To complete the Master of Public Health (MPH) degree, you must take a minimum of 45 credits, fulfill a 150-hour practicum, and write a master’s thesis or complete a capstone project. The Master of Public Health Degree is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health.
You must select a Specialty Track. All students take 45 credits of coursework, though the specific required courses vary for each specialty track. You work with your track’s advisor, who offers guidance on selecting the thesis advisor, choosing elective courses, developing a practicum, and other matters. Please refer to the Course Guide for more information on individual courses.
The practicum experience is a planned, supervised, and evaluated practical experience that allows you to practice lessons learned in the classroom. It can take place at a variety of public health agencies and organizations. The 150-hour practicum can be designed in a variety of ways (i.e., five days a week for several weeks, a few hours a week for several months). The practicum enables you to achieve many of the competencies necessary to be successful public health practitioners, often while serving a community. Before you can begin a practicum, you need approval from your preceptor and track advisor. We strongly recommend that you consider the practicum to be a foundation for the culminating experience.
All MPH students are required to complete a Culminating Experience. The Culminating Experience is typically started towards the end of the student’s first year and completed by the end of the second year. The goal is for students to synthesize, integrate and apply the skills and competencies they have acquired to a public health problem. Students may choose to complete a Master’s Thesis, Manuscript or Capstone to satisfy the Culminating Experience. The type of project completed will depend on the student’s specialty track and topic of interest.
Researching and writing a thesis gives students a chance to explore and develop ideas learned in the classroom and/or practicum. The goal of the thesis is to advance or create new knowledge to an existing body of research. The student develops a research question and a hypothesis based on previous research on the topic. The student gathers data (either through primary or secondary data collection) and analyzes the data. The findings are then discussed as to whether or not they support the hypothesis. The study should be designed so that the results of the analysis are generalizable to a larger population, rather than the sample used in the student’s data analysis. The Master’s Thesis is a research-oriented project.
Students may choose to prepare a manuscript of publishable quality for submission to a scholarly journal. Students determine with their faculty advisor which journal is most appropriate for their topic.
This scholarly project is much more applied in nature, and is generally developed for and in consultation with a public health organization or community agency. Generally, the capstone builds directly upon the practicum experience in that the student produces a deliverable based on the work completed in the practicum, and/or the needs of the practicum site. Most often, the capstone is completed in the form of a practice-based paper. Students will identify a public health problem, conduct background research or a literature review, design or evaluate a program or intervention, or conduct an in-depth analysis of a particular problem, and describe findings and conclusions.