National College of Natural Medicine to Offer Global Health Master's Degree

PORTLAND, Ore. (April 29, 2014)—National College of Natural Medicine today announced that it is expanding the number of degree programs it will offer matriculating students in fall 2014 with the addition of the Master of Science in Global Health (MScGH), recently approved for accreditation by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. This is the first global health degree offered by an accredited naturopathic medical school in North America.

The MScGH degree, offered through NCNM’s School of Research & Graduate Studies, is designed for students who wish to understand the complexity of global health in order to contribute effective solutions and seek careers in public health; medicine or research; health policy; and with nonprofit health organizations. The MScGH is one of three new master’s programs offered by the School of Research & Graduate Studies. The college’s medical degree programs are offered through the School of Naturopathic Medicine and the School of Classical Chinese Medicine.

The MScGH will offer students a whole-systems approach to global health rooted in integrative medicine. Students will explore multi-disciplinary solutions to complex health issues with an emphasis on health disparities and social justice.

The nine-month curriculum, including required courses in public health, epidemiology and biostatistics, will help students develop a broad foundational knowledge base in global health issues and build skills sets that can be applied locally or internationally. Students will also be required to engage in experiential fieldwork that will offer them opportunities to sharpen their understanding and skills within the context of diverse cultural and multidisciplinary healthcare systems either within the U.S. or abroad.

NCNM’s Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Andrea C. Smith, EdD, notes that a global health degree is a natural fit for NCNM, as the college’s core naturopathic and Chinese medicine programs have global origins. “In the less developed areas of the world, integrative therapies, such as plant medicine, mind-body medicine, nutrition and physical medicine are both available and cost-effective. Natural medicine is ideal for countries with low economic resources and limited access to Western medicine.”

Heather Zwickey, PhD, dean of the School of Research & Graduate Studies and the director of NCNM’s Helfgott Research Institute, said that there is demand for a master’s program in global health at NCNM. “We’ve been conducting student trips to countries like Tanzania and Nicaragua for several years—and the education our students receive in the field is invaluable. They realize that they can help make positive change in the lives of people who subsist on very little. Even working with culturally diverse populations right here in Portland helps students develop a greater sensitivity about being an effective health ally for the underserved among us.”

Zwickey noted that the new program will be co-chaired by Tabatha Parker, ND, and Angela Senders, ND. Parker is the co-founder of Natural Doctors International (NDI), based in Nicaragua, the world’s first and foremost naturopathic global health organization. As NDI executive director, Parker has worked with the World Health Organization on the WHO Benchmarks for Training in Naturopathy. She was recognized by UTNE Reader as one of the year’s top global visionaries of 2011.

After several years focusing on mind-body medicine in her private practice, in 2011 Senders was awarded a post-doctoral research fellowship by the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University.

Provost Smith observed that in the last 50 years, the world’s populations have become increasingly interconnected as the geographical and geopolitical boundaries separating people and countries are disappearing. In addition, Smith said, “The significance of global health has been elevated by the work of the World Health Organization and global health relief organizations in response to new and emerging health issues and diseases. NCNM’s graduates want to be fully trained in global health. NCNM’s new master’s degree will give them the opportunity to be effective in cultural settings anywhere in the world.”


Founded in Portland in 1956, NCNM is the oldest naturopathic medical school in North America and an educational leader in classical Chinese medicine and CAM research. NCNM offers three accredited four-year graduate medical degree programs in naturopathic and classical Chinese medicine, as well as three Master of Science degrees in Integrative Medicine Research, Nutrition and Global Health. NCNM practitioners and students attend to approximately 40,000 patient visits per year at the campus-based NCNM Clinic and numerous low-cost community clinics located throughout the Portland area. Until July 2006, NCNM was known as the National College of Naturopathic Medicine. The name change reflects the diversity of the college’s programmatic degree offerings.