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NYU is known for its unique interdisciplinary majors, which prepare students to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Now, a brand new Global Public Health (GPH)/Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) major combines two growing fields to respond to an increased global demand for public health professionals. The NYU Steinhardt major connects health issues and outcomes worldwide with the study of speech, language, and voice disorders. “The GPH/CSD major is about broadening students’ opportunities for what they can explore at NYU as well as what they can do after they graduate,” explains Sudha Arunachalam, CSD associate professor and director of undergraduate programs. “It opens them up to so many exciting fields and careers they might not have otherwise considered.”

A student studying in a library.
Across Interests, Schools, and Borders

Students enter the communicative sciences and disorders or global public health fields with a range of interests and backgrounds. Many Communicative Sciences and Disorders majors aspire to careers in speech-language pathology. Meanwhile, many Global Public Health majors lean towards medicine. But Communicative Sciences and Disorders also includes would-be linguists, educators, and performers, drawn to study their main tool: the voice. Current GPH/CSD majors cite the opportunity for hands-on experience and the ability to work with people as major draws. “If you want to do research, you’ll work in a lab from day one. In fact, students who take Anatomy and Physiology get to work in a cadaver lab. That’s super unique to NYU. And if you’re more interested in the patient side, you won’t have to wait for med school,” affirms Professor Arunachalam.

Within the GPH/CSD major, students study across fields and schools, taking courses from faculty in the NYU Steinhardt Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders and the NYU School of Global Public Health. Through foundational courses, fieldwork, and electives, they gain core knowledge of both fields and prepare for a range of careers. Additionally, due to the global nature of the degree, all students take foreign-language classes and spend at least one semester abroad. Given that the major launched this year, current students are former Communicative Sciences and Disorders majors wanting to expand their studies.

American Sign Language Class
Gaining Perspective and Effecting Change

Minhee Han, Steinhardt 2022, decided to major in Communicative Sciences and Disorders to pursue a career as a speech-language pathologist. She loved her coursework. But she “had this desire to explore something more, outside this niche subject,” she explains. “I was looking into another possible minor and found Global Public Health. At the same time, COVID-19 had just started appearing in the news. I read about the new GPH/CSD major, and I knew I’d found a perfect fit. It felt so necessary at the time, and it feels even more pressing now.”

Minhee particularly appreciates the global perspective Global Public Health has brought to her Communicative Sciences and Disorders studies. As an American Sign Language (ASL) minor, she’s developed an appreciation for Deaf culture and the importance of cross-cultural understanding. Looking ahead, she’s excited to study abroad in London, seeing it as an opportunity to “really be immersed in a new culture and understand what health policy means at a global level. For me, this major provides an opportunity to learn things that will add meaning and perspective to my studies and career. And it will allow me to support causes that I’m passionate about.”

Conducting Research and Improving Communication

For Joyce Chung, also a GPH/CSD major and ASL minor, the opportunity to do active research as an undergraduate solidified her desire to study communicative sciences and disorders. At present, she’s studying how technology can enhance speech therapy treatments alongside Dr. Tara McAllister. But when the new joint major launched, she had to make the switch. Like Minhee, Joyce aims to become a speech-language pathologist, but “craved a broader knowledge of our healthcare system. The GPH/CSD major explores two inherently intertwined fields. While the goal of Communicative Sciences and Disorders is to help people communicate effectively, public health relies on institutions’ abilities to convey their messages to the general population. For me, it just made sense to pursue both fields.”

Last semester, Joyce took her first Global Public Health course, Health and Society in a Global Context. It it she explored topics ranging from disease prevention to public perception of contraceptives. “Especially for students on the pre-health track who are not completely sure of what they want to study, the GPH/CSD major covers a wide scope of subjects. It will guide you in the right direction,” Joyce concludes. Looking to the future, she hopes to work abroad with Operation Smile, helping children with craniofacial deformities. “With this degree, I’ll understand global health inequities, giving me a strong foundation for the specialized work that I aspire to do. Then, I can make a genuine impact wherever I am needed.”