *Public Health in Mexico, Summer 2016

The Northwestern Public Health in Mexico program gives students insight into Mexico’s public health system. Students will have the opportunity to spend six weeks in Mexico City, followed by two weeks in Mérida, studying the social, cultural, and political determinants of health in Mexico City and the Yucatán. Students will learn about the outcomes and challenges of healthcare reform, as well as programs and policies intended to address health inequalities among Mexico's diverse communities. In addition to public health courses, students enroll in a Spanish language and a Mexican history and culture course, which introduce them to the rich history, language, traditions, and customs of Mexico. Visits to Mexico City’s famous boroughs of Xochimilco and Coyoacan, the pyramids of pre-Colombian cities Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza, and urban and rural health facilities offer additional opportunities to engage with local communities and cultures.

Begin Application Process


This program offers a set curriculum, as follows:

In Mexico City through the Universidad Panamericana:

Healthcare System and Policy in Mexico

Health care systems are responsible for the provision of services aimed at maintaining and/or recovering the health of the population they serve. Key elements to evaluate the efficiency of health care systems are quality, equity, and financial protection. Health care systems vary from country to country, but invariably are under enormous pressure due to the high prevalence of chronic, non-communicable conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic pulmonary diseases; the progressive aging of the population; and the introduction of new and expensive medical technologies. This course is designed to introduce students to the Mexican health care system and policy, as well as the unique challenge of chronic, non-communicable diseases.

Spanish Language

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

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.

In Mérida through the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA):

Contemporary Issues in Public Health in the Yucatán

This course is designed to introduce students to the most common public health problems facing communities of the Yucatán. Students will learn about health disparities in the region, major communicable and non-communicable diseases and their incidence in particular communities, and mainstream and traditional healthcare practices.

Transcript & Credit Transfer

Students will receive transcripts issued by the two host institutions, and course credit will be eligible for transfer back to Northwestern as long as students earn course grades of C or better.

Program Requirements


Open to students from all majors meeting Northwestern's minimum application requirements.


No language background needed. 


Apply for permission to study abroad
All students are required to apply for permission to study abroad. Learn more about the process, deadlines, and access the application on the apply to study abroad page.

Program Contacts

Estimated Credit

  • 4 Northwestern units 
  • Visit Registration & Credit to learn more about credit types and requirements, registration, and other considerations.


In Mexico City, students will stay in the City Express Plus Insurgentes Sur Hotel in furnished double rooms with bathrooms. The hotel is a 10-minute walk from the Universidad Panamericana campus. Daily breakfast is included, and students also have access to hotel amenities such as a small gym.

In Mérida, students will live with host families, with one or two students per family. Students will have their own beds but may have to share a bathroom with other family members. Host family locations are typically within a 15-20-minute walk from the IFSA Mérida office, where classes take place.

Host Institutions

Mexico City: 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.

Mérida: The Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) is a study abroad program provider that has has been offering study abroad programs for over 30 years. Northwestern is affiliated with IFSA's semester program in Mérida.


Mexico City: 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 and participate in weekly salsa classes.

Mérida: Students will participate in an overnight excursion to Chichen Itza, the famous ancient Mayan archaeological ruins, and the Mayan community of Yaxunah. Students will also participate in cultural and health-related experiences in and around Mérida, such as historic Mérida, a traditional Yucatán cooking class, and visits to health organizations.

Program Resources

Browse the program handbook for more detailed information about excursions, courses, and identity-based considerations. Note: This is the previous year's handbook and should be used for informational purposes only. Do not make any travel plans based off of the dates or information provided here.

Review identity-specific information about Mexico:

Program Cost

Summer program costs vary, but summer study abroad tends to be much less expensive overall than a regular quarter at Northwestern. Review the comparison.

Summer 2020: $9,600

Billed by Northwestern
  • Tuition: $5,300
  • Room & Board: $2,300
  • GeoBlue: $100

Total program fee: $7,700

Estimated Additional Costs
  • Airfare: $700
  • Meals: $600
  • Local transportation: $150
  • Books & supplies: $50
  • Personal expenses: $400

Total: $1,900

Financial Aid & Scholarships

  • Students applying to this program are eligible to apply for GLO scholarships and are also encouraged to apply for other funding opportunities.
  • Northwestern students receiving financial aid during the academic year may be eligible to apply for summer aid for this program. Visit the summer aid & scholarships page for additional information.

Program Financial Details

This section outlines some of the billing and financial arrangements for Northwestern Programs, and is intended as a guide to help you navigate the financial aspects of your study abroad process. You should always refer to your program materials for the most current information and instructions. Contact your study abroad adviser (listed above) if you have any questions.

Program Confirmation

Once you are approved to attend a Northwestern study abroad program, you will need to complete a Program Confirmation form to confirm your participation. Northwestern students admitted to Northwestern programs are not required to pay a confirmation deposit, but will be charged a cancellation fee for withdrawing from the program after confirming.

Northwestern Invoice

Your Northwestern invoice will be issued through CAESAR on the regular quarterly schedule, and will include your program fee, which includes tuition, accommodations abroad, all related program activities, and international health insurance. Your program's billable costs and estimated budget are outlined above.

If you receive financial aid and/or loans, these funds will continue to apply directly to your CAESAR account. If you were awarded a ULA scholarship, it will also disburse to your CAESAR account.

If you use the Northwestern 9PAY plan, you may continue to use 9PAY for your NU-billed study abroad expenses, but you should request a study abroad 9PAY estimate to have your plan set up appropriately. The 9PAY plan is not available for summer programs.

Student Visa Financial Certification

If you are required to obtain a student visa, you may need to provide documentation that you will be supported financially for the duration of your time abroad. This may require bank statements from your parents and/or a financial aid award letter; review your visa application instructions carefully to be sure you are providing the appropriate documentation, and contact ULA for assistance.

If you primarily fund your education through financial aid and/or loans, you may also contact Krista Bethel in the financial aid office to request a letter of financial support.

Withdrawal & Refund Policies

If you withdraw or are dismissed from a Northwestern Program after submitting your program confirmation form, you are subject to the withdrawal & refund policies for Northwestern Programs.