Practicum Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

A Practicum may be concentrated in time or spread throughout a student’s enrollment after the first quarter of the student’s MPH program. Students must document their project timeline in the learning contract prior to starting their Practicum.

If an applied public health opportunity meets the requirements of Practicum outlined on this website, it can qualify as a Practicum. See “Practicum Overview” for more information or contact sphpractice@uw.edu.

No. They are different requirements. The practicum allows MPH students to apply classroom learning to the field of public health, serving as trainees to practicing professionals while expanding the capacity of a public health organization. The capstone or thesis is the culminating MPH experience that must result in a substantial written product. While it is possible for a practicum to build into a capstone or thesis, the capstone or thesis must result in a product and competencies distinct from the practicum.

No. 

  • Students enrolled in Nutrition, Online MPH, and COPHP programs attend program-specific Practicum orientations in place of the UWSPH orientation. 
  • Nutrition, Online MPH, and COPHP Practicum Faculty Advisers are predetermined. Students enrolled in one of these programs must contact their Departmental Staff Advisers for details.
  • Online MPH currently requires 3 Practicum credits and will increase to 4 Practicum credits for students enrolled in Autumn 2021 and later. Nutrition requires 6 Practicum credits.

If you are planning for a Practicum, you should be prepared to develop Practicum projects that can be done remotely given the current situation. All Practicums must have a Practicum faculty adviser, a site, and a site supervisor. All Practicum projects must be focused on applied public health work and be of value to an organization at which you would work on-site for a typical pre-COVID-19 Practicum. You are expected to submit your signed learning contract to the Practicum dropbox before starting your Practicum. You must notify your Practicum Faculty Adviser, Site Supervisor, and Manager of Experiential Learning if changes are made to your learning contract during your Practicum.

Students typically pursue their Practicum in the summer after their first year in the MPH program. They are allowed to begin their Practicum any time after their first quarter.

Students typically collaborate with agency professionals on their Practicum deliverables. If you plan to collaborate with another student on your Practicum deliverables, you must inform your Practicum Faculty Adviser and Manager of Experiential Learning before finalizing your learning contract. You must also ensure that your desired Practicum site has the capacity to supervise and mentor the number of students on the project. Each of you must submit your own forms, deliverables, and evaluations to demonstrate individual competency attainment.

Practicum can be pursued in a variety of organizations that have dedicated public health staff who are qualified and available to mentor and supervise. Learn about the qualifications for a site and Site Supervisor.

You are discouraged from completing a Practicum at your regular or past place of employment in order to gain exposure to a different type of public health work and environment. However, with the approval from your MPH Program Director, you may do a Practicum there if: 1) the opportunity meets MPH requirements and differs substantially from your current/former role, and 2) the Site Supervisor is someone other than your regular supervisor.

See “Practicum Search” for how to find a Practicum.

Practicum work may be compensated or uncompensated, which varies by the type of organization, project, or location. The site can pay students at an hourly rate or by stipend. UWSPH is not involved in arranging or dispersing any form of payment.

If an active Affiliation Agreement is not already in place with the site (check Affiliated Organizations tab), email Manager of Experiential Learning the name and email address of the organization contact to start the affiliating process. This can take weeks to a few months to complete. You cannot start your Practicum until the Affiliation Agreement is established.

A qualified Practicum Faculty Adviser is a faculty member in UWSPH and can be searched by name or research interest at https://sph.washington.edu/faculty.

A qualified Site Supervisor must hold a position in a public health or population health organization, have extensive experience working in the Practicum project area, and be willing to develop a plan, supervise and evaluate the student in the practice setting during and at the end of the Practicum.

Site Supervisors should not be a student. If there is any uncertainty whether someone is qualified to serve as a site supervisor, please contact sphpractice@uw.edu.

No.

  • For questions about registration, add codes, or credits being posted to transcripts, contact your Departmental Staff Adviser. 
  • For general practicum questions or questions specific to your practicum, contact SPH Manager of Experiential Learning (sphpractice@uw.edu).

The Practicum requires students to apply public health skills gained through MPH coursework in a professional public health practice setting to demonstrate attainment of at least five of the 22 MPH foundational competencies. See a complete list of competencies.

  • For the site, you must submit a minimum of two site products, produced in the Practicum setting and for the Practicum setting, that allow for demonstration of five MPH Foundational Competencies outlined in their learning contract. 
  • For the School, you must submit a written assignment and a visual assignment. If one of the site products are visual (e.g., poster, video, infographic, PowerPoint, etc.), you may use it to fulfill the School’s visual assignment with permission from your Practicum Faculty Adviser and SPH Manager of Experiential Learning. 

The competencies are mapped to products, but each product does not have to map to all competencies. For example, you may use two products to demonstrate attainment of five competencies or use five products, each demonstrating attainment of one competency. Competencies and products differ from student to student.

The Departmental Staff Adviser submits Practicum credits after the online faculty evaluation is complete. For questions about registration, add codes, or credits being posted to transcripts, contact the Departmental Staff Adviser.

Students are expected to complete their Practicum the quarter they registered for Practicum. Notify your Practicum Faculty Adviser and SPH Manager of Experiential Learning immediately and before the end of the quarter if extra time is needed to complete the required deliverables.