What is a Practicum?

The Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) requires that "All professional degree students must develop skills in basic public health concepts and demonstrate the application of these concepts through a practice experience that is relevant to the students' areas of specialization."

A practicum is a unique opportunity for graduate students to integrate and apply skills and knowledge gained through coursework and prior experiences in a professional public health work environment. Public health work environments include not-for-profit organizations, hospitals, local health departments, and for-profit firms.

Even CMPH students with previous public health experience will benefit from this opportunity to gain additional skills in either their current work environment or a new area of public health.

A typical practicum experience requires students to work a range of 200-400 hours under the supervision of an experienced site administrator and under the guidance of the student’s department, the Office of Applied Health, and Career Services.

A practicum has the following criteria:

  • Competency-based;
  • Project-oriented work in a public health site;
  • Application of graduate level skills in a public health context; and 
  • Opportunity to engage in activities that will advance a student’s career potential.

A practicum experience also has at least one tangible final deliverable (e.g. manuscript, report, evaluation, new program, course syllabus, thank you letter).

Documenting the Practicum Experience

All students MUST enter information on the experience into the Practicum Web Client (, including site supervisor information. There are no exemptions to this requirement.

The Web Client will require students to input the following:

  1. Contact information on their former or current site supervisor
  2. The approximate number of hours engaged in the field-based public health experience
  3. Goals and objectives for the experience which will be used to ascertain whether the experience represents experience in the application of public health concepts.

The Web Client will also require the supervisor to approve the objectives and evaluate the student's performance. Students will also complete an evaluation to provide feedback on the site and their practicum experience.

The information entered into the Web Client will be reviewed by the Director of Career Services to determine whether the student has applied public health concepts in the field and thus has fulfilled the practicum requirement as delineated by CEPH.

More information about the practicum requirement is available through our Office of Career Services.

Practicum Requirement for CMPH Students

To enroll in the practicum, CMPH students must register for PRS 595R: Practicum (2 credit hours).

As part of the practicum requirement, CMPH students must also: 

  • Present their practicum experience via a poster presentation during an on-campus session; and
  • Develop a professional portfolio that includes examples of their Career MPH work and final products from their practicum experience.

The CMPH professional portfolio is a collection of a student’s work during his or her tenure in the CMPH program.  The portfolio includes not only examples of course projects, papers, and other research, but also of the student’s practicum experience. 

Categories for the portfolio are based on core public health competencies developed by the Council on Linkages between Academia and Public Health Practice: a.) Analytic/Assessment Skills; b.) Policy Development/Program Planning Skills; c.) Communication Skills; d.) Cultural Competency Skills; e.) Community Dimensions of Practice Skills; f.) Public Health Sciences Skills; g.) Financial Planning and Management Skills; and h.) Leadership and Systems Thinking Skills.