MHIRT Program Overview


Encourage students from health disparity backgrounds to pursue careers in science and biomedical, clinical, and behavioral health research.


Provide research training in theoretical modeling, developing hypotheses, collecting and analyzing data, problem solving, and clinical or lab activities.


Expose students to global health issues that relate to health disparities.


Enable collaboration between colleges/universities and international research programs.

NOTE: In response to the Covid-19 global pandemic, the California State University system has implemented a travel suspension for all students and faculty associated with the CSU system through June 30, 2021. The SDSU MHIRT 10 -12 week research abroad program will, therefore, begin after the travel suspension has been lifted. Prospective applicants should determine whether they will be available to participate in the program, which will run from MID-JULY TO THE END OF SEPTEMBER, 2021 (DATES TBD). Applicants accepted to the program MUST PARTICIPATE IN THE FULL PROGRAM ABROAD – NO EXCEPTIONS WILL BE MADE TO ACCOMMODATE FOR A SHORTER PARTICIPATION PERIOD. We suggest that you consult with your academic advisor before applying to the program, as the application process is quite involved.

What is the MHIRT Program?

The San Diego State University MHIRT program has been in existence since 1993. The program provides funds for international summer research experiences to qualified undergraduate and graduate students from institutions across the United States.  Our fellowship program currently provides research training in social sciences, behavioral sciences, and public health. Each year we accept a diverse group of undergraduate and graduate students to participate in programs at various research institutes and universities internationally.

Our funding comes from the Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) program. MHIRT is a part of NIH’s National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). This program enables U.S. institutions to offer short-term international research training opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students from health disparity backgrounds. Health disparity backgrounds includes minorities and other underrepresented and under served populations in health research. For more information on health disparity backgrounds and the MHIRT program, please visit the NIMHD website at (

The goals of the MHIRT program are to:

Eligible participants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents from a  group that is underrepresented in biomedical, behavioral, public health, and social sciences research. For the SDSU MHIRT program, priority consideration is given to members of racial and ethnic groups that have been identified by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in biomedical, and public health research (including Blacks and/or African Americans, Hispanic Americans or Latinos, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders). Other demographics who are considered to be under-represented also include people from disadvantaged backgrounds (e.g. socioeconomic status, people with disabilities, and those who are first generation to receive higher education within their families).

Undergraduates with junior or senior class standing for the current academic year should have completed two years of coursework in a major related to public health or behavioral health science, with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Previous undergraduate research experience is highly recommended before entering the MHIRT program. Applications may also be considered from those who can show other evidence of exceptional scientific interest, talent, and academic maturity.

Master’s students must have previous research experience in the areas of our MHIRT training programs.

Applicants can apply for all available sites. (NOTE: ONLY THE UGANDA SITE IS AVAILABLE FOR 2021.)

This is a supported fellowship opportunity, providing funds for travel visa fees, round-trip travel to and from the research site, housing at the research site, daily meal allowance and a modest stipend (approximately $1200 per month for undergraduates, and approximately $1600 per month for graduate students). The stipends are meant to subsidize your research fellowship during the summer and will be fully reimbursed by November, after your return from the research site. The stipend should not be used for any other purpose until then.

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