Practicum and Capstone in
Public Health Policy and Management

Practicum Overview
The intent of the practicum is to enable students to take what they have learned in an academic setting and apply these concepts in a practice setting. A "practice setting" usually refers to a site that aims to deliver public health services and is not familiar to the student. A clinical setting is usually not considered a public health practice setting.

All students will receive guidance for the selection and completion of the practicum by a faculty advisor. The faculty advisor cannot be both the practicum site supervisor and faculty advisor. The practicum must be completed pursuant to a planned, supervised, and evaluated opportunity covering a topic in public health.

Students may select the organization or agency where the experience will be undertaken. Even so, it is highly encouraged that students seek out opportunities in local and state public health agencies, or similar environments where they may address a public health problem.

Each student will be assigned an appropriate mentor to help supervise the practicum but it is the responsibility of the student to seek out and obtain a satisfactory field experience that fulfills the program requirements. The practicum project may be undertaken as a single block of time or may be spread over one or more quarters.

The practicum may be developed within an organization that employs the student but the practicum must extend the student’s experiences, and refine and add new skills. Thus, the practicum project should not be a part of the student’s regular job responsibilities and the practicum supervisor must be different than the student’s current job supervisor. For any research project, an institutional review board (IRB) must approval may be required depending on the nature of the project.

Students should discuss the need for IRB approval with the faculty advisor prior to initiation of the practicum. Students must consider that up to 3 months may be required to obtain IRB approval for a research project.

The timing of the practicum will depend on the student’s progress in completing the curricular requirements. Students should complete the program specific classes before registering for the practicum.

Practicums are graded on a Pass/No Pass basis. Only under certain specific circumstances may the practicum requirement be waived. Students may only be waived from the practicum if they can clearly demonstrate a minimum of one-year’s experience in a public health setting in which they were able to accomplish the above objectives through a specific project or other experience in that setting.

Consult our student resources page for more information.

Capstone Overview
The overarching objective of the Capstone project is to enable the student to work on a project which translates both general and discipline specific information into public health practice.

The student must demonstrate the capacity to utilize knowledge and make evidence-based decisions regarding public health issues, and exhibit leadership, organizational skills, creativity, and effective communication via the written word and verbally. The goal of the MPH Capstone project is to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and skills acquired in the academic coursework and thru their practicum experience.

The Capstone also affords an opportunity to apply certain competencies that are introduced in academic coursework but are developed through the practicum experience and interaction with faculty and peers. Examples include leadership ability and group process skills, political awareness and communication skills, understanding of public and private financing mechanisms, and understanding of organizational behavior.

Students will be assigned a Capstone project mentor and students are encouraged to meet with their Capstone project mentor on a weekly basis to discuss progress of the written report and oral presentation. The written report and oral presentation should be approved by the assigned mentor before submitting/presenting for a grade.